If you’ve ever looked into non-conventional deodorants for combating underarm odor, you may have stumbled on bicarb, aka baking soda, as a common ingredient.
Bicarb is an age-old, multipurpose product that you probably have stored somewhere in your kitchen cabinets. But baking soda isn’t just for puffing up your baked goods. Bicarb is a well-known to-go natural ingredient in plenty of natural health and personal care products, including deodorant.
This common household ingredient is well known for its ability to absorb odors, which is why so many natural deodorant brands include smell-zapping bicarb in their formulas. If you keep an open box of baking soda in your fridge to combat smells - you already get the idea.
Here’s a look at the benefits and (potential) drawbacks of using deodorant with baking soda.
How Does Baking Soda Eliminate Underarm Smells?
Bicarb’s odor-absorbing ability has made it a popular ingredient in natural deodorant.
We know bicarb can eliminate armpit odor, but let’s explore how. Baking soda changes the pH of the armpit and helps keep it dry - both helping you get rid of foul odor. That unpleasant smell from the underarms is caused by bacteria that live on our skin (sweat is actually odorless). So when that pesky bacteria mixes with underarm sweat, it creates a scent.
We also know that baking soda has antibacterial properties. So, if you get rid of the bacteria on your underarms, you can get rid of the odor.
What are the Benefits of Using Deodorant with Baking Soda?
Bicarb is well-known for its ability to absorb all types of moisture, including sweat, which will help keep your underarms dry and combat body odor. Baking soda also effectively kills odor-causing bacteria that naturally grow in our underarms.
We should also mention that baking soda is a natural ingredient. Sodium bicarbonate is a naturally occurring crystalline chemical compound with an endless list of uses.
So, for these reasons, many natural deodorants contain baking soda as a main ingredient.
Is Baking Soda Bad in Deodorant?
Bicarb is a clean, healthy ingredient that can be found in everything from toothpaste to hand soap. But you may have noticed it gets somewhat of a bad rep in the media. Baking soda is safe and effective - when used correctly. It’s all in the formula! The amount of baking soda in the product can alter the effects it will have on your body. With that being said, baking soda is generally not harmful, but you may want to stick to a deodorant without bicarb if you have sensitive skin. Here’s why.
Let’s take it back to science class for a minute. Your skin’s natural pH level is around 5 (slightly acidic), and baking soda’s pH level is 10 (highly alkaline). When you use deodorant with baking soda, a chemical reaction occurs between your slightly acidic skin and the alkaline-heavy baking soda. Most people will not notice a difference, but the pH change can provoke dryness, itching, and redness for anyone with hypersensitive skin.
Baking soda is generally not harmful, but you may want to stick to a deodorant without bicarb if you have sensitive skin.”
Is it Safe to Use Baking Soda on Armpits?
Yes, baking soda is perfectly safe to use under your arms to absorb sweat and combat stinkiness. In addition, using baking soda as an ingredient in deodorant is, and has been, a popular alternative to commercial deodorant.
For anyone who doesn’t suffer from sensitive skin or experienced a reaction to bicarb, this clever natural ingredient can act as a powerful antibacterial and help eradicate underarm bacteria and the dreaded stench.
But if you have sensitive skin that is easily prone to irritation, you can minimize your chances of aggravation or discomfort by applying deodorant without baking soda.
How Will I Know if I am Sensitive to Bicarb?
If you’ve used natural deodorant in the past and haven’t had any issues, chances are you don’t have bicarb sensitivities, as many of the natural deodorants on the market do contain some amount of baking soda.
However, you can never know how an ingredient is going to react with your skin. If you decide to use bicarb to fight underarm stench, test it first for a couple of days on a small area of your skin. Rub a quarter-sized spot on your forearm. If you notice any redness or irritation, you’ll probably want to consider sensitive skin deodorant made without bicarb.
Who Should Use Bicarb-Free Deodorant?
If you have sensitive skin, you should be using sensitive skin deodorant. If your skin is extremely acidic due to hormonal imbalances (e.g., during your period or pregnancy), you use other alkaline skincare products, or specific medications make your skin hypersensitivity, you want to stick to deodorant that’s made with you in mind.
A lot of deodorant for sensitive skin is also formulated without heavy fragrances, which is great if you’re sensitive to perfumes, or your body doesn’t react well to synthetic fragrances.
If you have dry or sensitive skin, you could be more prone to the following side effects if you use bicarb, chemicals, or parabens on your armpits:
- Itchy Skin
- Scaly Skin
Does Deodorant Without Bicarb Work?
We know deodorant with baking soda effectively eliminates body odor, and we’re happy to report deodorant without bicarb works just as well to prevent smells. Similar to shampoo, body wash, and other personal care products, deodorant is individual. What makes your armpits dry and itchy could make another person’s pits feel cool, calm, and collected. That’s the beauty of living in 2021. We have endless options to choose from!
Help! My Deodorant is Making Me Itchy
Itchy armpits got you down? When it comes to sensitive skin, armpits are high up on the list, so it’s no shock they’re often left feeling irritated. If you’re experiencing dry or itchy underarms, check the ingredients list on your deodorant. Harsh chemicals, preservatives, and perfumes can cause sensitivity.
You should use fragrance-free deodorant and preferably one without aluminium to avoid itchy armpits because it clogs your pores. Your skin needs to breathe to reduce irritation. Natural or organic deodorant for sensitive skin will help reduce that dreaded armpit itch while keeping you smelling and feeling fresh.
How to Heal Irritated Armpits
If you have really sensitive skin, chances are you might have found it challenging to find a non-irritating natural deodorant. Your uncomfortable skin reaction could be due to several various ingredients in the deodorant you applied. So first, stop using your current deodorant to prevent further irritation. In the most severe cases, you may want to check in with your doctor, but you can quickly resolve common upset armpit problems at home.
A few home remedies for soothing upset armpits include:
- Applying a cool compress
- Rubbing pure aloe vera to the affected area
- Washing the underarms with a colloidal oat solution
- Using coconut oil on the affected areas
- Applying apple cider vinegar (to unbroken skin only!)
- Take a lukewarm bath with added oatmeal
What Ingredients Can Replace Bicarb in Deodorant?
The good news is that bicarb isn’t a necessary ingredient in deodorant. In fact, there are plenty of deodorant alternatives for sensitive skin that are just as effective as a traditional deodorant. Take better control over your personal care products by reading the ingredients list.
You absolutely can make healthy, efficient deodorant without bicarb. Be on the lookout for ingredients like Magnesium Hydroxide and Diatomaceous earth. Deodorant for sensitive skin is usually not heavily fragranced either. If you see artificial fragrance listed in the formula, you may want to pass!
The Best All-Natural Deodorant For Sensitive Skin
If baking soda makes your skin dry, itchy or irritated, you’ll want to make the change to a bicarb-free deodorant. A lot of sensitive skin deodorant is formulated without bicarb, parabens, aluminium, synthetic fragrances, or alcohol. We know that looks like a long list of “no-nos” but deodorant alternatives for sensitive skin work.
Our Black Chicken Axilla Deodorant Paste BARRIER BOOSTER is formulated without bicarb while still providing all-day protection. Use our sensitive skin deodorant daily to keep your pits smelling fresh, feeling soft, and itch-free! We made this bicarb-free option especially for our extra-sensitive friends who prefer to avoid bicarb. We use all-natural skin-loving ingredients instead. It not only has Diatomaceous Earth and Magnesium Hydroxide to keep you odor free but it has ingredients like Borage Seed oil and Vitamin E oil to help strengthen the barrier of the skin for those sensitive types.
We’re always fact-checking here! We’ll leave our sources below in case you want to check them out.
Lambers H, et al. (2006). Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its residential flora.
Sodium bicarbonate. (n.d.).