My personal philosophy is that the healthiest, safest products are often the ones that are closest to nature. So when I started thinking about becoming pregnant five years ago, I decided it the natural deodorant route was probably the safest path for my baby and me. While my research found that health risks of conventional deodorants were murky, the idea that the aluminum might somehow make it into my milk supply was a risk I felt was easy enough to avoid.
Now there’s a new reason to ditch chemical-laden deodorants: your pits may be polluting the air with more than just their stinky smell. A recent study published in the journal Science found that deodorant — along with other products including perfume and soaps — may be as serious an emissions offender as cars and trucks. So if a stick of Schmidt’s wasn’t already the personal hygiene equivalent of a Toyota Prius, then it definitely is now.
But while planet-friendly DO has definitely improved in efficacy, I’ve watched multiple friends go back to their old school antiperspirants because they think it doesn’t work. Fortunately, my five years of natural DO XP make me somewhat of an an expert at staying chemical- and stink-free.
Here are my five tips for a successful natural deodorant experience:
- Understand what makes you stink. There are a ton of totally natural factors that determine how you smell on any given day, from hormones to emotions to diet. So when you aren’t wearing a heavy duty DO that’s preventing you from sweating, you’re going to notice some kind of odor. Pay attention to what’s going on in your life — whether it’s a stressful meeting coming up at work or your monthly menstrual cycle — and adjust your personal hygiene routine accordingly.
- Wipe ’em down. So, what do you do when stress levels create the stinkiest possible sweat and you’re not using an antiperspirant to control it? Wipe your pits down with rubbing alcohol, diluted lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar. (Preferably not right after you shave. Ouch.) This will help control the bacteria that thrive in your stress sweat and help reduce odor. I’ve done this myself, and the effect is immediate.
- Cut back on sugar. Bacteria thrive on sugar, so when you scarf down the sweet stuff, BO is bound to happen. I’ve noticed a definite difference in how I smell after I OD on sweets or the day after I have a few glasses of wine.
- Up your magnesium intake. Not only is magnesium awesome for memory, energy, and sleep, it also helps reduce body odor. So pop a supplement or chow down on magnesium-rich foods like almonds or bananas…or both at the same time. (Yum!)
- Reapply. The chemical deodorants we grew up with were engineered to last all day. Natural deodorants simply don’t do that. So understand the limits of the product and reapply as needed. Unless it’s really hot out or I’m stressed, I find that one midday swipe is sufficient.