There are some things in life that I’ve never felt a great need to think about, deodorant being one of them. I normally just buy whatever is cheap at the supermarket – Nivea, Rexona, whatever. It’s always seemed to work just fine. Easy. Convenient. Supermarket.
Then, suddenly earlier this year, I developed a painful (very painful) rash under my arm, in the area to which one applies deodorant. It was bad and ouch and raw. Suddenly putting on deodorant burned like acid. I would walk around holding my arms up for a few moments afterwards because of the pain.
Since the rash appeared nowhere else, I figured it must have been deodorant that was causing it. Plus it is also probably because of my complete fail of an immune system from ME/CFS, the randomness of which seems the only likely explanation for developing a sudden deodorant allergy at 31.
So I decided to go ‘aluminium free’ to try to fix it, but with a great deal of skepticism and a serious lifelong hangup about being the smelly fat lady in the room.
Thus began my recent adventures in deodorant.
I started cheap. Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Deodorant (roll-on) and Sukin Natural Deodorant (spray) from Chemists’ Warehouse.
The tea tree burned like fire going on, but within two days the rash started to improve after weeks and weeks of just being terrible, so I figured I was on to something. But the deodorant seemed to work by making everything within a 10km radius smell like tea tree. It was INTENSE. It made me feel weirdly elderly (I think my grandparents used to get into the tea tree gear big time, so it brought back some associations). And most problematic of all, it was just covering up any smell rather than preventing it. If you really investigated, it was clear it was just putting tea tree icing on a stink cake.
So, try again.
The Sukin spritz smelled of citrus oils and summer, but I really had my doubts. It smelled too nice to be effective. It seemed like a natural version of those Impulse sprays we used to drench ourselves in as teenage girls which actually smelled like a sugary sweet death to anyone over the age of 16. I used the Sukin for a bit, but I was always paranoid it wasn’t working so kept reapplying it a lot. Maybe it was working. I don’t really know. It was alcohol-based, so was making my skin very dry, which seemed like it could become a problem. But I’m an anxious little butterfly and just didn’t need the extra stress of not being sure if my deodorant is working. It seemed too much like a face mist to really deter pong. It vexed me.
So, I went to my best friend who knows everything – the internet.
It was terrifying. So many sites citing pseudo-science about how antiperspirants cause breast cancer and Alzheimers. Recipes for homemade deodorants that seemed to involve slopping coconut oil, bicarb soda, cornstarch, expensive essential oils, etc in your pits and then going about your day as if you didn’t have a gluten-free paleo cake mix smeared under your clothes. And most horrifying of all, sites advocating no deodorant, saying that BO is actually caused by deodorant. Or people that just use patchouli. Always with the patchouli! I also asked friends. One advised me her mum carries around a lemon rind to use as deodorant (too natural!).
So I was nope, nope, nope to all of the above.
But in amongst all that random advice, some recommendations for actual products I could buy emerged. Let’s be real, I just wanted to buy something that would fix this, not start brewing my own deo. My life is complicated enough.
So from those recommendations, I’m currently trying Black Chicken Axilla Deodorant Paste, and Erica Brooke Vanilla & Neroli Deodorant Creme – I purchased both from Beautiful Because, who wrote me the cute note in the photo above, and the products were really speedy to arrive.
They are both expensive ($17-$18 mark). And it’s slightly annoying using a paste that you have to rub in instead of a roll-on/spray.
But both of these products are working. I think the Black Chicken seems a bit more robust throughout the whole day and unisex, but the Erica Brooke has a lovely feminine smell and works. They are both controlling pong and not causing skin problems. So I’ll be sticking with these for a while. It seems like the jars will last a reasonable time for the high price, thankfully.
It’s winter at the moment though, and I also have my fun chronic illness that has a main side effect of ‘post-exertional malaise’, so I’m hardly doing sports – the real test will be when it warms up or if I can ever go back to Body Pump classes again!
I have also got a list of other natural/aluminium-free recommendations, which I might try down the track. Listing here for the benefit of others who might be considering a natural deodorant adventure, whether by choice or due to strange circumstance (Note: I have not tried these!).
- Tom’s of Maine (available on iHerb, which I really recommend as a cheap place for natural beauty and health products with cheap/free shipping to Oz)
- Schmidt’s Deodorant (also on iHerb)
- Swisse Deodorant
- Soapwalla Deodorant Cream
- MooGoo Deodorant
- Weleda Deodorant
- Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant Cream
If you’ve got extra tips, let me know in the comments.
But seriously, buying from the supermarket is cheaper and so much less effort! But at least my underarms don’t hurt anymore.