by Laura Naughton
Don’t sweat it.
Changing beauty habits, especially ones that involve underarm sweat and smell, can be quite a challenge. I have to admit that there were times in the past when I didn’t raise my hand because I wasn’t “sure.” Between the perspiration, itchy skin, and yellow stains, I was embarrassed to expose the everyday issues I was experiencing with my antiperspirant. After flip-flopping back-and-forth between a variety of not-so-natural and all-natural brands over the years, I’ve found that the benefits of changing to natural deodorant outweigh the pitfalls of antiperspirant. The decision to “stick to my guns” and exclusively use natural deodorant required a bit of dedication during the transition period but has been well worth the change.
Discover below the reasons why switching to natural deodorant can benefit both your internal and external health along with tips and product recommendations to make your transition an easy one.
The Trouble with Antiperspirant
Many depend on the strength of antiperspirant to control perspiration, but a little sweat won’t hurt you as much as some of the side effects associated with the product. The various aluminum compounds typically used in antiperspirants work by closing or clogging pores to prevent the release of perspiration. When sweat builds up behind blocked ducts, it becomes trapped beneath the skin. This can cause unpleasant side effects such as bumpy and painful inflammation along with a buildup of sweat-digesting bacteria, which actually cause bad odor. To make it worse, the acidity of the aluminum compounds causes a reaction with fabric leaving a “lovely” yellow reminder of your perspiration on your glowing white shirts.
When digging deeper into the issue, there are larger health risks at stake that aren’t just skin deep. From infertility-causing ingredients to toxic chemicals linked to Alzheimer’s and cancer, antiperspirants contain a variety of ingredients that are absorbed into the skin and can lead to a wide list of ailments and systemic diseases. Below is a list of ingredients to avoid:
Common Toxic Antiperspirant Ingredient Side Effects
- Aluminum Compounds (Aluminum chlorohydrate and aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex glycine) – Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, skin irritation
- Parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl, benzyl and butyl) – Endocrine disruption, environmental toxin, cancer, reproductive disorders, premature aging, immune toxicant, allergen
- Phthalates – Cancer, birth defects, infertility, allergen
- Proplyene glycol – Skin, eyes, and lungs irritation, reproductive and fetal neurotoxin linked to kidney and liver damage, enhanced skin absorption
- Silica – Possible carcinogen if contaminated with crystalline quartz, skin, eyes and lung irritation
- Steareths – Endocrine disruption, developmental/reproductive toxicity, skin irritation
- Talc – Non-reproductive organ system toxin, possible carcinogen if contaminated with asbestiform fibers
- Triclosan – Antibacterial agent banned in several countries due contribution to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, endocrine disruption, muscle weakness, skin, eyes, and lung irritation
The Beauty of Natural Deodorant
As opposed to the synthetic counterpart, natural deodorant has a plethora of benefits. The use of only natural ingredients reduces the probability of suffering from diseases caused by toxic chemicals and limits the likelihood of experiencing contact dermatitis caused by irritants and allergens. Since transitioning to natural deodorant, my underarms are feeling fresh and odor-free even without deodorant. Also, because my skin isn’t irritated and inflamed, I can get a cleaner shave that lasts longer than when using antiperspirant. And, thankfully, my white shirts stay white.
Although I love natural deodorant, not all products are perfect. Some of the deodorants do need to be reapplied during the day, they do not reduce perspiration as well as antiperspirants, and leave a white residue on clothes (that does wash out). People do react to ingredients differently, so it takes time to find the product that works best for each person. Overall, the health benefits outweigh the small inconveniences.
See below for a list of the benefits of some common natural ingredients to help distinguish which products to use along with some tips to help you on your path to a more natural you:
Natural Deodorant Ingredient Benefits
- Baking Soda – Neutralizes odor, absorbs sweat
- Witch Hazel – Natural non-irritating astringent (shrinks pores), evaporates sweat, soothes razor burn
- Essential Oils (such as rosemary, lichen, sage, lemongrass, and tea tree oil) – Derived from plants, antibacterial properties, prevents odor and growth of sweat-digesting skin bacteria
- Mineral Salts (potassium aluminum (alum) sulfate and ammonium alum) – Work by forming a temporary layer on the skin instead of being absorbed into the skin and clogging pores, prevents odor and growth of sweat-digesting skin bacteria, non-irritant
Tips for Switching to Natural Deodorant
Test a New Organic Deodorant Brand
Now that you have a list of toxic ingredients to avoid and natural ingredients to look for, search out a new natural or organic deodorant to try. Be sure to stick with it for a couple weeks as it may take your body time to adjust.
Detoxify Your Underarms
To speed up the detoxification process by renewing the skin, exfoliate under your arms twice a week. Wash your underarms daily with natural soap and water. You may struggle with a strong odor for 1 to 3 weeks while your body expels the toxins from your body, but don’t give up! A morning, midday and evening wash may be necessary during this pungent period. Apply your deodorant after each daytime rinse to refresh and protect you throughout the day. You will eventually notice the strong odor disappears and leaves you smelling naturally fresh even without deodorant.
Stick with Natural Fiber Clothing
Polyesters and acrylic fibers trap moisture, which cause mold to grow on clothing resulting bad odor. Be sure to wear natural fibers such as cottons, hemp and silk to stay odor-free during and after the transition period.
Natural and Organic Deodorant Products
There are a wide variety of eco-friendly deodorants to choose from on the market, but not all are naturally created equal. One must be aware of companies that slyly slip toxic ingredients into their claimed “natural” products by closely reading ingredient labels to make sure that the product is truly non-toxic. To get you started, below is a list a few of my favorite products:
- Lafe’s Roll-On Tea Tree Oil Deodorant (www.lafes.com)
- Nourish Organic Clean and Fresh Organic Deodorant (www.nourishorganic.com)
- Bubble & Bee Organic Geranium Lime Pit Putty 100% Organic Deodorant (www.bubbleandbee.com)
- Home Remedy – Try mixing a small amount of baking soda into water and apply to underarms as an all-day deodorant
Sources: Environmental Working Group – Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, The Department of Chemistry at Akron – The Chemical Database, International Agency for Research on Cancer
Designer and owner of LKN Studio, Laura is also a model and connoisseur of natural regimens for everyday health and beauty. Visit www.lknstudio.com to learn more.