I Used Aluminum-Free Deodorant For 30 Days, And Here's What I Learned (And What I Wish I Had Known)
I spent $50 trying out deodorants so you don't have to.
Let's talk about everyone's favorite topic: smelly armpits!!! Kidding, but really? We don't talk about it enough. Specifically, the journey from using aluminum-based antiperspirant to switching to a natural, aluminum-free deodorant.
Before, I assumed I was ~a smelly person.~ Honestly, there is no shame in the sweat game. I used a certain well-known brand of antiperspirant that worked fine for me when it was on — but if I forgot to use it? STINKY STRESS SWEAT. I also had to reapply throughout the day when I used it. I considered switching to natural deodorant, but every time I tried, I thought it didn't work. Turns out, I wasn't giving myself enough time to adjust.
Before I talk about what did work for me, let's discuss the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant. This article from Oprah Daily is worth a read, but it specifically mentions that antiperspirants' "active ingredient — typically an aluminum salt — forms a plug that pretty much blocks your sweat gland." Deodorants absorb sweat and mask odor with fragrance (such as essential oil).
First things first: There is a transition period when you switch to a natural deodorant. Mine lasted about a month. In that time, I sweat more than usual. I also had a ~particular~ odor under my arms. Even after I showered, it felt like there was a filmy layer from the antiperspirant that, no matter how much I washed, I could not remove. And it still smelled! So I did what I always do when I have an "Is it just me?" problem: I went to Reddit! And realized I wasn't alone, thankfully.
There are articles online and people on TikTok who talk about "armpit detox." I'm not sure if "detox" is the right word, but there is some kind of purging going on, especially when you consider how aluminum plugs your pits. There were so many times I wanted to go back to my old antiperspirant to stay dry/cover up the smell, but I resisted.
I found this article in Health Nutrition interesting, specifically this: "While sweat doesn’t actually stink, the bacteria on your skin that breaks down acids in your sweat is what produces the B.O.! You may be able to help your body along during this detox phase by applying either a clay mask or activated charcoal mask to your pits."