The Pits | Natural Deodorant 101

February 17, 2016

Everyone’s body chemistry is different. Your personal body odor is determined by your diet, your hormones, your genetics, your lifestyle, your mood, your wardrobe… you get it. This is why, what works for one person in the deodorant department, may not work for another. And if you’re here… you’re looking for a natural deodorant OR you’ve found something (congratulations!).

So why do we smell? Basically your skin is covered with trillions of little microbes, known as your “skin flora”. These little guys are one of your skin’s first defenses against infection and can actually help your immune system. And, they don’t smell. Neither does your sweat! It’s the combination of the two that produce odor. The apocrine glands (located in your underarms and other tender parts of your body) produce sweat that contains fat and protein. The bacteria feed off of the proteins and fats and break them down. The byproduct (or bacteria poo) is the odor that you smell. The reason that only certain parts of your body stink is because the apocrine glands are only located in certain areas, otherwise your other sweat glands just produce salty water. Things like stress, ovulation, sexual excitement and anger can cause apocrine glands to kick into high gear (another argument for meditation, right?).

Our deodorant cream works by creating an environment where bacteria won’t thrive, resulting in a decrease in foul odor. Ingredients like baking soda and magnesium make your skin too salty for the bacteria to feed on the proteins and fats delivered through your sweat, so no smell! Essential oils like grapefruit, bergamot, lavender and tea tree are antibacterial and function in a similar way by creating a hostile environment for the bacteria.

Here are some common questions we receive about our deodorant:

How do I apply your cream deodorant?
With your fingers, silly! Scoop a pea sized amount out of the jar with clean fingers. Warm the putty between your fingers and split the pea between both hands. Gently (like you’re a baby) rub the cream into your skin until you can no longer see it. Wipe the excess from your hands, you might try to rub it behind your knees, on the bottom of your feet, on your scalp, on your décolletage, etc.

How do I apply your stick deodorant?
Push a small amount of product up in the stick by working your thumb around the inner edge of the bottom disc. (Check out this illustration.) Place the product on your underarm for a couple seconds to warm the stick and then gently swipe a couple times. The product needs a couple minutes to fully soak in, so brush your teeth and pinch your cheeks before putting your shirt on.

Why is it a cream and a stick?
We don’t like plastic tubes and we think you get better application (and a free massage) if you use your finger. You use less product and you apply it properly! We introduced our new deodorant sticks because we know that a finger application is not always the most convenient on-the-go option. They are housed in an amazing biodegradable, push pop style applicator. It does take a little getting used to since it's different than the typical plastic tube but we think it's an amazing way to use a clean deodorant in an eco-friendly container! Read more about them here and here.

Why is my deodorant cream liquid / rock hard / grainy?
Shea butter and coconut oil are like little thermometers in your deodorant jar. They both fluctuate in texture with temperature shifts. We use unrefined oils and butters in all of our products, which means that they can also be somewhat stubborn to solidify again when they're exposed to extreme heat. There's an easy fix! Simply mix the deodorant thoroughly with a chopstick or butter knife (making sure to reincorporate all powders into the oils) and pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Thereafter, store the cream below 70 degrees F. It may take up to three days for the deodorant to solidify back to it's preferred state.

In the winter, the deodorant cream might be very hard. To apply, scrape the necessary amount out of the jar with the back of your fingernail or a cosmetic spatula and warm the cream by rubbing it between your fingers before applying. Grainy deodorant occurs when the shea butter liquifies and then cools too slowly. The grains are harmless and will melt upon skin contact. If you want to fix the texture, check out this blog post. We understand that these textural shifts might be confusing, but we think it's worth it for nutrient-packed, skin-nourishing, unrefined plant oils and butters.

I’m experiencing dryness, irritation, redness after using the deodorant, what should I do?
1. Stop using it and heal. If you choose to try it again, follow 2 - 6.
2. Use less product and make sure it’s rubbed in all the way.
3. Spray face toner or AVC solution (1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar to 1 cup water) under your arms at night. You may also like to try our Underarm Primer
4. Moisturize your armpits every single day with unscented oil (coconut, olive, etc.) or the Underarm Primer before applying the deodorant.
5. Gently exfoliate your pits once a week. You can use a washcloth or a gentle body scrub with oat flour (mix flour 1 to 1 with oil or water and scrub-a-dub). You may also use our face exfoliant!
6. If you shave your underarms, try to shave at night, moisturize, and apply the deo the next morning or at least a few hours later, and be sure you are using a sharp razor.

Why am I experiencing irritation?
There are a few reasons this could occur.
You’re using too much deodorant and you’re not rubbing it in all the way (see #2 above).
The baking soda or magnesium is throwing the pH of your skin out of whack (see #3 above).
You’re allergic to one of the ingredients.
Your skin is dry or congested. (see #4 above)
All of the leftover toxins from when you were using conventional deodorant are making their way out of your now unblocked pores. Commonly known as “the armpit detox”, and the jury is still out on whether this occurs or not.

How do I detox my underarms and/or reduce my body odor without deodorant?
Start with your diet. Attend to your gut and overall microbiome health by consuming probiotics and mostly green, leafy vegetables which contain chlorophyll and have a deodorizing effect in the body. Drink plenty of water. Apply apple cider vinegar to your underarms (see #3 above). Apply a bentonite clay mask to your underarms. Gentle exfoliate your underarms once per week (see #5 above).

Is your baking soda aluminum free?
Trick question! Baking soda NEVER contains aluminum. We use Bobs Red Mill which is mined naturally in Colorado- however that aluminum free claim on their packaging is a little misleading. In short, it’s baking POWDER that you’re thinking of… We think Crunchy Betty explains it best here.

Why do I smell like onions and garlic?
Those foods contain sulfuric compounds that travel through your bloodstream and come out of your pores and can contribute to bad smells. However, those sulfuric compounds are wonderful for your immune system, so you may want to think twice before cutting them out altogether!

Which is stronger, your baking soda version or baking soda free version?
This has to do with your body chemistry. There’s no definitive answer. You’re gonna have to try them all. Lucky for you, we sell mini sizes! AND if you buy one mini, leave us a note requesting a sample of the other deodorants to try and we'll include them for free.

PS, We didn’t talk about why you might be making the switch to natural deodorant. There are already plenty of compelling arguments on the web, so we didn’t think it necessary to delve into that. If you’re wondering, you can start here and here and here.

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