THE BLOG
06/26/2012 12:00 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

Why I Gave Up On Anti-Perspirants And Now Wear Natural Deodorant

Since I was a little girl, my mother always told me it was better to use natural products and remedies on my body than chemicals. When I was four, she covered my hair in a tomato and almond oil concoction -- supposedly to promote hair growth -- and I spent the following hour with a plastic bag on my head. The day before my high school prom, I was forced to lie on a couch with smashed strawberries all over my face. And when I left for college, she filled my suitcases with Calendula, Hawthorne berries and other food supplements.

While I don't always believe that natural remedies win out over conventional beauty products, my mother's obsession has created doubts in my mind. I'm always wary of using skin products that contain chemicals I can't pronounce. Which is why, when I ran out of deodorant two weeks ago, I decided to opt for a natural one.

The day was hot and I was already sweating when I entered the drugstore near my house. I wandered the labyrinth of aisles looking for the deodorant section. When I found it, the confusion didn't necessarily end there. Between all the different choices (streak free, 24-hour protection, gel, extra-strength, etc.), a few bottles stood out, promising "aluminum and paraben-free" formulas. I thought: What does that even mean? What do aluminum and parabens do and why should I care that deodorants not have them?

So I bought one. Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Deodorant, "Fresh" scented, to be exact.

I could have very easily opted for a regular deodorant (the ones WITH aluminum and parabens, supposedly) but something in my head told me not to risk it. The other deodorants beckoned with their pretty bottles and their sweet-smelling scents, but I wasn't going to let them trick me and possibly give me cancer (yes, I know my mind went immediately to: aluminum and parabens must give you cancer, duh!) I was proud and couldn't be swayed.

erica cheung

Smiling because I no longer smell of B.O.!

I'm not going to lie, when I first took a whiff of the clear, natural jelly stick I was not totally pleased. It smelled more like a scent for a man than for a woman (in fact it kind of smelled like something my boyfriend would wear) and I guess it never stated if it was for women or for men...go figure. But I went ahead and bought it, for my health, for my future and for the future of natural products!

The first day I wore it, I smelled like B.O. (body odor -- yuck!). I could smell myself, which meant I REALLY smelled. I asked my roommate if I smelled and she said no, but she was probably being nice. I knew I smelled and that's all that mattered. It also didn't help that it was a particularly hot and humid day.

The second day I wore it, I still smelled, and I sweat A LOT. The deodorant didn't seem to be doing anything, and I did not like the "Fresh" scent that made me smell like a man. I decided to continue wearing it because I didn't want to waste a bottle of perfectly good deodorant (especially since this one only cost me $2.99) and because I wanted to see if it would eventually work.

After the fourth day of wearing the deodorant, I stopped noticing the manly scent and realized that I smelled of nothing -- not B.O. or "Fresh." I appreciated this because I could wear my perfume without smelling like the perfume floor of a department store. I also noticed that I wasn't sweating as much, and when I did sweat I didn't smell like sweat.

It's been two weeks since I started wearing the natural deodorant and all in all, I'm pretty pleased. In all honesty, I miss the commercial brands I used to use, not because they worked better per se, but because I like the powdery smell that they give off. I'm nostalgic for sweet-smelling deodorant!

I'm not sure if I'll continue to use natural deodorants after I finish this stick, but I want to figure out whether or not aluminum and parabens are bad for the body because I think that health matters more than pretty bottles and powdery scents. I'm glad I stuck to this stick because I realize that the body gets accustomed to the things that you put on it. I'm not a person that sweats a lot so maybe using natural deodorants works more for me than for other people, but I am glad I tried it!

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