Many people transition seamlessly to a natural deodorant while others report an adjustment period.
Part 1 of this blog discussed the possible causes of irritation that some may experience when switching from a conventional antiperspirant/deodorant to an all-natural deodorant.
Part 2 provides some suggestions to help with the changes you may experience as you transition to natural deodorant.
Switching to a natural deodorant may require a little work and patience for some, but in the end, when you find a natural deodorant that works for you and that you feel good about using, the journey will be worth it.
Our bodies view change as a disruption and often resist change even if it is a positive one. Just like if you change your facial regimen, you may experience breakout before the product begins to work--changing deodorant is the same. Our body often needs time to adjust and accept the change.
While the timeframe for adjustment is different for each person depending on your body chemistry, here is a typical scenario.
You decide to stop using your commercial deodorant or antiperspirant.
At first, all goes well. You may go for a few days or even a week without noticing much difference between your antiperspirant and natural deodorant. Now you are thinking, WOW this is great! Natural deodorant really works!
Within a few days after discontinuing use, the armpit bacterial populations begin to change. As the new bacteria begin to colonize you may notice an increase and a change in the underarm odor. (See part 1)
If the product you were using was an antiperspirant, which stops your sweat glands from functioning normally, there is no longer a chemical to prevent you from sweating. Your body will often temporarily increase sweat production when you stop antiperspirants.
Remember, the increase in odor and/or sweat is NOT the result of expelling toxins!
The bacterial communities under your arms continue to change as the armpit bacterial microbiome is re-balancing to its new normal.
You should notice odor issues starting to decrease and perspiration levels beginning to normalize.
Your natural armpit microbiome is back in place and your body should have fully adjusted to natural deodorant.
If you still are experiencing irritation it could be the baking soda, but it could also be any of one of the ingredients. You can be sensitive to an ingredient even if it is natural.
Please note: Continuous stinging, burning, itching, or rashes are signs that the product is not compatible with your skin. It does NOT mean that you are going through detox or need to buy "detox" kits to "draw out the toxins." If nothing seems to help, please discontinue use.
Why Can It Take Up to Four Weeks to Adjust to a natural deodorant?
Some of the ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants can actually "persist in the underarm skin up to three to four weeks after usage." Some of those chemicals will only disappear completely when your skin completely renews with normal skin cell turnover, which takes about four weeks in the middle-aged adult. As we grow older, this skin cycle slows.
Obviously, you need to stop using your old antiperspirant or deodorant.
We have found that going without any deodorant, for at least a few days (longer would be even better) before switching is very helpful.
If possible, start your transition during cooler weather and begin over the weekend or a time when you will not be as concerned about odor.
You do NOT need to buy armpit "detox" kits. Making or purchasing these kits using clay masks, vinegar or special exfoliating scrubs will not speed up transition by drawing toxins from your body.
A simple washing with soap and water will remove odor and cleaning with a washcloth will exfoliate your armpits.
Furthermore, any new product added to your armpit area--including natural deodorant, clay masks, scrubs, vinegar, etc. can alter the types and amounts of bacteria and prolong the re-balancing period.
INCREASE IN SWEAT PRODUCTION
If you find you are sweating more . . . that is a good thing. Antiantiperspirants block pores and trap the sweat, which is really not what you want. Natural deodorants allow your underarms do what they were designed to do--sweat.
Give it a week or two and the increased perspiration it will balance out. But this temporary increase may lead to sweat chafing or other skin irritations.
Some Things To Help:
• Keep the skin folds as dry as possible
• Powder: Apply a light coat of organic talc-free, cornstarch-free botanical starch body powder. Stay away from powders made with cornstarch which can promote the growth of yeast and exacerbate rashes especially during this wetter than usual transition time.
• Clothing: Fabrics made from natural fibers like cotton, linen, wool, bamboo, and hemp fabrics are much better at keeping away moisture than synthetic clothes
TRADITIONAL INCREASE IN ODOR
As I discussed in Part 1 of this blog you may experience a temporary increase or change in underarm odor as the armpit bacterial populations begin to change.
• Keep armpits dry to help prevent bacterial growth
• Washing: Lather up and wash your underarms thoroughly with a washcloth or body sponge to removed dead skin, trapped sweat, and bacteria that contribute to body odor
• Hydration: Drink plenty of water which has the effect of watering down and diluting your sweat to help decrease the odor
• Clothing: Fabrics made from natural fibers like cotton, wool, bamboo, and hemp fabrics hold in less odor and wash out better than synthetics
• Diet: Some foods can actually increase body odor so change up your diet at least temporarily by adding more green leafy vegetables, high fiber foods and healthy fats like nuts
No matter how carefully you shave, razors cause microscopic tears in the delicate armpit skin. As a result, applying deodorant directly after shaving can be irritating, even when using a natural deodorant.
Using a bar of moisturizing, natural soap or oil will help you adding slip to the razor for an easier shave.
We suggest shaving at night and applying deodorant in the morning. Allowing your underarms to rest, repair, and heal overnight can help prevent irritation.
While many people use baking soda deodorants without problems, some people are extra sensitive to baking soda, especially in that area--we discussed the "why" in Part 1 of this blog.
So, why do we use baking soda in some of our deodorants? Because it just works so well for eliminating odor.
Wait a bit before starting a baking soda deodorant. If you immediately begin using a natural deodorant that contains baking soda and develop an irritation, you will not know if it is truly a long-term sensitivity or just a sensitivity due to changes in the micro climate of the armpit during the adjustment period.
If you are past the natural adjustment period and still experiencing irritation that you believe is due to baking soda--here are some suggestions:
o Apply deodorant to clean skin
o Be sure that armpit area is dry before application
o Wash armpits before bed so that the skin is clean overnight
o Allow the deodorant warm up to your skin before applying to reduce friction
o Try dabbing instead of swiping again to reduce friction
o Do not over apply
o Shave at night (see section on shaving irritation above)
o Keep your tender underarm skin well-moisturized, a very, very small amount of organic virgin coconut oil or your favourite light organic massage oil will do.
o Stay away from lotions (which are mainly water) or moisturizers with fragrance oils or other synthetic ingredients
Please remember that if sensitivity or irritation persists or becomes painful please discontinue use.
Some things to keep in mind:
• Natural deodorants may feel stiff right out of the jar or stick (especially in winter)
• Do not rub vigorously or drag the deodorant across the armpit when applying…a harsh application may cause irritation
• Our organic deodorant is best applied when the underarms are clean and the body is warm and dry: If your armpits are damp -- as they are after you towel off from a shower -- the antiperspirant may not adhere to the skin
• Our formulas will soften upon contact with body heat. Allow the natural warmth of your body to soften the deodorant for a smoother more even application
• The Amount: Natural deodorants do not need to be slathered on like conventional deodorants: A little goes a long way
APPLYING CREAM DEODORANT
Scoop a small pea-sized amount with clean fingers. Really important--warm the deodorant either rubbing it lightly between your fingertips or by placing it against your armpit.
Then super gently massage the cream deodorant into your skin until it is no longer visible. The pea-sized amount is probably enough for both arms.
If you do not want to use your fingers, follow the same procedure using the back of a small spoon or spatula.
APPLYING STICK DEODORANT
Push a very small amount of product up, just a bit beyond the cardboard container.
Since the sticks are by nature a harder formulation it is important to place the deodorant on your armpit for a few seconds to warm the deodorant and then gently dab or swipe. Do not rub or drag the stick across your armpit--gentle is the key!
Choose the Right Deodorant for You
Finding the "right" natural deodorant is often the most difficult part of transitioning.
No two people have the same body chemistry, so what works for one person may not work for another. If you have already tried natural deodorants and did not like "them," that does not mean that all natural deodorants will provide the same "bad" results.
Also, all natural deodorants are NOT created equal. Read the ingredients. Many "natural deodorants" still contain fragrance oils and other suspect ingredients.
Know that it might take some experimentation before finding the right natural deodorant for you. But once you do, you’ll never go back.