I stopped wearing deodorant—here’s what happened

For a woman, I’ve always tended to sweat a lot. I mean… a lot. Not just under my arms; I also get that upper lip sweat when I’m nervous, and the palms of my hands get sweaty for seemingly no reason at all. It’s been a problem all my life, and for that reason, I know all the tricks.

I’ve typically avoided heather grey clothing like the plague, because for those in the know, that’s the color most likely to darken the second you start to sweat. It’s a good thing I love to wear black, because black clothes are sweaty girl’s best friend. I have also learned to carry essential oils in my purse for mid-day fragrance touch-ups, and an extra deodorant stick for days I might get extra smelly. However, even with these safe-guards, I still found myself smelling and sweating, sweating and smelling, and I switched from regular to clinical deodorant when I was in high school.

I had resigned myself to this life of clinical deodorants and underarm stains until a few years ago, when I started to worry about the massive amount of aluminum I was slathering on my pits. While there hasn’t been any conclusive link between aluminum and cancer, my family has a history of cancer and anything that I can do to lessen the amount of toxins I put in my body, I’m game to try. So I decided to try a deodorant detox and see how I fared without the stuff. Luckily, my family and friends love me no matter how stinky I am, and they were willing to go on the journey with me.

Part of the reason I wanted to try natural deodorants (and eventually ended up going mostly deodorant free) was because my clinical deodorant wasn’t working all that great for me anymore, anyway. I had been experiencing some underarm irritation and smelling pretty ripe, even when I applied deodorant right after showering. I decided that if even clinical deodorant wasn’t working, I had nothing to lose by chucking the stuff and trying something new.

I threw out the store-bought stuff and, as one does, went straight to Pinterest. I wanted to make my own deodorant first with natural ingredients, which ended up being a futile and messy exercise that some people swear by, but honestly, it just made me swear. The recipe I found included coconut oil, baking soda, lemongrass oil, tea tree oil, and peppermint oil; while it smelled wonderful, it didn’t mix properly and ended up a goopy mess in the jar I used. I also had to scoop it out with my hands, which was quite a process. It just was not convenient, and I stopped using it.

A friend of mine suggested that I simply splash tea tree oil on my pits after showering like old-timey men do with aftershave; this actually worked wonderfully, as tea tree oil is an astringent, but it burned on the days that I shaved my armpits. At this point in the process, I was too scared of potential stink to skip those days, so I moved on from this method, too.

I also tried the lemon method, which is exactly what it sounds like. This is something that I think was started by someone on Pinterest to troll us all, and it worked — that is, the trolling, not the deodorizing. After two days of rubbing lemon halves on my underarms while my dogs looked at me in confusion (their head tilts get me every time), I decided to throw my arms up in the air and hand over my DIY methods to the pros. It was time to experiment with natural deodorant.

Eventually, I found a brand of natural deodorant that works for me. It’s made of coconut oil, baking soda, and essential oils for fragrance. It actually works better than the clinical brand I used before; I’ve come to the conclusion that I might’ve become allergic to one or more of the chemicals in traditional deodorants, and that my body was reacting in a way that was, lets say, odorous. Now, using a deodorant made of natural ingredients, I can apply once a day and not worry about it; I can even skip days without smelling offensive.