Why some people experience irritation from natural deodorant

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We hear from plenty of people who tell us something along these lines: “I’d love to use an all-natural deodorant, but I tried one with baking soda and experienced some irritation.” Now, why is that? 

Well, it turns out for some, baking soda can cause redness, irritation, burning, and occasionally even swelling. Sometimes people think this irritation is an allergic reaction or “detoxing”. Spoiler: it’s not. Yes, your pits can go through a detox period, but this won’t cause redness or irritation. The irritation is also (usually) not a symptom of an allergic reaction.  Baking soda is in a lot of foods and products, so unless you get an allergic reaction from cookies, it's most likely not what is causing it. 

That said, baking soda is a critical ingredient in natural stick deodorants, Curie’s included, because of its antibacterial properties. Which, you guessed it, helps control bacteria growth and neutralize odor. 

So what's the cause of the redness and irritation some people experience? It’s science, my friends. Or more specifically, pH balance.

Come take a journey with me to elementary school. Remember that epic science experiment where you used vinegar and baking soda to make a volcano? Your teacher probably took the time to explain why baking soda + vinegar = volcano, but for those who have misplaced their notes: that reaction happens because baking soda has a basic (high) pH and vinegar has an acidic (low) pH. The combination of high and low pH causes a reaction. 

Essentially, this is what happens to some people when they apply deodorant with high levels of baking soda. Our underarms are acidic, and baking soda is #basic, so a reaction can occur and cause redness and irritation!

Why do some people have a reaction and others don’t? Because your body is a temple and it’s entirely dependent on your temple’s pH level. Your pH can be affected by age, gender, diet, hormones, among other things. We spoke with a dermatologist who estimated that only ~5-10% of women experience skin reactions from baking soda, and some only experience it during their time of the month. 

But we all prefer 0% chance of angry pits, right? That’s why Curie has worked tirelessly, relying on a tremendous amount of real-world testing and feedback from our amazing customers to develop our updated formula. A stick deodorant even more gentle on those sensitive to baking soda (read more on that here) without sacrificing any efficacy. We took it a step further for those that have baking soda PTSD and launched a deodorant spray that's baking soda free.

We’ve spent a ton of time with our chemists to make sure Curie Deodorant does not react with most people’s skin. However, it is possible that some may still experience irritation if their skin is very acidic. If you do experience a reaction, please reach out to me directly (sarah@curiebod.com) so we can figure out a solution. 

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