Sodium Bicarbonate, Baking Soda, Bicarbonate of Soda.
This clever ingredient is part of the reason our deodorants work so well, and it’s not only present in deodorant. It’s also a common ingredient in toothpaste (remember the old toothpaste advert “that must be the baking soda!”) and lots of other cosmetic applications.
We’ll refer to it as Sodium Bicarbonate from here, since that is the correct labelling term. Although it is sometimes referred to as Baking Soda, this is more of an ‘Americanism’.
Recently I’ve noticed a huge increase in the amount of deodorants excitedly exclaiming that they are ‘baking soda free!’. It’s become a bit of a buzz term in the natural deodorant market, in fact.
With so much inflated misinformation being spread about sodium bicarbonate, some people are now confused and concerned about using it, so I thought I’d provide some clarity.
What is Sodium Bicarbonate?
Why use Sodium Bicarbonate?
Sodium Bicarbonate is an antibacterial and pH neutraliser. In our deodorants, it is used to neutralise the acid in sweat and eliminate underarm bacteria, therefore preventing body odour from forming. It is an amazing deodoriser!
How Much Sodium Bicarbonate Can I Use?
Now this is the million dollar question! Almost everyone can use Sodium Bicarbonate- but finding a deodorant with just the right amount for you is the key to happy underarms. If you have ever found a red rash develops after using a natural deodorant, Sodium Bicarbonate may be the culprit. This is not an ‘allergy’ to Sodium Bicarbonate (in most cases), but is caused by a change in your skin pH because Sodium Bicarbonate is an alkaline. If you’ve experienced irritation from this ingredient before, you may find that a similar deodorant (still containing sodium bicarbonate but at a lower percentage) is perfectly fine.
There’s no clear reason why irritation occurs in some people and not others. Some can use higher concentrations of Sodium Bicarbonate without any problems, others can use it sparingly and occasionally, some not at all.
Remember, our bodies are ever-changing. Things such as hormones, stress, alcohol, diet and lifestyle affect our chemistry. It is understandable that the delicate skin pH balance may shift as well.
How does Sodium Bicarbonate work?
Our skin generally maintains a slightly acidic pH 5.5. Pure Sodium Bicarbonate sits at a more alkaline pH 9. However, it’s the pH of the whole deodorant that matters unless you’re putting undiluted Sodium Bicarbonate on your underarms (not advised!). The combination of ingredients in the formula will create its pH, meaning it will probably sit slightly closer to ‘neutral’ on the scale.
Sodium Bicarbonate is a large part of the reason that our deodorants work SO well, and this is thanks to the wonder of chemistry! When alkaline Sodium Bicarbonate meets with sweat molecules it neutralises the acids that cause body odour and restores balance.
If you experienced an unpleasant reaction to Sodium Bicarbonate, you may be wondering whether you will be able to try to use it again. The good news is that although uncomfortable, the irritation will subside quickly so long as you discontinue use. This is very important, since applying any products to irritated skin can lead to further problems.
These simple steps seem obvious, but during rushed morning routines it’s easy to overlook them.
- Wash your underarms thoroughly & gently. Ensure that you remove all product applied from the previous day and rinse well.
- Dry with a towel until all moisture has been absorbed.
- Apply as directed, after bath or shower. Your skin will be clean and warm, which allows the product to glide more smoothly.
- Apply sparingly. Experiment with how much you need for optimal effectiveness.
- Have patience. Many people find a happy balance with natural deodorant through a little perseverance. Sometimes the only solution is to let a time pass and try again.
- Buy a sample. This key point so often gets ignored and yet it is the one key way to ensure your new deodorant suits you.
Active Deodorant Balm: Contains our highest concentration of Sodium Bicarbonate, so is best kept for the most demanding days (gym etc)
Clean Deodorant Balm: Contains a lower level of Sodium Bicarbonate. Contains magnesium for the perfect daily deodorant. Our forever best seller.
Gentle Deodorant Cream: For anyone who has sensitive skin, or is avoiding Sodium Bicarbonate due to previous irritation. This innovative formula uses the combined power of magnesium and white clay.
Please note that underarm rashes are not always down to Sodium Bicarbonate. It’s important to see your Dr to ensure that it is not down to an allergy, ingrowing hairs or sweat rash. Even symptoms coincide with using a new deodorant, these conditions may appear for other reasons.
Nothing in this post should be used in place of medical advice.