The lack of adequate research and the fear of sweaty armpits—a subject no one wants to talk about—may make you shy away from natural deodorants. But no matter how unpleasant this topic might be, you shouldn’t disregard the concerns surrounding some of the ingredients in conventional deodorants and antiperspirants.
Every day, few times per day, you apply these products under your arms, an area where many lymph nodes lie close to the surface of the skin. And even though these products effectively block sweat, many of the popular drugstore brands are loaded with questionable ingredients that are worth examining, if not also replacing with safe alternatives.
Being a visitor to this site means that you want something more natural, something less harmful for your body and the environment. Well, you have to be aware that embracing natural beauty means going beyond creams, moisturizers, lotions, and makeup—it encompasses anything we put in and on our bodies, including deodorants and antiperspirants. Although we may be proud to toss body-care products made with harsh ingredients, (understandably) few of us are willing to compromise on the topic of body odor.
Sweating is Natural
So to have a better understanding of the whole process of perspiration we all want to stop and avoid, firstly you need to know that it’s natural and normal. Sweat is only water and minerals (salt mostly) being cleansed out of our bodies. Nothing weird, nothing smelly at that point. However, when sweat comes in contact with the bacteria on the surface of the skin (also a normal occurrence), that’s when things get smelly.
You are supposed to sweat, and attempting to stop or interfere with this process is, to put it bluntly, not good for you. Conventional deodorant contains antibacterial ingredients that are meant to kill the natural bacteria on your skin before it gets the chance to mingle with your sweat and cause a stink. Antiperspirants deal with sweat directly by including aluminum compounds that stop up sweat glands.
Why You Should Stick to Natural Deodorants
But you know what’s worse than smelling a bit off sometimes? Alzheimer’s and breast cancer, both of which have been linked to the same aluminum compounds found in antiperspirants. This fact alone should make you reconsider your beauty decisions and make you choose something smarter. And yes, natural deodorants do work effectively in the fight against smelling, all without blocking your body’s natural ways of detoxification.
Toxins in Mainstream Deodorants and Antiperspirants
- Aluminum – Blocks your pores to prevent sweat. Exposure to aluminum on a daily basis has been linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminum exposure also interferes with your estrogen levels, and when your body can’t process estrogen properly, there’s a higher risk for breast and prostate cancer.
- Parabens – Preservatives chemicals that mess with our bodies estrogen. They build up in the body and have been correlated with breast cancer. Learn More about Parabens.
- Steareths – Compounds that are a product of ethoxylation (weakening of harsh chemical in the manufacturing process). During the manufacturing, these compounds can produce and become contaminated with carcinogens such as dioxane.
- Propylene Glycol – A penetration enhancer and wetting agent, propylene glycol will carry other substances with it into your bloodstream. When used daily, this chemical can cause damage to your central nervous system, heart, and liver. It is also associated with irritant and allergic contact dermatitis, especially for those with sensitive skin. These skin-irritant effects happen at concentrations as low as 2%, yet some deodorants use a base of 50% propylene glycol, including some “natural” brands.
- TEA and DEA – These are known as Ethanolamines. DEA is used as an emulsifier while TEA is used as a fragrance, pH adjuster and emulsifying agent. When mixed with certain preservatives, they react and form nitrosamines such as nitrosodiethanolamine, which are carcinogenic and absorb through the skin.
- Triclosan – An anti-bacterial ingredients that can irritate your skin and cause contact dermatitis. Your body contains good as well as harmful bacteria, but triclosan kills both. The FDA classifies triclosan as a pesticide, while the IARC has it listed as a possible carcinogen.
What are Natural Deodorants and How Do They Work?
Ingredients in Natural Deodorants
Natural oil to form the base: Coconut oil or other natural oils will build the base of the deodorant. These add body to the deodorant and provide skin moisture.
Powder or starch for absorption and odor control: Baking soda and arrowroot powders absorb wetness, as well as kill bacteria that causes odor. Some type of powder is essential for an effective natural deodorant.
Essential oils for antiseptic effects and scent: Essential oils such as rosemary, sage, lemongrass, and tea tree oil also have antibacterial properties that fight odor before it starts. These oils add a natural scent to deodorants.
Wax for texture: Beeswax or candelilla wax add a waxy, glossy consistency you’re used to in regular deodorants, they also help the deodorant stay firm.
[See our choices for the best natural deodorants]
How do you Start the Transition to Natural Deodorant?
Start by not wearing anything under your arms for the first three days. This will give your body a chance to expel any lingering remnants of the conventional stuff while also allowing it to reset. If you sense that you’re smelling, shower more often. This removes the bacterial build-up and the sweat all together putting you in a clean slate for the rest of the day.
When you stop using deodorant/antiperspirant with aluminum, your body will push out those toxins from your clogged pores, which can be irritating. Letting your skin breathe for a bit will quell any aluminum-based irritation. Then, when you feel sufficiently detoxed, it’s time to start the search for your perfect natural deodorant.
When you look for natural deodorant, you want one that has a delicate balance of baking soda and essential oils. Also make sure to steer clear of anything that contains parabens or propylene glycol, which is a known skin irritant. Above all, though, test out plenty of options before throwing in the towel. Remember that natural deodorant isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, so it might take a few tries to find your armpit soulmate. But once you do, you’ll never go back.
Besides the DIY concoctions, there are some trust-worthy brands I’ll talk about in the next week’s article, that produce all-natural deodorants your skin will adore. Until then, stay all scented and natural…
To Your Healthy Being,