Natural deodorant

Zwoice . Jul 5, 2019

Woman working out with her arms up.

Deodorant is one of those habitual beauty accessories that we do not usually think about. It’s a convenient spray, roll on liquid, or the traditional easy to apply stick on a mission to give us that fresh scent all day long. 

We assume it is safe to put on our bodies, but in reality, how much do we really know about our deodorant? What is in that fresh scent we are swiping on our underarms each day? And why aren’t we sweating? 

The sad truth

Not only does it come in a non-reusable and often not even recyclable plastic packaging creating tons of unnecessary waste, a conventional deodorant is an all in one package of the most harmful chemicals that we put on our bodies. It inhibits our body’s natural cleansing and detoxifying process, as it clogs skin follicles to avoiding it from sweating as much as it needs.

To achieve that, the vast majority of them contain harmful ingredients, such as paraben, aluminium, triclosan, phthalates or fragrances, among many others, that are being released into our bodies, absorbed and stored in fat cells, prevalent in the underarm area, causing or contributing to developmental or reproductive issues, as well as cancer.  

Parabens

There are many different parabens, which are used as preservatives in deodorant: methyl, ethyl, propyl, benzyl and butyl, to list a few of them. Some of these are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that, already at very small doses, may disturb the body’s hormonal balance and interfere with the way it produces and regulates estrogen. There’s estrogen-sensitive tissue in the breast, so the worry is that if you put parabens close to this tissue every day, they may promote the growth of cancer cells, both in men and women.

Aluminium

Aluminum compounds, such as aluminum chloralhydrate or aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly, present in antiperspirants act as a plug within the sweat ducts and temporarily stop the flow of sweat. However, they can be absorbed by your skin, and just as the parabens, mimic estrogen, which promotes growth of breast cancer cells.

“Over 50% of breast cancers start in the upper outer quadrant of the breast local to the underarm region. While that’s not proof aluminum is to blame, breast cancer incidence tends to align with use of products that contain the metal.”

Triclosan

This chemical is being added to beauty products in order to prevent bacterial contamination, by killing bacteria on the surface of the skin. However, our bodies contain good as well as bad bacteria, and triclosan kills them both. Classified as a pesticide and a possible carcinogen, it can also irritate the skin and cause contact dermatitis.

Phthalates

These compounds are typically present in any product with a fragrance that remains after it has been applied, as they are partly what makes smells stick to your skin.

Apart from that, they also appear to disrupt the way the body produces and uses the hormone testosterone in both men and women. The greatest concern however, when it comes to phthalates, is that they could impair reproductive ability in men, or impact fetal development in pregnant women. Research has also linked phthalates to lower IQs and higher rates of asthma.

Fragrance

Almost every scented product has fragrance or perfume listed among its ingredients. Given these are protected under trade law, it is impossible to know what chemicals, ranging from phthalates to substances that cause allergies or skin irritation, are concealed by those seemingly benign terms.

Man in a lab with protective clothes and helmet.

Ready to detox your armpits?

Natural deodorants do not stop us from sweating, and that is a good thing, because thanks to perspiration, the body helps rid itself of toxins, and regulates temperature. However, sweat itself does not cause body odour. The stinky smell comes when sweat is mixed with bacteria on your skin. Eating a healthy diet and drinking enough water can significantly reduce the odour, but sometimes reducing is not enough and we need something else.

The secret of natural deodorants is that they do not block our pores. This allows the good bacteria on the skin to work, helping to minimise and cover smell, even when not wearing deodorant. Additionally, they contain plant-based moisturizers that treat the underarms like the delicate skin they are. Ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil and mineral-rich clay can actually improve the condition of the armpits, leaving them smooth and less prone to irritation.

DIY

You will be surprised how effortless and quick it is to make a natural deodorant that works wonders on your underarms. It only requires a few minutes of your time and a handful of ingredients, among which: the antibacterial properties of coconut oil will help protect your armpits from odour causing bacteria, baking soda will naturally absorb odour and moisture, corn flour will keep the skin dry, while the essential oils, such as sage, ravintsara, palmarosa or lavender will add a lovely smell to the mix.

Ingredients

  • 50g coconut oil
  • 25g very fine cosmetic grade quality baking soda (optional - it can be irritant)
  • 40g corn flour
  • 5 drops essential oil (optional - not recommended for pregnant women and children under the age of six)
  • 1 hermetically closing glass jar

Preparation

  • Let the coconut oil melt in a bain-marie
  • Add the baking soda and corn flower, and stir well
  • If you wish, add the essential oil of your choice (sage, ravintsara, plamarosa or lavender)
  • Pour into a hermetically closing glass jar
  • Let the mix rest a few hours, until it becomes less liquid

Storage & Use

  • Occasionally, you might need to stir the mixture before use
  • It will last you for several months
  • If it gets solid due to cold, simply let it melt again in a bain-marie
Glass pots containing baking soda and the deodorant on a blue-white striped cloth.

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