Thursday, March 15, 2012

You Make Me Smell Like a Natural Woman

So... about my armpits.  I'm paranoid about chemicals, metals, parabens, etc.  I know that some studies suggest there could be a link between aluminum-heavy antiperspirants and breast cancer.  I also know that I want to avoid anything chemically questionable while pregnant and (hopefully) breastfeeding.  I've been on a mission to find natural deodorant (meaning aluminum-free and paraben-free) that is also effective (meaning I don't stink or sweat through a lecture or a yoga class).

I'd gotten some good reports from a friend who made her own deodorant (thank you, Pinterest, for making pioneers out of all of us!).  But I haven't felt quite that adventurous.  I decided to take the lazy way out, and I ordered a deodorant (I believe I also saw it recommended on Pinterest) that appeared to have mostly the same ingredients as the Pinterest DIY deodorant, but was ready made and therefore would not require the use of my stove.  I bragged about it to David after I ordered it and I could not wait to try it out.

The first day I wore it, I appreciated the smooth application and the fresh scent.  The smell was kind of citrus-spicy, but in a good way, and after I applied it, I really didn't notice the scent at all.  I didn't get sweaty (of course, it was January) and it seemed like maybe I had hit the jackpot.  I breezed my way through a day of teaching without any armpit issues.

That evening, David and I were snuggling on the sofa.  We were getting ready to watch an episode of Justified and I was enjoying my cushy spot between David and Cooper.  David put his arms around me and gave me a squeeze and then said, in the very nicest way possible, "Are you wearing your natural deodorant?"

Let me tell you something, friends.  When your husband ASKS you if you're wearing your natural deodorant, it means YOU STINK.


Oh, wait.  If I stick my nose in my own armpits, I can confirm that I do, in fact, stink.  FINE.

I tried the natural deodorant a couple more times with no more success, so I gave up on it and went back to the delicious smelling Dove that I normally wear.  I chose chemical danger over body odor.  It's what civilized people do.

But THEN a few weeks ago, I went to the mall with my mom.  We went to the Body Shop so I could buy paraben-free moisturizer that doesn't cost $40 per ounce and my mom pointed out that they had aluminum-free deodorant on sale.  She told me that I should really think about using aluminum-free deodorant and I told her the humiliating story of David inquiring about the natural state of my armpits.

I was skeptical about dishing out money just so my husband can tell me I stink, so I asked the sales girl if it really worked.  She assured me that it did.  I told her my previous natural deodorant before, and then she recommended a particular scent that she felt was the best one.

So I gave it a try.  My mom and I each got the $5 roll-on because they were on sale (2 for $8) and the refills are just $3.


So far, so good!

DeoDry Dry-Effect Deodorant in Chilled and Breezy available at The Body Shop
I mean, you can't smell me from there, right?

To be perfectly honest, I do get the urge to reapply this deodorant, and I don't know if that's paranoia or genuine stickiness (probably a little of both).  I usually change clothes when I get home from work, and then I give my pits another swipe just to be safe.

I'm also not sure how it will hold up once it really gets warm and/or if I were to actually exert myself physically (beyond the effort required to sit/stand/bend at 24 weeks pregnant, I mean).  I feel like it lasts pretty well during my yoga class, but I'm doing basics these days, not Vinyasa or Bikram.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'll also say that sometimes I don't shower on weekend mornings--I'll just wait to shower until we get ready to go somewhere in the evening (and if we don't go anywhere...  well then I'm saving water, right?).  I've adjusted that lazy schedule a bit because I do not find that this deodorant masks the smell of more-than-24-hours dirty the way aluminum deodorant will.  I mean, seriously, you can slap on Secret or Dove and go a whole weekend without a shower as long as your hair isn't greasy.  Those chemicals are amazing.  This stuff cannot compete with that kind of chemically fresh scent.  But as long as you shower on a daily basis, the chemical-free stuff can treat you right.

I've been using it for almost a month, and so far my husband has not asked me if my deodorant is "natural," so I call that a win.

Anyone else had any luck (or not) with natural deodorants or other bath/body products?  I'd love your recommendations.  I have to say I'm also pretty happy with the moisturizer I got from The Body Shop (from their Nutriganics line) so maybe I'll have to try some more of their stuff...


  1. Tom's of Maine lavender scent-- I love it! I carry some in my bag and reapply if I feel gross.

    Also, California Baby is great-- all 5 of us use their bodywash, and the kids and I all use the lotion-- I love the calming fragrance. It does have sodium benzoate, but EWG still gives it a 2.

    Tarte makes some truly awesome primer and moisturizer, too.

  2. I really need to make the switch. I think I will be buying some Body Shop deodorant very soon... And I will have to check out the Tom's & CB stuff that Sarah recommended.

    Poor David having to smell your stench ;) hah

  3. Tom's does the trick for Kari and I. Or, at the very least, we both smell like shit together. :)

  4. I'm going to totally blow my internet illusion that my hair is perfectly coiffed and my shizzle don't smellizzle, but I rarely, uh, like never use deodorant, though I do shower after activities. I have a crystal I use for workouts. Luckily neither my husband nor I mind stinking. I embrace my animality.

  5. But would it have worked for a pool attendant at the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona?

  6. Hi, I'm a new reader to your blog (fellow BLM) but I just wanted to say that I've been concerned with using an aluminum free deodorant for years and I found Tom's does not work very well for me. I love Adidas Cotton Tech. It smells very "mainstream" (read: amazing!) and has no aluminum. I think its online only now though.

  7. I didn't have much luck until I discovered the Adidas Cotton Tech. Before that I had many conversations with friends on summer afternoons about who was stinkier. You know you have good friends when they too use natural deodorant that doesn't quite work ... When B was in the NICU I smelled myself one day and said, "Woah, I smell awful! I don't think that Adidas deodorant works J." He looked at me, smiled and asked when I last showered. "Um .. three days ago, maybe four." I responded. "No deodorant will work on day four no matter how many chemicals are in it!" he informed me. So as long as you shower every two or three days the Adidas should work just fine!

  8. I love Crystal Body Deodorant Spray - Unscented. Here's the deal- I also only rarely use deodorant. Prety much only for work. But it works like a charm. And I adore that it's unscented.

  9. We use California baby Calming, for shampoo and conditioner for little mr. I still use the toxic chemical pit stick, When I think I don't stink... my husband will tell me I have BO...dang, so much for thinking I don't smell bad.

  10. I definitely can't smell you from here, promise! :)

  11. ok so here's the update. i abandoned the making of my own deodorant. not because it didn't work per se. it's just that the baking soda that i put in it was rubbing my armpit raw every time i applied. baking soda is so abrasive. and i loved the smell of it. and i really do think it did a great job of keeping me dry or at least not having me stink when i sweat. but my armpits were still SO tender after months of use. and if iw as in the shower and washed my underarms with my loofah, they would be sore and burn. so i said "eff it" and decided that i was going to go buy regular chemical-filled deodorant.

    i got to target ready to buy a stick of dove DO. and i looked around and came across a ToM powder scented DO. and decided to give it a try. it's been about 2 weeks, and so far so good. it really does keep me dry (which is a big thing considering i sweat like no tomorrow), and it smells good.

    hope the DO that you got continues to do the trick.

  12. Thank you so much for asking this question - I'm getting good ideas from the comments :) I have tried at least 6 different deodorants during this pregnancy (including ones that work just fine for non-pregnant me) and with most of them I still smell bad to *myself* by the end of the day. My pregnancy sweat is seriously industrial strength. Toms of Maine lavender or honeysuckle rose are the only ones that seem to put a dent in it so far.

  13. I made up the Pinterest natural deodorant (with the coconut oil, vitamin E oil, baking soda, constarch and essential oils) and so far (for over a week) it's had me smelly sweet! This is huge for me, as natural deodorants don't work for me and I hate the chemical ones. I'll also tend to be highly sensitive to skin products, and have had no problems at all with this natural deodorant.