Um, up close and personal today, I guess, talkin' 'bout your armpits and mine. It's a weird truth that natural deodorants can sometimes be more irritating than their traditional brethren. The latter have ingredients you might not touch with a ten-foot pole, like petrochemicals and synthetic fragrances and other things that can be carcinogenic or hormone disruptors. Yet on the surface, they can feel more gentle on the skin than some of their natural cousins, which rely on non-toxic - but potentially irritating - ingredients like baking soda, clay, or essential oils.
Still. We're not going to give up on natural deodorants just because of the time we had a rash in our right armpit and spent a week furiously trying not to itch it? (The armpit: a very taboo and embarrassing place to scratch in public, I've learned). If that sounds like you, I wanted to share a few ways to keep your natural stuff as gentle on your underarms as possible.
Of course, any conversation about natural deodorant acknowledges the fine line between efficacy and irritability. You want something that works, that isn't too expensive, maybe that comes in reusable or recyclable packaging, and that doesn't inflame sensitive skin. Getting all of those at once can seem like the holy grail of deodorants, I realize. For a few months now, I've been testing out a few different varieties and reporting back on the pros and cons of each. But, winter: not exactly the best time to test out natural deodorants, though a recently-restarted hot yoga practice has offered me some assistance in that vein.
Rest assured, I'll report back on my findings when I'm able to. In the meantime, though, here are a few simple things that I've found to be of help:
-Don't apply to freshly shaven skin. Yeee-ouch. Natural ingredients or no, this is probably going to sting - or even if it doesn't hurt immediately, it allows the deodorant to penetrate a little deeper into your freshly-unmasked pores, which can set up an irritated scenario down the road. You don't have to wait hours, obviously, but wait as much time as you can between your shower and your application: get dressed, brush your teeth, pack your lunch, then give it a quick application before you run out the door.
-Rinse it off each evening, even if you aren't showering that day. I could've smacked my forehead when a friend mentioned that this was key for her. It makes sense: if you're just applying more on top of applying more and never giving your skin a break, the concentration of ingredients will be higher than normal. I typically re-apply it in the afternoon or before heading out for the evening, so even using a washcloth to wipe the excess off before putting on a fresh amount could be helpful.
-Avoid baking soda. There are certain ingredients that can be a culprit for many folks, and baking soda is one. It's an abrasive in addition to absorbing odor, so if you're getting a rash from your deodorant and aren't sure of the cause, this is one ingredient to try eliminating right off the bat. (You can always add it back in our go back to your deodorant with baking soda if getting rid of it didn't help). Although, it could be a different ingredient that's your own personal Waterloo: an essential oil that's too strong for you, or something else. Keeping loose track of the common thread between your reaction to different deodorants can help you figure out what to keep and what to avoid.
What else do you guys do in this vein? Any other tips, or favorite natural brands or recipes for sensitive skin to share?