Alternatives to Deodorant

Are you running low on deodorant or anti-perspirant in the current Covid-19 situation? Or perhaps you’ve always fancied experimenting with an alternative to your usual deodorant? About five years ago, one of the first things I tried on our zero waste journey was making my own deodorant. I felt like a bit of a nutter at the time, but now it’s totally normal to me. I use the Zero-Waste Chef recipe, which uses bicarb of soda, cornflour, coconut oil and a few drops of essential oils for fragrance. I have a big jar in the bathroom and a tiny pot for my handbag.

This is not an anti-perspirant and neither are any of the alternatives I’ve ever come across. This is because they don’t contain aluminium chlorohydrate, which reduces perspiration. You will still perspire, but the deodorant stops it smelling. I’ve perspired quite heavily since my late teens, which I think is related to hormone levels and is also linked to social situations where I feel a little nervous. On days at home I hardly perspire at all, whereas weddings, parties, first day in a new job, job interviews etc are perspiration central. In my late teens/early twenties I tried all the super strength anti-perspirants I could find to stop this, but they still didn’t work in stressful situations, left marks on my clothes and I worried about the ingredients I was clogging my pores with.

Now, I’ve made my peace with my perspiration. I avoid wearing certain colours that show up sweat marks (no grey marl in my wardrobe!!) and I know that keeping my arm pits as hair-free as possible also helps. I use my homemade deodorant happy in the knowledge that it’s healthier for my skin and that it does the job the majority of the time.

Everyone has different perspiration levels. Some people change over to an alternative and joyfully exclaim, ‘It works!’ They may well have found if they stopped using conventional anti-perspirant and didn’t replace it with anything else that they wouldn’t have perspired much anyway. Others change over to an alternative and are disappointed that they appear to be perspiring a lot and may be a smelling a bit sweaty too. These people may well have perspired quite heavily for years, but their conventional anti-perspirant was preventing them from noticing it. A lot of people find that they have a period of detox when they stop using conventional deodorant or anti-perspirant. They seem to sweat a lot at first, but then their body settles down and adjust to the lack of anti-perspirants clogging up the pores under their arms.

The key to a deodorant relies in increasing the acidity or alkalinity of the skin, so that the bacteria in sweat doesn’t smell or in soaking up the sweat and masking the smell. Let’s take a look at some alternatives:

  • Lemon juice. Some people swear by rubbing a slice of lemon on their underarms and letting it dry.
  • Apple cider vinegar. Likewise a dab of this friend of the zero waster can do the same job.
  • Bicarb of soda. Some folks like to use this neat. If you have sensitive skin, using bicarb of soda neat can feel a bit irritating.
  • Bicarb of soda and cornstarch. Adding cornstarch to the mix reduces the likelihood of the bicarb irritating your skin.
  • Witch hazel. Witch hazel is an astringent and a great skin toner.
  • Hand sanitiser. This works by killing the bacteria in sweat that make it smell. Good luck getting hold of some of this right now!
  • Homemade deodorant. See the recipe link above.
  • Shop bought alternative. There are quite a lot of these on the market now including Lush’s deodorant bars and dusting powders, Nuud, Ben and Anna, Salt of the Earth’s crystal salt stick, Ku.tis, Fit Pit, Wild and Earth Conscious.

Why not have a go at an alternative to conventional deoodorant or anti-perspirant? Let me know which alternatives you experiment with and how you get on in the comments below.

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