If you wore makeup that prevented tears or used shampoo that stopped hair growth, that would feel weird, right? Yet millions of people apply aluminum-based antiperspirant to block their bodies from doing what’s natural: sweating.
I’d never really put too much thought into the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant until I started practicing Bikram yoga several years ago and learned to embrace sweat — and I mean really embrace it. The 90 minute practice takes place in a 105 degree room and you’re pouring buckets by the end.
At first it took some getting used to, as our preconditioned self-consciousness kicks in, but soon it became a liberating release that I looked forward to. I also started noticing the benefits of Bikram-induced sweating. My skin, mental clarity and even sleep were all improved as a result of the practice, much of which I credit to the release of toxins and impurities via sweat.
Which brings me back to deodorant versus antiperspirant and the brand that brought it into focus for me: Schmidt’s Naturals. I’d heard of natural deodorant before, but like many people I assumed it didn’t work or smelled like patchouli. I’m also skeptical of unsubstantiated claims linking antiperspirant to cancer or Alzheimer’s. But then again, why take the risk? There was a time when people drank alcohol and smoked during pregnancy before those dangers were established too.
Schmidt’s was founded in 2010 in Portland, Oregon by Jaime Schmidt. Like many indie brands, it started as a side-project in her kitchen because she felt the market was lacking. Other brands either didn’t work effectively, smelled too hippy, or were just uninspiring and boring. Schmidt essentially wanted to take an unsexy product and make it not only clean, but cool.
So she set out on a mission to “change the way you think about deodorant.” Instead of clogging your glands with controversial ingredients to stop sweating, she created formulas derived from plants and minerals to combat odor instead. This is where she got creative, with scents like Jasmine Tea, Coconut Pineapple, Cedarwood and Juniper, to name a few. Occasionally the line features custom products based on the season. Last fall I purchased Earth + Wood, a limited time offer. The scent is subtle and unique.
After focusing on deodorant for six years the company decided to expand its product line and introduced bar soap in 2017, followed by toothpaste soon after. The toothpaste comes in flavors like Vanilla Chai and Coconut Lime, and the soaps have fun exfoliants like volcanic sand, orange peel and apricot seed. For people using products that contain microbeads, these natural alternatives are much better for the environment.
The aromas in the soaps and deodorant are delicate but present, which appealed to me because I’ve moved away from products with strong fragrance after learning about the reality of synthetic ingredients. But if you’re still new to natural and unsure about letting go of antiperspirant, Schmidt’s has a blog called The Natural, which helps ease in the laymen.
Sweat makes a lot of people uncomfortable, even vulnerable, and there’s a lot of messaging around connecting it to weakness in men and a lack of femininity in women. Yes, there are moments it’s not convenient or particularly attractive, but there are different kinds of sweat and it’s about learning to read it, not fear it.
Ultimately we all have a scent, and it’s that base animal element that draws us to certain people and repels us from others. We are highly evolved creatures that have developed innovative products to make us more socially acceptable, but sometimes it’s okay to go back to the basics and just sweat. And products like Schmidt’s Naturals help take the edge off without potentially compromising your health.