how i went deodorant-free (for the most part)

it started in august 2017. i was in india for three and a half weeks with a carry-on suitcase. i didn’t bring a shaving razor, so i didn’t shave anywhere on my body for the duration of my time abroad.

when i arrived back in the states, i shaved my legs and armpits using the same soap i’d been using for months, the same soap i’d brought with me to india. and i broke out in itchy hives.

i know i have itchy skin. i am part of a small percentage of the population that has something called pruritus, meaning my skin just gets itchy. i have scars on my legs from itching them to the point of bleeding, and i have to be conscious of how much i itch my body, lest people ask if something’s wrong with me.

but i had little red bumps all over the areas i’d shaved. i’d already been toying with the idea of not shaving anymore, going along with my decision to go bra-less in october 2016, so i figured i’d give it a try.

it ended up being a decision i’d stick with. i have light body hair, both in quantity and color, due to my northern-european heritage, so i’m lucky in that regard. i have grown exponentially in comfort with my natural body, with the sensations that come with having body hair (such as the ~breeze on your legs~), and i wanted to keep the momentum going.

enter: deodorant. also due to my light body hair and aversion to exercise, i don’t tend to sweat a lot, and i don’t tend to smell too awful when i do (or so i think?), so i know i am also lucky there. i had been wearing “prescription-strength” deodorant (quotes because it was over-the-counter) since i was a teenager, because i didn’t like feeling like i smelled like deodorant when i sweat and just wore regular-strength, so i just used a super-strong antiperspirant and deodorant.

i tried natural deodorants. i used schmidt’s natural deodorant and broke out in a rash (which i saw was a common problem, upon further research). i tried a couple other natural deodorants, which were really expensive and didn’t do anything.

i started to do some research and saw that a lot of folks had done a ‘deodorant detox’, where you just wouldn’t wear deodorant for a few months. after my experiment with not shaving, i was a lot more comfortable with my body, and we were approaching a minnesota winter, so i knew i would be wearing layers of sweaters for several months, where my armpits wouldn’t be exposed to others. fall of 2018 was the last time i wore regular deodorant.

i didn’t wear deodorant for the entire winter of 2018/2019. i sweat a lot under all those sweaters, but i also noticed something: i started to sweat less. i started to smell less. when i did smell, i didn’t mind it (speaking only for myself here).

but summer 2019 was approaching, and i was planning a trip through the middle east. i knew i would need something to help with the sweltering heat. however, i didn’t want to sacrifice my many months of deodorant-free pits just because i was insecure about how my body would respond to much higher temperatures.

so i googled how to make your own deodorant. and y’all, when i tell you this is the best thing i have ever used, i am not kidding.

i used a mixture of arrowroot powder, baking soda, coconut oil, and tea tree oil and cinnamon oil (both of which have antibacterial properties). this is the recipe i used when i made the deodorant. i find that it is very affected by the environment i’m in, sometimes being a complete liquid and other times being a solid.

i have hair in my armpits and i find that this deodorant sticks better to hair as opposed to naked skin. i wear it pretty occasionally, only when i haven’t showered in the last day or so, or when i just feel like it — which ends up being maybe once every couple of weeks. i just apply it using my bare fingers.

this deodorant is *not* an antiperspirant, meaning it won’t stop you from sweating. it just helps neutralize the smell of body odor.

i’ve been deodorant-free for the most part for just about two years now, and i love it. i love the way my body looks and smells and feels. i love not spending money on deodorant. i love feeling like my values are aligned with my actions.

have you gone deodorant-free? what is your experience?

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