A guide to switching to natural deodorant

If you are hoping to find a plastic free alternative to your current deodorant, switching to a natural deodorant is going to be your main option.

Deodorants are referred to as natural when they contain simple ‘natural’ ingredients and don’t contain the more complex (usually synthetic) ingredients that regular deodorants do.

Using natural deodorant might take a bit of adjustment, particularly if you’re used to using regular antiperspirants, as the formulas are mainly designed to deodorise rather than prevent you sweating.

However, if it’s taking you a long time to get used to natural deodorant, and/ or you’re getting any form of irritation, it may be that natural deodorant formulas are not right for you.

I’ve tried to cover the main FAQs that I get asked about natural deodorants, to help you find what’s likely to work best for you.

If you have any questions that haven’t been answered in this post, you can send them to me via the contact form at the bottom of the page and I’ll try my best to answer.

Who are natural deodorants likely to work best for?

If you’re a light sweater and don’t particularly struggle with body odour then you’ll likely get on well with natural deodorant. If you like having antiperspirant properties in your deodorant, you might struggle with the switch.

Why switch to natural deodorant?

The main benefit of natural deodorant, in my opinion, is that there are plenty of plastic free options available.

I personally have quite sensitive underarm skin that is easily irritated by shaving and chaffing so I’ve also found that I get on really well with the more balmy consistencies of natural deodorants like the options from Nirvana Natural and Happy Holistics that we stock.

Vegan Plastic Free Deodorant Happy Holistics

What’s the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant?

Deodorants are designed to do exactly what it says on the tin (or rather, stick), deodorise your armpits by neutralising and/ or masking your natural scent.

Antiperspirant, on the other hand, is designed to prevent (or limit) the amount of sweat that your underarms produce (as it’s the bacteria that develops in your sweat that contributes to body odour). Antiperspirants usually have deodorising properties thrown in for good measure, as well as their sweat preventing properties.

Some people do not like that antiperspirants block your bodies natural sweating process, others may be uncomfortable with the types of ingredients that are used to achieve this. This is why the ingredients in natural deodorant do not tend to be chosen to work in the same way as an antiperspirant.

There are natural ingredients that can help promote dryness and fight odour-causing bacteria, but the ingredients in natural deodorant are unlikely offer you the same levels of dryness as an antiperspirant.

If you’re looking to swap purely because you wish to reduce the amount of single use plastic in your personal care routine (and are hoping for a plastic free product that works in exactly the same way as your current antiperspirant), unfortunately I haven’t found a plastic free alternative just yet (but I’m not against stocking them if I do find a suitable one).

Transitioning to natural deodorant

When I first switched to using natural deodorants, I read a lot of information about the potential of there being a transition period and allowing your body to ‘detox’ from your old deodorant and get used to the natural ingredients of your new one. Having used natural deodorants myself for 2+ years, I’m a bit cautious of this advice.

I certainly believe that starting out with a new product that works a little differently to what you’re used to may take a little bit of adjustment, but if something really isn’t working for you, I’m not sure sheer perseverance is going to change that.

If you’re getting any sort of irritation or unwanted side effects from using natural deodorant, this isn’t part of a transition period, the formula is not right for your skin.

Watch out for bicarbonate of soda

First of all, if you’re experiencing any kind of itching, redness, irritation, discolouration or peeling of your skin, it’s worth checking whether the formula you’re using has sodium bicarbonate in it.

Sodium bicarbonate/ bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda is a common ingredient in natural deodorants as its pretty good at absorbing moisture and promoting dryness. HOWEVER,  my personal experience of it has not been positive.

I found deodorants with baking soda in them (I tried a few different brands before fully making my mind up) caused redness, itching and irritation to my underarms. This reaction actually took a couple of weeks worth of regular use to show up.

Once I’d worked out it was the baking soda that was to blame, I switched to a formula that was bicarb free and haven’t had any trouble since.  It’s for this reason that I currently only stock bicarb free natural deodorant options.

Ingredients used to promote dryness

Baking soda is a very commonly used ingredient for helping keep your underarms dry, you may have even seen DIY recipes for zero waste deodorant using this as the main ingredient.

However, if you want to avoid bicarb, look out for deodorants that contain ingredients such as arrowroot powder and activated charcoal powder instead.

Natural deodorants for sensitive skin

As I mentioned before, continued use of bicarbonate of soda on your skin can lead to irritation, mainly due to its pH level.

If you have very sensitive skin, I’d suggest avoiding any formulas with bicarb in altogether. Many natural deodorant brands that have baking soda in their formula are offering options that are bicarb free and more suitable for sensitive skin now too.

Coconut oil is another ingredient that can be irritating for some people’s skin. If you know that you can’t tolerate it, and you want to avoid bicarb too, the Coco-No deodorant by Nirvana Natural uses babassu oil, instead of coconut oil, and doesn’t contain bicarb in the formula either.

If you want to avoid any types of fragrance or essential oil in your deodorant, they also have a ‘naked‘ fragrance free blend too.

Our bicarb free deodorant options

  • Fresh Natural Deodorant (Bicarb Free) – Nirvana Natural

  • Citrus Natural Deodorant (Bicarb Free) – Nirvana Natural

  • Spice Natural Deodorant (Bicarb Free) – Nirvana Natural


If you’re looking for a natural deodorant that is bicarb free, we currently stock a range from Happy Holistics and Nirvana Naturals.

Each deodorant comes in a plastic-free paperboard tube which makes application a little more convenient. As the tubes are biodegradable it means the packing is low waste too.

Happy Holistic deodorants are available in Citrus, Soothing lavender or Fresh mint scents.

We currently also stock the Spice, Citrus and Fresh scents from Nirvana Natural.

Got a question about plastic free deodorant?