So you’ve made the decision to switch to aluminum-free deodorant. Perhaps you’re curious why everyone’s fussing over deodorant without aluminum, considering it’s a big trend that’s dominating the grooming aisle. Maybe you’ve had negative skin reactions in the past and want to try products without harsh chemicals. Or maybe you just prefer to use more natural products in general, whether it’s for your skincare, cleaning products or food.
No matter your reasons, your body will go through a change for the better once you switch to aluminum-free deodorant. And although the benefits are worthy, the transition period warrants some explanation up front. We created this guide to walk you through the typical detox period, or as we like to say, the “Deo Detox.” We find that if you know what to expect and you’re armed with some pro-tips from people who’ve been there before, your experience will be much improved.
- What’s the deal with aluminum in deodorant, anyway?
- Is aluminum in deodorant bad?
- What to expect when you switch to aluminum-free deodorant
- Final tips
What’s the deal with aluminum in deodorant, anyway?
Before we jump into the Deo Detox specifics, let’s get a few things straight about what you’re detoxing from in the first place. Aluminum is a chemical found in antiperspirants, and its purpose is to prevent you from sweating. It does so by physically plugging your sweat glands so your sweat can’t escape.
Antiperspirant and deodorant are distinct, although many products on the market are a combination of antiperspirant and deodorant. Deodorants are designed to prevent or mask body odor. They don’t prevent the release of sweat from sweat glands, although they can include ingredients to absorb sweat once it has been released.
Is aluminum in deodorant bad?
There isn’t one crystal clear and definitive answer on whether aluminum is bad or good. There has been public discussion about aluminum’s links to cancer, but the American Cancer Association has said there is not a concrete scientific link between them. That being said, there are lots of reasons why you might not want to interfere with your body’s natural sweating process or introduce metal-based chemicals directly to your skin. For example, there are many health benefits of sweating and considerations if you have sensitive skin. We’ve also outlined a more general list of the overall benefits of switching to an aluminum-free deodorant, if you want to learn more.
What to expect when you switch to aluminum-free deodorant
So back to the matter at hand: The Deo Detox. You're probably wondering: How long will it take to adjust? Will you sweat more during the adjustment period? Will you smell different? Read on.
Everyone detoxes at their own pace, so be patient and use the tips below as a guide. You can always use our Deo Detox Hotline (ok ok, it’s our customer service team, but it’s essentially the same thing) with any questions. We’ve heard it all, so don’t be shy.
If you know what’s coming—and have the right products to help you along the way—the switch to aluminum-free deodorant will be a cinch—and good for you too. Here’s what to expect.
Even after you ditch antiperspirant, your pores will still have residual aluminum in them. After all, those sweat-preventing metals were designed to stay in your skin for a long time to keep you from sweating. You probably won’t sweat or smell much in the first week. Just know some bodies process these chemicals faster than others, so be patient as yours adjusts.
During this week, you’ll begin applying your new aluminum-free deodorant. You should apply it to clean, dry armpits -- the ideal time would be after you shower and dry off.
You should not, we repeat not, experience redness, burning, itching, or rashes under your arms. Reactions like those are likely caused by an ingredient in your new product and are a signal that you should stop using it immediately. Even though aluminum-free and natural deodorant don’t have aluminum, they can have lots of ingredients in them that your skin hasn’t seen before -- and everyone’s skin reacts to ingredients differently. Rashes from aluminum-free deodorant may be caused by ingredients such as fragrance, phthalates, talc, alcohol, BHT, baking soda, essential oils and mineral oil.
(To be clear, our line of aluminum-free deodorants doesn’t contain harsh chemicals like alcohol or phthalates, and we offer formulas specifically made for sensitive skin as well. But we want you to be fully informed as you try different brands and make the best decision for your own skin. Even formulas designed for sensitive skin could irritate some people so try for yourself and discontinue use if you experience any reaction.)
At this point your body has likely cleared away a good amount of the aluminum it had stored. Without the aluminum plugging its sweat glands, your skin can now regulate your body heat and get rid of the small amounts of toxins your body releases through sweat.
Around this time, the backed up acids in your sweat will make their way to your skin’s surface. There, the natural bacteria on your skin will begin to break it down, which causes body odor. Your body odor is probably going to smell different, and potentially stronger, than what you’re used to. That’s because your body is simultaneously purging its sweat glands and recalibrating the balance of microscopic organisms that live on your skin. It’s establishing a new normal.
You’ll want to keep using your new deodorant and consider re-applying it throughout the day to keep the odor-causing bacteria in check (travel-size is handy for this). Another thing we’ve found to be effective is to wipe your pits with a wet wipe (try these) when you start to have BO and then reapply your deodorant. Remember: this is the hard part, it doesn’t last long, and it doesn’t mean your natural deodorant doesn’t work.
By week three, the odor you noticed last week should reduce as your body has now released most of the pent up toxins. But it has also released nearly all of the aluminum, which means you may begin to sweat more. This is temporary, but plan accordingly. You may want to wear breathable shirts so your sweat doesn’t show through or try to stay in temperature controlled environments. Those wipes can come in handy here too to wipe off sweat. Or you can just own it and tell everyone about your switch to aluminum-free deodorant ;)
WEEK 4 & BEYOND
Congratulations, the hard part is over. For the most part, your body has purged nearly everything it needed to. As your body continues to become accustomed to living without aluminum, its sweat and odor levels will self-regulate and begin to function normally. That means you’ll sweat slightly more than when you used antiperspirant, but considerably less than if you were to use nothing at all. And if your aluminum-free deodorant is good at what it does, it will absorb sweat so you stay dry and fresh.
If you haven’t made up your mind on which aluminum-free deodorant to use, try one of ours. They work double duty to reduce the amount of odor-causing bacteria on your skin and absorb sweat. Plus they go on clear and non-sticky. Bonus: because they don’t contain aluminum you’ll never have to deal with those dreaded yellow armpit stains on your shirts again. We have our classic fresh and clean scents, formulas for sensitive skin, and even an unscented option with prebiotics. Lots of great choices.
Do I need to do an “armpit detox” first?
We know some in the wellness space recommend doing an “armpit detox” before switching to a natural deodorant, claiming that it reduces the odor-causing bacteria and hence eases the transition. An “armpit detox” is essentially homemade face mask for your pits and is made with ingredients like vinegar and clay.
Our take? We won’t stand in your way, but it isn’t really necessary. Your body is a powerful detoxing machine - once you stop applying aluminum, all you really need is your new deodorant, soap and water to keep your body odor in check.
Final tips for switching to aluminum-free deodorant
A few parting tips before you make the switch:
- Plan ahead. Keep some cleansing wipes in your bag or pocket to control odor and sweat as needed. Even a damp paper towel with some soap on it will work in a pinch.
- Wear breathable and/or white shirts so your sweat doesn’t show through.
- Don’t be afraid to apply your new aluminum-free deodorant more than once a day. It’s best if you are able to wipe your pits with soap and water first to minimize the bacteria during this period.
- Apply your new deodorant to dry, clean pits for maximum effectiveness.
You’ve got this. And remember: like anything worthwhile, it’s worth fighting (a few short weeks) for!
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