When thinking about the small shifts we can make towards living a cleaner, healthier lifestyle, switching to natural deodorant isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. But we’ve learned it should be.
Commercial antiperspirants we buy at the store and apply to our underarms contain aluminum salts as well as a laundry list of other unnecessary ingredients. For some of you reading this, this might not seem like a huge deal, but if we could create a list of “the top 10 ingredients that should NOT be on your skin or body”, this would be one of those ingredients to steer clear from.
The Differences Between Deodorants & Antiperspirants
Before we continue, it’s important to understand the key differences between using a deodorant and an antiperspirant. As noted on our popular “Switching to Natural Deodorant” page, deodorants are used to hide or mask body odor (typically through the use of a scent or fragrance) while antiperspirants actually keep you from sweating.
Antiperspirants work by clogging the pores in your armpits with strong astringents, such as aluminum salts, which prevent you from perspiring. Basically, the aluminum acts as a plug in your sweat gland, preventing the release of sweat. So, what’s the problem? Sweating is a normal process which helps your body naturally eliminate toxins -- it supports proper immune function as well as aids in preventing various diseases related to toxic overload. Not only are the aluminum salts interfering with your bodies natural need to sweat and release toxins from your body, they are leaving behind a trail of health risks each time they are applied to your skin.
The Dangers of Aluminum
For years, studies have shown the devastating effects that aluminum can have on our bodies. Aluminum has been associated with a gamut of serious health-related issues such as:
- Breast Cancer (the aluminum in antiperspirants has been known to accumulate in breast tissue and may even be linked to an increased cancer risk!)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Bone Disorders
- Kidney Problems
Using deodorants and antiperspirants that contain aluminum salts has a significant effect on armpit bacterial density. The use and safety of these antiperspirants and commercial deodorants have been the source of much research and concern within recent years. Not only that but using aluminum antiperspirants over a long period of time may even result in an accumulated amount of aluminum to reside in the breast tissue, causing potential health risks to both men and women.
But, Aluminum Isn’t the Only DangerIt’s not just the aluminum in deodorant and antiperspirants that we should be aware of. Most name brand deodorants and antiperspirants contain a spectrum of ingredients that should stay as far away from our bodies as possible. There are even deodorant options that claim to be “natural” yet have an ingredients label that you’d need an encyclopedia to understand. Some of these risky ingredients include:
- Parabens: Parabens are harmful chemical preservatives added commercial soaps and beauty products to prevent the growth of microbes. This mix of chemical preservatives are absorbed through your skin, blood, and digestive system and are known to disrupt hormones, even being linked to breast cancer.
Triclosan: Triclosan, a chemical commonly found in antibacterial soaps and beauty products, is not only used in products you put on your skin but is an active ingredient in many pesticides. This ingredient has been shown to “alter the way hormones work in the body”.
”... Laboratory studies have also raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Some data shows this resistance may have a significant impact on the effectiveness of medical treatments, such as antibiotics.” - US Food & Drug Administration
- Propylene Glycol: This is the most common ingredient in several “natural” deodorants available on the market. As noted by the Agency for Toxic Substances, propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water. Natural News has shared information about propylene glycol, stating that it's a form of mineral oil, an alcohol, that often “...Provoked allergic reactions in patients with eczema and other skin allergies."
- Alcohol: This is an agent that zaps our skin of moisture and natural oils. The irony here is that while this is usually one of the top ingredients for commercially produced deodorant, alcohol zaps moisture from your skin and actually dries out your skin.
- Dyes: Commercial detergents are often laden with artificial dyes and artificial colors which have been known to cause health issues. Yellow No. 6, Red No.3, Blue No. 2. and several other dyes alone have been linked to a range of cancers and conditions. Sure, it makes the end product look nice, but at what cost to your body?
- Artificial Fragrances & Perfumes: While they might smell nice, artificial scents are often made using a combination of artificial ingredients that irritate and aggravate skin, especially the delicate skin located around the underarms. Synthetic fragrances have also been linked to hormonal issues in men and women as well as an increase in allergies and acne.
Ingredients to Look for in a Natural Deodorant
When looking for a commercial deodorant alternative, the key is to look beyond the basic prerequisites (Will it leave streaks on my t-shirts?... Does it come in a clear gel or the white stick?.... Does it smell good?) and dig a little deeper to consider what ingredients are being used.
Throughout the process of creating our own Natural Deodorant, we learned A LOT about the common list of ingredients that are used to make commercial deodorants as well as the ones that are absolutely necessary to include in a worthwhile, high-quality natural option.
Here are a few natural ingredients to keep an eye out for when choosing a natural deodorant:
Avoid Aluminum: With so many other natural ingredients being able to naturally replace aluminum, there is no reason to have this ingredient in your deodorant. Note that aluminum-free deodorants alone do not guarantee safety -- the other ingredients listed on the label are as equally as important to pay attention to as they can still pose health risks.
Natural Oils: Oils like coconut, olive, and sustainably sourced red palm oil have antibacterial and immune-boosting qualities that work to nourish and moisturize the delicate skin located in your underarms while also keeping bacteria neutralized on the skin.
Natural Butters: Cocoa butter is an effective way to naturally mask body odors while shea butter has skin-loving properties that reduce inflammation.
Vitamin E: The benefits of Vitamin E are commonly promoted alongside hair and skincare products, and they’re certainly not lost in natural deodorants either. This fat-soluble antioxidant protects against toxins and free radicals your body faces on a daily basis.
Natural Extracts & Essential Oils: Replacing the role that natural deodorants used to rely on for synthetic fragrances, essential oils have incredible medicinal uses while also providing therapeutic benefits. Combining their capabilities with the benefits of natural extracts (such as the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and bacteria-killing benefits of Chamomile and Calendula extract) their effectiveness make these two ingredients a must-have for a top performing natural deodorant.
Baking Soda & Arrowroot Powder: While baking soda is not an ingredient that is necessary to make a high-quality natural deodorant (especially if you’re allergic or have a sensitivity to baking soda!) it is often used in natural deodorant to help neutralize odor while arrowroot powder works to help draw out toxins in the body while also absorbing moisture.
All of these ingredients are 100% natural and work together to balance your pH and combat body odor.
Making the Switch to Natural Deodorant
When it comes to your deodorant -- something you apply to your skin every single day -- it’s worth thinking twice about what you’re using on your body. Long gone are the days of natural deodorant not working as effectively as commercial deodorants -- new natural options have been created to work just as well as the typical brands you find at the drugstore without any of the harsh chemicals you’ll find in commercial deodorants.
“Long gone are the days of natural deodorant not working as effectively as commercial deodorants”
And if you’re new to the world of natural deodorant, check out our line of handcrafted Natural Deodorant. It meets two of the most sought after “must haves” that people look for when choosing a natural deodorant option: it’s made using 100% natural ingredients yet fights body odor like the big name deodorant brands (trust us on this one… we tested our deodorant formula for over two years before selling it in our shop!).
You won’t find any aluminum, dyes, synthetic fragrances or preservatives, propylene glycol, GMO’s, alcohols, parabens, phthalates or soy, corn or canola oils in our version… No junk! We don’t use any ingredients that will interfere with your body’s hormones. The best part? Our deodorant actually works! We’ve even created a line of Baking Soda Free Natural Deodorant for those of you who have a sensitivity to baking soda.
Making the switch to using a natural deodorant is a small step you can take to make a big impact on the overall health of your body. You deserve it, your armpits will thank you, and there are just too many great Natural Deodorant options available to not give it a try!