Natural Deodorant Experiment - Living Rhea

My Fortnight Without Chemical Deodorant


Two weeks ago I ran out of deodorant. It is one of the few body products I use that is not healthy. That is an understatement. The number of chemicals in deodorant that are harmful, even lethal, actually outnumbers the number of articles published about how harmful it is. And yet I can’t do without it. I attempted to find a ‘clean’ deodorant a few years ago and after trying one and hating the experience, I succumbed to what I deemed the lesser evil between body odour and chemicals seeping into my body via my armpits.

So when I ran out, I mentioned it to my mother who simply said, “Use the eucalyptus oil that’s in your bathroom cabinet, that’s why it’s there.” And I decided to give it a try.

My deodorant philosophy:

I’m not overly dependent on deodorant; I use it as a courtesy to others in this world where natural body smells are so abhorred. God forbid we smell like humans. But I digress; I usually apply deodorant only when I know I’ll be around other people. If I know I’m not going out all day, I won’t use it. I am not in the habit of applying it after I shower everyday. I also do not bother deodorizing when I’m about to workout, even if it’s in a group setting. Workouts are for sweating and sweating is good for my body, all over my body. I do not wish to prevent my armpits from enjoying a good sweat simply because they may also emit an unpleasant smell. I also sometimes go with the way I feel and refrain from using my deodorant for a few days just to give my armpits a break and get my sweat out in the open. I understand that this may not be a philosophy that is shared by many— it may sound strange. It certainly feels strange writing about the way I feel about sweat. I feel like I should also add that I do not sweat a lot. I am one of those lucky people who sweat only when really hot or very nervous.

Natural deodorant experiment:

Initially the whole eucalyptus oil experience took quite some getting used to. I rub 3-4 drops in using my fingers. Immediately after applying it, I can’t feel a thing. I can, of course, smell the oil, which is lovely and lasts quite longer than I expected. Then I go about my day as usual. I do not apply the oil before working out and I only apply it once a day.


  • It lasts all day if you’re not too hot or outside or active: After the eucalyptus smell can no longer be discerned, I would periodically check to see if my armpits smelled during the day and they did not! I feel I must mention that they did not smell of eucalyptus, they simply did not have any smell. So there is a chance that this could be due to me not sweating or me not smelling bad.
  • It does not stain clothes: There were days when I would apply the oil and then change my mind about what I wanted to wear and switch shirts. The oil never left any residue on my clothes.
  • It smells great! I love the smell of eucalyptus so the 30 or so minutes of eucalyptus scent that follows is always a pleasure.
  • It’s very light, not greasy or wet, or even oily to apply: Perhaps the thought of touching your armpits grosses you out? Fear not! Just apply a few drops, rub them in with your fingers, and wash your hands after.


  • It does not stop you sweating: I am used to a deodorant that prevents me from feeling the actual wet sweat in my armpits. So switching to eucalyptus oil meant that I now feel all my sweat. This means I occasionally air my armpits out by waving my arms around or casually lifting them in a stretch. I can tell you that this takes quite a bit of getting used to, a week in my case.
  • It cannot handle very sweaty situations: I used the oil a few days I spent outside in parks or on long walks and in the hot summer sun, it only held up a few hours. I found my sweat smelling like sweat by the end of the day and had to pray that nobody else had smelled it too.
  • Sweat stains: Since I’m used to a deodorant that blocks sweat, eucalyptus oil gave me pit stains on a couple nice blouses on a few warm evenings out. These stains did come out in the wash, but I was worried others could see them too.
  • I often could not differentiate between days when I had applied the oil and days that I had gone without: This makes me wonder if the oil is worth applying at all.


I have decided to combine my use of a chemical deodorant (while I search for the perfect alternative) with eucalyptus oil. I think the oil makes me so happy that on light days, days where I know I’ll not be doing very much, or days when I know I won’t be seeing other people, I shall use eucalyptus oil to give my armpits more of a break. I shall endeavour to scale down my use of chemical deodorants.

I found this experiment quite fun since body smells do not bother me very much. It taught me to be freer with myself and also to forgive myself for sweating. It’s our body’s way of cooling us down and it is a brilliant system! It was a lovely break to let my armpits breathe and be free of chemicals.

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