During lockdown I’ve taken some time to start using a number of products I’d previously received in Birchboxes, partly down to the guilt of not using them and partly to ensure I’m using what I have before I embark on the laborious journey to the shops for what I might already have in a cupboard.
One thing I was really eager to try was Naturally Active’s charcoal deoderant balm. As part of living a more conscious life (something I’ve been trying to do since Travis was born, but ultimately life gets in the way a bit!) I’ve been trying to use products which have less of an impact on the environment. This has admittedly been a bit hit and miss with other things like shampoo bars, so I didn’t really want to try a different deoderant unless I wasn’t really going anywhere and bumping into anyone in case I was a bit smelly or worse, actually sweated on them! In that sense, lockdown has done me a favour enabling me to try an alternative deodorant without offending anyone’s nose.
Worth mentioning at this point that this review is completely my own experience and nobody has paid me or incentivised me to write this.
What’s it like?
I have to admit, I’ve always been unsure about balms, ever since the early 2000’s fads of perfume balms and sticks (are they still a thing?) but the actual environment is more important than my feelings towards a certain texture of product so I power through. There’s not really a smell off it so my first worry was how well it would end up protecting against bodily odours. I’d say it was more of a paste than a balm, in that you don’t exactly rub it on directly like lip balm, but rather scoop some out. At first I wasn’t sure a paste was any better than a balm but it’s surprisingly easy to get used to, as long as you’re careful not to get half the tub stuck in your fingernails.
Apparently activated charcoal can absorb up to 1,000 times its own weight in moisture (a fact I learned from researching Native Unearthed) which is absolutely amazing, and better be true based on the amount I sweat after a light jog/workout. There are a few other scents available, coconut and vanilla or sage and lavender, but since I got this in my Birchbox I didn’t have a say in what balm I ended up with.
How to use it
The advice on the label is to scoop out a pea sized amount and work in your fingers until it becomes a smoother paste, then rub on the desired area. So far so easy. It’s not as quick as a skoosh with an aerosol, but it’s just a few extra seconds. A pea sized amount doesn’t seem much but when it mushes up it’s the ideal size for an armpit!
NB: You can probably use it anywhere you sweat, but I just stuck to the underarms.
Packaging and ingredients
All ingredients are, as you can imagine, natural. Bicarbonate of soda is a key ingredient which helps neutralise any odours, with the active charcoal playing its part here too. The only other ingredients are shea butter, coconut oil, arrow root and lavender essential oils, to keep your skin nourished whilst absorbing any moisture.
The size is just 60ml so it’s not the largest item in your bathroom cabinet, but as a little goes a long way, the Native Unearthed deoderant balm still lasts a fair amount of time. I’ve been using it every day since lockdown began (23rd March) and am only beginning to see the bottom of the jar now, over 6 weeks later. It also comes in a recyclable glass jar, another tick for the environment.
Despite all my uncertainties around this product to begin with, I was really impressed with the end results. Whereas I found myself getting a bit hot and sweaty after a workout, my armpits were either dry, or in the case of more intense workouts, sweaty but not smelly. I found the active charcoal deoderant to be very effective in terms of keeping dry on a daily basis so would definitely recommend something like this for anyone looking to make the change away from aerosol.
Whilst I might not always buy this exact product, I know balms (especially ones with those ingredients) will work well for me.
Where can I get it?
Weirdly, whilst researching, I couldn’t find a website or any direct sales platform from Native Unearthed but it is available from health stores like Holland and Barratt and The Nature Shop. It’s sold out on the Birchbox site, and I think has been for some time. It retails for around £6.99 so dearer than your can of Sure or whatever, but worth it for the environment and the fact it actually protects against odours and excessive sweating, rather than try to simply cover with a more overpowering smell.