I sweat, a lot, and for seemingly no reason. That’s just one of the things I found out when I stopped using an antiperspirant and deodorant. You’d think that wouldn’t come as a surprise for someone who’s been in her skin for 37 years, but quarantine has forced all of us to truly become one with our bodies and all their processes.
I found out more than I could have imagined about my body when I decided to switch to natural deodorant during quarantine. I thought it would be a seamless shift. But as it turns out, my antiperspirant and deodorant was doing important work that I didn’t give it much credit for.
My rationale was simple: I don’t have to be around people, so if I sweat or if I smell during the switch, no one has to bear it except my fiancé. And he already loves me so it’s all good. Well, I did sweat, and I did smell. And I smelled some more.
Some natural deodorant brands have tools like pastes that you can apply to your armpits while you “detox” so that the sweaty and smelly period is more bearable. But the efficacy of those tools has its limits.
I also learned that working from home, particularly during a pandemic, can be extremely stressful. I sweated more than I ever did at the office as my moods went up and down and my body temperature followed. It also felt like I was sweaty just for the sake of it, even when I wasn’t stressed or moving around much. Exercise was pretty much out of the question.
To some degree it was great for testing how effective—or not—these natural deodorants were. But while my fiancé’s love for me has no limit, his tolerance to an excessively smelly me does.
Also, all natural deodorants are not created equal. Just because the ingredients sound great doesn’t mean that they mix well with your body chemistry. Because in fact, it really is all just chemistry. I had an allergic reaction to one organic deodorant cream that was really effective. I didn’t smell and didn’t sweat as much, but I eventually began to break out in an itchy rash and had to stop using it.
And while many natural deodorants claim to work all day, there is often a necessary midday re-up, and sometimes an evening re-up too. Some brands will try to up the ante on the smell as a workaround to this, but I simply found those to be abrasive and overpowering in the worst way. My deodorant should never be stronger than my perfume.
I also learned that I love a clear deodorant that dries quickly. Thick, white, pasty and chalky deodorant turns me off. Many natural brands are still mastering the reconciliation between desired consistency and keeping out the unwanted junk. But it might take a while before we get a natural that mists on and dries in seconds.
Now, that isn’t to say that the payoff isn’t worth it to go au natural. You have to consider to what extent you’re cutting out harmful chemicals and parabens from entering your body through your armpit pores versus the need to reapply deodorant often during the day and having white streaks on your clothes occasionally. It really will come down to a personal lifestyle choice.
What I mostly learned is that making any shift in a beauty and wellness go-to this major will require a ton of open-mindedness and flexibility on my part.
For now, I’m using aluminum-free deodorants while I try to find an all-natural that delivers everything I need, and in a discreet on-the-go package for that midday reapplication. I’m dedicated to the process because I think it’s important for my health. But for now I can at least be happy that I’m past the difficult detox stage, and I’m now in the stage of patience and discovery with slightly better smelling armpits.