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The struggle with Natural Deodorants & Antiperspirants: Do NATURAL Deodorants Work?

19.08.2019

I polled my followers on Instagram asking: Which of these 3 topics are you most interested to see me cover next on my blog?

Non-Toxic Fragrance, Natural Deodorants or Good & Bad Sunscreens? I'll certainly be covering them all, but Natural Deodorants received the highest votes. I've been seeing the same questions and concerns on natural deodorants for years, pleading for help on your struggle with switching and finding the formula that works for you. Trust me, I feel your struggle. I've been there. And the truth is, there is hope in finding a perfect balance between health and function. If you truly find it important, you’ll commit to the process without sacrificing your health or giving up. But first, let me explain why you should care before I share the natural alternatives that work best. 

 

THE PURPOSE & HISTORY OF DEODORANTS:

The purpose of deodorants is to prevent and cover up body odor but also reduce sweating. Applying deodorant is a regular part of our daily routine today, but while I was researching the history of deodorants, I found out that the first deodorant created to stop odor producing bacteria, was introduced in 1888. The first antiperspirant made to reduce both bacteria and sweat, was introduced 15 years later. Back then most people were hesitant to apply antiperspirants to their underarms because, the idea of stopping sweat from releasing out of their skin scared a lot of people. Today many people are still unaware that antiperspirants and deodorants work differently. 

 

• Antiperspirants work by clogging and blocking pores with aluminum salts, to stop the release of sweat.

• Deodorants work by reducing bacteria caused by sweat, while neutralizing odor and preventing odor from becoming too strong.

 

It wasn't until the early 1900's that the idea of daily deodorant use began to looking necessary when advertisements began targeting women, warning them about being too smelly and not even knowing it. This began forming an insecurity amongst women. The insecurity strategy in ads worked, because deodorant sales increased to $1 Million Dollars by 1927! 

 

 The Ad above even states: "One application protects you for 2-5 days" (I'm seriously laughing, with many questions!)

 

 

WE'VE COME A LONG WAY SINCE 1927:

The movement towards organic, cleaner, and safer products has taken a huge shift since the rising awareness of toxins. More and more evidence continues to confirm that certain ingredients in the beauty industry can contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle and lead to health complications. The use of organic products is higher and rising as more of us are casting our vote by putting our money towards cleaner brands. Big companies like Colgate, Clorox, Unilever, P&G and several others, have all bought out (acquired) a natural brand in order to benefit from the "natural" movement as well. I personally hate when that happens because some of my old favorites have been acquired by big brands like Unilever, and P&G forcing me to stop using them. I just don't trust these companies having control over my natural products, but that's a topic for another day. 

 

Although there have been many studies indicating links between aluminum and diseases like Alzheimer's and Cancer, our American medical system is still not on board with the evidence. Some studies claim there's a low risk factor on aluminum causing harm (but those studies are most likely funded by the chemical companies). Cancer rates have only increased but thats not ONLY due to antiperspirants and deodorants, it's just one of the factors within our lifestyle that's currently linked to breast Cancer and Alzheimer's. Scientist from Canada, UK, and other countries have examined aluminum confirming there's a link to Alzheimer's disease through their testing on the brains of deceased Alzheimer patients, which showed, ALL OF THEM having high levels of aluminum in their brains. So it's safe to say, aluminum is a huge factor towards Alzheimer's disease, even if our scientist in America refuse to look in that direction.

 

The breast cancer concerns began because our underarms are in fact connected to our breast. Both women and men can be affected by breast cancer but it's a higher risk in women. Studies have shown that the majority of breast cancers develop in the lymph node near the breast, which happens to be the area closest to the underarm, where antiperspirant is applied and absorbed. (see photo above). The thought process is that, aluminum travels from the lymph node and accumulates in the breast. On top of that, we already know that aluminum is used to block sweat ducts, which brings the next concern: Can our bodies rid itself of cancerous toxins while using antiperspirants containing aluminum? Sweating is a normal body function thats essential to regulating body temperature and releasing toxins through our skin. But if aluminum stops sweating... How will our armpits/breast detox the toxins? -- Can a drug addict detox while still consuming drugs? Can an alcoholic recover their liver while still consuming alcohol? Can a cigarette smoker clean their lungs while still smoking tobacco?

 

 

MAIN CONCERNS WITH ANTIPERSPIRANTS:

1. Aluminium Salts

- Due to blocking sweat by clogging pores and possible links to Breast Cancer + Alzheimer's disease.

2. Parabens + Carcinogens

- Carcinogens are used in antiperspirants and Ethanolamine compounds are banned in Europe (can affect our liver/kidneys) but these toxins are still used in many American personal care products. 

3. Synthetic Fragrance

- Normally derived from petrochemicals, and synthetics used to cover up odor but can be a hormone disruptor too. Fragrance is tricky because the ingredients used are allowed to be hidden in order for the brand to protect themselves from other companies trying to duplicate their product. There is no regulation that demands brands to disclose all ingredients used in their fragrance. This means when we see that one word "fragrance" listed, it can contain 20-30 ingredients unknown to us, making it the perfect opportunity to hide chemicals under the word; fragrance.

BEWARE: Some "natural" deodorants also contain synthetic fragrances and don't disclose if it's plant derived or toxin free.

 

 

MAKING THE SWITCH & THE DETOX PROCESS:

It's usually an unexperienced assumption, when we hear some people say: "natural deodorants don't work for me" but it's a huge misconception. It's more likely they never committed and continued relying on the riskier options (like antiperspirants) without ever truly going through the detox process. -- It's like an addict saying, "nah... going clean doesn't work for me" but they're only saying that because they haven't actually experienced being clean yet. You may have tried being clean for a few days but continued relapsing while in the process of trying to quit. Can a drug addict detox while still consuming drugs? Can an alcoholic recover their liver while still consuming alcohol? Can a cigarette smoker clean their lungs while still smoking tobacco? 

 

I can assure you, with trial and error, you will find the right formula for you. And with continued use, a natural deodorant will gradually reduce sweating as your body regulates (without aluminum, carcinogens, and parabens)

 

THE STRUGGLE:

One of the first things I switched when I began my transition into a cleaner lifestyle in 2013 was my deodorant. As soon as I became aware, I tossed my Secret and Dove antiperspirants deodorants in the trash, and immediately went into a local store and purchased the first deodorant that claimed to be natural and aluminum free. Of course I noticed the difference right away. I don't easily sweat and never have been a big sweater, so I noticed after a few hours of doing my regular activity at home, my underarms were slightly more damp than usual. I knew it was because nothing was stopping my underarms from releasing sweat now. But that also meant, my underarm odor arrived much sooner than it use to. I struggled with this just like many of you. Depending on how much activity I was doing, the natural deodorant didn't keep odor away for as long as my old Secret and Dove antiperspirants did. So I switched to a different natural deodorant and that one worked a little better, but at some point it stopped working as well as it use to. So I switched again, and that one worked ok... until a few weeks later when it also stopped working like it use to. The struggle continued and I basically accepted that maybe natural deodorants only work if I switched them often in order to keep it working for me. I began collecting 4 different types of deodorants at a time and alternating usage between all four. Thats not ideal, but this method worked well for me at the time.

 

My 4 Types at the time: I used a baking soda deodorant some days, an alcohol & essential oil spray deodorant for night time or to freshen up and re-apply without cross contaminating (since a spray is more sanitary for re-application), I kept deodorant wipes to freshen up in an airplane or long trips, and a feminine fragrant deodorant for special occasions or sexy dates. Here's a vid

eo I did in 2017 (where I showed 4 deodorants).

 

MY CURRENT FAVORITES & WHY?

I finally narrowed it down to 3 deodorants that have been working for me consistently. Most of these keep me odor free 6-7 hours max. Applied only after freshly showering (except for the one I specify I use to refresh/reapply when needed). In summer weather, if I'm not doing a lot of physical activity I can stay dry and odor free about 4 hours but if I'm working out, going to the gym or doing more physical activity than usual, I have to take extra steps that keep me secure.

 

The important thing is to BE REALISTIC with your expectations of a natural deodorant. A natural deodorant DOES NOT have the chemicals that prevent you from sweating for extreme long hours like an aluminum based antiperspirant. But natural deodorants are powerful enough to provide a good balance between keeping us secure without odor and without toxins interfering with your health.

 1. Lavanila "The Healthy Deodorant" (Vanilla Passion Fruit): $12

• No Aluminium • No Parabens • No petrochemicals 

*Scented with botanical fragrance blend*

(this fragrance can be irritating to sensitive skin types or skin conditions like eczema + psoriasis)

-- NO BAKING SODA --

 

This is my go-to formula and it has consistently worked for me for over a year now. It doesn't contain baking soda and it's 1 of 2 deodorants I've used long term that has never stopped working for me, which is why I'm placing it as #1 on my favorites list. Back in 2014 (when I was new to natural deodorants) I tried this brand in a different scent and hated it so much, I couldn't wait to get home to shower because the scent combined with B.O. was a HORRIBLE combination for me. Summer 2018 I gave this vanilla passion fruit formula a shot after seeing it on EWG and my ThinkDirty app. I fell in love with it! I even got 2 bottles for my husband (in this same scent + lavender blackberry scent). But he DID NOT like the lavender scent! He's now on his 4th bottle of this same scent I use! I don't know why exactly this particular formula and scent works so well for us. My husband is very athletic. He goes to a cross fit gym every morning and still prefers this formula over others. 

 

 

2. Vapour Organic Beauty "Aer Next-Level Deodorant" $24

• No Aluminium • No Parabens • No petrochemicals • No Artificial Fragrance

*Scented with EO's and herbs only

-- CONTAINS BAKING SODA --

 

This is also a favorite on my list because it has consistently NEVER FAILED ME. I used this deodorant daily for over a year, starting before my pregnancy and all throughout my pregnancy. I was trying out 2 scents the lavender myrrh and ginger grapefruit, but I specifically prefer the lavender myrrh scent. This deodorant is a gel to powder formula and a little bit goes a long way! I absolutely love the formula but the issue is, the actual bottle contains less product than it should and cost $24 per bottle! That's why I placed it as #2 on my list. For $24 we should be getting a normal amount in this standard size deodorant tube. It just bothers me that it cost this much and contains a little less than half, the tube can actually hold. But, the formula worked so great for me! My husband experienced some burning with this deodorant because he is more sensitive to baking soda than I am. This did not cause me any irritation or burning but some people are baking soda sensitive and some aren't. Although he did say it was great at keeping him dry while working out, and he liked using it but after wearing it for too long he began to feel a irritations so that's the only reason he had to stop using it. 

3. Weleda (Wild Rose) 24 hour Deodorant Spray$13

No Aluminum • No Artificial Fragrance • No Synthetic Preservatives 

*Scented with EO's and plant extracts

-- CONTAINS ALCOHOL --

 

I will always have this WELEDA deodorant in my bathroom, my travel bag or my gym bag. Those of you struggling with staying odor free for longer hours... This deodorant can increases the function of your other deodorants since it's an alcohol spray formula and easy to re-apply + re-fresh your pits on-the-go without cross contaminating. This won't spread bacteria when re-applied. I started off wearing this deodorant at night because I do not like the feeling of creams or wet formulas before bed. So after my night shower I prefer wearing this spray, it dries quick and its mess free. If I go to the gym and can't go home to shower immediately I can easily reapply this.

 

TIP: If you have an odor problem due to hormonal issues or you're just a highly active person this is a useful addition to help manage your odor while not sacrificing your health.

 

BEWARE: If you have sensitive skin or skin conditions this alcohol formula may be too drying and cause sensitivity. I personally can re-apply this formula twice before I reach a sensitive level but I am usually able to shower and start fresh before ever needing to re-apply a second time.

 

4. EO Deodorant Wipes (lavender) - 24 count: $16 / 6 count: $3.99

No Aluminum • No Parabens  No Artificial Fragrance 

*Scented with organic EO's 

-- CONTAINS ALCOHOL --

 

These biodegradable deodorant wipes are great for emergency cases like traveling on long flights, going on a date after work, or freshening up after the gym. I personally use these wipes before re-applying my spray deodorant just to remove the sweat/bacteria first, before refreshing with my deodorant spray. I use to use the deodorant spray from this brand but replaced it with the Weleda deodorant spray (mentioned above) because the EO spray deodorant spray creates a sticky feel when I'm wearing a sleeveless shirt. But the wipes are great for quick cleanups. 

 

 

FOR YOUNG PEOPLE NEW TO USING DEODORANTS:

The meow meow tweet brand, has formulas with and without baking soda, so many different scents and formulas to choose from. I used this deodorant a few years back when it was a new brand, and I really liked it. It held up very well and I never had any problems using it as my daily deodorant. I highly recommend it for adults, but it's especially great for young people starting to go through their hormonal changes. This is the brand I plan to start introducing my son to, who is only 10 years old. 

 

 

OTHER DEODORANTS I'VE USED:

I stopped using the Schmidt's (Rose + Vanilla) deodorant when the brand became acquired (owned) by Unilever in 2017. Both my husband and I use to LOVE this deodorant brand and it worked so well for both of us for years, but when a big company like Unilever acquires natural brands I like, I no longer continuing using that brand because I don't trust companies like Unilever with having control over my products. So it's not about how big a company is, it's about the companies core values aligning with the natural brand. I also don't like the idea of my money going back to a company who's main focus isn't to provide natural, toxin free products. So I had to say adios to this deodorant and move on to new one. PS: My husband use to use their charcoal magnesium deodorant daily, until the brand became acquired. 

 

 

 

I stopped using my (lavender scented) Primal Pit Paste deodorant because after months of using it, and loving it, I suddenly began experiencing sensitivity on my pits and it was burning/darkening my underarm area. I believe the baking soda in this formula is too strong for me. As I've mentioned earlier above, I was able to use my Aer deodorant even though it contains baking soda, and it worked great for me. This primal pit paste formula possibly contains a stronger amount of baking soda, and my skin cannot handle it. My husband also tried a formula from this brand: he ended up not using it for long, because he didn’t like the feel or the baking soda strength in this one either. 

I was really excited to try this baking soda free formula by Biossance because it's such a clean and non-toxic brand, and I absolutely love using their skin care line! Unfortunately, this never became my go-to daily deodorant but I still use it occasionally. It gets the job done, and feels fresh and clean for a good 5-6 hours if I'm home and not doing a lot of activity after my shower. But I can't say its the best in comparison to others I've tried. I haven't necessarily tried it on a daily basis though, because I'm still reliant on my #1 deodorant. But I don't doubt this will work great for other people and I think this is perfect for younger kids/teens who are just starting to produce odor.

Side note: I HIGHLY recommend their skin care line though!

 

I stopped using the HERBAN Cowboy (Blossom) Deodorant only because it's one of those deodorants that just stopped functioning after a while. I absolutely love the scent! It’s addictive and so pleasant for women. It worked just fine for a couple of weeks but then I just couldn't rely on it anymore. My husband used their men’s sports deodorant for a long time and also loved it, temporarily. After about a few months of using it, he switched to another. 

 

Agent Natueur & Shiva Rose holi(Rose) No. 4 deodorant $26.

Agent NATEUR holi(man) No. 5 deodorant $21.

 

Holi(Rose) No. 4 is a luxe deodorant I purchased just to try it out, because it has lots of positive reviews. I'm very new to this formula, so I can't properly review it with my experience. All I can say is, this is a clean and natural deodorant (no artificial scents) and the few times I've used it, it has held up very well. I'm not crazy about the scent, the rose smell is too strong for my liking but it's not a bad scent, just too mature. It smells like something a mature woman in pearls and diamonds would wear (if that makes any sense). I do plan on wearing it more often to see how it holds up in various situations outdoors, hot weather and high activity. But for now, I think this is a great gift addition. It's better than gifting a perfume with artificial fragrance.

 

Holi(man) No. 5 is a new deodorant for my husband so he has not yet used it enough to determine how good it is and how well it hold up with his body chemistry and active lifestyle.This is a very luxe deodorant, with an expensive look and scent. This formula smells like a mix of cedar wood, sandalwood, and rose. It has a men cologne scent sourced by essential oils only (no artificial scent). I got him this formula for father's day as a part of his total gift. He likes it but has not yet used it on a daily basis. The few times he has used it, he did not experience any discomfort or burning from the baking soda. I'm including it here as an option because it's clean, natural and has so many great reviews by others. 

 

*TIP: If you are sensitive to baking soda the brand recommends that you try an apple cider vinegar wash prior to using this deodorant. Apply apple cider vinegar and warm water to a wash towel and pat your underarms before applying this deodorant. This has allowed those who are sensitive to baking soda continue using natural deodorant that contains baking soda.

 

 

OTHER FACTORS THAT MAY INFLUENCE YOUR BODY ODOR:

Some people sweat more or less than others even while doing the same amount of activity and some people have a hormone imbalance that affects the amount of sweat they produce, and the strength of their body odor. Many professionals believe, when a person has foul body odor it's typically due to toxins being released, so it's not always your your body's natural state that produces a bad odor but also keep in mind that if you're living a clean lifestyle, (meaning minimal exposure to toxins in your food and environment) you'll have a low toxin burden, and your sweat may be close to odorless. 

 

THE SAUNA TEST:

We've owned our at home infrared sauna from sunlighten for about 4 years, to help with detoxing in a safe way in the comfort of our home. When my husband and I sit in our sauna together, he always begins sweating much sooner. As we both sit still, talking or watching a movie, in the same temperature he begins sweating in less than 10mins or as we approach 90℉ degrees. I don't usually begin feeling sweaty until about 30 mins in when the temperature reaches around 110℉. By the end of our 1 hour sauna session, temperature is at 130+ and we're both visibly sweaty but he's sweaty on another level. Like a bucket of water was dumped on him. -- This is just to explain how two people can live a close to exact lifestyle and have completely different levels of sweat while in the exact temperature environment. It could be because he's a man and I'm a woman but we're both still able to use the same brand deodorant and consider it perfectly functional.

 

DIY DEODORANT RECIPE:

You can also try making your own deodorant which allows you to control how much or how little of each ingredient you use based on your own body. This also allows you to be 100% sure your deodorant is truly clean and free of toxins or harmful ingredients using ingredients you trust.

 

In a small glass jar (with a lid) add:

• 3tbsp organic coconut oil (keep it soft at room temperature or place the jar in hot water for a few seconds until it softens) 

• 3tbsp aluminium-free baking soda

• 2tbsp cornstarch

• 6-8 drops of essential oils; lavender, rosemary, sandalwood, orange, lemon etc... 

 

Mix + stir well and keep it in a cool dry place, like your bathroom. This formula will solidify like a regular paste deodorant in temperature below 70℉ due to the coconut oil and cornstarch working it's magic.

 

I hope all this information was useful to you. If you liked it please share with a friend or loved who might find this helpful.

Thanks for reading!

Alba

 

 

 

 

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