Should I Quit My Toxic Deodorant?

I smell great, I hope!
I smell great, I hope!

According to the Internet, your average, basic drug store deodorant is full of crap. Aluminum, parabens, steareth, propylene glycol and tricolsan– I have no idea what most of those words are, but according to a lot of people, they are not a good thing to rub on your under arms.

The jury is out on whether or not anti-perspirant is linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s and kidney disease.

But people are constantly doing studies on it, so there must be some there there, right? Plus, the Internet is full of stories about how toxic deodorant is. And if the Internet says it’s true, it must be true!

When I really think about it, it does seem harmful to apply a daily dose of a chemical that blocks sweat glands from releasing what they were designed to do. Your skin is your biggest organ, and if it needs to sweat, we should probably let it.

So I decided to quit anti-perspirant.

But guys, this was a really hard decision for this once extremely sweaty Betty.

It started when all embarrassing things rear their ugly head: Puberty. I remember realizing that I kinda stunk at Christmas, circa 1992. I stole my dad’s Dry Idea (the idea is to be dry…. I never really understood that branding), and then a month or so later, graduated to Teen Spirit’s Orchard Blossom. Things were all fine and dandy until about age 15, when I started pitting out every shirt. Like, in an incredibly humiliating way.

My life was this commercial:

This is when I discovered Certain Dry, which is a prescription-strength roll-on number that stung like hell, but worked like a charm. I could raise my hand in class, anxiety-free! Bonus (or horrifying): it outlasted showers, so I only had to use it a few times a week. And eventually, when Secret came out with their Platinum line, I downgraded from the stinging clinical stuff to something strong enough for a man, but PH balanced for a woman (I know that was some other deodorant’s tag line, but I still love it ’cause OBVIOUSLY MEN SWEAT WAY MORE THAN WOMEN… except for me when I was in junior high, whatever).

Ten years ago, a doctor friend told me she’s quit anti-perspirant years ago (cancer, Alzheimers, blah blah blah), which prompted a bunch of my friends quit. But I was so scarred from my teenage years of being “unsure,” that I didn’t think this move was for me… even though I had forgotten to apply deodorant on a few occasions and hadn’t noticed much sweating or smell.

“Natural” stuff doesn’t every really work, does it? I mean, I’ve tried a lot of natural remedies, and results have been mixed. Like natural bug spray? Puhleeze, I tried it and immediately turned myself into an Old Country Buffet for mosquitos.

However, I keep reading about the negative side effects of anti-perspirant and thought, oh what the hell, let’s give this a whirl.

And just to really take it to a hippy-dippy momma level, I did an armpit detox first. Basically, I applied a bentonite clay/cider vinegar mask to the area for a few days in a row.

My DIY bentonite clay detox mask.
My DIY bentonite clay detox mask.

I was completely skeptical, but noticed less odor and sweating immediately.

New thing: Armpit Selfies.
New thing: Armpit Selfies.

The same day I started the pit detox, I decided to try Primal Pit Paste’s natural deodorant— both the primer spray and pit paste, to be used in succession or alone (PS this is not a paid placement; I wish!). I’d heard good things from friends, plus the branding and fragrances sounded great. Coriander sage? Why don’t we spray it in my mouth while we’re at it!

Dear Primal Pit Paste, Fingers crossed I still have people who want to hug me after I use you. Love, Molly
Dear Primal Pit Paste, Fingers crossed I still have people who want to hug me after I use you. Love, Molly

It’s been two weeks since I quit my anti-perspirant, and I’ve had zero regrets. Not only do I not sweat as much as I thought I did, but I’m way less smelly, too. I do some pretty sweaty exercise, but I haven’t missed the anti-perspirant at all. I asked the hubby to do the ol’ sniff test, and I passed with flying colors. Plus, I love how the Primal Pit Paste smells and it’s kind of a delight to spray on the olde under arms. I feel fancy!

I guess somewhere in the past 15 years, I grew out of sweating like crazy. Maybe it’s cause my hormones are under control, maybe it’s because I don’t regularly feast on Pop Tarts and Cherry Coke (hello, freshman in HIGH SCHOOL 15!). Whatever the case, I’m glad I took the leap and tried going the natural deodorant route.

You guys, the natural stuff is working just as well, if not better than the chemical junk.

Yes, you should quit your toxic deodorant!

I’m taking my hippie pit spray and Chacos and never looking back.

* * *

I’m considering trying other natural products. Next up? DIY sunscreen with coconut oil and some other non-toxic stuff– a terrifying prospect since I burn faster than a handful of almonds in a frying pan.

What other natural products have you wanted to try, but are too scared? Tell me & I’ll be your detox/natural product guinea pig.

PS Other earth momma Hey Eleanor moments: the time I quit shaving my armpits, the time I quit makeup (loved it!) and the time I went four days without washing my hair.

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Comments (28)

  • Kelly 5 years ago Reply

    The other benefit – your white shirts won’t get those annoying yellow pit-stains. I quit antiperspirant years ago and my white shirts love me for it.

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    OMG, YES!!!! I can’t wait.

  • Bruce Mogren 5 years ago Reply

    Hey Molly, about a year ago I was watching a TV commercial about testosterone, which was applied by rolling it on you arm pits like deodorant. Holy Cow! What else enters your body through applying it to your pits! I totally agree with your decision, I switched to the "All Natural" Arm and Hammer deodorant about 6 months ago and haven’t noticed any difference in "Pit Control".

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    That is so gross on weird! Glad you made the switch.

  • Ashley 5 years ago Reply

    I already almost never wear deodorant (I have never been terribly smelly…plus another work from home perk: no sweaty commuting time) but when I do I wonder if it’s really good to be wearing. I’ve seen a few reviews of natural deodorants this week….it’s getting hot, so definitely the time to look into it!

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    I like a little something, which is why this primal pit paste is the bee’s knees. I especially like the spray (it’s so refreshing!), but feel I need both items to really make me feel "sure."

  • Brianna 5 years ago Reply

    This has been on my mind! Thank you for spelling out the simplicity of making the switch.

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    de nada!

  • Cindy 5 years ago Reply

    I’ve gone back and forth with natural and conventional deodorants. And definitely used Certain Dry for a while! I always feel guilting rolling on the drug store stuff…especially since I’m nursing. I have some lavanilla but I don’t find it that effective and it’s expensive. I’m totally going to try this! The detox and the pit paste. Thanks for this post!

    Ps, I totally made jorts from your previous post and while I’m not going to wear them out and about, I love them for gardening and hanging in the backyard!

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    Let me know how the detox thing works for you. I swear i felt a difference, but maybe it was a placebo effect.

    Bravo on the jorts!

  • Neat! I would totally give this a try. Can you buy it locally, or just through their site?

  • Derp, I suppose their store locator feature would get the job done.

  • Niki 5 years ago Reply

    I love this idea and I used to use the Soapwalla deodorant and it worked great… Except it caused my underarm skin to turn brown and start peeling… I think it was because of the baking soda in it. Does primal pit have the same problem?

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    NO! I mean, I don’t know, but yikes that sounds terrible! I have not had this issue, but I’ve only been at it two weeks. The first I’ve heard of this side effect.

  • Adrienne 5 years ago Reply

    Just FYI, you can make the same thing at home for super cheap, just google up any one of the many recipes but it’s basically coconut oil, baking soda, and a few drops of essential oil(s) of your choice.

    I tried it years ago and it really does work fabulously… until you have an allergic reaction to the baking soda and then have a super itchy armpit rash. (it took several weeks of using it for that to develop.) I still haven’t tried again to see if it works with all-arrowroot powder or what.

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    Good to know– thanks for the info.

  • Kathryn 5 years ago Reply

    Sometimes it’s like your blogs posts are reading my mind. I’ve been considering switching my deodorant and lotions to something less chemical-filled for a while, but I’m never happy when I do try something new. Those crystal deodorant stones – don’t work. But armpit detox?? Having trouble imagining how that helps you not smell, but it’s worth a try!

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    I say it’s worth a try. Like I said, it might be placebo… but it might not!

    Kathryn 5 years ago

    I started using Primal Pit Paste two weeks ago, and I love it! I just ordered a large stick to replace my trial size. Thanks for FINALLY pushing me to try a more natural deodorant!

  • Heather Liedl 5 years ago Reply

    I made the switch about a month ago and my peace of mind alone is worth it! My mom had breast cancer (14 year survivor!) and my aunt died of cancer that started in her uterus. I’ve been seriously thinking & dragging my feet on getting the genetic testing done but have thought ahead of "what will I do if I come back positive for the mutated gene?" I’m not ready/willing/committed enough to do a full mastectomy so my next answer came to what I put into my body – food, deodorant + other hygiene things, exercise, and external substances (cleaning stuff) I can control. Long story short – I started with Jason and it’s been so-so – the stress sweat gets to me. I have Soapwalla’s on my shelf up-to-bat and in case that turns my pits brown (yikes!), I will definitely try Pimal Paste – thank you! I’m totally going to do the detox too. It feels nice to be kind to your pits for once 🙂

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    I totally hear you on waiting out the genetic testing, but think you are on the right track with making those diet and product decisions. Good for you!

    And keep me posted on the pit detox 😉

  • Tiffany 5 years ago Reply

    I switched to Primal paste maybe 2 months ago and did the armpit detox at that time. Looooved it. Then my armpits all of a sudden started to swell, turned brown and had a major red rash. I stopped immediately. Did another detox and switched to a natural deodorant that doesn’t have baking soda in it. The red rash and swelling went away and the brown skin stain is starting to dissipate but isn’t gone. Guessing it was an allergic reaction to the baking soda. Super bummed because what I’m using now is okay but I have a slight hippy smell of something sweet and b.o. Lame.

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    Good to know! I had a few days of irritation, so I dialed it back and all is now well. 🙂

  • Paige 5 years ago Reply

    Eleven years ago I had a roommate who used crystal salt deodorant and she was normal and didn’t smell so I picked up the habit too. The immediate thing I noticed was that I sweat a lot less, like almost not at all, compared to the soggy smelly armpit stains I would get with daily antiperspirant use. A year or so ago I read debate on the internet that the crystal salt deodorant still wasn’t ideal since it contained aluminum so I quit that too and haven’t used anything since.

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    I can personally attest that you do not stink. Carry on!

  • Lauren 5 years ago Reply

    This is my first time reading your blog. You’re hilarious and a mind-reader and I love it. I inherited my grandmother’s sweating genes, so I’m like you–I have had a horrible sweat problem since jr high. I was delighted when clinical versions came out because that has been the only thing that works. I’ve slowly been changing my buying habits to be more conscious of the products I’m using on/in my body, and I think it’s time to try this.

    My embarrassing confession is that the area between my boobs is like a third armpit. Sweat. B.O. So I’ve applied my drugstore deodorant there, too, for several years now. And now that I’m really thinking about it, that scares me! I’m going to find this stuff ASAP!!! Thanks!

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    Boob sweat is the worst! Definitely try the detox first (and do it a few times… I’ve done it about once every three weeks). I swear it works.

    Welcome to HE & thanks for reading!

  • Kathleen Anderson 5 years ago Reply

    Molly! You linked to this in your recent post and I would love a natural deodorant update, please! I’ve been thinking of making the switch for a while, but made the fatal error of trying Tom’s again around the time you first posted this and lost my nerve for the summer. Now that it’s cooling down again, I’d love to experiment a bit. Thanks!

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