Today, about 95% of Americans use deodorant, making it an $18 billion a year industry.
But in our bid to smell fresh and rosy and adhere to social norms we often subject ourselves to a host of unwanted side effects!
Here are eleven scary reasons why we shouldn’t be wearing conventional deodorants, and some natural things we can do instead to smell fragrant all day, every day…
They Contain Toxic Chemicals…
Deodorants contain a myriad of unpronounceable ingredients, many of which pose serious health concerns.
And putting chemicals on our skin may actually be worse than eating them, because they enter the bloodstream without any filtering. (Whereas when we eat, enzymes in the saliva and stomach break down what’s ingested and flush it out of the body).
…Like Hormone Disruptors…
Some of the chemicals found in deodorants and antiperspirants are known endocrine disruptors – such as a class of substances called parabens (listed under the names butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben).
These preservatives prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast, but research shows they negatively impact the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects.
Aluminum compounds (like aluminum chlorohydrate) are used in deodorants to block the sweat ducts. They have been found to mimic estrogen, which promotes growth of breast cancer cells.
It should be noted that studies on breast cancer and aluminum are inconclusive due to conflicting findings, although at least one study has found that the age of breast cancer diagnosis was significantly earlier in women who used antiperspirant deodorants and shaved their underarms more frequently.
Similarly, parabens come under the spotlight in relation to breast cancer too. A 2004 study found parabens in 18 out of 20 samples of tissue from human breast tumors (although researchers cannot say the parabens caused the tumors).
…And Even Pesticides
Despite being registered as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency, an antibacterial agent called triclosan is commonly found in deodorants (and several soaps and other personal care products).
Triclosan is flagged as a risk to both human health and the environment, and animal studies have shown it alters hormone regulation and contributes to antibiotic resistant bacteria. Research has also linked triclosan with allergies, weight gain, inflammatory responses and thyroid dysfunction, and there are concerns it may interfere with fetal development in pregnant women.
Worryingly, research in 2008 found triclosan in the urine of nearly 75% of people tested!
(Discover even more toxic ingredients in your skincare products here).
They Can Irritate the Skin
Ever had a bad reaction to your deodorant? It’s not surprising.
Ingredients like silica and triclosan are known skin irritants that can cause itchiness, rash, swelling or redness. Alcohol, parabens and artificial fragrances are also prime suspects when it comes to a deodorant-induced skin reaction.
Not only is the thin skin of the armpits especially prone to allergic reactions and irritations, but the moist environment is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, making it even more important to be choosy about what you apply there.
Antiperspirants Don’t Stop Sweat!
Given all the toxic chemicals added to these products, you would think they do their job – namely, stopping perspiration. But that’s not the case.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only requires that a brand reduce sweat by 20% in order to claim it provides ‘all day protection’, according to the Wall Street Journal. Those who state their product is ‘extra strength’ need only cause a 30% reduction in dampness.
Sweating is Healthy
It’s probably a good thing that antiperspirants are pretty ineffective. After all, we’re born with between two million and four million sweat glands for a reason!
Sweating is a natural and vital process that helps the body stay cool and eliminate toxins. It also supports proper immune function, prevents diseases related to toxic overload, kills certain viruses and bacteria and cleans the skin’s pores, reducing blackheads and acne.
They Become Less Effective Over Time
Our bodies are incredibly adaptable. So much so that, given enough time, they even find a way to thwart the efforts of our strongest antiperspirant.
While scientists haven’t discovered why our deodorants become less effective over time, it’s hypothesized that the body finds a way to unplug the ducts previously blocked by the aluminum in commercial deodorants.
Experts recommend that you switch brands every six months to avoid this annoying occurrence. But why not go one better and ditch the chemical-laden sticks in favor of a more natural approach?
You May Not Even Need Deodorant!
There are a lucky few out there who don’t even produce any armpit odor and don’t need to wear deodorant at all. Yet research shows that 75% of these people still wear it!
Wondering if you are one of the chosen ones? There are a couple of ways to find out. You could just stop wearing deodorant and see if your friends and family give you a wide berth. Or, you could check your earwax. Yes, really!
A few years ago, scientists discovered that a gene called ABCC11 determined whether people produced wet or dry earwax. Those who have a pale, flaky wax lack the chemical in their armpits that bacteria feed on to cause underarm odor. Those with dark, sticky wax aren’t so lucky!
They Stain Your Clothes
Whether its white marks on a black dress, or yellow stains on a white shirt, deodorant is one of the worst offenders for staining clothing.
The Wall Street Journal reports that deodorant makers, detergent manufacturers, stain-removal companies, doctors and textile professors all disagree on what exactly causes the underarm staining, although many believe it’s the aluminum in the antiperspirants – just another reason to give these harsh chemicals a miss.
They Are Expensive
Sure, you can pick up a deodorant stick for a few dollars but when you can go without, or make your own all-natural version for mere cents, why waste your money on the conventional varieties?
How To Smell Fresh Naturally
So you’ve seen the pitfalls (no pun intended) of store bought deodorizing sprays and sticks, and you’re concerned for your health. But you also don’t want to smell like onions or cheese on a daily basis…which is pretty understandable.
Fear not, there are natural ways to stay fresh and odor-free, without compromising your health. Firstly, always maintain good hygiene by washing regularly and thoroughly drying your skin to avoid bacterial or fungal growth. Secondly, consider what you eat – food impacts more than the smell of your breath. Finally, make (or buy) an all-natural deodorant, free from carcinogens, skin irritants and other chemicals. Keep reading to find out more!
Check Your Diet
Certain foods cause the body to sweat more so limit your intake of these if you’re struggling with excessive sweat or body odor. These include:
- Spicy foods
- Garlic and onion
- Processed, fatty and sugary foods
Help keep your body cool by staying hydrated with plenty of water, and water-filled foods like cucumber, celery, pears, watermelon etc.
Herbs like parsley, basil, mint, sage and rosemary, along with supplements like chlorophyll and wheat grass, are all said to be natural body deodorizers.
Make sure you’re getting enough of the B Vitamins, and Vitamin C, as these water soluble nutrients encourage toxins to be eliminated via the urine rather than the skin.
Finally, reduce or eliminate the meat from your diet. A 2006 study carried out in the Czech Republic, found that vegetarians have a ‘significantly more attractive, more pleasant, and less intense’ odor than their omnivorous counterparts.
Natural Homemade Deodorant Recipes
If you can’t go deodorant free then simply replace your chemical-laden brand with one of these all-natural deodorant recipes made with nourishing ingredients like coconut oil, essential oils, baking soda, witch hazel and shea butter.
Shea Butter & Essential Oil Deodorant Stick – While this recipe by Wellness Mama takes more time than going to the store, this deodorant will last longer and is a whole lot healthier! With coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda and essential oils, this deodorant stick is silky smooth and delightfully scented.
Homemade Non-Toxic Citrus Deodorant – Using coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder and lemon essential oil, this zingy solid cream will give you a much needed morning boost when you apply it! You can mix it up in just two minutes and it keeps in a glass jar for several weeks.
Homemade Deodorant For Sensitive Skin – Made without baking soda, this gentle formula works well for those with sensitive ‘pits. Instead it uses cornstarch and coconut oil along with diatomaceous earth – a powder made from fossilized phytoplankton which is highly antimicrobial.
Two-Ingredient DIY Deodorant – This one couldn’t be simpler to make! Just blend a quarter cup of baking soda with 10 to 20 drops of essential oil of your choice, and pat it under your arms each morning after your shower. It’s a little bit messier than a stick deodorant so make sure to do it over the sink!
Witch Hazel & Aloe Vera Spray Deodorant – If solid or powder deodorants don’t do it for you, how about a spray? Containing organic witch hazel, Aloe Vera gel, baking soda and Clary Sage oil, it smells as wholesome and natural as it sounds.
Apple Cider Vinegar Deodorant Spray – Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is an incredibly useful product to have in the house – just check out all its benefits! It works wonders in this deodorant too, especially with the added power of witch hazel, distilled water and essential oils.
Pink Himalayan Salt Deodorant Spray – Pink Himalayan salt is another super product to have on hand. With antibacterial properties, it stops the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Blend it with soothing organic witch hazel, essential oils, baking soda and potent grapefruit seed extract and you’ll end up with a spray that’s more effective than any store-bought brand.
Magnesium and Essential Oil Spray Deodorant – with just two ingredients, and in spray form, this deodorant is a winner with many! Not only is it incredibly effective at preventing underarm odor, but you get a boost of magnesium – something many are deficient in! Add some essential oils for antibacterial power and feel-good smells.
Primal Pit Paste
This all natural pit paste allows you to sweat but neutralizes the odor. It means your body can emit the toxins building up but without the smell. It contains only natural ingredients, such as baking soda, arrowroot powder, coconut oil, shea butter and more. You need only a pea sized amount per application meaning each jar should last at least one month. You can buy it from this page on Amazon.
If mixing up a batch of homemade deodorant is just ‘too crunchy’ for you, yet you’re still concerned about the ingredients in conventional deodorants, then consider investing in a deodorant stone.
Made from large, smooth crystals of potassium aluminum sulfate, you simply wet these sticks and apply them as you would any deodorant stick. Potassium aluminum differs from the aluminum in regular deodorant as potassium alum is thought to be a larger molecule which can’t be absorbed through the skin.
Get One Here: Crystal Body Deodorant Stick