Controlling body odor comes down to science. So, let’s get the science-y basics out of the way first. We all have a layer of sweat and sebum that forms a coating on our skin known as the acid mantle. It may sound gross, but this coating protects our skin by preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria and fungi. The pH of the acid mantle ranges from 4 to 5.5, meaning it is slightly acidic. You might have noticed that many natural deodorants contain sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, which has a pH of about 8 to 8.5 (alkaline). Deodorants that contain baking soda are relying on its antibacterial properties to help control the bacteria that grows in our underarms, which cause odor when they break down sweat. Because of these amazing properties, we love using this ingredient in most of our deodorants.
So why baking soda has been getting so much bad rep? Is it really causing irritation and rashes? Well, we are back to science. Remember making the classic vinegar and baking soda volcano? When the alkaline baking soda deodorant is applied to our acidic underarms, a chemical reaction occurs. Whoa! Does that mean everyone will get a bad reaction? Well, not really. It's all in the formulation! The possibility and severity of the rash or irritation depends on:
It is important to note that many people confuse this type of irritation with an allergic reaction (allergic contact dermatitis) or with detoxing. Having underarm irritation and redness is not detoxing (this myth has been circulating for way too long!). Detox is a completely different process, during which you may experience stronger smelling body odor and sweating in excess. For more info on this and other reactions, please see our pages Underarm Detox: Making a Clean Switch and Armpit Irritation and Rashes.
So, what does that mean for Rustic MAKA's Natural Deodorants that contain baking soda?
We have worked with our formulators to make sure our product does not create issues for most people’s skin – our deodorants have a pH between 5.5 and 6, depending on the scent. However, it is possible that some may still experience irritation if their skin is extremely acidic due to: hormonal imbalance (e.g. during your period or pregnancy), use of other alkaline skincare products in tandem, diet, medication, etc.
What can you do if you experience irritation or a rash in your underarms?
First, stop using any product that might be causing the irritation and try to figure out the reason. Is it the pH of the product? Are you allergic to an ingredient? Or maybe it’s heat rash? (check out Armpit Irritation and Rashes).
If it’s the pH of the product, ask yourself: Are you using other alkaline products at the same time? Are you on your period? Did your diet recently change?
There are also instances where those with impaired skin function do not tolerate even small amounts of baking soda. In those situations it is recommended to avoid this ingredient completely. You can check our Baking Soda-Free Natural Deodorant Line.
Remember, figuring out the main cause for your discomfort, can truly make the difference between the ability and inability to use this amazingly effective ingredient in your daily routine. If you still have any questions, we know underarms and we are here for you. Please, reach out to email@example.com for help.
These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For any medical concern you should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Full Medical Disclaimer.