How I Quit Using Commercial Antiperspirant & Deodorant Products
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For the majority of my life I used a strong commercial anti-perspirant and deodorant.
As I have written before, I used to struggle a lot with excessive sweating. When I quit eating soy products, that subsided almost entirely. But I still felt dependent on deodorant and antiperspirant sticks to prevent general sweating and smelling.
Periodically I would get on a kick and try to quit using antiperspirant. It was the one chemical product that I was still applying to my body, and I didn’t like that. I tried using all sorts of natural deodorants- from Tom’s of Maine to the Crystal, and including deodorant-only commercial varieties such as Secret.
After moving to Argentina- where they don’t have ’natural' or 'organic’ body care products to speak of- I started experimenting with homemade deoderant recipes that I found online. They included ingredients like coconut oil and baking soda, with maybe a little fragrance or cornstarch.
This was probably the best homemade deodorant recipe I used. But it still leaked out of the container when traveling, and it stopped working for me after a while... like all of them did.
I also discovered that putting coconut oil on my skin doesn’t work for me. (Coconut oil tends to be the base for most make-your-own deodorant recipes.) I know many people swear by it as a moisturizer; but with consistent use I develop red bumps and pimples.
Also, coconut oil is liquid at temperatures over 72 degrees, and when it is in it’s liquid form it is virtually uncontainable. Even the tightest sealed jar leaks. Which rules this out for an everyday product I can travel with.
Finally, every deodorant recipe I tried seemed to work for a few days or a couple of weeks before I began to notice faint (or not so faint) BO.
(Oh, and I tried colloidal silver too. Straight up and in various recipes. It didn’t seem to make any difference.)
Having used baking soda instead of toothpaste for years, it occurred to me that maybe THAT was the solution.
This site inspired me and I started using just baking soda- straight up, pure and simple- as my daily deodorant.
After I shower at night I put some on. In the morning when I rinse my face I put some on. If I get sweaty in the afternoon, after yoga or walking, I might put it on one more time.
At first I needed to apply the baking soda three times daily. But after many months of this routine I am finding that before bed and first thing in the morning lasts all day. And I don’t sweat any more than before, in fact I’m pretty sure I sweat quite a bit less (see below). I also don’t develop a resistance to the baking soda... I’m finding that I smell less and less the longer I use it.
To apply, just put a little of the powder on the first three fingers of your hand and rub it in under your arms. That’s it. You can dampen your armpits a little bit first if they are totally dry. (You should wipe your armpits clean with a damp towel before applying if you aren’t fresh out of the shower to start with.)
It used to be that just sitting quietly and working with my arms by my sides would cause sweat circles to form. (I didn’t wear fitted shirts with sleeves for years, unless I could wear multiple layers to hide the sweat stains.)
I just got up from the computer to go check. Totally dry and clean! It’s also afternoon now and there is zero smell.
For a while I kept an antiperspirant/deodorant on hand for cases when I really didn't want to worry about sweating or smelling— such as a stressful meeting, or a fancy party, or a long day of travel in close quarters with other passengers. I was fine with that since it decreased my use to maybe once a month, instead of daily.
But then I started to notice that after using the commercial antiperspirant, I was sweating more. Not the first day, but a day or two later. It was clearly more.
When I went back to using pure baking soda the sweating decreased again. I thought I was imagining it, but it turns out I’m not the only one who thinks that antiperspirant products increase the amount of sweating. It also seems to cause a rebound effect that makes me smell more easily when I first quit using the antiperspirant.
Maybe there is a percentage of people whose bodies overcompensate for the use of products that attempt to block the production of sweat. Or maybe it’s a reaction to specific ingredients. But I am now totally off of antiperspirant and I sweat less and don’t have any trouble with body odor.
In my research I also found articles that claimed that the yellow stains that develop in the underarm areas of shirts were due not to body stains but were caused by the antiperspirant and deodorant products themselves. (I hate how my light and white clothes become unwearable because of dingy underarm stains!)
I haven’t bought new clothes since I began this regimen (about 6 months ago), so I can’t report on the underarm stains and whether I still get them using only baking soda as deodorant.
But I have noticed that my stinky clothes are getting better— you know, the ones that seem to hold body odor no matter what, and the smell reactivates as soon as they get warm with body heat again.
Since baking soda is known to remove odors naturally, it is logical that it could help with this. Baking soda is a good all around cleaner and, in addition to protecting me, I think it is wearing into my clothes and helping them gradually get fresher instead of heading for the donation bin.
I feel great knowing I’m not applying chemicals under my arms everyday. I also love how cheap and natural baking soda is. And it's easy to transport too. I use a little plastic container with a screw cap (so I don’t drop and break a glass one, as I have done multiple times), or just a mini ziplock bag will do. Plus, I’ve never been a fan of the fragrances they put in body products. Using baking soda I don’t smell, at all… just totally neutral, which is perfect for me.
So, when you get ready to quit using antiperspirant and deoderant products, try the baking soda solution and report back on how it worked for you!