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The Natural Deodorant Power Player That’s Misunderstood

by Allison Moss August 16, 2018

baking soda natural deodorant

Chances are there’s a box of baking soda in your house right now, waiting for its turn in your next cupcake experiment or tucked away in the corner of your fridge so it can absorb the funky smell of last night’s garlic pasta. If the latter sounds at all familiar, you’re already aware that baking soda is an exceptionally effective odor neutralizer. That’s why so many natural deodorant brands include smell-zapping sodium bicarbonate (a.k.a. baking soda) in their formulas. Sadly though, baking soda has endured a bad rap in deodorants, and we’re here to unravel why — first by diving into how it works and then by letting you in on how we discovered a better way to use this ingredient.

Why Baking Soda?

Many natural deodorant brands start right out of someone’s kitchen, so readily available baking soda is a go-to-choice for a simple and effective formula. We’ll spare you a complex chemistry lesson (you’re welcome!), but to break it down for you, let’s take a look at how baking soda works to neutralize odor in your refrigerator. Many of the funky smells lurking in your fridge come from bacteria breaking down the food into strong acids with low pH (like that pint of stale milk you forgot to throw out). Enter sodium bicarbonate, which has an alkaline, higher pH. As you may remember from high school chemistry - a low pH and a high pH kind of cancel each other out. So leaving that baking soda in your fridge will neutralize those no-good stenches and keep the air odor-free.

If natural deodorants are not using baking soda, they often turn to odor-masking essential oils or other ingredients with antibacterial properties to do the job. Much like with the funky fridge odors example above, your sweat only stinks after it leaves your body and comes into contact with bacteria on your skin. The bacteria breaks down your sweat, releasing odorous acids in the process. Antibacterials target the stink before it even begins by destroying bacteria on your skin. Problem solved, right? Unfortunately, the victory is short-lived, because bacteria simply grows back (again, and again, and again) and so the stink returns.

Baking soda absorbs odor over time, so the effects last longer than alternative antibacterial ingredients popular with other natural deo brands, like essential oils, zinc compounds, and coconut oil.

When to Blame Baking Soda

Like we mentioned earlier, baking soda in deodorant is occasionally blamed for irritating skin and causing red, raw underarms. One reason why many other baking soda-powered natural deodorants can irritate your skin: most of those baking soda-based sticks have a gritty, abrasive texture that basically feels like you’re rubbing sandpaper against your skin. That friction alone can seriously irritate the delicate skin under your arms — definitely not a good look when you’re just trying to avoid embarrassing odors at the office.

Also depending on your own personal chemistry, a small percentage of people simply cannot tolerate baking soda on their skin at all. It all depends on your skin’s own pH levels — plus, a hodgepodge of other complicated factors like age, gender, genetics, and exposure to environmental aggressors like excessive heat or wind. Some people experience zero issues, while others are simply predisposed to be hypersensitive to baking soda — banning this ingredient completely. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way.

How We Use Baking Soda Better

Simply put, we use less baking soda than other natural deodorant sticks, sticking to the minimal amount necessary to get the job done. We obsessively tested and re-tested (and re-tested again) type:A’s formula to find the perfect combo of ingredients and hit just the right concentration of baking soda. So type:A goes on soft and smooth, never irritating, and yet still works hard hour after hour to protect against odor.

But just because we use less baking soda doesn’t mean we compromise on odor protection. Our special sauce is our unique time-release formula that is actually activated  by your sweat. When you sweat, type:A deodorant springs into action to absorb that wetness and release a little bit of our odor-fighting complex — which, naturally, includes baking soda. Little by little, every time you sweat, type:A deo absorbs that moisture and releases some — and only some! — of the baking soda and other odor-busters. We think it’s the best way to utilize this natural powerhouse in our aluminum-free deodorant formula, while avoiding typical baking soda-caused irritation.

Our sweat-activated technology was designed for everyone, but it’s especially notable for those who’ve shied away from baking soda formulas, fearing the ingredient would cause skin irritation or itchiness to return. At type:A, however, we’ve created a savior for sweaty underarms that even works for the baking-soda skeptics. So you can feel safe sporting that sleeveless top at the office again ;)

Allison Moss
Allison Moss


Allison Moss is currently the Founder & CEO of type:A Brands. Under her leadership, type:A is on a mission to help people lead healthier lives without sacrifice and to help bring clean beauty to the mainstream. Allison has 18 years of marketing and management experience in consumer products and eCommerce, and an MBA from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business.

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