I switched to 'natural' deodorant—here's what happened
My underarms and body have thanked me.
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If you’ve been trying to incorporate more natural and sustainable products into your life, switching from regular deodorant to a natural one can seem like a logical next step. Native, a U.S.-based natural deodorant company, has been getting rave reviews online with customers praising its minimalist design, unique fragrance selection, and effectiveness. Like other similar natural deodorants, Native is aluminum-free, paraben-free, sulphate-free and cruelty-free.
After reading reviews claiming "it's the best natural deodorant out there" I wanted to see what all the hype was about. This was harder than it sounds because the trendy deodorant was difficult to come by in Canada until recently. It could be purchased from Amazon Canada and the Native website provided you were willing to pay sky-high shipping fees and import duties. The good news is that the natural deodorant is finally available to purchase in the Great White North so after procuring some bottles I tried it out to see if it worked as well as a regular deodorant.
Natural deodorant vs. antiperspirant
Native gives their new customers a fair warning that it can take up to 14 days to get the maximum effectiveness out of Native when making the switch. Needless to say, I was worried about sweating and smelling for the first two weeks of my test.
But Meng Li, VP of Marketing at Native, explained to me that the transition period is natural, especially for someone who used antiperspirant prior to the switch to natural deodorant. Antiperspirant uses aluminum to block sweat ducts, which can take time (as long as two weeks) to leave the body after you stop using it.
“When people are using antiperspirant and making the switch to a natural deodorant, what we'll often hear from them is that they'll feel extra wetness or it feels very different because of that process of not using aluminum,” Li said. “It can take time for those ducts to get unplugged and adjust to a natural deodorant.”
Although research on whether aluminum is harmful to our health isn’t definitive, there’s something about putting natural products on my body that feels more, well, natural. Li explained that although there are studies out there that link aluminum to cancer, Native has not done these studies themselves, and therefore cannot and does not make these claims. However, they are a proponent of using more natural products.
“In general, there's this concept of using this synthetic material to prevent your body from doing what it's meant to do naturally,” she said. “It's something, in general, that isn't great.”
Li also told me that baking soda—an ingredient in Native used to block order and absorb wetness—can irritate some skin, but any redness should go away as your body adjusts to the baking soda. Although I never experienced this during my test, it's something to keep in mind if you have sensitive skin.
What it's like to use a natural deodorant
With these warnings in mind, I began my own transition to Native. My first thought upon opening my first stick was that the formula applied just like a “normal” deodorant, though it felt a little harder and less smooth. Bonus: I didn’t find any streaks or white marks on my clothing either. The coconut scent was also less overwhelming than the typical deodorant I use.
Throughout my trial run, I used Native every day. For the sake of testing, I only applied Native once in the morning on regular days, and one additional time before my workouts. It stood up to long days in the office, workouts, a particularly stressful flight, and even a two-and-a-half-hour hike. Before I entered a room, I warned everyone and their mother that I was testing a deodorant and to please tell me if I smelled. No one mentioned anything to me about my odour, which means either they were too polite or my smell wasn’t that noticeable or unpleasant.
The sweet smell of the deodorant, unfortunately, went away within two hours—but I was thankfully left with a neutral scent rather than pit stank—a major win in my book.
I felt like my underarms were wetter than usual in terms of sweat, but not enough to create massive pit stains. I suppose that’s what our bodies were “naturally” meant to do, and I never felt overly sweaty during my testing period.
“Ultimately what we tell people is that you will sweat,” Li said. “When you use natural deodorant, you're not blocking the sweat ducts, so you will sweat.”
What I liked about Native deodorant
- Feels more natural and "wholesome"
- Applies like typical deodorant
- Holds up to my daily life
- Incredible scents to choose from
- Available in stores and online
What I found lacking about Native deodorant
- The nice smell goes away after about two hours
- My pits felt very wet after switching (initially)
- More expensive than regualr deodorant
How I felt after using Native deodorant for a month
After the two-week transition process was over, I did notice that my armpits were a little less wet, but there really wasn’t anything particularly life-changing about using Native. It worked just like any normal deodorant would—which I would consider a success.
Although the wetness never fully went away, you do get used to the feeling and it does seem to lessen over time. In fact, I think that because my sweat ducts weren’t clogged with aluminum, I was actually less susceptible to massive sweat stains as I did while using antiperspirant. It’s as if, because my pits were freer, they didn’t overflow with stress sweat when the time came.
Native is a little more expensive compared to regular deodorant (around $19 a stick), but I'll stick with it in my daily life. To me, the use of natural products and the sweet smell of coconut are completely worth it. Plus, they have new scents every season, like Vanilla & Rose or Aloe & Eucalyptus, and they make other natural products too, like toothpaste, soap, and body wash.
Where to buy Native deodorant
You can order Native deodorant directly from their site and purchase individual sticks or sample packs. And if you really love it, you can save 17% with their subscribe-and-save program and never worry about running out. Shipping to Canada is free if you spend USD$30 or purchase a subscription. Shipping to Canada can take up to 12 business days so keep that in mind before ordering. The scent options include seasonal selections and "classic" scents that are more robust than what you'll find in stores. They even offer custom scents where you take a quick quiz and they make you your own bar based on your answers.
If you aren't ready to commit to a subscription or just want to try out the deodorant without meeting the USD$30 shipping threshold, Native deodorant is also available online at Shoppers Drug Mart for $18.99. Although the scent selection may be smaller, it's really convenient when you're in a pinch and don't want to be a smelly mess while you wait for your seasonal or custom scents.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.