Put Your Hands Up: My Adventures In Natural Deodorant

Put Your Hands Up: My Adventures In Natural Deodorant Hero Image
Photo: Stocksy

I've just made my first-ever batch of deodorant. From scratch. Granted, I've played on the periphery with lemon slices, lavender oil, and baking soda, which never really yielded anything other than aggravated armpits and lots of sweat. And I'm not a very sweaty person. Then there's the odor issue. As much as we all would like to think our (insert Outkast lyrics here), in reality, even the most hygienic, clean-living, kale-munching, nontoxic-product-using-person still accumulates buildup that has to be excreted.

For a long time I've used that great American stalwart, Secret Powder Fresh Stick. Aluminum, parabens, and chemicals? Check, check, check! But I'm not singling out the brand; most mainstream antiperspirants are filled to the brim with a gaggle of ingredients that shouldn't go anywhere near the vicinity of armpits and breasts.

I've experimented with cleaner and greener products, but much to my dismay, many aren't as natural as they claim to be (do yourself a favor and download the Think Dirty app) and none seem to work on me (cue paranoia). I've tried crystal rocks that you run under water to activate, a million different varieties of herbaceous liquids that make me queasy (I don't want to smell herby under my arms), creams that you have to rub in for minutes (seriously); all promised sweet smells, no sweat, and no nasties.

But I just became more paranoid. Like the hair dysmorphia I encounter every time it's cut, it manifested in being stingy with my hugs, stiff in my interactions, and all that jazz. Not great. At all. Then I found Wellness Mama's recipe for a natural deodorant that was so appealing because of its sum total of five ingredients and every single one already nestled in my kitchen cupboard. Sold.

But as the weeks passed I got angsty or it wasn't workingmaybe one informed the other. And then a miracle happened. I found Agent Nateur Holi(stick) N° 3 (and I was late to the party), a handmade deodorant with ingredients you can eat (coconut oil, beeswax, sunflower, avocado butter, and raw honey), but that's free of GMOs, parabens, sulfates, aluminum, and petroleum.

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I like to take a magnifying glass to essential ingredients and products that are easier on the earth, your armpits, and you conscience. While Agent Nateur's stick o'dreams is my go-to, I also love Schmidt's Cedarwood + Juniper Deodorant, a provocative (yes, deodorants can be provocatively enticing) warm and woody blend that's antiseptic and detoxifying. Just keep in mind you have to be OK with using your fingers and not a stick.

Ursa Major Hoppin' Fresh Deodorant is another beauty cabinet backup. I must confess it was the name that got me at first, but it's a pretty nifty worker: no residue, clean-as-can-be scent (cooling eucalyptus, ginger, rosemary, grapefruit, chamomile, and lemon), and gentle for sensitive underarm skin.

I'm loving the latest and greatest creative approach to the pit problem of our lives. They say a man's charm is in his armpit. Well, I think it's in ours, too. After all, it is in the noseor more precisely, in our sweaty armpitsthat pheromones secreted go to work on our behalf, attracting, luring, and beguiling everything in their wake.

Now, the big question is whether it's time to stop shaving and see, when confronted with my potential prodigious mane of untamed womanhood, what the reaction is. At least I know one thingI'll smell good.

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