My favorite comedian, Jim Gaffigan, has a great bit about natural deodorant that, until recently, pretty much summed up my feelings on the subject. Go ahead and have a good laugh then come on back and finish reading ; )
So given its not-so-stellar reputation, why bother switching to a natural deodorant over a typical antiperspirant/deodorant combo? For that answer we have to talk just a bit of science. I promise it won’t hurt.
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So what’s wrong with my usual stuff?
Most antiperspirants on the market rely on aluminum salts to block sweat ducts and prevent the armpit from sweating. Armpit odor doesn’t come from sweat alone, but rather from bacteria that grow within the warmth and moisture of your sweat.
Health concerns with aluminum salts include potential links to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. There is no conclusive evidence for either, though in my opinion further research would be wise, particularly in regards to breast cancer.
Another concern includes the use of parabens, preservatives that are still sometimes found in underarm products. There is evidence that parabens can act as endocrine disrupters, with a potential role in breast cancer. I avoid parabens in all of my personal care products, and regardless of what underarm product you choose, I’d suggest giving them a pass as well.
Underarm products also typically contain a lot of fragrance to mask odor (even unscented varieties can contain “masking” fragrances). The problem here is that “fragrance” is often used as a tricky trade-secret term for any of thousands of chemicals, some of which we know to be dangerous. That’s why it’s wise to choose products with either 1) no fragrance, 2) natural fragrance (e.g. essential oils) or lastly, 3) high-quality, phthalate-free synthetics. Check out my post on fragrance if you want to know the full story with this stuff.
So yes, antiperspirants and deodorants have potential health concerns. But let’s say that you (or your armpits) aren’t totally convinced. Why else might you make the leap to the natural stuff?
Switch to safer and don’t sweat it
Well, according to armpit biology expert Chris Callewaert (aka Dr. Armpit) your antiperspirant might actually be making your natural body odor worse. Say what??
While antiperspirants (such as aluminum-based products) reduce the overall number of bacteria in your underarms, his study found that they also increased the diversity of bacteria, and particularly, the chances of having more smell-inducing types.
Some people, my husband included, find that after ditching aluminum-based antiperspirants, they actually sweat and smell less than before. This will not be true for everyone of course, but it’s certainly food for thought.
On the practical side, deodorant without aluminum salts will not cause yellow stains on your white shirts, which are annoying as heck, and the result of a reaction with your sweat.
And the winner is…..
Feeling ready to make the switch? I recently did (after holding out for years) and here is the brand that finally made me a believer in the more natural stuff.
Native is the rockstar of aluminum and paraben-free deodorants. It’s is available in both unscented and scented varieties for men and women. The scented varieties contain natural essential oils, or, in cases where an oil can cause skin sensitivity, they use a hypoallergenic, phthalate-free synthetic.
Native looks, feels, and glides on like the deodorant you’re probably used to. Its not dyed blue (or green, or pink…). It doesn’t have ridiculous scents like dragon mist or meadow rain. Just good ingredients that actually work.
My husband loves it too, and he was a long time clinical-strength and prescription antiperspirant user. You can even subscribe and have it shipped free right to your door when you’re about to run out. Pretty sweet.
Lastly, a practical note for those of you who are switching to a deodorant product from an antiperspirant. Native notes, and I’ve found this to be true, that it may take a week or two to fully adjust and detox from the chemicals in your old products. So don’t sweat it, and don’t give up too early.
Your armpits will thank you.
Disclaimer: This site is intended to share my own experiences in hopes of helping people more easily find safer products. It should not be considered health or medical advice. Always do your own research and due diligence before trying out new products.