Natural Deodorant: The Ultimate Guide for 2021

Women with natural deodorant on her finger

Natural deodorant
is a hot topic in 2021.
 
More and more people are turning to natural products, and for good reason.

Switching to natural deodorant reduces your exposure to harmful chemicals. And tames your body odour to boot.

This is the ultimate guide to natural deodorant for 2021. Let’s break down all the most common questions. So you can make an informed decision about whether natural deodorant is right for you.

What is natural deodorant? 

What is natural deodorant? At it's most basic, Its deodorant made from natural ingredients.
 
Take a quick look at the label of regular deodorant or antiperspirant. You will see a list of chemical ingredients used to control body odour. Sure, they work, but the catch is many of these chemicals are of questionable safety.
 
Long-term health impacts of many chemicals haven’t yet been established. Studies are required to understand the long-term risks associated with such chemicals.

"Aluminium is known to have a genotoxic profile, capable of causing both DNA alterations and epigenetic effects, and this would be consistent with a potential role in breast cancer"

 
One common antiperspirant ingredient worth avoiding is Aluminium. Aluminium has been linked to Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It is also being studied for a possible role in breast cancer.
 
Further studies into the use of Aluminium in antiperspirant would be desirable according to This study.
 
 

Natural deodorant, the chemical-free alternative 

Natural deodorant provides a chemical-free, yet effective alternative to regular deodorant and antiperspirants. It’s worth noting not all natural deodorants work.
 
A large number of deodorants on the market are labeled ‘natural. Yet they still contain petrochemicals or artificial fragrances. Finding a natural deodorant that works can be a challenge. But stick with us and we’ll help guide you on your search.


Try Arluka Deodorant now 

How does natural deodorant work?

At a basic level, a natural deodorant works by stopping the production of body odour, or by masking the smell of body odour. Different natural deodorants take a different approach to controlling body odour. To understand how the different approaches work we need to first take a look at the root cause of body odour.
 

The root cause of body odour

Sweat itself doesn’t actually have an offensive smell. In fact, it’s a natural and important bodily function. Body odour occurs when bacteria living on your skin break down your sweat. The result, offensive-smelling compounds, such as ammonia and fatty acids. Read Why do I have body odour’ for more information.
 
Bacteria living on your skin?! Yes, that's normal. Changes in your underarm microbiome, however, can make you more susceptible to body odour. One study actually found that regular users of antiperspirant experience an increase in body odour due to changes in their underarm flora caused by antiperspirant use.
 
Now that you know why we experience body odour, let’s look at how natural deodorants work. Typically, it’s one of three methods:
 

1. Altering the pH of your skin

Natural ingredients such as Sodium Bicarbonate and Magnesium Hydroxide raise the pH of your skin. In doing so they inhibit the growth of bacteria. This is highly effective, and often results in a significant reduction of body odour. Some natural deodorants use high amounts of Sodium Bicarbonate and underarm irritation results. Not good.
 

2. Antimicrobial compounds

Some natural deodorants use antimicrobials such as Colloidal Silver, Witch Hazel, Zinc Oxide, or essential oils. These ingredients directly inhibit the growth of odour causing bacteria. This way, bacteria are unable to overgrow and produce excessive amounts of odour causing compounds. Antimicrobials can certainly be effective. But best results are obtained when used in combination with pH altering ingredients.

3. Using fragrance to mask body odour 

Some natural deodorants aim to control body odour by simply masking the smell. They do so with fragrances and essential oils. This is a poor way to address the issue and does not tackle the root cause of the body odour.
 

Is natural deodorant effective?

The real question should be ‘is good natural deodorant effective?’. Yes, well-formulated natural deodorant is highly effective. During our tests, we’ve found natural deodorant to be more effective than regular deodorant and antiperspirant. Having said that, there are a lot of natural deodorants on the market that do not work at all.
 
If you’ve had experience with natural deodorants and don’t think they work it simply means you haven’t found the right product yet.
 
It’s important to keep in mind that some natural deodorants work well for some people and not for others. It may take some trial and error to find the one best suited to your body.
 

When to apply natural deodorant 

After a shower is the best time to apply natural deodorant. Your armpits will be clean and sweat-free. So that the deodorant can form a thin film on your skin and inhibit bacterial growth. Having said that, if you feel the need to reapply it later in the day that’s completely fine. Don’t use too much, as this will increase the chance of staining your clothes.
 
  1. Shower and wash your armpits with a gentle soap
  2. Lightly dry your armpits with a towel
  3. Apply a thin layer of natural deodorant as per the instructions
  4. It is good practice to wait 2-3 minutes for the deodorant to absorb before getting dressed. This will minimize any transfer to clothing.
 

Are natural deodorants safe?

For the majority of people, yes, natural deodorants are safe.
 
The biggest issue that may arise from the use of natural deodorant is irritation.

Some people develop red, itchy, irritated armpits from the use of natural deodorant.
If this happens to you, the particular product you are using contains an ingredient that doesn’t agree with your skin
 
If you experience irritation stop using the product immediately. If the irritation is severe seek advice from your doctor.

High levels of Sodium Bicarbonate is the most common
 cause irritation. Look out for sodium bicarbonate (bicarb) on the ingredients list. If it's near the top the product may contain too much bicarb for your skin.

Some well know natural deodorants with quite high levels of bicarb are Sarah's Day deodorant and No Pong Original. Both these deodorants give me a rash. 

If you do experience a rash opt for a low bicarb or sensitive formula. Also keep in mind that essential oils are another common cause of rash.

Of course, rash may be cause by a number of ingredients. Kopari coconut deodorant doesn't contain any bicarb or essential oils, yet customers have stated it gives them a rash. The moral of the story? If natural deodorant gives you a rash try a different formulation.
 

Is natural deodorant for everyone?

Yes, natural deodorant can be highly effective for everyone.
 
It’s important to qualify that statement, however. Not every natural deodorant will be suitable for everyone. There is no one product that will suit every skin type. Further, some medical conditions limit the use of certain ingredients.
 
If you are pregnant or lactating you will need to avoid high concentrations of essential oils. Likewise, it is important to check with your doctor before using natural deodorant on a child.
 
Essential oils and other natural ingredients can be dangerous for children and pregnant women. Always check with your doctor before using them. Keep products containing essential oils out of reach of children.
 
Finding the right natural deodorant is a healthy step forward in living a chemical-free lifestyle. You may need to try a number of brands, but it's worth it in the long run.


Try Arluka Deodorant now

Are natural deodorants antiperspirant?

No. Natural deodorants are not antiperspirants.
 
Antiperspirants use Aluminium to clog the pores and prevent perspiration. Aluminium is a key ingredients in antiperspirant with questionable long-term health risks. Studies have linked aluminium to Alzheimer’s and other long-term health risks.
 

"This is the second study confirming significantly high brain accumulation (of aluminium) in familial Alzheimer's disease” Christopher Exley, PhD

Aluminium free natural deodorant will not prevent perspiration. Perspiration is healthy and natural. In making the switch to natural deodorant you will be allowing your body to sweat as nature intended.
 

Are natural deodorants better?

We have tested many natural and regular deodorants and here’s what we’ve found:
 
  • Good natural deodorant is more effective than regular deodorant.
  • A large number of natural deodorants simply do not work at all.
  • Quality natural deodorant contains no chemicals with questionable long-term health concerns. Which we believe makes it better.
  • Good natural deodorant inhibits bacterial growth, tackling the root cause of body odour.
  • Natural deodorants may require application with your fingers. That may take a little getting used to.
  • Natural deodorant may not be as easy and convenient as spray-on or roll-on deodorant.
 
As to whether that makes natural deodorant better? That’s for you to decide. Regular spray and roll-on deodorants are arguably more convenient. The cost of convenience is exposure to chemicals.

Ultimately it’s for you to decide whether the increased convenience is worth the cost of added chemical exposure. For further reading see five benefits of switching to natural deodorant.
 

Which natural deodorant works best? 

A seemingly simple question? Not quite. The answer to ‘which natural deodorant works best?’ is, of course, it depends.

Not the answer you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth. The natural deodorant that works wonders for your friend may be too irritating for you. The natural deodorant your sister swears by may contain an ingredient you’re allergic to.

Native deodorant is well marketed and the most popular natural deodorant. Learn how to buy native deodorant in Australia if you would like to try it. There are lots of other great natural deodorants available in Australia.

Arluka natural deodorant cream is highly effective and non irritating. I know, because It's my brand and I spent a year testing it.

Here is a rundown of what to look out for so you can find the natural deodorant which works best for you.
 

The best ingredients

Sodium Bicarbonate (bicarb) 

Bicarb is a fantastic odour busting ingredient. It raises the pH of your skin to inhibit the growth of odour causing bacteria.

Bicarb is
extremely effective at controlling body odour, but it comes with a catch. When used in high amounts bicarb can be very irritating for many people.

Bicarb is the most common cause of irritation associated with natural deodorant use. The key to bicarb in natural deodorant is to find a product that uses a balanced amount. Too little and it won’t be effective, too much and it will irritate the skin.

At Arluka we use a small amount of bicarb to bolster the effectiveness of our other ingredients. But not so much that it causes irritation.
 

Magnesium Hydroxide

Magnesium Hydroxide is found in many sensitive natural deodorant formulations.
Like bicarb it raises the pH of your armpits to inhibit odour causing bacteria. Unlike bicarb, Magnesium Hydroxide is gentle and tolerated
 

What Is The Safest Natural Deodorant?

When switching to natural deodorant it’s important to choose one that is safe and chemical-free. After all, that’s why you would switch in the first place.

There’s some traps to be aware of when choosing the safest natural deodorant.
 

Artificial fragrance

Look out for products that include ‘fragrance’ on the label. What it’s telling you is the product contains an artificial fragrance. There’s a lot of brands out there using artificial fragrance, yet claiming to be all-natural.

Fragrance ingredients do not need to
be listed on the label. This is to protect intellectual property rights. Fragrances typically contain chemical cocktail and should be avoided. Instead, opt for products that list individual essential oils.
 

Hidden petrochemicals

Some natural deodorants use petrochemicals in their products. Let’s take Ozokerite as an example. It’s found in one of the leading brands and is known as ‘earth wax’.

Whilst it does occur naturally most Ozokerite used in cosmetics is derived from petrochemicals. It is a potential environmental pollutant and can be contaminated with polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

Excessive amounts of Sodium Bicarbonate or essential oils

Both these ingredients are natural and safe when used in the correct proportions. Some natural deodorants however simply use way too much. This leads to problems such as irritation, red armpits, and darkening of the skin.
 
These are some general guidelines for finding the safest natural deodorant. It’s difficult to recommend brands that are 100% safe. As brands don't publish exact proportions of ingredients along with their purity and origin.
 

Can natural deodorant darken underarms? 

Yes, natural deodorant can and does darken underarms. Why? Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
 

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

Darkening of the armpits occurs as a result of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation after damage or irritation to the skin. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation drives an increase in melanin, the pigment that defines the tone of a person’s skin.
 
Ingredients in your natural deodorant can cause irritation. This may result in inflammation, an increase in melanin, and darker skin.
 
The typical culprit is Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda). It’s perfectly safe to use for most people in reasonable amounts. Some natural deodorants use excessive amounts which induce irritation and hyperpigmentation.
 
If you experience darkening of the armpits due to natural deodorant please stop using it. Seek a natural deodorant that uses low amounts of sodium bicarbonate, or is bicarb-free. A good Magnesium Hydroxide based formula will be equally effective yet shouldn’t irritate most people.
 
Other know irritants may lead to the darkening of armpits. Parabens, fragrance, propylene glycol, and lanolin, can all contribute. So watch out for these ingredients in your natural deodorant.
 

Can natural deodorant cause a rash? 

Yes, some people do develop a rash when using natural deodorant.
 
Most often rash develops when a natural deodorant contains too much sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). If you do develop a rash when using natural deodorant please stop using it. One or more of the ingredients do not agree with your skin.
 
Check the label to see what ingredients the natural deodorant contains. If sodium bicarbonate is near the top of the list it is the likely culprit. Give your armpits a break. Then try a different natural deodorant with less sodium bicarbonate.
 
High concentrations of essential oils or synthetic fragrances may also cause a rash. If your natural deodorant says ‘fragrance’ on the label it contains synthetic fragrances. These aren’t natural so your best to pass on that brand altogether.
 
If the rash does not ease please speak to your doctor.
 
What to do if you experience a rash from natural deodorant
 
  1. Stop using the product.
  2. Allow time for the rash to disappear. If it doesn’t speak to your doctor.
  3. Look to see if Sodium Bicarbonate is an ingredient. If it is, and it’s near the top of the list that’s likely to be causing the rash.
  4. Sodium Bicarbonate isn't listed as an ingredient? check for essential oils and synthetic fragrances. These may cause a rash in certain individuals.
  5. Try a different brand without the ingredient you suspect is causing the rash. Magnesium Hydroxide based products are a great alternative.

Can natural deodorant cause armpit pain?

Yes. Some people do experience armpit pain and irritation when using natural deodorant.
 
More often than not this is a result of too much sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in the natural deodorant. Baking soda is highly alkaline. It may irritate to your armpits, resulting in inflammation, pain, and discomfort.
 
If you experience armpit pain please stop using the natural deodorant. Give your armpits a break until the pain and irritation have gone completely.
 
Once the pain has gone try a different brand of natural deodorant which is bicarb free or low bicarb. Typically they will use Magnesium Hydroxide in place of bicarb. Magnesium Hydroxide is very effective at controlling body odour. Yet much less likely to cause irritation and pain. If the pain is severe please speak to your doctor.
 
Parabens, fragrance, propylene glycol, and lanolin have been known to cause pain and irritation. So watch out for these ingredients in your natural deodorant.
 

Can natural deodorant cause swollen lymph nodes?

Yes, some people do experience swollen lymph nodes from using natural deodorant. There are two schools of thought on why this is the case:
 
  1. A pH imbalance caused by too much sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in the natural deodorant.
  2. Your armpits detoxing built-up chemicals from years of using regular antiperspirant.
 
The most likely cause of swollen lymph nodes is from using natural deodorant with too much sodium bicarbonate.
 
Sodium bicarbonate in excess can be highly irritating for some people. Note that I said in excess. Sodium bicarbonate can be a highly effective and safe addition to natural deodorant. When used in the correct concentration of course.

If you do experience swollen lymph nodes when using natural deodorant please stop. Give your body a break until your lymph nodes and armpits have returned to normal.

When you’re ready to try natural deodorant again look for a brand with low bicarb or a bicarb free option.

Typically Magnesium Hydroxide based natural deodorant is effective and well-tolerated by sensitive individuals.
 
As for the detox theory of swollen armpits? I’m not necessarily convinced. If your Lymph nodes stay swollen please speak to your doctor to rule out other possible causes.
 

How To Remove Natural Deodorant Stains 

Are you experiencing stains on your clothes from natural deodorant? It’s a common complaint.
 
Stains occur when you use too much natural deodorant. An effective product will only need a thin layer to coat the skin. if you use more it won’t increase the effectiveness, but it will leave a thicker residue. It's the residue that rubs off on your clothes and stains them.
 
Going forward try using less to see if that prevents stains. You could also try switching brands to a formulation that runs less.
 
To remove the existing stains you have a few options:
 

Bicarb and white vinegar

  1. Turn your stained clothing inside out and lay it down.
  2. Rub baking soda (bicarb) into the stained area until it coats the stain.
  3. Pour a small amount of white vinegar on the bicarb. It will bubble and fizz.
  4. Once the bubbling has stopped, use an object like a credit card to scrap any oily residue off your clothing.
  5. Wash as per normal.
 

Dish Soap

Liquid dish soap is effective at cutting through grease on your clothing.
 
  1. Turn your clothing inside out to reveal the stain.
  2. Drizzle a few drops of dish soap on the stain.
  3. Use your fingers, soft cloth, or soft-bristled toothbrush to work the soap into the stain.
  4. Let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  5. Rinse with warm water and wash as per usual.
 

An Enzyme Based Cleaner

If your clothes have been through a hot dryer the natural deodorant stains will be baked on. This makes them much more difficult to remove, but still not impossible.

In this case, we recommend an enzyme-based cleaner. Something like Oxiclean springs to mind. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for oily stain removal. Repeat until you have removed the natural deodorant stains.
 

Natural Deodorant For Sensitive Skin

Do you have sensitive skin? Watch out, natural deodorant may cause irritation.

Red rash, itchiness, and swollen lymph nodes are possible. Ingredients such as Sodium Bicarbonate (bicarb) has the potential to cause irritation. So do essential oils used in high concentration. They may need to
be limited or avoided by some people.
 
Keep your eye out for a product that uses Magnesium Hydroxide as a gentle alternative to bicarb.

Many natural deodorant brands shy away from Magnesium Hydroxide. Why? Because it's an expensive ingredient.
Significantly more expensive than bicarb.

Magnesium Hydroxide is
incredibly effective at controlling body odour though. It rarely leads to irritation, so it perfect for people with sensitive skin.

Some essential oils can be irritation to sensitive skin. It may be necessary to find a product that is essential oil-free or uses a very low percentage of essential oils.
 
Here’s a quick list to help you find a great natural deodorant for sensitive skin:
 
  1. Choose a natural deodorant that uses Magnesium Hydroxide.
  2. Choose a natural deodorant with less than 0.5% essential oils.
  3. Choose a natural deodorant with no bicarb or only a small amount. If bicarb is towards the bottom of the ingredients list you will likely be ok.
  4. Pass on products where bicarb is near the top of the ingredients list.
  5. You may have to try many brands to find a product that works for your body.
 

Natural deodorant for Women

When it comes to natural deodorant and your sex, the recipe doesn’t matter at all. Both men and women can use exactly the same natural deodorant.
 
Typically, the only difference between a natural deodorant blend for men, and one for women is the scent. Women often prefer scents with light floral notes, but feel free to use any natural deodorant you enjoy the smell of.
 
Some of the most popular and effective natural deodorant for women include:
 
  • Native Coconut & Vanilla
  • Schmidt’s Rose & Vanilla
  • Arluka Lemon Myrtle
  • Little Seed Farms Lavender
  • No Pong Original
  • Black Chicken Original
  • Woohoo Body Urban


Try Arluka Deodorant now

 
 

Natural Deodorant For Men

 
In 2021 there is an increasing number of men turning to natural deodorant.

Regardless of whether you’re a man or woman, feel free to use any natural deodorant which works for your body.
Typically, the ONLY difference between natural deodorant for men and women is the scent.

Commonly, natural deodorants for women lean towards the light, floral scents. Natural deodorants for men tend to feature heavier woody notes.

At the end of the day, use a natural deodorant that smells great to you. Whether it’s marketed towards men or women is irrelevant.
 
Some of the most popular natural deodorants we recommend for men are:
 
  • Native Eucalyptus & Mint
  • Schmidt’s Charcoal & Magnesium
  • Arluka Lemon Myrtle
  • Little Seed Farms Activated Charcoal
  • No Pong Original
  • Black Chicken Original
  • Woohoo Body Surf
 

Natural deodorant does not work for me

So, you’ve made the switch to natural deodorant but find it’s not working for you.Don’t be off put by your bad experience. It may take a little trial and error to find a natural deodorant that suits your body.
 
Usually, there are a few reasons why natural deodorant doesn’t work for you:
 

It’s causing Irritation

It’s common for people to experience irritated armpits when switching to natural deodorant. Some people may tell you to persist whilst your body adjusts. But irritation is usually a sign that the natural deodorant you’re using isn’t right for your body.

If you do experience irritation stop using the natural deodorant. Allow time for your armpits time to heal.
 
At this point you're best to pass the deodorant on to a friend and try a different product. Next try a Magnesium Hydroxide based deodorant. As the likely cause of irritation was Sodium Bicarbonate.
 

You still smell… What?!

Switched to natural deodorant and are experiencing body odour? It’s likely that the product isn’t right for you.
 
There are a huge number of natural deodorants on the market that simply don’t work, so that may be the issue.
 
Make sure you shower and apply the deodorant when your armpits are fresh and clean. Also, check to make sure you’re applying the correct amount. If you still smell then it’s time to try a new deodorant.
 
Magnesium Hydroxide and Sodium Bicarbonate are highly effective ingredients for most people. I recommend starting with a natural deodorant that contains a combination of the two.
 

Conclusion

2021 is a great time to start your natural deodorant journey.

Gone are the days when wearing natural deodorant meant you had to smell to avoid chemicals.

There are so many great products on the market to choose from. Finding a natural deodorant that is right for you may still take some time, yet the search is worth it.

Once you find a great product you can stick with it, knowing you’re doing your body a favour and staying odour free.


Try Arluka Deodorant now



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