It’s a new year, and maybe time for a healthier new you! I’m all about living as healthy as possible, and I’m always trying to make an effort to pay attention to what I eat and what is in not only my food, but things that I put on/in my body and use around my house. Beauty products, cleaning products, and so on.
In the past few years, like a lot of people, I’ve become hyper-aware of the horrible amount of highly toxic chemicals that go into a lot of our products — from pesticides and preservatives to nasty things such as parabens, synthetics and gross animal by-products. Since a lot of ingredients (like aluminum and parabens) have been linked to cancers, I’m extra careful to avoid them; particularly since I have a history of breast cancer in my family.
In the past five years, both my mother and my sister have battled breast cancer — and won their fights, I’m happy to report. Both are in remission and doing well. I’ve also done the genetic testing and determined that I don’t carry the Braca breast cancer gene; but because of my family history, I’m at a much higher risk myself, about 60% chance that I’ll have it in my lifetime.
The fight against toxic chemicals
Needless to say, that has made me all the more proactive about things I use around my house and on my body. One of the biggest concerns when it comes to breast cancer, in particular, has been deodorants and anti-perspirants, and the main ingredient of aluminum that is used in the traditional ones. Not only is aluminum toxic for our bodies and potentially linked to cancer, it also “works” because it clogs up the pores under your arms so that you don’t sweat!
That’s pretty unhealthy — preventing a natural and necessary body function.
Your body was meant to sweat. It’s the body’s way of self-regulating heat. Sweating also opens and unclogs our pores (preventing acne), increases blood circulation, detoxifies the body, and acts as an immunity defense, fighting off germs and pathogens. So, why would we ever want to prevent our body from sweating?
And just how harmful is all that “nasty stuff” in regular deodorant/anti-perspirant, anyway? Well, most of them are carcinogens, which have been linked to the potential increased development of Alzheimer’s disease and many types of cancer. Triethanolamine (TEA) and diethanolamine (DEA) are chemicals can seep into your skin and affect your liver and kidneys. In fact, they’re so harmful that they have been banned from products in Europe.
So armed with all this information, a few years ago I set out on a mission to find the perfect all-natural deodorant that didn’t have all that nasty stuff, and that actually worked. It was a quest that took me a while to find the answer to, as I tried thing after thing on the journey.
Natural deodorants off the store shelves
First, I began trying different types of deodorants that were sold by natural manufacturers. First up was Tom’s of Maine — and while I really dug the smell of their deodorants (particularly the lavender one), I had two major issues with it. First of all, it didn’t work. I was still as sticky and almost as stinky as before. Second, I didn’t like how it felt; if anything it made me feel even more sticky and gummy under my arms. As much as I want to go natural, I also don’t really like the feel of all that sweat, and wanted to find something that would help me to feel dryer and refreshed.
Oh, and a note here about Tom’s: not all of their deodorants are aluminum-free, so if that’s what you’re trying to avoid you need to pay close attention to which ones you’re getting.
I also tried several other different brands of natural, non-aluminum deodorants including the Crystal kind and a few in my local market. None worked well enough for me; they either weren’t that great at a deodorant, leaving me just as stinky; or they were too sticky and didn’t give me any kind of dry feeling.
The DIY route
I’m a major DIY person, and I already make a lot of my own body and beauty products. I make my own eye makeup remover, facial toner, bath salts, hand balm and many other items; check out my Pinterest board here. I even make my dog’s shampoo and coat spray!
So I dove into researching natural deodorant DIY recipes and reading lots of blogs such as Wellness Mama and Jenni Raincloud, trying to find one that would work and I liked. I made stick deodorant, powder deodorant, spray deodorant — you name it!
Again, none of them worked well enough as an actual deodorant; at least not during the hot summer months (and Texas gets really hot, y’all!), or when working out, etc. A few of them did the job okay on just a normal basis, i.e. sitting around inside a climate-controlled environment without any exertion.
I did find one recipe from Jenni Raincloud that I really liked and still use, although not as a regular daily deodorant. This spray recipe ended up being great as more of a body refresher spray; I keep it in the fridge, and when it’s hot outside or I’ve been working out I come in and spritz some on my underarms, even my stomach or rest of my body if I’m overheated and want to feel refreshed. But, it still didn’t really work for me as an actual deodorant, just as a refreshing spritz (I put lavender in mine).
I was starting to get really desperate.
The answer: Primal Pit Paste
Finally, I found it! I chanced upon that thing that seemed rarer than a magical unicorn: an all-natural, organic deodorant made by an ethical company (that means cruelty-free and authentically concerned about their customers and the environment) — that really worked!
A friend of mine happened to post on social media about this brand called Primal Pit Paste that she had been using and loved; like me, she said that she had tried a ton of different natural deodorants with no luck. But this worked, she claimed. So I put in my order and hoped for the best.
When the jar came, I was happy with the packaging and the size — it was a good-sized jar (not some teeny little thing for $15 like so many of these types of items). Just as the name says (and I loved the fun, tongue-in-cheek name), the jar contained a paste that you scoop out with your fingers and rub in your armpits. They conveniently included a little wooden scooper too, in case you’re like me and don’t like getting the stuff under your fingernails.
So, without a lot of hope that it would be a big improvement over what I had already tried, I started using it.
And to my amazement, this Primal Pit Paste stuff worked. I mean, really worked — and well.
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First off, even though it’s called a “paste” it isn’t gunky or sticky at all. It has a really dry feel to it, and if you rub some around between your fingers it dissipates like a powder, it doesn’t stick. Second of all, it smelled heavenly! (Now they make all kinds of different smells, including some really yummy ones like chai, rose, lavender, and coconut/lime).
But the biggest thing was that it really worked. Even on hot days, even when I worked out. Yes, I did have to put it on several times throughout the day if it was warm or I exerted myself; but to be honest, I had to do that before with traditional deodorants. Also, I love using this stuff; it feels and smells so good, and the ingredients that founder Amy Perez used, like arrowroot powder and zinc, actually work to absorb wetness and left me feeling dry. What a wonder!
Unlike the nasty traditional deodorants, however, it wasn’t helping me to stay dry because it was clogging my pores and preventing me from sweating; it was just absorbing the sweat better.
The real test came a few weeks after I started using Primal Pit Paste, when my partner Keith and I went on a planned trip to Brazil. One of our destinations was the island of Ilhabela. This was in January — their summer. And it was hot. Oh, so hot. Five minutes after we would get out and start walking, even at 10 in the morning, we would be dripping sweat.
Of course, just like the rest of my body, in that kind of heat all day, I wouldn’t say my armpits stayed completely dry. In fact, due to what I know now about the importance of sweating, I don’t think that would be healthy. But they did stay a lot dryer than any natural solution I’d tried before; and when I would apply the Primal Pit Paste a few times a day, it definitely worked as a deodorant, keeping me smelling fresh.
I was totally sold, and have been using it to this day! And I was super thrilled last year to notice that they started offering a push-up stick deodorant, which is what I use now. It just rubs right onto your armpits from the canister, so you don’t have to dig and smear it with your fingers if that ain’t your thing.
Also, they now make a whole lot of other super-cool products that are also made with their high-quality, organic, all-natural ingredients — such as lip balms, body powder, bug spray and a terrific line of oral care. I’ve totally switched my dental routine to their bamboo toothbrushes, tooth powder and serum and love it! Their wonderful travel kit, too, is the bomb for those of us who travel a lot.
Some important info about going natural with deodorants
If you want to try Primal Pit Paste or a natural deodorant option, here are some things to keep in mind:
Body odor is not actually caused by your sweat
It’s the bacteria that makes you stinky! By using natural ingredients that prevent bacteria from accumulating and neutralize odors naturally, you’re likely to notice a major decline in your BO.
Armpit stains on your clothing aren’t caused by sweat, either
They’re created when the chemical ingredients in traditional deodorants and anti-perspirants react with your sweat. Once you go all-natural, you can say goodbye to those embarrassing yellow stains.
When you first go natural, you may sweat more at first as you detox
Your body has to get rid of all those chemicals from regular anti-perspirant it’s gotten used to; and your sweat glands may start working overtime to try and compensate. So at first, you may actually notice that you’re more sweaty as your body gets rid of all those toxins it wasn’t able to sweat out while your pores were blocked. But after that point, you will more likely sweat a lot less than you did before when your body was trying to compensate. I know that since I’ve gone natural, I sweat a whole lot less.
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You may stink more at first, too
During this detox period, you may notice that you actually stink more than you did before. Don’t panic — this is also temporary! Like the excess sweating, once the brief detox period is over and your body gets back to its natural state, you should notice a big reduction in your BO factor (remember, it’s caused by bacteria that you can eliminate with the natural ingredients). Drinking lots and lots of water will help this detox phase go faster.
For what it’s worth, in my experience this detox phase didn’t last very long, and it wasn’t very significant, either.
If you want to try Primal Pit Paste, they have graciously provided Trading Places readers and fans with a special discount code! Enter TRADINGPLACES in the promo box at check-out, and Primal Pit Paste will give you a 20% discount!
Disclosure: Starting in December 2018, Shelley has started creating content professionally for Primal Pit Paste. This in no way has influenced this article or opinions; she first used the products and was a customer three years ago, and in fact it is BECAUSE she was such a raving fan that she began working with the company.