Natural Deodorants: My Experience

Chemicals, and carcinogenic chemicals, are everywhere. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of research about the effects of these chemicals on our bodies and regulatory bodies in the United States are underfunded and underpowered to address this. For example, right now the EPA is tasked with investigating chemicals that are in everything from cleaning products to household objects, but outdated laws exempted 64,000 chemicals from being tested for years, and only in July 2016 did the law get an update to address this backlog. However, they are capped at only investigating 20 out of those 64,000 chemicals per year.

For deodorant, this is pretty important, because it’s something that is directly applied to the skin and frequently contains chemicals (particularly in anti-persperants) that have been linked (although not conclusively) to cancer and hormone disruptors.

In light of the ubiquitous presence of chemicals in our daily lives, I think one of the best ways you can be an informed consumer is in knowing what the ingredients are in the products you use, and trying to limit your exposure wherever possible. Sometimes it’s just not possible. There are lots of things in air, water, things around me that I do not have control over. But I make the choices about what things I personally put on and in my body, so choosing products that limit your exposure is helpful. (For example, using nail polish that is 5-free)

Deodorant is tricky because it involves personal comfort in a way that say, nail polish, does not. When I decided to make try out natural deodorant, I didn’t stop using traditional anti-perspirants initially, which I think made the transition harder. And the thing about using products with fewer chemicals is that… your body actually can react to them. So when I used Tom’s of Maine deodorant, I found that it actually made my body smell worse. Like, worse than if I hadn’t put deodorant on at all. Feeling like I was emitting a particularly poisonous scent didn’t make me feel great. But that’s just my experience with that brand! There are fortunately other options. 

I know some people make their own deodorant, which is great for them, but not something I particularly want to do, at least yet.

So here are two products that I like and use:

Duross & Langel deodorant – Duross & Langel is a local Philly brand that uses natural ingredients to make soaps, candles, lotions, etc, and their deodorant uses vegetable enzymes to fight stink, rather than aluminum in anti-persperants. If you want a natural deodorant that looks and feels like something you’d get at a drug store, this comes in a typical stick applicator package, goes on clear, and smells great. In my experience, if you’re going to be moving around a lot, you will have to reapply. (This is life without aggressive anti-persperant chemicals.) But if I’m just going to be indoors doing homework all day with maybe a trip to the grocery store, I’d probably be fine with one application.

PiperWai natural deodorant – PiperWai is another Philly brand that is also a women-owned company (heyo!) that uses activated charcoal and magnesium to neutralize odor. This comes in a pot and a stick, although I have only tried the pot. You scoop out a little with your finger, rub it in to your skin until you can’t see it, and there you go! It’s not the most distinctive smell (the D&L deodorant I have in “violet” is definitely flowery), but it’s not bad. It definitely feels more substantial and on hotter days with lots of activity, it does well. I have felt like sometimes at the end of the day I need to reapply, but it really depends on what you’re up to and what kind of humid swamp hell you have chosen to live in.

If you’re going to try any natural deodorant, I’d definitely recommend going all-in for at least 2 weeks to see how your body adjusts to it. You will probably feel differently than during anti-persperant use, but like all things, your body adjusts and with consistent use, you’ll figure out if it will actually work or not for you.


Natural Skincare – What Works for Me

I have struggled with acne since puberty. Part of it is my own fault – I pop pimples and touch my face all the time. And the best way to stave off this bad habit is to keep my skin as clear as possible. I have tried nearly every drugstore brand of face wash, maybe more than once, and for many years was constantly switching up my skincare routine when it wasn’t successful. This probably made my skin worse.

In the last year I’ve made more of an effort to get away from drug store brands, partly for the chemical/environmental impacts, but also to see if I could really simplify and figure out something that worked. I bought some TreeActiv products off amazon for several months, which were OK for a little while. I got an IUD last summer and in the first few months that my hormones were ~*settling*~, my skin went crazy, which drove me crazy.

In December I tried Dr. Hauschka’s line for oily skin and I was delighted/dismayed that it actually worked. The routine is gentle and simple and it works for me! Plus, I never thought that adding oil to my skin made sense at all but it does. Somehow. However, Dr. Hauschka is pretty expensive. Since I’m not buying a new $7-10 face wash every 3 weeks anymore, it’s probably not all that different, but Dr. Hauschka products are not cheap.

Once I ran out of the sample/travel sized products I’d bought to try it out, I invested in the regular sizes of the cleansing cream, toner, day oil, and lotion, which consequently get used up at very different rates, but do last long enough that they feel worth it. Since the Dr. Hauschka routine recommends that you wash your face in the morning (and do the whole routine) and wash and use the toner at night, I use Duross and Langel Naked face wash, which is made locally and has 1% salicylic acid. (It also smells amazing.) This way I can stretch out the more expensive Dr. Hauschka face wash and use it just in the morning.  I still get breakouts, mostly hormonal–during my period–but this routine has really minimized my breakouts and made my skin so much clearer.

Other products I love:

Duross and Langel green tea mud mask – Nothing like a weekend mask to really relax, right? This is green tea and avocado and it’s nice and light and is cooling on your skin.

Duross and Langel tea tree toning mist and rose water toning mist. I really just like spritzing my face with nice smelling toner. The tea tree toner is definitely more firming, and the rose water toner I find pretty calming. I even have a travel sized rose water toner that I keep in my desk at work so I can have a little spritz when I’m feeling stressed.