Why am I reacting to natural deodorant and/or why do I still stink?
There are a few reasons why natural deodorant may not be working for you. Firstly you could be reacting to the bicarb soda found in most natural deodorants. The reason some people react to the bicarb is because the pH level of it is very different to that of our skin. Sodium Bicarbonate (bicarb soda) sits at about a pH of 8 and our skin is around pH 5.5... That's a pretty big difference and so it's no wonder that some people can react to the bicarb. The reaction that can occur is different from person to person but most likely you will get red armpits that are hot and sore, maybe itchy and possibly some peeling. This may take a few weeks to happen or it may happen within a few hours.
You may also find that you don't get any physical symptoms, but the natural deodorants 'don't work' and you stink which then tempts you to switch back to supermarket brands. (Please don't do that, read on first and see if you can find a solution!) Note: there are bicarb free natural deodorant options. If you have tried everything else - give this a go.
The second reason is because you may have been spraying and rolling on antiperspirants and toxic deodorants which can contain nasty cocktails of aluminium, phthalates, parabens, petroleum bi products and synthetic fragrances and much more for many years. The aluminium blocks up your sweat glands and prevent them from performing the important bodily functions of sweating, cooling the body and regulating body temperature. This excess of aluminium together with all the synthetic fragrances/endocrine disruptors after years of regular deodorant use can cause your sweat glands can be so backed up with toxins (which our body wants to secrete daily) that when it comes to using such a different pH level deodorant and now being "allowed" to work the way they are designed to they freak out a little.
It isn't pleasant to have all these adverse reactions, or to feel like you are wasting money trying product after product, but lets look at why you are reacting, and what can be done about it.
Why do I need to do an armpit detox?
You need to detox your armpits, to allow all the vital bodily functions to return to normal, so that you can then ditch the chemicals for good. Generally it is not always the product causing the reactions to your underarm, but the actual health of your armpit area. Also note, even if you don't use chemical deodorants, you could still end up with a build up of toxins in this area due to your diet, environmental toxins and medications. One big advantage to doing an armpit detox is that it will hopefully help pull some of these chemicals out of your skin and the tissue in your armpit area.
Just a little note before we continue - if you are having a serious reaction please see your holistic practitioner or regular GP as it may be something more than just the deodorant. I could be a fungal infection, (which can actually be quite common) or perhaps another type of infection that may need a doctors opinion. Be sensible, and be safe!
What exactly is a armpit detox?
It's a 7-10 day program where you apply a 'mask' to your armpits morning and night, let it dry and draw out any toxins and then gently wash it off. Treat your armpits gently during this time, and then gradually reintroduce your favourite brand of natural deodorant.
1 tbsp bentonite clay
1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp activated charcoal (optional - for extra toxin removal)
Add 1 tsp of water and mix all ingredients into a paste then apply this to your pits morning and night, let it dry and do this 1-2 times a day for at least 7 days.
Every morning and night after you have washed off the clay paste apply a healing oil such as hemp seed or coconut oil or the Erica Brooke Skincare Saviour Salve to your armpits to calm and soothe them.
If possible it is best to not use any deodorant at all during your detox (now is a perfect time before it gets any hotter and into summer) but if you feel you do need to put some deodorant on then please ensure to use only a small amount of natural deodorant, and adding a fine layer of hemp or coconut oil before you put it on is a great idea. Note: switching back and forwards from antiperspirants to natural deodorant will slow the process down so it it best to avoid that at all costs and commit to making the transition... Also it is best not to shave during a detox as you can really stress the skin out creating microscopic cuts (and worse still is using a blunt razor!)
Drinking plenty of water is always recommended during any detox.
How to reintroduce your fave natural deodorants?
Slowly is the key.
In the beginning apply a thin layer of the hemp or coconut oil or the Savior Salve to your pits prior to the deodorant, then using tiny amounts (about 1/2 a pea size per pit) every other day. You should be able to work your skin up to it.
Like most things in life what works for one person may not work for everyone and that's ok. As we mentioned above it may be worth checking if it's the sodium bicarbonate or even if it's an essential oils that you're reacting to.
Thanks so much to Erica Schofield from Erica Brooke Skincare for some of the tips included in this post! You can shop her range of Natural Deodorants here
Doing this mask just once at night every few weeks is a great idea, to continue to remove toxins from your system. If you can, a detox for 5-7 days at the start of each new season is a good way to keep up the good habits.