I’ve tried to make the switch from toxic deodorant to the natural kind quite a few times in my life. But every time I tried, I’d find myself sweating more than usual, and stinking up a room. What was going on?
It makes sense that we don’t want to smell, but why would we subject ourselves to ingredients that do more harm than good? The parabens found in most deodorants have been linked to breast cancer, the aluminum compounds within deodorants can mimic estrogen, propylene glycol can cause delayed allergic reactions, along with kidney and liver damage, the triclosan is a possible carcinogen, and the list goes on.
“Research also shows that some compounds used in deodorant are absorbed and stored in fat cells, which are prevalent in the underarm area,” explains Philip Harvey, Ph.D., editor in chief of the Journal of Applied Toxicology. “Your underarm tissue also contains hormone receptors, which could react to some of those same deodorant ingredients.”
With health experts suggesting deodorant can cause or contribute to developmental or reproductive issues, as well as cancer, it’s concerning to say the least that hygiene products like this are so readily available for us, and that we rely on them so heavily to ensure we not only smell good, but avoid smelling awful for work, for friends, and for ourselves!
The skin is the body’s largest organ and what touches our skin can easily enter our bloodstream. With skyrocketing rates of breast cancer, it would seem prudent to avoid these chemicals until further research is done.
I used to look up “alternative” deodorants regularly, trying out a new one every so often to see if it would keep me fresh like the mainstream stuff, but no matter the brand, no matter the reviews, they all made me sweat more and smell more. I would find myself fearful of giving hugs, of opening my arms with expression during a business meeting.
Eventually, I dug a little deeper and simply searched the Internet for: “Why does natural deodorant make me smell and sweat worse?”
Here’s the short answer: Your body is detoxing.
The reason you smell is because bacteria live in your armpits and break down lipids and amino acids found in your sweat, turning them into substances that have a very particular odor.
The bacteria killed off by deodorants permit bacteria that produce even more pungent odors to thrive.
When you choose to stop using deodorant, your sweat glands overcompensate for all that time spent being plugged up for so long. The result is increased perspiration.
So, the reality is, it wasn’t my lack of deodorant that was making me smell and sweat more, it was wearing it in the first place that was!
Knowing this allowed me to get through the detox period, and come out much healthier on the other side.
Upon looking for healthier alternatives, there were ingredients I made sure to steer clear of, like: silica, triclosan, talc, propylene glycol, steareth-n, aluminum compounds (aluminum chloralhydrate, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly, and parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl, benzyl, and butyl).
As for the safer ingredients to look for, they include: alcohol, aloe, arrowroot powder, baking soda, coconut and other vegetable oils, corn starch, essential oils, hops, kaolin clay, vegetable glycerin and natural waxes, vitamin E, witch hazel, and zinc oxide.
The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Database is my go-to for all things health when it comes to cosmetics. Look for a score of 1 with “Good” data, and read up on the site’s information for a given deodorant, and you’ll be well on your way to better options.
Putting endocrine-disrupting chemicals directly on top of lymph nodes in your armpit — major parts of your immune system — is a surefire way to mess with your hormones and suppress immune function. So the detox — the sweating and stinking — is totally worth it. Besides, it’s only a small period of time before you’re off the rough stuff for good and smelling just fine.