What to know when shopping for natural deodorant

The skinny on your options, irritations, and how to trick odours that come back.

The skinny on your options, irritations, and how to trick odours that come back.

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So you want to go au naturel… now what?

When it comes to making the switch from regular antiperspirant or deodorant to natural products, there's a lot to consider: Do you want scented or scent-free? What's the deal with sprays? How hard is it to apply pot-style products? Finding the product that's right for you requires paying attention to your body's reactions, knowing it may take time for your body to adjust to natural and accepting there will be some trial and error, say dermatologists and natural product retailers.

"The benefits to the different delivery mechanism of each style really come down to personal preference," said Laura Rowe, assistant manager of The Big Carrot's wellness department in Toronto.

For instance, people accustomed to stick-style deodorants may find that at first, spread-on pot style products are difficult to use, but once they get the hang of it, they realize pot-style lasts longer, said Rowe. Spray-style products may be easy to use, but they require time to dry before you can get dressed, she said. Additionally, some people may find deodorants take a while to work, or may realize that alkalizing deodorants stop working for them over time, which usually this means the odour-causing bacteria have adapted to the new alkaline environment. (Rowe recommends splashing lemon juice under your arms for a day and then going back to the natural deodorant to trick the bacteria back into submission.)

Once you've chosen your natural deodorant, have patience.

"People switching from a conventional deodorant may find it takes a few days or even up to a week for a natural deodorant to start working," said Rowe. "If they have been using an antiperspirant, they will definitely notice that they are sweating again."

And be aware of ingredients – just because it's "natural" doesn't mean your body's going to love it.  

"Something without chemical compounds may be less irritating but just because something is labeled as natural does not mean it can't irritate the skin as well," said Katie Beleznay, a Vancouver dermatologist. "Deodorants often have fragrance in them which can cause an allergic or irritant reaction. Sometimes patients are not able to tolerate certain brands depending on the ingredients, be that standard or natural."

It'll take testing out different products to find the one that's right for you. To get the scoop on popular natural deodorants, we asked Rowe to break down the pros and cons of The Big Carrot's top-selling products.

Schmidt's

This brand comes in both the spread-on pot style and the more conventional stick style. The main active ingredient is baking soda, which creates an alkaline environment to fight odour-causing bacteria. Schmidt's also has a line of sensitive products without baking soda.

Dr. Mist

This is a spray-style deodorant. As mentioned above, easy to use, but requires time to dry, said Rowe. The main ingredient is salt with properties similar to salt from the Dead Sea. It works by alkalizing the area, inhibiting the growth of odour-causing bacteria, she said. It can also be sprayed into shoes to eliminate foot odour.

Herban Cowboy 

This is a great transition brand for people making the switch from conventional deodorants, said Rowe. It comes in a wide variety of scents, including traditionally "masculine" ones. Customers who work out or have a naturally strong odour tell Rowe Herban Cowboy is more effective for them than other natural brands. Aloe is the main anti-odour active ingredient in this line.  

Lavilin

This product comes in the spread-on style, stick style and roll-on style. It offers 72 hours to seven days of anti-odour protection, making it popular with people who have a naturally strong odour, said Rowe. People with sensitive skin who might react to other kinds of deodorants also find this quite gentle, she said. This line only comes in one scent and it is not vegan.

Green Beaver

The Green Beaver brand comes in stick style or spray style. Citrus and lavender are The Big Carrot's most popular scents, said Rowe. This company uses aloe as the main anti-odour ingredient.


Katrina Clarke is a New Brunswick-based writer and reporter. Find her on Twitter at @KatrinaAClarke.