Back on the Wagon

I thought of a resolution.

I have one vice that I’ve been trying to kick for years and years.



I’ve been hooked on the stuff since I hit puberty.  My dad used to beg my sisters and I to switch to straight deodorant, offing to buy us what ever kind we wanted, just so long as it was aluminum-free.

There have been many times in my life when I’ve kicked the habit but I always fell off the wagon after a week or so of…smelling.

Now I know that the main function of aluminum is to block perspiration from happening, not smell, but somehow the two are inextricably linked.  Sweat is socially awkward as well but I can handle that one, smelling is straight up socially rude.

Thanks to hippie parents who formed a co-op in rural West Virginia, I grew up washing my hair with paraben-free shampoo and thinking that Dr. Bronner was our family practioner.

Years of living on my own led me a little bit astray and for a while I was easily enticed by the $1.99 drugstore brands for all things cleaning.  Over the last several years I have “cleaned” up my act and gone back to the natural products of my youth.  I feel good about buying a product that is concerned about its environmental and health impact.  Products that use no or less chemicals have a much cleaner manufacturing process and less impact on our water systems.  If they also happen to not contribute to cancers than even better.

And yet I’ve remained loyal to my aluminum-full antiperspirant.

I’ve tried to kick it.  I bought a crystal one, I bought an apricot one, I mixed up corn starch and baking soda.  But I kept going back to the “good” stuff, you know, that neurotoxin that keeps my underarms from regulating heat properly?

The jury is still out on the risk of aluminum but I know that my kidneys need all the help I can give them to stay healthy and after last years cancer scare I want to make every effort to avoid another one.

Any advice to make staying on the aluminum-free wagon a little easier?  I want [brand] names people. 😉


  1. While I don’t have a recommendation, I can give you one not to waste time on – Tom’s brand Lavender scent. It mixed with body odor = not pleasant on the nostrils. The search continues!

  2. thad

    While it can be a rough month or so…my advice is to give up on it all. I thankfully did this when I was in high school and it didn’t matter so much if I smelled a bit, but you have to trust your body to take care of itself. And I promise after about a month of being slightly uncomfortable your body will come into balance and all will be right with your armpits/world. You live far cleaner than I did back in those days, so you might even get off a little easy. I am available to sponsor you and run any necessary interventions.

  3. I have used Toms Apricot deod for a dew years and really like it. The switch is hard at first , but your body should regulate. I love that i no longer get yellow armpits in my white tees like i did from antiperspirant.

  4. Diana

    My deal with your youngest sister is to use the “good stuff” when she knows she’ll sweat hard and not be able to show(long bus rides after band and soccer and to use aluminum free otherwise. Actually I think the verdict IS in on aluminum!

    • Ida

      Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! just ordered the geranium at Rocky Mountain, 7.99 plus 10.00 shipping, $17.99. Hope it works, if so well worth the price! I’ll let you know. I always feel like I’m doing my body wrong every time I slather on my Secret, but other more natural products I’ve tried don’t work and being a stinky girl is just not gonna happen.

      • gracefulfitness

        Remember, apparently you will probably stink for the first few days but it may still end up working after your body adjusts. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten past that place so I want to make sure you don’t write the Rocky Mountain stuff off before it has time to work it’s magic. I will be doing some experimenting over the next several weeks so I look forward to hearing how that stuff works!
        I totally know what you mean about the Secret guilt!

  5. Kerri

    I use the same deal as your mom does with your sister. I use the alum. zirc. for special special occasions, such a beautiful white blouse at a Christmas party, but the rest of the time I don’t find that anything works better than taking a shower every morning and after a workout. I’m not a heavy sweater also so that helps. The flowery smells I think make it worse. My fav is still the crystal.

  6. Totally on board with you about keeping the Aluminum out. I unfortunately have succumbed to a “natural” kind that still has it. The only other type I’ve used that WORKED (even when I worked out) was this brand called Natura, it’s from Brazil, not that easy to come by- unless you don’t mind ordering it online.

    Great topic, thanks for bringing it up!

    • gracefulfitness

      Maybe this discussion will renew your resolve! It’s a tough one, I know, but we can get through this together. 😉

    • gracefulfitness

      Very intrigued..this is what you use? I’m wary of lavender because, although I love the smell, when mixed with other body odor it can smell a little too…earth-momma.

  7. I tried a lot of brands like Tom’s, etc. & was never happy until I started making our own. I always feel like most natural deodorants make me smell “brothy”. Weird. I think the coconut oil made a pretty big difference on odor. We really love ours & were using it for over a year; unfortunately, it seems to have stopped working as well recently. Maybe our bodies got used to it. So for me, I think the trick might be switching between homemade & a commercial one every few weeks or months. I recently bought unscented Crystal body deodorant spray & am really happy with it. No weird smells or body odor, & I haven’t showered since Sunday — which is SO GROSS, I know. :/

  8. Mia

    I use the Crystal stick for everyday, and then on days when I think I’ll be sweating more than usual but want to feel dry, I use Trader Joe’s aluminum and paraben free unscented deodorant with cotton (under $3 I think) after applying the Crystal stick. I know it sounds strange to be using 2 products but I find it to be effective, although I’m not a heavy workout person (only walking, yoga, swimming). Also, the TJ’s deodorant has not stained any of my clothes, which is a plus. I heard (or read?) somewhere that when making the switch from an aluminum product to an aluminum-free product, it may take some time for the aluminum-free product to take effect as your body gets used to it… so you might feel a little uncomfortable during that transition.

    • gracefulfitness

      Yeah, I hadn’t heard that about “natural” deodorants but it’s come up in a few comments so I guess I need to just stink it out!

  9. Tara

    I love Crystal too. It’s by far my favorite. It took some time though! I had to make my BF promise to tell me if I stink…Which he did, once, after I went for a run, did yoga, then took a nap. Haha.
    I usually use the roll-on, unscented, but I like the Rock too (|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=(not%20provided)&__utmv=-&__utmk=171925280).

  10. Same here! I’ve always had a problem with most OTC deodorants just not working on me. Dove is the only one I’ve found that kinda works. I recently ran out of my Dove and have been trying to switch to the Crystal but it really doesn’t work. I’ve heard Funk Butter is pretty good, but I haven’t tried it yet.

    • gracefulfitness

      Thanks Renee! I like Patchouli but it’s the one scent my husband CANNOT stand! I think it brings back bad memories from his days of having dreads. :0

  11. Jo

    Please let us know how this turns out! I’ve been on a quest for a natural deodorant that works for YEARS. I’ve tried every brand I come across, and the closest I’ve ever come to something that I’m really happy with was my own homemade deodorant with coconut oil, arrowroot powder, baking soda, and tea tree oil. It worked fantastic but sometimes the coconut oil stained my clothes so I unfortunately switched back to the dreaded antiperspirant.

  12. Sarah

    Yay! I’m so excited to be able to share this with you because I have been off of anti-perspirants for 20 years when my mother’s friend, who was a scientist, convinced her that they led to breast cancer. Since then, I have used everything mentioned above and I liked them just fine. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been using either this: or this: I love them both but they are pricey.

    I discovered this recipe a month ago, however, that works exactly the same as the Avalon and Weleda deodorants. It works PERFECTLY and you can use any essential oil you love- just follow the directions for the right proportions. SO cost effective and natural. I love it so much and you can use it anytime you want during the day- I use it in the morning and after exercising – and before I change- just because I love it. It’s just water, rubbing alcohol and essential oils.

    I hope you try it and love it.

  13. Colleen

    I too was hooked on anti-perspirant until I found out that I’m pregnant. Since then I’ve been using Tom’s lavender. Now, it most definitely does not last 24 hours. I carry a spare stick of it in my purse to do touch-ups during the day. I will read the comments to try to find something more long-lasting. Thanks for writing about this!

  14. I switched over a few months ago to Tom’s Lemongrass. The scent is really refreshing and doesn’t give a weird smell if you do start to sweat. I have been pretty happy with it, but the real test will be summer months 😉

  15. Sonya

    IMPORTANT TIP! Regardless of what product you take, be sure to take a few chlorophyll pills daily and this will help extremely with body odor. Just pick up chlorophyll at any health food store. I switched about a year ago to deodorants and was self conscious at first, but I have learned to control B.O. really well. I use Crystal roll-on, the regular is okay, but the chamomille & green tea seems to work better and smells like a little floral perfume. Alba brand with aloe is “okay”, but as soon as you heat up your body temp, your pits kinda stay sticky; therefore good in the winter when it is cold, horrible in the summer. Good luck.

    • gracefulfitness

      I read this post a few days ago and it’s exactly what reminded me it was time to kick the aluminum habit for good! I drink a calcium and magnesium supplement most nights so maybe that helps keep my stink down.

  16. Meg

    I think the secret with natural deodorant is re-application. I used to use Weleda, the spray on stuff. It was pretty good. But then I tried Dr. Haushka’s and have been using that ever since. It’s pretty good. With both Weleda and Dr. Haushka’s, if you catch a wiff, reapplication does a good job of making everything fresh again.
    See you soon!

  17. It’s funny you posted about this because you sound exactly like me Faith! Last year I tried the switch and just couldn’t do it %100. I would wear Dove for rehearsals/performances and then wear a natural deodorant at other times. I’m still looking for one that works for me…..Tom’s of Maine doesn’t. I’m re-trying this brand which you should check out! It’s a Utah company and I like their stuff I think!

    I’ve heard good things about the Weleda spray but I just can’t get myself to spend money on it!!

    • gracefulfitness

      I know, it’s just not cool to stink when you are dancing with other people!
      I do like Bubble and Bee so maybe I’ll check their’s out.

  18. Kristy

    Hi Faith! I’m a little late reading this post…but I went through this same process recently and tried SEVERAL different kinds of natural deodorants. The best one by far is Avalon Organics’ deodorant spray. I LOVE the lavender scent. Unfortunately it looks like they aren’t making that scent anymore, so I’m going to try to make my own with alcohol, water and lavender essential oil (thanks for the recipe link, Sarah!)

    My best advice is to be patient. You will most likley feel a little stinky the first few months. But I promise, it goes away. These days, I feel like I smell nice and fresh all day long, even if I get sweaty. Good luck!!

  19. Shay

    Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions. I have used natural products for years, then started working 12 hour night shifts on a busy OB unit and found that I was getting quite stinky. I figured if I had trouble smelling myself, then pregnant women, who are very sensitive to smells, were having trouble smelling me too. I went to chemical deos for work and found that even they stop working after awhile. I use a crystal when I am not working, but am excited for the suggestions to try to be chemical free all the time. Thanks Faith for bringing up this topic that we all deal with.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.