Last year I made the decision to only use makeup that is cruelty-free and made from natural ingredients. It was a really easy switch, to be honest. I had no trouble finding products I loved and I didn't have any strange skin reactions during the transition. A few months ago I continued down the same path and decided to only use all-natural deodorant as well, since I realized how many toxins are in the stuff I used before. This transition, however, proved to be a little more difficult.
I tried two different natural deodorants and absolutely hated them. They smelled weird and were very hard to put on (one was so dry it felt like I was ripping myself a new armpit), and they felt like the kind of products you would only use if you were on a camping trip or stuck in outer space. I was in neither one of those scenarios, so I went hunting for something different.
That's when I heard Vapour Organic Beauty, one of my favorite cruelty-free makeup brands, was releasing a new line called AER Next-Level Deodorant. I grabbed a few different scents and went to town with them. They glided onto my skin like velvet, smelled fresh and luxurious, and looked and felt like a deodorant made for a grown-ass woman. I thought I had reached the finish line.
About three weeks into my new deodorant fling, I noticed a rash underneath my left armpit. It was about two inches long and an inch wide to start, and it was pretty bright red. Weirdly enough, it didn't hurt at all — it just seemed slightly irritated. I went about my life thinking nothing of it. Fast forward a week later, and the rash had nearly doubled in size. It was only painful when I shaved, but other than that, it was just aesthetically disappointing, especially when I was lifting weights at the gym.
When it wouldn't go away after another week, I frantically searched online for reasons why my armpit was turning against me, and I read a few things about how natural deodorants might cause irritation in the beginning. I decided to investigate.
I chatted with the experts over at Vapour, who said it's "hard to know exactly what it is" that's causing underarm irritation at the beginning. However, it's certainly not uncommon. "Our skin is doing so many different things," Shenoa Riegel of Vapour told POPSUGAR. "Sweating is something we want to let our bodies do." So if you were using antiperspirant before (guilty), which clogs your pores and prevents you from sweating, "your body almost has to readjust."
"Your body has stored toxins that are in conventional deodorant and is actually detoxing that," Shenoa added. "Or it could be that your body is adjusting to a specific ingredient in the deodorant." I had a hunch that the former was true for me, because I had spent years of my life using regular deodorants packed with all kinds of chemicals I can't pronounce.
I decided to wait it out for another month — and I'm so glad I did, because the changes I experienced on the other side were well worth it. My rash went away over the next month. More importantly, I sweat a lot less now, my sweat no longer smells bad, and my armpits feel dry, rather than sticky, most of the time. "Natural deodorants really allow the skin to breathe," Shenoa confirmed. "So give it 30 days."
If you're considering switching over to the natural stuff, don't let this minor side effect deter you. It might not even happen to you, but if it does, just wait out until your body fully adjusts.
And if you haven't considered making the switch, you might want to think about it. "Conventional antiperspirants and deodorants are among the most toxic of all personal care products that people use on their bodies every day," Shenoa explained. "The underarm area tends to be very sensitive and very absorptive. Products that are applied there are absorbed into the part of your body that aids in detoxification. So it's important to try to eliminate that exposure on a daily basis."
Product Credit: Mara Hoffman bra and leggings