I’ve been carrying around the guilt of aluminum-laced deodorant for years now. I know it’s bad for me, I know it’s linked to cancer, but I have no choice.
Without it, I smell like an onion bagel that’s been sitting in a car on a hot day. I’m just not willing to smell like a European metro, even if that means I’m risking my health. Call me superficial, but according to the sales increase in top deodorant brands in 2018 the majority of people out there agree. I had accepted the hazards long ago and assumed the guilt of chemical-leaching, drugstore deodorants.
Do you use antiperspirants?
Maybe you’re like me and live with the necessary evil that is antiperspirants. Or maybe this is all news to you and up until this moment you had no idea deodorant was anything but magical flower dust. Or maybe you are fully aware, ditched the deodorant, and either accept smelling like a rugby team’s locker room or you’re one of the few lucky ones who naturally smells like patchouli on your worst day.
Whoever you are, we’ve got something for you. We’ll fill you in on which ingredients to avoid, give you some natural alternatives that are tried and true from your stinky girl herself, and show you how to reverse the damage already done or even just renew and refresh with a DIY armpit detox mask.
Here it is, the extensive guide to finally ditching toxic deodorant, even for those of us who don’t always smell like a prepubescent flower.
Why we’re ditching deodorant with added chemicals
Deodorant is linked to some serious diseases. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between the chemicals found in deodorant and Alzheimer's Disease, as well as breast cancer.
Here are a few ingredients to avoid, and further reasons to make the switch.
Most commonly linked to Alzheimer’s Disease and breast cancer in many studies.
A carcinogen used to preserve dead people… I repeat PRESERVE DEAD PEOPLE. But they throw it into deodorant because it also kills germs.
These mess with your endocrine system and are linked to hormone imbalance and infertility. Oh yeah… and they’re found in plastic. You don’t want that sinking into your skin.
Another hormone disruptor linked to breast cancer.
Also known as antifreeze, the stuff they put in cars so the engine doesn’t freeze. Medical professionals believe it may cause immunotoxicity and allergies.
These kill all bacteria, some of which we need (we’ll dive into this in a second).
When you’re putting something on your body EVERY day, you want to be 100% sure it’s not causing problems you can’t see.
Being a conscious consumer
Whenever I buy something in the health and beauty industries, I always ask myself, what’s their angle? Maybe I’m overly skeptical, but for the most part this question has led me to some interesting discoveries.
Remember, all of these companies rely on your consistent business to keep their paychecks coming. And what better way to ensure you’re a loyal customer than to get you hooked on the product and actually create a physical dependency?
The science behind bad deodorants
By adding chemicals like formaldehyde and other antibacterial substances deodorant companies are intentionally clogging your pores which prevents sweat. Seems like something you want out of a deodorant, right? Except that when you prevent sweat, your body loses the good bacteria that feeds on sweat and also keeps your stink a little less stinky.
So if you were to ever stop using the deodorant you would smell even worse than your natural odor, sending you screaming back to the drug store to re-up. Chu-ching *insert cartoon of drooling millionaire, deodorant CEO with dollar signs for eyes*.
There are many all natural brands out there you can choose from, but isn’t it so much more fun to make your own at home? The key to an effective natural deodorant is getting the right consistency so you don’t end up with super oily armpits.
Here is my favorite recipe.
6 tablespoons of coconut oil
¼ cup of arrowroot flour (can substitute cornstarch)
¼ cup of lemon juice
And add in your favorite essential oils.
Melt down the coconut oil and mix ingredients together. Pour mixture into a jar and let harden up
I keep my homemade deodorant in a shallow mason jar. You can use a stir stick, or even your fingers to scoop it out and lather up your pits in the morning.
What to expect when you switch to natural deodorant
You’ll notice a couple major differences when you make the switch to natural deodorant.
You sweat more, but without the stench and stains.
Unfortunately, natural deodorant is not an antiperspirant. This means you won’t be clogging up your pores to prevent sweating, but that’s actually a good thing for your body.
When our pores are blocked from sweating, we aren’t releasing toxins like our body is suppose to. It also means the good bacteria that lives in our armpits to prevent odor has nothing to sustain itself on and dies off, leaving us smellier than we started.
After using natural deodorant for a while I found that my natural smelliness was a lot more pleasant than I thought. Before a day where I forgot deodorant would have ended me, but now it’s no sweat… pun intended.
No more pit stains!
I always thought the embarrassing, yellow stains that ruined all my white shirts was just proof that I’m naturally a big, gross ogre. To my pleasant surprise I found after switching to natural deodorant that I could sweat all day and my white shirts we’re still white (and whatever colored food I spilled on myself that day).
It turns out the yellowness was coming from a chemical reaction between my sweat and the aluminum in the deodorant I was using.
Note: If you are truly adverse to sweating, you can add baking soda to your DIY deodorant, but many people are allergic so make sure to test on a small area of skin first.
You have less skin irritation.
All of the harsh ingredients we mentioned earlier will dry out your armpits, as well as clog pores giving you zits and ingrown hairs. Something I wasn’t expecting when I made the switch was that my armpits were not only less aggravated, but they actually felt nourished.
Because so many natural deodorants are made from essential oils and contain coconut, olive, or some other type of moisturizing oil, my armpits felt healthier and happier than ever. I even noticed I was getting a closer shave since the area was not inflamed and irritated.
Detoxing for everyone
Detoxing your armpits is a good practice for everyone, natural and drugstore deodorant users alike. Your lymph nodes live in your armpits and are crucial to your immune system. You may notice lumps in your neck or armpits when you get sick. Those are your lymphatic system working overtime to get you better.
Us non-natural deodorant users have been putting immune suppressing and hormone disrupting chemicals directly on our lymph nodes for years now. With an armpit detox, you can pull some of those harmful chemicals out of your pores (where they’ve been building up).
The detox also helps your body adjust to using natural deodorant by freeing your pores to sweat and accumulate the good bacteria needed to fight odor.
The detox mask is simple to make and use.
1 tbs bentonite clay
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp water
Combine 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay, 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and 1-2 teaspoons of water in a non-metal bowl.
Stir until well mixed, with a smooth consistency. Spread an even layer on your armpits and let sit for 15-20 min.
This will increase blood flow so you may feel a pulsing and see redness.
Then, wash off with a warm, wet washcloth.
You can repeat this daily until you notice reduced smell and irritation as you switch to a natural deodorant.
Jessica is a writer & designer who captures the spirit of her generation. She approaches her craft with an anthropological mindset to find the perspective often unseen.
Jessica has studied the art of the written word & honed her craft over the last 8+ years.