Natural deodorants – Finding the Right Balance

Switching to a natural deodorant can be a journey for two reasons. Firstly because your body will go through a cycle whilst your armpit’s ecosystem reset themselves and secondly because trying to find the right natural deodorant for your personal preferences will involve some trial and error. Our bodies are different, sweat levels vary and our skin reacts differently so don’t be surprised on your natural deodorant journey if a product that one of your friends swear by isn’t the right fit for you.

Natural deodorants come in many forms including crystals, sticks, paste, roll-on and pump sprays. So how do you know how to pick the best one? To do this, having some understanding on how natural deodorant works and why they include the ingredients they do will help you alot. 

Why it’s important to understand the science behind natural deodorants.

Once you understand a bit of the science you then understand how they work and then why one natural deodorant may work for a friend but not for you.

Understanding the science behind natural deodorant starts with understanding the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant. The standard run of the mill antiperspirants you buy from the supermarket, like Rexona, block the sweat glands with aluminium so that they don’t produce sweat – hence the name anti-perspirant. Deodorant on the other hand, doesn’t stop the body’s natural cooling system of sweating, instead they either 1) absorb sweat to help you stay dry and/or 2) reduce/neutralise body odour. Not all natural deodorants though on the market absorb sweat so if you don’t like the feeling of sweaty armpits, this is something to keep in mind. 

Why would you want to stop/absorb sweat and not just reduce or neutralise body odour?

Did you know that sweat doesn’t actually smell? It’s not sweat that creates body odour, body odour occurs when the bacteria naturally found on our skin breaks down substances in our sweat and it forms molecules called thioalcohols. A little more science for you – it’s thioalcohols which create the unpleasant smells similar to sulfur, onions or meat, aka B.O,. and this is why antiperspirants are so popular – because they stop the problem at its root cause by stopping sweat from exiting the body.

Whilst there aren’t any naturally occurring antiperspirant ingredients that acts the same as aluminium, there are natural ingredients which contain drying properties and that neutralise odour. When it comes to a natural deodorant, these are the two actions that you want to look for  and depending on your body and your personal preference, it can be either a focus on the drying properties for heavy sweaters or the odour neutralising properties.

Finding a natural deodorant with the right balance of drying properties, which doesn’t irritate the skin, and odour neutralising properties, in a form that you like (eg roll-on, paste etc) is the golden egg. The real trick is to find one that doesn go “mushy” as poorly developed deo stricks often dont have the structure that is consumer friendly. This is one key element New Laboratories has crafted in their research and development.

Get to know the list of ingredients

Like we do with our food, you also need to look at the list of ingredients when it comes to natural deodorants. For example, whilst baking soda is a highly effective drying agent in natural deodorants, it’s the biggest cause of skin irritations, especially for people with sensitive skin. Therefore if you have sensitive skin, you may want to look for natural deodorants which include arrowroot powder, magnesium, or kaolin clay instead.

When you look at the ingredients in natural deodorants they can be broken down into the following categories: drying agents, odour neutralising agents, ingredients to reduce skin irritation and scents. Drying agent ingredients can be a mix of baking soda, arrowroot powder, kaolin clay, glycerin, cornstarch and/or charcoal. Odour neutralising agents include glycolic acid, AHAs or saccharomyces; and ingredients to reduce skin irritation include shea butter, coconut oil, aloe and/or grape water. When it comes to scents, they can be anything from peppermint oil, to rose, to coconut, to lavender, citrus and/or mint. Once you understand the why behind each of the ingredients and their function, it will help you narrow down and pick the best natural deodorant for you.

Remember, when using a natural deodorant, just because you’re sweating it doesn’t mean you’ll be producing body odor. However, if you don’t like the feeling of sweaty armpits you’ll want to look for a natural deodorant that prioritises drying agents such as kaolin clay, baking soda, cornstarch etc over odour neutralising properties, so you’ll want them at the start of the ingredients list.

Another thing to remember when it comes to natural deodorants is that you’re going to need to reapply them throughout the day. If you set your expectations for a natural deodorant at the same level as a commercial anti-perspirant of only needing to apply once a day, then your expectations will never be met and you won’t be happy with any of your purchases. Don’t give up though on your natural deodorant journey as the right natural deodorant for you is out there!

At New Laboratories, we can assist you with your Natural Deo Stick  development, from formulation through to manufacturing. Our experience and marketing stories in this segment could provide you with the edge in this growing market. For more information email