Let’s get one thing straight. Pits are not pretty, nor are they a pretty topic to discuss. But, considering this is a Health & Beauty blog, I figured that I was in my well within my right to write a post on this important topic- that being, switching over to a Natural Deodorant. Now, I know most of you are probably already conjuring up images of that nightmarish moment when you are in a public place and suddenly get a wiff of your dreaded underarms…I can only assume that it will be at that moment that you start to re-think reading my blog altogether. Well, fear not, as I will attempt not to lead you astray. This post is not meant to scare you, but to make think twice about what ingredients goes into your standard, everyday antiperspirant. It will then be up to you to weigh the pros and cons, and decide if it is worth taking the risks.
In case you didn’t already know- that dreaded body odour that I speak of, is simply the combination of sweat, which we naturally all excrete (and is healthy!), and the dreaded bacteria that feeds off of it (this is what makes you smell like something out of a swamp). Somewhere along the line, once people decided that the smell of B.O was offensive to their neighbors (because it is!), they started coming up with ways of making themselves smell a heck of a lot better- some of them being the use of heavy perfumes and rock salts. About 100 years ago, aluminum chloride was added to deodorant, because it was found to greatly limit the amount of sweat excreted from the skin- thus stopping the bacteria from breeding, a.k.a no offensive body odour. How genius is that?
Yup, it all sounds like pretty great stuff, but call me crazy- doesn’t it seem unhealthy for humans not to sweat? On top of that, does it sound safe to put an aluminum based compounds (known neurotoxins) directly on our skin, near breast tissue and the lymphatic system? I started researching the topic and found that although there is no direct link (at least not as of today) to diseases such as breast cancer, I still did not feel very safe using the ingredient, and found that I was not alone. This may sound rather dramatic, but I really do feel that future generations will look back at us and say something like this, “ha…can you believe our grandparents, actually used to put aluminum under their arms to prevent them from sweating?”. Sort of the same type of comment someone today might say about the Elizabethans using lead in their makeup to give them porcelain-looking skin. Let’s be frank. It probably wasn’t the most logical choice.
I began erring on the side of caution about 2 years ago and switched over to using a Natural deodorant and said goodbye to antiperspirants for good. Let it be said that natural deodorants will not stop you from sweating (but I sweat when using antiperspirant anyways, so I figured it wouldn’t be that much of a change), but they will keep you fresh and clean feeling. Some work better than others, but eventually, you should find one that works for you. One thing that you need to be made aware of before switching over, is that sometimes, especially on very hot, sweaty days, you may need to apply it in the morning and then again in the afternoon. This is why I suggest buying one full size for home use and one travel size for your purse- the crystal version below often comes in both sizes and will not melt or leave any residue in your bag, so it it perfect for travel or the workplace.
Luckily for us, you don’t have to look far to find these formulations. Most health food stores and even some grocery stores (tucked away in the Natural & Organic section) carry many natural deodorants that contain plant oils, salts, and natural anti-bacterial agents that will sanitize the underarm, and kill odour-causing bacteria. Some of my favorite brands are: Kiss My Face, Naturally Fresh and Lafes. The only decision you will have to make is deciding on which formulation you want to try. natural deodorants come in many forms, including: Crystal (my personal favorite- it uses mineral salts to kill bacteria), Stick (looks like your standard deodorant stick but uses essential oils instead of synthetic fragrance), Roll-on (You have to leave it to dry for a couple minutes, so it is best applied in the morning), Cream (you apply the cream directly under the arm and can dress pretty soon after), and Spray (simply spray your underarms and then wait for it to dry).
Below are some of my personal favs, all of which can easily be found at your local health food/grocery store, or online:
On a final note, I want to make mention that the only time I (gasp!), use a standard antiperspirant, is on super stressful or beyond hot days when you know you can only apply once (think: interviews, wedding day, sporting event, etc. ), simply because of the immediate (although not safe) protection that it provides. I try to limit this as much as I can, and stick with natural variations on all other days.
Let me know what you think, or if you know of an amazing brand I must try.