In an effort to keep this from sounding like a page from the diary of a smelly girl, I’ll just say this: I sweat, a lot. Showering every day isn’t an option for me, both because my skin doesn’t love it and because we’ve been in a drought for the past few years, so I’m always searching for ways to do more than cover up my smell.
Changing my diet, exercising regularly, and working to balance my hormones has been instrumental but if I get hot or sweaty, all bets are off. Like most of you, I really don’t want to put the chemicals found in mainstream deodorant on my body—Come on! Our lymph nodes are right there, that is so not healthy—so I have tried a whole slew of natural deodorants, made my own, used a salt crystal, essential oils, carried baby wipes (the list goes on).
Enter Primal Pit Paste. Amy Cazin’s pre-teen daughter came home from school one day with body odor. Like us, she firmly believes that what we put on our bodies is just as important as what we put into it, so before she ran out to the store to get her daughter a clinical strength antiperspirant, she did some research—probably the same research you and I did and how we ended up here. She wasn’t thrilled about what she found for her options.
Ingredients in Mainstream Deodorants
I started this journey just like Amy, with a google search for the ingredients in a conventional antiperspirant. Here are a few of the ingredients in that formula, all of these (and more) are on our ingredient watch list. While this is just one specific brand of deodorant, most commercial brands are about the same with different scents and proprietary blends of ingredients.
This was listed as the only ‘active ingredient’ in the product I looked at (FYI, there’s no such thing as ‘inactive’ ingredients, if they’re in the product they’re an ingredient) and it’s listed as 15% of the total product. Okay so we’re going to put tiny particles of aluminum directly onto our skin? That gives me the willies just thinking about it! Why? There aren’t any conclusive studies quite yet, but the preliminary research suggests that high levels of aluminium in the fatty cells of the body (like, you know, side boob) could be linked to breast cancer and alzheimer's disease and even though it’s mostly thought to move through the body unabsorbed I really don’t want to take my chances if I don’t have to.
Cyclopentasiloxane (try to say that out loud, I can’t do it) is part of the formula because it makes things feel smooth—but they don’t stay smooth. As soon as the chemical washes off of your body, it’s right back to where it was before. In other words, it’s not a healer, it’s a masker.
In research, the European Union, Health Canada, and the California Environmental Protection Agency have found that this chemical has the potential to be a slight hormone disruptor with a long half-life in humans (it stays in our bodies for a long time) but since this chemical is typically used on products that are quickly washed off (most notably conditioners) it’s mostly considered safe for people to use… I don’t wash off my deodorant right away, do you?
The scariest part of the research on this chemical is that it’s readily found in watershed because it doesn’t breakdown in the environment. Longitudinal studies are still being conducted but it’s very possible that the fish and wildlife are being affected by this toxin.
About a week ago I was out sunbathing with some friends and when it came time to re-apply our sun protection, one of them brought out a commercial spray. I jumped up yelling, “please don’t make me watch you put dimethicone on your body!” and handed her my organic sun protection to pass around. This chemical is in every kind of mainstream product so I wasn’t at all surprised to see it in the antiperspirant.
Dimethicone is a silicone-based chemical that is used to make products go on smoothly and evenly. It creates a barrier on our skin that doesn’t allow our pores to sweat or our skin to slough off dead skin cells, it traps in old sebum, bacteria, and impurities, it also doesn’t allow the skin to absorb anything moisturizing or hydrating so it can cause irritation overtime.
Dimethicone does not degrade in the body or in the environment so in the creation and the disposal of this chemical is an ever-present pollutant that creates an impenetrable barrier on everything that it coats.
This ingredient actually blows my mind. Urea is a waste product from our bodies and companies recreate it in a lab and use it as a preservative in their products. Using this ingredient is literally putting waste back into our bodies, does that seem like a good idea to you? Nope.
As urea breaks down, it releases formaldehyde, which is known as a human carcinogen (I’m just going to say this again, our bodies get rid of urea for a reason) and it’s known to cause irritation and allergic reaction.
Why We Love Primal Pit Paste
Primal Pit Paste (P3) doesn’t have those ingredients. They’re a transparent company (and by company, we mean that Amy is amazing to work with) that has turned our office into a body-odorless haven.
Like with our products, The P3 people don’t use additives to change the texture or keep it emulsified. The deodorant will melt if it gets too warm, but it’s perfectly fine to use and just as effective. Keeping it in a cool, dry place out of sunlight will help to keep the texture it was made with but don’t worry if it does melt. Just stir it and put it into the fridge for a little while and the texture you love will come right back.
Our bodies can become addicted to the products that we work with. If we’re using really high quality products, that’s okay, but if we’re using chemicals it can be a struggle to change to a natural product. Just like when you switch skin care products and have a week or so of clogged pores or irritation, switching to P3 from a chemical-laden deodorant can cause your body to go through a detox at first—it’s actually a good thing but it can be a difficult week in terms of your body odor. They offer a Pit Detox Protocol if you do have this sort of reaction.
Primal Pit Paste is effective. This is what really matters, right? I purposefully worked with P3 in several different situations to test this out. Applying just after showering, it kept me smelling fresh all day long—okay, that’s good, but not abnormal for a natural deodorant. The next day, I showered, got dressed without any deodorant and went on a hike. Once I was good and smelly, I used the Pit Paste and you know what? No more smell, my armpits dried up and I spent the rest of the day sans body odor. I didn’t believe it, so I went even further the next day. I didn’t shower and I didn’t put on any deodorant before I spent the day in the sun and working on my feet. What I noticed is that while I got really hot and even a bit sweaty, it didn’t have the usual potency of two sweaty days in a row. I put on a little bit more deodorant just for good measure and again, I was dry and clean feeling for the rest of the day. While these results are of a personal nature, I’m sold.
One of the most common questions we get when we talk about living a sustainable life is about how we find good products to use. In a nutshell, it’s a team effort. We share with each other and we each have a network of people that know we’re always on the lookout for sustainable lifestyle products.
WeHeart is our place to share those products with you, and we hope that you share with the sustainable seekers in your life.
Before we share these, we test the products and vet the companies by reaching out to ask questions about ingredients, processes, and sustainable efforts. We want to help shed light on companies that are doing amazing things and that share our same code of ethics when it comes to respect for the Earth and transparent practices.
To find out who’s on our We Heart list next month and beyond, get on the list:
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Aub is a certified clinical herbalist and content strategist/creator. She is the co-founder of Dandelion Branding, a digital marketing company that works with brands that are focused on revolutionizing their industries. When she's not working on a project, you can usually find her nosing about in the forest or giving congratulatory high fives to every plant in her house for growing.