Trying out a natural deodorant from Norfolk Natural Living.
I’ve switched back and forth between deodorants for a few years now, always meaning to buy a natural version. I used a natural tin deodorant for a while, which worked, however I found my underarms getting irritated the longer I used it. After some research I found this could be caused by the baking soda, which is an ingredient in lots of natural deodorants. I found myself getting lazy, and ended up grabbing a cheap roll on most times. As part of this Small Changes series, deodorant was one of the first things I wanted to change.
I was really lucky as around this time Norfolk Natural Living kindly sent me one of their natural deodorants to try out. I was really interested to try it as there is no baking soda in the formula, which hopefully meant no sore armpits! Their deodorant is also free from aluminium and parabens, and comes in a chunky glass bottle made with recycled materials. I love the ethos of Norfolk Natural Living and the transparency they show. You can read their philosophy here.
I was sent the Rose scented deodorant and it smells incredible – it just smells really fresh. It’s hard to describe, it’s not a ‘fusty’ rose at all, there’s a depth to it, and I love it.
I’d heard about the ‘detox’ that occurs when you switch from an antiperspirant to a deodorant, and so I followed the tips on the website – exfoliating the underarms and wearing loose-fitting clothing to allow air to circulate around the area. (They also recommend cutting down on coffee, which I didn’t really manage, oops). After a week, the ‘plugging’ effect of antiperspirants will wear off, so I was prepared to notice myself sweating more after the first week, which I was a bit worried about.
What really intrigued me was the use of live enzymes in the deodorant that stop bacteria from breaking down sweat – meaning no body odour. The enzyme used is called Saccharomyces Ferment – I got onto the always-fascinating Inci Decoder and also found out that it’s a great anti-aging ingredient, as well as being moisturising and soothing. You learn something every day!
I gave the deodorant a 4-week trial to give my armpits a chance to detox and to make sure I would be encountering lots of different situations.
For my week-by-week experience switching to a natural deodorant, please read on…
I used my cheap supermarket antiperspirant for the last time. The next day, I gave my underarms a good scrub in the shower, and rolled on my new, natural deodorant. I kept getting whiffs of the rose smell throughout the day as I moved my arms around, and noticed how nice it was to smell something that smelled ‘natural’. It took a few days for the antiperspirant to start to clear from my pores, but at the end of the week I noticed I was sweating more as my underarms started to clear themselves out.
The second week is when your underarms start to sweat more and produce more odour-causing bacteria as the effects of the antiperspirant start to wear off and your underarms start to regulate. And wow, it really ramped up! I made sure I didn’t have too many social engagements this week! I followed the advice on the Norfolk Natural Living website, wearing loose clothing to let my underarms breathe. I washed with warm water and reapplied the deodorant when I felt too smelly. I was determined to get through the ‘detox’ and give the deodorant a good trial. I’d say week 2 was the hardest but I pushed through – I was washing my underarms twice a day and really worried that the whole thing just wasn’t going to work out. However I’d got this far and decided to just let it run its course.
Toward the end of week 2 and into week 3, I found the smell started to reduce and I slowly stopped sweating as much. I read that cider vinegar helped kill the odour causing bacteria, so for a few days at the start of week 3 I wiped my underarms with a dilute cider vinegar/water mix in the morning, wiped it off, then applied the deodorant when my underarms were dry. I did this for a few days, then found everything had started to settle down and I no longer needed to. I then started to test the deodorant by getting more active – having a few intense house-cleaning days and going on lots of long walks! I found I was sweating, but at the end of the day, I actually didn’t smell bad at all – the deodorant scent was still there, but no sweat smell! I also found I felt more in-tune with my body, allowing myself to naturally sweat without something blocking up my pores.
Finally everything started to settle down! I have a good underarm routine in place now – a good scrub in the shower, leave to dry, apply my deodorant, and off I go! It lasts all day, I haven’t had a situation yet where I’ve smelled sweaty. The sensation of actually sweating takes getting used to – when I’m hot, my underarms do start to feel damp. At first, I equated this with the feeling that I was going to smell – but realised that this isn’t the case. I sweated, and it just didn’t smell. It’s quite a liberating feeling. I find my underarms do need a freshen up in the morning, which is where the good shower scrub comes in – I use a muslin cloth to exfoliate. I’m pretty happy with how the trial has turned out so far!
Company Ethics: I was impressed by the transparency Norfolk Natural Living showed, They admit they’re not perfect, for example in their use of recyclable PET in some of their packaging, however, they fully explain their reasoning and admit they’re working on finding a better solution. I just found it refreshing for a company to be open and honest regarding what they can do better.
The Deodorant: I just loved it. It’s a roll-on, so no scraping out of a tin and getting it stuck under your nails. I found the baking soda-free formula meant my underarms felt more soothed, and not irritated at all. And the scent is just gorgeous and really long lasting – I could still smell it at the end of the day. I’m also a big fan of the packaging – the labelling is nicely minimal and the glass bottle is chunky and feels well-made. The price is £14.50, a far cry from my previous 49p supermarket brand, so I’d expect something that feels worth it, and I’m glad it delivered in that respect too.
Overall Experience: I am really glad that I managed to stick with the deodorant detox. Week 2 was a big challenge, and more than once I just wanted to shove some cheap antiperspirant on and be done with it! But going through the full process showed me how much effect antiperspirants have on our underarms. Smelling more than normal for just over a week was a tiny price to pay in exchange for ‘natural armpits’! I wondered about the price, too. I’d been mostly using a 49p cheap antiperspirant, interspersed with some well-meaning trials into natural deodorants but never really sticking with it. This deodorant is £14.50 – over 28 times the price. Is it worth it? I debated this for a while before realising that the two are incomparable, really. Cheap products are cheap for a reason. I looked at the Norfolk Natural Living deodorant on its merits alone – a small, ethical company, 100% natural ingredients, recycled and recyclable packaging. This changed how I saw the price – also it’s now 5 weeks in and I’m just about halfway through the deodorant, so it’ll last me a good 10 weeks too. So more expensive, yes – but with more benefits.
Is this a Small Change I can stick with? Absolutely. I’m looking forward to buying a replacement when this one finally runs out – I’m fully converted to natural armpits!
You can find the deodorant I tested here. It comes in Fig, Lime, Sea Salt and Rose scents – I was gifted the Rose scent and it’s so lovely!