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Switching to a natural deodorant: How long does it take to adjust?

adjusting to natural deodorant

There are many ways to reduce the number of toxic chemicals entering your skin, one of which is switching to a natural deodorant. The hot debate is always if it’s worth it, plus the fear factor that you may sweat more during the switching process. So, how long does it take to adjust to natural deodorant? Let’s break it down and set the record straight…

Why do we sweat?

The easiest way of explaining why we sweat is to think of it as a built-in air-conditioning unit for your body, of which, you have around four million sweat glands – all that help you to release the correct amount of sodium (salt) and maintain a safe body temperature. Most people notice sweating from their underarms first, other common places include your feet and palms covered in a clear, odourless liquid that we call… sweat. 

I know what you’re thinking, how on earth does it make you smell if the sweat is odourless? Don’t worry, you haven’t misunderstood anything – sweat is completely odourless. However, when the sweat is on the surface of your skin – it reacts to bacteria to cause the horrible BO (Body Odour) smell. 

In terms of the science of why you sweat, we have covered everything in our blog post about why we sweat and simple ways to avoid excessive sweating. But for the sake of time and a lot of confusing science terms… In short, there are two types of sweat glands within the human body, eccrine and apocrine. 

But what do they do? And why are there two different types? First off, let’s start with eccrine glands – you have thousands of these all over your body, all of which are contributors to regulating your body’s temperature. 

In conjunction with this, we then have the apocrine glands that are predominantly found in the underarms and groin. These operate in a slightly different way to eccrine glands as they open into a hair follicle that then leads to the skin’s surface. Even though the temperature within the body can stimulate these glands, external factors such as stress, anxiety or fluctuating hormones such as during menopause, periods or puberty can cause this too.

how does sweat work

What is natural deodorant?

A good natural deodorant should be aluminium free. There are medical studies that link aluminium in the armpits to breast cancer and there are studies that refute this. A real natural brand will choose to avoid this if there is a potential risk.

They should all be alcohol-free. Alcohol helps kill bacteria (think sanitiser), but this can be irritating to the skin.

Within natural deodorants, the hardest part for any newbie is adjusting from aerosol antiperspirant to a roll-on stick deodorant. However, this doesn’t mean that deodorants have to come in the form of a roll-on, numerous brands will use creams and liquid sprays.

The majority of natural deodorants will use powders you are used to seeing in your kitchen- baking soda, cornflour, tapioca starch and arrowroot. These are used to absorb wetness from the armpit, as there is no aluminium.

Although in the name of honesty, we have to be straight with you – some people do react to sodium bicarbonate or baking soda if they suffer from dry or sensitive skin. Bearing this in mind, and with Proverb being founded by a skincare expert with super sensitive skin, we formulated our Sensitive & Unfragranced Natural Refillable Deodorant for that exact reason.

In our opinion, the most important thing to us was to remember that we are skin experts beyond everything else, so we launched our deodorant ranges with options to avoid Sodium Bicarbonate in all fragrances. We also don’t rely just on Baking Soda. Proverb has a 4-stage deodorising complex in our deodorants, hence why they work so well.

Many natural brands will be vegan, although this is not mandatory to be a natural deodorant - so please always check to ensure they are vegan-friendly deodorants, such as Proverb if you need this and want a cruelty free deodorant.

proverb refillable natural deodorant

How long does it take to adjust to natural deodorant?

Now, you may be wondering why there even is a process of your body adjusting to a new deodorant? Or even, why does it not just work straight away? Well, if you are switching from an antiperspirant your effects may be more prominent than those who have been using regular deodorant. Equally, you could have no side effects at all – it’s all down to your body. 

While the transitional period is very common and completely normal, it can be very unsettling. It usually takes around three to four weeks for the body to regulate itself post-transition. However, for some people, this may be shorter. Give yourself about a month to experience the symptoms such as excessive sweating and bodily moisture.

What can happen?

Day 1 – 3 – not much as you still have aluminium in your armpits from your old deodorant.

End of Week 1/ Week 2 - Some people find they sweat more i.e. they can feel the wetness more as the aluminium plugs are no longer in all of their sweat glands. This can dissipate as the days go on OR if the natural deodorant formulation is not good enough, you may always feel this wetness.

The excess sweat landing on the surface of the armpit can lead to the surface bacteria having a frenzy and the result is excessive body odour.

Week 3 - Moisture levels normalise as does the surface bacteria.

Week 4 – All good.

Armpit Detox – some brands make you believe you undergo a full detox with grime pouring out of your armpits. People are selling detox armpit masks to “draw out impurities”. Will this serious armpit detox happen to me? We don’t believe so, what is happening is, sweat.

When people refer to the armpit detox - they mean sweat and the process of sweat post getting rid of aluminium in your armpits. So, it also means when you transition from an antiperspirant that contains aluminium, but not when you use a deodorant without aluminium. 

Before we go switching to a natural deodorant, we need to clear up the difference between antiperspirants and deodorants, because there is a big difference. Put simply, an antiperspirant will contain aluminium and usually come in the form of a spray canister. The function of aluminium is to decrease perspiration by blocking sweat from exiting the body, thereby stopping bacteria from mixing with the sweat, causing the horrible BO smell.

natural deodorant side effects

What can you do to combat the side effects of switching to natural deodorant? 

If you are suffering from the transitional period, don’t panic. There are lots of different ways to help combat the side effects, but whatever you do – be patient.

Some ways include taking regular showers every morning and evening will help to keep you clean when sweating more than usual – make sure you focus on washing in areas that are known to perspire. Also, we would always suggest wearing light, cotton clothing that isn’t going to be tight on your body – you need to give your sweat glands room to breathe a little! 

However, if you are worried about sweat patches being on the show, try opting for darker coloured clothing as it won’t be as visible. Drink lots of water, eat well and remember all-natural deodorants are not equal. As in all skincare, some outperform others - so if you don’t eradicate that pungent smell of BO, then it might be time to try another brand.

Look for one like Proverb Refillable Deodorant that has lots of 5-star reviews and money-back no-quibble guarantees - so if it doesn’t work you can get your money back. We understand having formulated skincare and deodorant for so long can be a journey to find a natural deodorant, that works like the mainstream antiperspirant - a costly journey and we are here to make that all a bit easier.