Perspiration is the body’s way of preventing overheating, through the wondrous process of evaporative cooling. Though sweat is mostly water, it also contains traces of zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, nickel, lead, cadmium, urea, sugars, proteins, potassium, ammonia, and manganese. It’s a natural mechanism that helps cleanse the entire system. Body odor is a result of beneficial bacteria on the skin metabolizing the substances in perspiration, breaking them down into smaller molecules that happen to emit an aroma unique to you.
Exactly no one wants to spend their days with soaking wet armpits in a cloud of pungent B.O. As members of polite society, we use deodorants every day to keep dry and stench-free – for our own benefit as well as that of others. But slapping on big brand anti-perspirants daily introduces chemicals into the body, which enter the bloodstream and are eventually stored in fat cells. You certainly don’t want that, especially when you consider the types of chemicals found in conventional deodorants.
Be Wary of These Deodorant Ingredients…
The American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the FDA claim that there is not enough evidence available to definitively link deodorant ingredients to adverse health effects. Which explains why typical deodorants are still found on store shelves. However, the absence of evidence isn’t the same as evidence of absence, and scientific studies on these toxic ingredients are worrying, to say the least:
Aluminum – As the active ingredient in antiperspirants, aluminum compounds temporarily plug sweat ducts to stop perspiration from reaching the surface of skin. Aluminum also carries estrogen-like effects, which has been implicated in the development of breast cancer.
Parabens – Used as a preservative in deodorant, parabens also have an estrogenic effect of the body. Use of products containing parabens can build up in the body over time; a 2004 study analyzing breast cancer tissue found concentrations of parabens in 18 of 20 samples. Be on the lookout for these names on the label: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and bezylparaben.
Triclosan – Found in antibacterial soaps, clothing, toys, toothpaste, and many other products, triclosan is added to deodorant to stem the spread of bacteria on the surface of the skin. It’s used so prevalently that 75% of Americans have detectable amounts of it in their urine. The presence of triclosan in the body has been linked to hormone disruption, antimicrobial resistance, and an uptick in allergies.
Phthalates – A group of chemicals often added to plastics to increase their flexibility, phthalates are the ingredient in conventional deodorants that ensure it glides on smoothly and sticks to your skin. Repeated exposure to phthalates has been associated with lower IQs in children, higher rates of asthma and infertility. This class of chemicals are “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” according to the Fourteenth Report on Carcinogens.
8 Best Natural & Organic Deodorant Alternatives
These are some of our favourite all-natural and organic deodorants that don’t carry the health risks that the commonplace brands do:
Free of all the aforementioned chemicals, Green Tidings deodorant is organic, vegan, and certified cruelty-free. The ingredients list spans tapioca starch, coconut oil, baking soda, magnesium oil, shea butter, candelilla wax, and lavender essential oil. As a bonus, all Green Tiding products are completely recyclable and are manufactured in a solar-powered facility.
Buy It Here: Green Tidings All Natural Deodorant available on Amazon.
Unlike most other deodorants, Primal Pit Paste was formulated specifically to allow the body to do what it was intended to do: sweat. By not preventing the body from flushing out toxins, Primal Pit Paste keeps your pores open and breathing without the shame of body odor. Made with organic shea butter, arrowroot powder, baking soda, coconut oil, lavender oil, and sunflower-derived vitamin E, it will keep you smelling fresh and clean, even during the most strenuous of workouts. Though it doesn’t clog up pores, the additions of arrowroot powder and baking soda will help keep your skin dry. Primal Pit Paste comes in a jar rather than a stick – just apply a pea-sized amount on your fingers and rub on your underarms.
The formula for Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant is quite effective for neutralizing odors and absorbing wetness while also moisturizing the skin. The list of ingredients may sound familiar: shea butter, baking soda, arrowroot powder, and vitamin E, with the novel additions of cocoa seed butter and hop extracts. Also sold by the jar, every container of Schmidt’s comes with a small spatula for easier application. Those sensitive to smells can pick up the fragrance-free version, but there are so many unique and gorgeous scents like bergamot and lime, ylang-ylang and calendula, and cedarwood and juniper.
Buy It Here: Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant available on Amazon.
Available as a roll-on, stick, stone, spray, and moistened towelettes, CRYSTAL essence deodorants harness the power of natural mineral salts to keep you smelling fresh all day. It works by creating an invisible barrier against bacteria-causing odors. Though potassium alum salts are the core ingredient, CRYSTAL essence also contains purified water, baking soda, heptyl glucoside (a non-ionic surfactant made from sugar and castor seeds), benzoic acid, cellulose (a plant-based thickening agent), gellan gum, and zinc gluconate (a natural preservative). All of the CRYSTAL essence line of deodorants are hypoallergenic and have been tested by dermatologists for safety.
Buy It Here: Available on Thrive Market from this page. Thrive Market is a membership based online marketplace selling the best in natural and organic products, typically at 25-50% off. Get more info here.
The Coconut Dream line from Organic Fields of Heather is subtle and mild, lightly scented with coconut, peach and orange. Sold by the stick, it is as firm as a lotion bar – and so a little goes a long way. Each product is handcrafted in New Hampshire, formulated with organic, non-GMO ingredients: coconut oil, shea and cocoa butter, aloe vera juice, beeswax, arrowroot starch, baking soda, vitamins E and C, and lemon, lime, and orange essential oils.
Buy It Here: Organic Fields of Heather available on Amazon.
Another natural mineral salt deodorant, the ingredient list for Bali Secrets is short and sweet: potassium alum, seaweed extract, distilled water, coconut oil, alcohol, and aloe vera gel. The use of mineral salts will help inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes B.O. while supporting the notion that sweating itself is a perfectly healthy and normal bodily function. Sold as a roll-on, it is softly scented with rose essential oil.
Buy It Here: Bali Secrets Natural Deodorant available on Amazon.
Available in lavender-citrus, frankincense-peach, and bergamot-mint, Freedom offers some amazing scents alongside a fragrance-free version for sensitive skin. The base formula contains coconut oil, arrowroot, beeswax, and shea butter, with a blend of essential oil pairings depending on the fragrance. For example, the lavender-citrus deodorant contains the oils of cypress (detoxifying), lemon (supports the immune system), coriander (antifungal), and lavender (disinfectant) to create those wonderful smells while also providing healthful benefits.
Buy It Here: Freedom Natural Deodorant available on Amazon.
The key ingredient in PiperWai natural deodorant is activated charcoal, keeping your underarms dry by absorbing 1000 times its weight in moisture. With an herbal aroma, the ingredients include tapioca starch, coconut oil, shea butter, rose water, cocoa seed butter, witch hazel, vitamin E, magnesium hydroxide, baking soda, honeysuckle flower extracts, and its own proprietary blend of 11 essential oils. Gentle enough for those with the most sensitive skin, it’s pH balanced and will neutralize odors and protect your clothing from perspiration stains.
Buy It Here: PiperWai Natural Deodorant available on Amazon.
How to Smoothly Transition from Chemical to Natural Deodorants
In many cases, switching from chemical-laden antiperspirants to deodorants with natural ingredients is seamless. But for some, making the switch can prompt a temporary detoxifying reaction which can result in irritated skin and rashes. This is normal; after years of using typical deodorants that are designed to clog pores and introduce toxic chemicals into the body, the skin needs a period of adjustment to flush out the synthetic additives.
Here are some tips to help make this transition as smooth as possible:
- In the first few weeks, avoid applying deodorant to the underarms immediately after shaving.
- Never use deodorant on broken skin.
- If you have a detox reaction, spray witch hazel or diluted apple cider vinegar on your pits and allow it to dry completely before applying deodorant. Repeat daily for one week to one month, or until the skin irritation clears up.
- To speed up the detoxification process, try dry brushing your skin to boost lymphatic drainage.
- Have a soak in an Epsom salt bath.
- Simply working up a sweat is the original way to remove toxins from the body, so increasing exercise will certainly help to flush out chemicals.