An intense work out, a presentation at school or work, a first date, all of these are instances when our bodies sweat. Water along with salt, sugar and our body’s natural by-products ammonia and urea are released which makes us wet, uncomfortable and possibly embarrassingly smelly. The antiperspirant and deodorant market is huge, “48 hour protection”, “goes on clear”, “the more you move, the more it works” are some of the slogans used by companies financially benefitting from our desire to be constantly “fresh”. But at what cost to our health?

Sweating is not actually a bad thing. It regulates our body temperature, it promotes wound healing on our bodies and it also gets rid of toxins. Sweat itself does not stink unless bacteria grows on it which happens after sweating has occurred more than once. Excessive sweating can be related to a medical condition, and foul body odour can be indicative of a magnesium or zinc mineral deficiency which can be corrected.

The positive aspects of sweating far outweighs the negative, yet we plug up our armpits with questionable chemicals and off we go on our merry way smelling like cheap cologne or perfume. I will be the first to admit that I’d rather smell like this than BO, but what if we transitioned our bodies so that eventually we hardly need anything at all?

If this is something you eventually want to be able to achieve, antiperspirant is not your friend. Sweat is prevented from reaching the skins surface by the ingredient aluminum, classified as a neurotoxin by endocrinologists. Although there is no conclusive evidence suggesting that aluminum can cause diseases such as breast cancer and Alzheimers Disease, it’s still concerning if it’s being applied daily, often multiple times a day to be absorbed into our skin making its way to our bloodstream. To date, more research is needed to pinpoint if there is a relation, but there’s enough out there that makes it concerning. Not using this as a scare tactic as there are far worse things out there than antiperspirant, but if wanting to make “better” skincare choices, a natural deodorant is definitely one of them.

If you’re looking to go completely aluminum free, stay away from the crystal rocks, mineral sprays, mineral rocks as they contain alum, aka aluminum. They may be completely natural, but they aren’t aluminum free. The difference between conventional antiperspirant and the mineral spray, roll on or rock is the type of aluminum. Aluminum chlorohydrate is the sweat plugging ingredient in conventional antiperspirant (and the ingredient all the hype is about) and the type of aluminum in the natural types are aluminum salts such as potassium aluminum sulfate or ammonium aluminum sulfate. If you have kidney disease, discuss with your doctor about the use of antiperspirant. Our kidneys play an important role in eliminating aluminum from our bodies and if not effectively excreted it could result in a build up of this mineral in body’s tissues. Findings are not substantial to pinpoint health conditions related specifically to antiperspirant use, however something to ponder. Knowledge is power!

An anti bacterial ingredient called triclosan is an ingredient of concern that is sometimes found in antiperspirant. It was initially created to function as a pesticide. It’s toxic to aquatic life, doesn’t biodegrade well and has been linked to liver toxicity and may also negatively affect thyroid function. (But deemed “safe” for you to apply to your skin daily!) Again, more research is needed to be conclusive in the relation of triclosan and its affects on our health, but the research out there isn’t in its favour.

Now lets take a look at deodorant. Deodorants mask odour, but do not prevent sweating. It can come in the form of a tube, roll on liquid, powder, spray or a crystal rock. Many contain fragrances or essential oils. If fragrance is listed as an ingredient, look for the words “paraben free”, “phthalate free” as these are the additives you want to avoid if possible. Many deodorants are not naturally based, but in my opinion, the better option over antiperspirant. Harm reduction and how to reduce potentially harmful chemicals in our every day should be a priority.

Switching from antiperspirant to an all natural deodorant is often challenging. If you’ve been preventing your body from sweating for years, your body will be shocked to realize that wow!! I’m allowed to detox! And sweat may be excessive at first. Many think that natural deodorants don’t work, and pitch it in the garbage saying it didn’t work after the first couple of days. Of course it didn’t work. Your body needs transition time. Once you’ve gone through this transition time, you may be delighted to know that you don’t need to apply deodorant as much as you did before and are staying fresh longer.

Suggestions on how to transition to a natural deodorant:

  • Cleanse daily with a charcoal/clay based soap to help get rid of BO caused by bacteria
  • Apply deodorant first thing in the morning on cleansed skin
  • During the day if odour is noticed dab armpits with a cotton ball dipped in witch hazel or magnesium oil to rid skin of odour causing bacteria, reapply deodorant if needed
  • Essential oils like tea tree and lavender are naturally antiseptic and when diluted correctly can reduce odour causing stink when applied. Many natural deodorants contain essential oils that get rid of odour causing bacteria.
  • Don’t give up! Give it at least two weeks time for your body to transition.
  • If you revert back to antiperspirant you haven’t failed, just hopefully you’ll alternate it with deodorant and can keep it for times you know you’ll be extra nervous, sweaty or working hard.

Some natural ingredients can be irritating to those with sensitive skin. Ingredients like baking soda, apple cider vinegar and magnesium are often found in natural deodorants, and like any other product you’re applying to your skin, discontinue use if your skin disagrees. I’ve seen some natural deodorant companies make claims that the irritation is your body “detoxing”. It’s not. It’s irritating your skin and you need to stop using it. In time, you will find the right blend that works for you and that your skin loves. I’ve found mine after much trial and error (and testing on my super sensitive armpits!)

Stay tuned for our upcoming deodorant line! I’ve created a glide on paste as well as a spray. If you get your hands on some, I hope you love it like I do. Don’t give up in the first day or so, your body will thank you in the long run when you hardly need any deo at all.

Some other great in depth articles on questionable ingredients in our personal care products: