Have you heard that some deodorants have ingredients that put your long-term health at risk? It’s easy to avoid nasty side effects and choose a natural deodorant that works well when you understand how sweat and odor work.
Your underarms have a large concentration of sweat glands. When you work hard or get stressed, you sweat all over, but you probably notice it first under your arms. Sweating cools and detoxifies the body. Blocking the pores with antiperspirants so we don’t sweat robs our body of this natural process.
Then there is the smell. We begin to smell when bacteria feed on sweat. To avoid body odor, kill the bacteria before fermentation begins. A deodorant prevents the smell only.
Go natural for natural’s sake. Go natural because the alternatives can harm us. Or, go natural because it works. Whatever your reasons, you need to know the desired result, ingredients to avoid, and ingredients to accept.
Ingredients to Avoid
As with far too many mainstream cosmetics, there are ingredients in many antiperspirants and deodorants that can harm us.
- Aluminum is a metal used to block the pores to prevent sweating, and it is absorbed through the skin, contributing to your chemical body burden. This is the active ingredient in many antiperspirants. Unfortunately, it has been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Paraben is a synthetic preservative that is absorbed into the body and acts as a hormone disruptor.
- Propylene glycol is a petroleum product used for consistency. It makes a product glide onto the skin, but it is suspected to cause damage to the central nervous system.
- Phthalates are plastic softeners, another petroleum product used for consistency. You may remember that all children’s products in the U.S. must now be certified phthalate-free, but adult products—including cosmetics and medical products—can still contain phthalates.
- Triclosan is a pesticide and probable carcinogen that kills odor. This is the same ingredient as in antibacterial soaps and gels. Because of the known issues, many companies have removed this ingredient from antiperspirants and deodorants.
- Synthetic fragrances can be hormone disruptors.
Beyond the harmful ingredients you should also look out for irritating and allergenic ingredients.
Ingredients to Accept
Once you know exactly what the job is that needs to be done, it’s not so difficult to find natural ingredients that will help. Look for natural bacteria inhibitors, bacteria killers, and skin soothers.
- Mineral salts in crystal deodorants keep bacteria from growing on your skin, so they prevent smell.
- Some essential oils have antibacterial properties. Kill the bacteria, and you avoid the smell.
- Witch hazel is a soothing substitute if you are sensitive to alcohol. Both witch hazel and alcohol are astringents that shrink the pores.
- Aloe vera is another skin soothing ingredient for those with sensitive skin.
Choose a Deodorant
Your current deodorant. Start by evaluating the product you are currently using. Look it up in the Skin Deep cosmetics database. Zero marks the cleanest of clean, and 10 marks the highest hazard products. I looked up my deodorant, and I was relieved to find that it is considered low hazard with an ingredient score of 2.
Natural deodorant. At bynature.ca we carry Lafes Natural Organic Deodorant Spray in lavender scent. This gets a rating of 1 in the Skin Deep database. There are many products in the low hazard range, including several with a rating of 0.
Nothing at all! Another alternative is just to go bare. You don’t need a database to tell you that the lowest exposure to hazards is no exposure at all. My husband has never used deodorant or antiperspirant. He’s fortunate to be a fairly dry person, so he just showers every 2-3 days. Not everyone can get away with this in a society where extreme cleanliness is expected, but it is an option.
There are many natural deodorants that work well. You can find one at a price within your budget that doesn’t put you and your health at risk.