“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
– Margaret Atwood
No one wants to smell like the hot stank of 4th-grade classroom after gym class on a humid day in June.
It’s just nasty.
And yet, I’m certain there were at least a few afternoons in the last two months that it was me. Yeah, I was that smelly one.
Maybe you noticed if you got too close to me in a faculty meeting. Did you notice? I’d wager that yes, yes you did.
I don’t blame you if you hesitated to sit by me. Seriously, there have been a handful of days when I’ve tried to move away from myself.
Since ditching myself is an impossible feat, I do a little self-check on my lunch break. I jam my nose in my armpit to measure my reek factor. Yeah, I keep it classy.
Based on the smell, I freshen up with a spritz (see below).
You may wonder, why does she smell so bad? Is there something wrong with her? Doesn’t she use deodorant? In short, I was mid-experiment – sorry about that.
I started this trial and error a few months ago when I noticed an undeniable smell wafting off my third grader’s t-shirt. Shit, have we reached this point?
I didn’t want my baby girl slapping chemicals under her pits to keep the onion smell at bay, so a quick Google search led me to Fresh Kidz Girls deodorant.
I’ve toyed with natural deodorants for years, but with weak results. I kept falling back to Degree or truth be told, none. Au natural. But my nine-year-old’s need for an underarm freshener upped the ante for me to pave the natural route.
My plan was to test one deodorant per week and then report back. It took three months because no 1 single deodorant consistently lasted the entire day.
I so want to say, here’s the one … use this one, but I can’t.
Here’s what I can say:
- I don’t naturally smell like roses (it’s a cruel reality, but it’s truth). There’s a human smell to me by the end of the day.
- Everyone’s body chemistry and diet is different. Your bestie may swear by one brand and it’s sub par for you. What works magic for me may or may not work for you. There are no guarantees.
- You need to consider your personal hygiene. I don’t shower everyday. It’s every two or three days. There, I said it. I even work out some of those days and still don’t shower. I sometimes forget deodorant or simply don’t bother with it. I keep a backup deodorant in my backpack for those days. A little spritz between classes and I’m almost shower fresh again.
- You should sweat. Natural deodorants allow your skin to work well, naturally – release toxins, control body temperature, heal, and breathe. Sweating isn’t the problem. It’s the bacteria that creates the smell.
- Know what smells you like. I favor lavender, but there are many natural ingredients, such as baking soda and essential oils of tea tree, lavender, aloe, lemon grass that are effective in removing bacteria.
- The fabric of your clothing may effects how you smell. If there’s a certain outfit I want to wear (see above), I need to remember to shower the night before or day of. If I don’t, I’m unable to regulate the stink factor.
- Your skin is your body’s largest organ and it’s really good at absorbing what you put on it. Do you really want that to be chemicals? The movie Stink! makes you think.
- Not all natural deodorants are created equal. “Natural,” doesn’t always equate chemical-free. Even if you see the “natural” label, it’s prudent to keep reading.
Eight natural products to the test, with varying results.
Tom’s of Maine. Buy it here. The first time I tried Tom’s I was pregnant with my now nine-year old. The lavender-scented stick almost encouraged my body to reek like a hippie at Bonnaroo. I swear I smelt worse with it on then without. My second go with the brand marked similar results – B.O. Central. I had better luck the third try. Maybe because I used the unscented variety. Dunno. But Tom’s is 1 for 3 for me. My recommendation is low.
Lavanila. Buy it here. I so wanted to love this beaut, the damask packing appeals to me. Plus it was recommended by one of my favorite people. I tried this one for two weeks – in a row, but I couldn’t ignore the results. I smelled like powder and B.O. had a fight and the B.O. won. Big time. I was wearing this deodorant when I took the above picture. That day both my husband and my daughters commented on my rip stench.
Geodeo. Buy it here. My acupuncturist recommended this brand, and I pretty much fall into line with everything she says about wellness. Both her and her husband use it, so I knew it was strong enough for a man. It did its’ job if I showered that day. If I didn’t, I needed a fresh spray mid-day. That makes it my runner up. I also don’t like how you can’t simply pop the top on the deodorant when you’re finito. You have to turn the stick back down before you can press on the top. That’s time I don’t have.
Herban Cowboy. Buy it here. I really love the smell of the Blossom. It’s the For Her Maximum Protection deodorant. This one is the winner for me. You know, strong enough for a man, but … this one is For Her. This one came closest to five stars and is my top rec. It’s the deodorant that lasted until the evening for me. In fact, it’s such a winner for our family that my oldest stole it from me (that little. I mean, really what the … kidding, it’s all good. We share. She’s got the Blossom scent and I’m now using the Love one).
Primal Pit Paste. Buy it here. This is an add-on to the original post, but it’s too golden to keep to myself. Several of my friends were sold on this brand. I didn’t try it because I was lovin’ the Herban Cowboy. It’s still a winner for me, but on some days, I did smell more than I liked, so I thought I would give the Primal Pit Paste a go. This is it folks! This is the one. Primal Pit Paste lasts the whole day through. If you want to go natural, this is the one to snatch up.
EO Deodorant Spray. Buy it here. I’m dating myself, but I’ve loved this company since 1999. This is the spray that I keep in my backpack. Lavender is my preferred smell, so spray on.
Aura Cacia Room and Body Spray. Buy it here. I have both the peppermint and the lavender. I prefer the peppermint and use it in the a.m. before I apply my deodorant if I’m going sans shower.
Other Natural Alternatives
Vinegar. It stings a little, but it’s a powerful bacteria-fighting ingredient. I put a little water and vinegar on a hand towel and stick it under my armpits for about 5 to 10 minutes while I’m typing on the computer in the morning. I do a vinegar bird bath about once a week and then I take a shower. Although the smell dissipates, I don’t care to smell like Pop chips for a couple hours.
Soap and water. If I don’t shower, I wipe off the bacteria the old fashioned way. I lather up some soap and clean under my pits.
My final results: It works for me to combine all of the above. The route I choose depends on how I started my day. Did I shower? Did I run six miles or kick box before breakfast? If I shower, I can get by with the Herban Cobway plus a spot check and possible spray. If I use vinegar, same thing. If I don’t shower and simply soap and water, I need usually one to two sprays during the day to keep it fresh.
My takeaway: Yes, natural deodorants may need to be applied more than once throughout the day, but the health benefits of not marinating your skin in aluminum is worth the extra effort, i.m.o.
Do you have another natural route you can add to this list?
Cheers to a better smelling Spring.