No one wants to be the smelly one…And while many people are super enthusiastic to try a natural deodorant, they give up easily when the sweating kicks in and claim that the natural solution doesn’t work.
A natural deodorant however, works entirely differently than conventional deodorant or antiperspirant. Your body will go through an adjustment phase that might be uncomfortable for a few weeks. But stick to it and your body normalizes and you’re back to your non-sweaty, non-smelly self.
Read on to find out why it’s worth switching to a natural deodorant, how they work and what to expect.
1 | Stop putting chemicals onto your body
Conventional antiperspirant contains a variety of chemicals. Below are the most critical ones and the reasons why you should cut them out.
Aluminum is the active ingredient in antiperspirant. The aluminum ions from the aluminum salts are absorbed into the cells that line the sweat ducts. This leads them to swell and squeeze the ducts closed, Research suggests, that aluminum may have genotoxic and estrogenic effects and may contribute to breast cancer. Unfortunately, aluminum has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Parabens act as a preservative in many personal care products including deodorants. They contain estrogen-like properties and can affect your body’s hormonal balance. This may cause a variety of health issues such as increasing your risk of hormonal cancers, early onset of puberty, and even birth defects.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals commonly present in many personal care products. Although they have been banned since 2005 in the EU for use in cosmetics, there’s no such ban for the North American market. Phthalates are a known male reproductive toxicant that can lead to birth defects and compromised fertility. Women should be especially careful during pregnancy.
Triclosan is another common ingredient found in conventional deodorants. It’s an antimicrobial that kills bacteria and fungus. It is classified as a pesticide by the FDA and a probable carcinogen by the EPA and has been linked to a number of different health problems and increased risk of cancer.
The term “fragrance” is a generic word that can involve thousands of chemicals that a company doesn’t want to list on an ingredient label. Synthetic scents accumulate in your tissue over time and have been linked to hormone disruption and other serious health effects.
2 | Stop treating sweat like the devil
Did you know that sweat is actually odorless? You can blame bacteria for your body odor. When moisture remains on the skin, bacteria starts to grow and produces body odor. Sweating is a natural process of your body and has many functions like ridding your body of built-up toxins and cooling your skin.
3 | Stop damaging the environment
Deodorant sprays, just like hair sprays, contribute to air pollution. They contain a very high amount of volatile organic compounds, which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, a key component of smog.
4 | Stop supporting animal cruelty
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the companies behind conventional deodorants are almost all doing animal-testing. While many countries around the world have banned animal testing, it’s still not an issue in North America.
5 | Stop the yellow stains
One final issue to consider is the effect antiperspirants have on your clothing. The aluminum in your antiperspirant reacts with the proteins in your sweat and produces and ugly yellow stain on your shirts.
Natural deodorant alternatives
Many natural deodorants rely on a combination of coconut oil, baking soda, and essential oils. The coconut oil and essential oils are antimicrobial, the essential oil also provides a nice natural scent and the baking soda change the pH level of your armpits to make it harder for bacteria to grow.
Other alternatives include crystal deodorants. They contain a naturally occurring form of aluminum, whose molecules are too large to be absorbed by the skin. These products prevent odor and growth of bacteria.
A new generation of natural deodorants uses activated charcoal as the main ingredient. Kaia Naturals uses bamboo charcoal to keep you fresh and clean. Their detox deodorant fights bacteria naturally and allows you to stay odor free all day. Activated charcoal has a porous surface that acts like a magnet. As a result, it can bind substances, such as bacteria and toxins and draw them out.
What to expect during the detox phase
When switching to a natural deodorant, your body will go through a detox period that can last up to a month. In your first week, you probably won’t feel a change. That’s because there are still a lot of toxins and chemicals in your body. In the second and third week, you may notice more sweating and a stronger odor than normal. This is completely normal. It is actually a sign that the detox is working! Your body is simply ridding itself of all the built-up toxins. After three to four weeks your body will have adjusted and you’ll be back to your old non-sweaty, non-smelly self (minus the toxins).
Tips to make it through the detox phase
- Cleanse your underarms thoroughly 1-2 times per day with natural soap and water
- Dry-brush underarm area once per day in circular strokes to increase circulation and massage the lymph nodes
- Exfoliate under your arms twice a week to speed up the detoxification process by renewing the skin
- Avoid processed foods, as your diet has a substantial impact on your detoxing phase
- Sweat. Getting your glands to open up and start sweating will force the toxins out even faster
- Drink plenty of water to expedite the flushing of toxins
- Reapply deodorant throughout the day as needed
- Wear natural fabrics. Polyesters and acrylic fibers trap moisture, which can cause bacteria to grow
- Keep a detox journal. Making daily notes for four weeks will help you stay on track.
The information about the chemicals in this article came from the following two sources:
- Green, Greener, Greenest by Lori Bongiorno
- The Greeenpeace Living Guide