Health Dummy | We Roadtest Natural Deodorant

By Desta Cullen
27th Jul 2016

what is natural deodorant

Controlling body odour is one of the constant struggles of being human.

Although some argue that we should just accept what is a natural body function, there’s a billion dollar perfume industry that suggests no one wants to be the stinkiest one in the room. Or stinky at all, to be honest.

As a sweater, I’ve had my ups and downs with deodorant. I’m certain I’ve tried every single brand out there in the quest to stop the stench. Just as I find one that I think I can form a lifelong bond with though, it goes and stops working. Blergh.

So when I found out about natural deodorant cream, I was equal parts sceptical and curious, so of course I had to test it out.  

The concept of deodorant that’s not crammed with synthetic chemicals and all sorts of hard to pronounce compounds isn’t new, really. Natural beauty products have come a long way though, so it follows that health products would eventually get the makeover too.

In fact, despite what you may think modern natural deodorant is much more sophisticated–and effective, as it turns out–than just splashing some patchouli on your pits.

So back to my trial. First to source a goodie. There are plenty of brands out there, most based in the US, where the natural deodorant market is apparently quite advanced. But finding a local option comes with a bonus layer of ‘supporting the community’ feels and my search turns up a delightful little jar of Erica Brooke Natural Deodorant Crème by Brisbane-based Erica Brooke Skincare.

Recommended to me (and sold by) master facialist Natalie Sellars, founder of Kindred Toxin Free, the little jar of creme is aesthetically pleasing so let’s hope it follows through with the olfactory goods too.

I open the jar and take a tentative sniff. Good start; I’m getting notes of vanilla, coconut and what the label tells me is neroli–a pleasing citrusy type scent.

The hand application is a little trickier, mostly as you try to figure out how much is enough, but not dissimilar to applying a moisturiser. I warm it up by rubbing between my fingertips and then rub into my underarms. The texture is quite lovely, really easy to spread and not super greasy. This particular version is made from shea butter, coconut oil, sodium bicarbonate, arrowroot, vanilla extract plus neroli, rosemary and sweet orange but is available in unscented too.  

The first few days that I use it, I’m working from home with little activity and barely any walking, and it lasts a full eight or so hours, before the scent starts to wear off. So far, so good.

On day four, I’m a tad anxious as I leave the house because I’m worried that it’s just going to instantaneously stop working, leaving me stranded like some kind of stinking island in a sea of well deodorised people.

At the first sign of sweat–thanks to a brisk walk/run to catch the bus–I’m about to pull the pin and go home to slather my underarms with all the chemicals I can find. Everything seems normal though; no one is walking past, noses held and judgemental gazes averted, so I figure I’m in the clear for now.

The sweating continues (an important distinction: this is deodorant, not anti-perspirant) but surprisingly, the Erica Brooke has my back. Even though I cool down and heat up numerous times throughout the fairly jam-packed day, the pleasant smell remains consistent until I change into my workout gear for hockey training. I decide not to reapply before exercising to really put it through its paces and that’s probably the limit. By the time I get home, there’s little neroli or vanilla to speak of but even a commercial deodorant would struggle with 70 minutes of intense activity.

I’m lucky that I seem to have avoided the ill effects of switching from chemical to natural but it’s common for first time users to have a reaction to the sodium bicarbonate. If your underarms become red, hot, itchy, sore or peel, don’t stress it’s normal but you’ll need to undergo what Erica refers to as a ‘pit detox’.

Over the next few days, I overcome a couple of weak moments where I nearly reach for the old not-so-faithful deo but manage to stick with it. Willpower, on point.

All in all, I’d call this a success. I didn’t lose any friends, and I was around a fair amount of people, plenty of whom would be more than happy to tell me I was a little on the nose. Despite the cooler weather, I think it will still be an option in summer, just with more frequent application.

And if the potential health risks associated with using aluminium-based deodorants are a concern, then it’s a no-brainer.

Looking for more health tips? Check out this healthy chia pudding recipe!

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