When it comes to my beauty routine, you could say I was pretty far off being au naturel. I highlight my hair, use that toxic whitening toothpaste that your dentist tells you off about, and spritz myself with Byredo every morning. I’m not exactly a warm-water-and-soap type of woman.
And, up until now, I have had little to no interest in ‘natural’ deodorants. My approach to my armpits consists of heading to Boots, seeing which Sure/Dove/Whatever is on special offer, giving it a quick whiff, and then being on my way.
Sure, I’d heard some mutterings about antiperspirants being linked to breast cancer but I figured that you can barely visit a fairground these days without someone telling you that rollercoasters give you tumours. But more on that later.
When I was asked to give natural deodorant a go, I didn’t have the highest hopes. I imagined some sort of dreary product with an earthy hum; like Ecover but for your pits. On opening a jar of The Natural Deodorant Co. Gentle Deodorant Cream (lemon and geranium scented) I realised that I was… well, not far off the mark really.
First reaction to this whole new world: how am I even supposed to put it on? It’s just a tub of gritty paste – the consistency is a bit like the frosting on a cupcake… but one that’s been sitting out for a while. Unsure whether to apply a dollop or a smidgen, I end up emailing the company to ask (er, how about some on-packet directions, NDC? Surely I can’t have been the first person standing in a towel looking bemused). Anyway, they respond by telling me a “pea-sized amount” should do the trick and just to use my fingers. I give it another go.
Next observation. You know what’s really annoying to do after emerging squeaky clean from a shower? Dunking your fresh fingers into a greasy tub (its main ingredient is coconut oil) of natural deodorant. And physiology dictates that you need to use both hands in order to put it on. So, after applying, I’m straight back in the bathroom to aggressively wash my hands with soap. This might seem like a minor nuisance but if you pride yourself on keeping your morning routine to under 15 minutes then this sort of thing can be a real deal breaker.
But how does it hold up? Every morning I take 40 minutes walking to work at a somewhat terrifying pace (or so I’m told). By the time I arrive, I’m definitely sweating more than normal (an antiperspirant literally stops you perspiring) but it’s hardly at Tom Cruise levels. Besides, I’m more concerned about the fragrance, which has really been activated by the moisture. I smell like a lemon grove. This might sound fairly pleasant until you realise that no perfume or shower gel (bar Original Source, which no-one over the age of 16 should own) contains lemon as its principal scent and there’s a reason for this. It’s how I imagine someone in Beverly Hills 90210 might smell.
I carry on with it for a week. Through exercise classes and on stage public speaking, it does the job. All day long. I’m kinda sold. But, then, the weather is milder now and I’d still be a bit terrified to get on the Tube in mid-summer with only a bit of scented coconut oil to guard over me. Plus I’d end up smelling like a Refresher bar.
The Natural Deodorant Co. insists that your regular deodorant comes with health risks. Their press release reads: “Antiperspirants contain chemicals such as zirconium & aluminium that are absorbed through the pores in the skin, where they react with water and swell. This swelling forms a gel that blocks perspiration… Worse still, in lab studies, aluminium and zirconium have been found to enter cells and cause mutations in DNA that could lead to cancerous growth.”
But, really, the jury is still out on this. The NHS claims there haven’t been big enough studies to suggest a link between cancer and deodorants and Cancer Research UK’s official line is: “There is no convincing evidence that antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer”.
We probably do expose ourselves to too many chemicals so it certainly makes sense to use a natural deodorant. And it stood up to the test way better than I thought it would. But, like faux fur, maybe it's just for the winter months. And I might have to investigate some of their other fragrances before I fully commit.