BY SYDNEY COOK
“Clean deodorant just doesn’t work for me. Trust me, I’ve tried.”
I’ve heard this countless times in what seems like hundreds of conversations about clean deodorant. Which deodorant I use is typically the first question I receive when new acquaintances find out what I do for work.
People are desperate for deodorants that are clean and that stop the stink. But the truth is the equation isn’t just about the deodorant itself – it’s about the transition process too.
That transition period can be a little tricky, and to get it all out there on the table, a little smelly too. That’s why now, when you might be spending more time at home, is the perfect time to commit to transitioning to nontoxic and more natural deodorant. Many of us are spending more time solo or surrounded by the people closest to us (aka those who will accept our smelliness for a while), and many of us are working from home. Could there be a better time to finally make the swap?
So here’s your complete guide to transitioning to clean deodorant. It’s truly possible: clean deodorant could work for you. Just follow the steps below and we’ll see you on the other side.
1. Ensure you’re choosing a truly nontoxic deodorant.
What’s the point of switching to something if those “green” and “clean” marketing claims are just hype? Still not sure why you should make the switch? Get all the background you need in our Deodorant Product Profile.
How do you know that you’re choosing something truly clean? Look for the MADE SAFE seal. We’ve done the hard work of vetting ingredients to be friendly to people and the planet, so you don’t have to.
Seventh Generation’s Not Just Deodorant (offered in Fresh Citrus Scent, Mountain Morning Scent, Powder Fresh Scent, and with Activated Charcoal) is a MADE SAFE® certified solution that feels similar to the conventional deodorant you know and love.
2. Commit to a three or – preferably – four-week transition period.
You may have heard this referred to as a “deodorant detox.” The reason why your attempts to transition before may have been unsuccessful? It is likely as simple as this: Time. Your body needs time to adjust to a new deodorant, so judging your new stick after a few days is jumping the gun.
You may actually get stinkier for a while after you start transitioning. Yep, you read that right! Theories behind this period are abundant, but here are the primary two: Some claim that aluminum found in antiperspirant clogs up your pores and once you’ve released those “plugs,” your sweat glands start working in overdrive. Others say that you’re re-balancing your pits natural microbiome (yep, you’ve got friendly microbes in your pits too!).
Deodorant detox isn’t really a scientifically studied phenomenon, so we’re not exactly sure why this happens. But here’s what we do know to be true: The transition to a nontoxic deodorant can be a bit smelly. But there are ways you can support your pits to ease the process, which brings us to tip number 3.
3. Support your pits during the transition.
Want to potentially speed up the transition period? Try masking and exfoliating. It’s like self-care… for your armpits.
Here’s our recommended approach: Wash your pits with a gentle body wash (may we recommend Seventh Generation’s MADE SAFE certified Not Just Body Wash?) and then exfoliate in the shower. A few days later, mask. You can mask in the shower or lying on a towel on the couch or floor, but one thing’s for sure, you do have to keep your arms over your head. Sounds like a good time for a quick meditation…
Look for a body or facial exfoliator without harsh chemical exfoliants like BHA and retinoids. Instead, look for a gentle physical exfoliant like sugar or chemical exfoliants from nature like lactic acid and fruit acids. (Scrubs are amazing for dealing with in-growns, by the way.)
For masking, a body or facial mask with the aim of “clarifying,” “purifying,” or “detoxing” your skin is your best bet. These masks usually have ingredients like clays, activated charcoal, or mud that draw impurities out of the skin. Anecdotally, these seem to support the pits by drawing out plugs from antiperspirants and by breaking down buildup from conventional deodorant. Hey, 2020 has been the year of unprecedented events, so why not add masking your pits to the list?
Make sure not to over-exfoliate, as this can inhibit collagen production and damage your skin. Many purifying masks are also intended to exfoliate too, so read your product labels. Exfoliating every three days is plenty – shoot for even less frequently if you have sensitive skin.
Want recommendations? See the end of the article to get you started.
4. Know the difference between an antiperspirant and a deodorant.
Antiperspirant = no sweat, no stink. Deodorant = sweat, no stink.
If you’ve been using an antiperspirant, it may take a bit to get comfortable with sweating, but the truth is, our bodies are supposed to sweat. Sweating is our body’s way of regulating temperature, which is extremely important for maintaining homeostasis (a state of balance) in our bodies. Sweating may also remove toxins from the body, serving as a third detox pathway after the liver and kidneys.
It may feel strange at first, but keep your mind set on your goal: choosing a product that’s better for people and the planet, and supporting your body’s natural processes at the same time.
5. Be patient and remember your motives.
Stick with the three-week transition period. If your body still hasn’t adjusted after three weeks, extend it another week. Depending on how long you’ve been using conventional deodorant or antiperspirant, the process could take a little longer.
As your body ebbs and flows – really stinky days, days of no stink, days where you sweat more, days where you don’t sweat at all – remember that this is your body re-balancing, working hard to find harmony.
And if at first you don’t succeed, try again. Each of our body chemistries are unique and if you give yourself a solid six weeks with a deodorant, and it’s not working, its time to try a new one. Yes, this may be frustrating, but this is where remembering your motives (healthier you, healthier planet) comes into play.
Bonus tips to bolster success:
- Take a good hard look at your diet. If your transition period (or periods) don’t seem to be going well, your diet may be a player. Does your diet consist mostly of junk food, highly processed food, or do you eat foods that you know don’t “agree” with you? Some of your answers might be found in your pantry.
- Support your pits’ natural microbiome. Your armpits might need a boost of good bacteria. We recommend Mother Dirt’s AO+ Mist.
- Carry your deodorant with you during transition. An extra swipe here and there might be needed.
- Baby wipes are your new BFF during the swap period. Feeling too stinky while you’re out and about? Reach for a baby wipe to give you a clean slate and then re-apply your deo.
- If you think you sweat too much, reach out to your doc. While we all sweat, if you think your body is sweating more than the average bear, it’s time to consult a doctor.
MADE SAFE® Certified Solutions
- Not Just Deodorant in Mountain Morning
- Not Just Deodorant in Fresh Citrus
- Not Just Deodorant in Powder Fresh
- Not Just Deodorant with Activated Charcoal
S.W. Basics: Exfoliant
Kosmatology: Sugar Body Scrub
Kaelen Harwell: Desert Lavender Salt Body Scrub
Annmarie Skin Care: Charcoal Cacao Mask
True Botanicals: Pacific Glacial Clay Detoxifying Mask
Freegirl: Ambitious AHA Gel Mask
Looking for More MADE SAFE Certified Solutions?
See our full certified product listings.
Sydney Cook is the Director of Science and Research for MADE SAFE.