Why some people experience irritation from natural deodorant

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Baking soda

We've received a few emails and DM's recently from people telling us they have experienced skin reactions from using all natural deodorants containing baking soda in the past. But why is that? Making an effective deodorant comes down to science, so let's dive into it.

First off, baking soda is a critical ingredient in our stick deodorant and many others because of its antibacterial properties, which help control bacteria growth and neutralize odor. We also recently updated our formula to make it even more gentle on those sensitive to baking soda (read more on that here).

For some, baking soda can cause redness, irritation, burning, and occasionally even swelling. People often confuse this irritation with an allergic reaction or detoxing. Neither is true. Yes, your armpits can go through a detox period, but it will not 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. 

So what's the cause of the redness and irritation some people experience? It has to do with pH.

Remember that epic science experiment you did back in elementary school with vinegar and baking soda to make a volcano? Well, I know nobody actually learned anything from that, but 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. 

That's an over-simplified version of 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. 

What causes a reaction in some and not others? It's entirely dependent on your body's pH level. Your pH can be affected by age, gender, diet, hormones, and many other factors. We spoke with a dermatologist who estimated that about 5-10% of women experience skin reactions from baking soda, and some only experience it during their time of the month. 

We have worked tirelessly 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. 

We're here to sweat the small stuff so you don't have to. 

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