In the last couple of years, natural deodorants have been on everyone’s lips. They’re probably most common among vegans and people who want to live a no-waste lifestyle, but other people are interested in natural deodorant and making the switch.
We know that there are a lot of products labelled as ‘natural’ or ‘with no chemicals’, but that is not always true. This practice is known as greenwashing and there are a lot of brands who use it. Basically this means that certain companies are trying to sell their products as ‘environmentally friendly’ products, when in reality it’s not the case.
But what’s the catch with natural deodorants? Are they truly natural? What’s with the hype about them?
I wanted to change to natural deodorant as part of my ‘reduce waste’ challenge for this year. Mostly, I wanted to switch because usually these type of products are plastic-free (another goal for me) and of course, I was lured in by the ‘natural’ part.
But first things first, some basic info:
Deodorants vs Antiperspirants
Let’s start by talking about the difference between these two: deodorants versus antiperspirants. We see these two words together so often, that probably most of us think they are the same thing. They are not!
While their naming is quite self-sufficient to guess what each one does, let’s lay it out one more time.
Deodorants are meant to hide or prevent the sweat odour, while antiperspirants help you sweat less by blocking your pores.
While both prevent body odour, antiperspirants have an extra ingredient that
You’ve probably heard already that blocking the body’s natural cooling system (which translates into sweating) is not a good idea. Our bodies use sweat as a way to keep our body temperature at the right, safe level for our own sake.
Trying to block the sweat, will only make it worst. Sweat can accumulate under your skin, which might give you uncomfortable skin irritation. Also, if your armpits can’t eliminate the toxins and regulate body temperature, your body will find a different ways to do it, though different areas of your body.
Good News: Sweat Doesn’t Smell
You’ve probably noticed that when you get really sweaty only (or usually) your armpits have that gross sweat stink while the other areas of your body (chest, abs, back) are just… wet.
That’s because sweat itself is odourless.
And now you’re wondering… “why use deodorant OR antiperspirant at all then?!”. The thing is that your armpits will still smell, unfortunately.
Ok… but then what does?
As I mentioned before, you probably already noticed than only certain areas of your body smell when they sweat. These are the common areas that will have that nasty smell when sweaty:
- genital area
- belly button
- behind the ears
What these areas have in common is that they usually are tight areas that are almost always covered with either clothes (or shoes) or hair. These environmental factors are good factors for forming and developing bacteria.
Moist, tight spaces, almost always covered by clothes or hair are favouring bacteria to form, which gives body odour.
The bacteria that gives body odour is commonly related to the apocrine glands, which are found in armpits, genital and ear areas, but also across the skin. They are just more influential around these areas. Also, certain negative feelings (fright, anxiety, stress) can enhance the body odour.
What Makes Natural Deodorants Better and So Attractive
You’ve probably seen a lot of brands greenwashing this with tags such as:
- “all natural ingredients”
- “with [insert ingredient with natural-appealing name]”
I already mentioned aluminium as the main ingredient that distinguishes between deodorants and antiperspirants. This ingredient is also probably the main reason why people switch to natural deodorants.
Aluminium is such a controversial ingredient. From vaccines to deodorants, people are starting to hate it and avoid everything that contains it.
Studies have linked aluminium to kidney disease, brain damage or even Alzheimer’s. This sounds pretty bad and scary and there’s no surprise that more and more people want to avoid it.
There is no decisive conclusion about how aluminium can affect our health – or not.
No Artificial Fragrance
Brands that will sell regular deodorant, will add synthetic ingredients to give the products a certain smell. They are not natural and are the result of a chemical process.
Natural deodorants usually have essential oils in them for fragrance.
If they have any fragrance at all…
There are lots of fragrance-free versions available, but they will still have a subtle hint of “something”, based on the ingredients.
The bottom line is that a real natural deodorant, won’t have any synthetic fragrance, only essential oils – if it has any fragrance at all.
No Propylene Glycol
Propylene glycol is quite a controversial ingredient too. It is considered a safe chemical, thus some natural deodorant brands might add it to their products.
There is still not clear how this can harm us, but it’s said that people who handle this chemical are required to wear gloves, which raises some questions. Also, this chemical is banned for cat foods in the U.S. I guess the logic behind this is “if cats can’t have it, so should I”.
The thing is: almost all beauty products contain propylene glycol. Is a thickening agent that give your creams that jelly texture. I encourage you to go and check the ingredient’s labels of your beauty products and you’ll see that most of them have it.
In the end, it’s up to you if you’re ok with this ingredient or not.
Probably this ingredient sounds very familiar to you since it’s very often present on lots of labels.
Parabens are preservatives and they are used to prolong the life of a product. They prevent bacteria and mould from forming, thus making your favourite beauty products stay good looking for longer in your bathroom cabinet.
When checking the labels, pay attention if any of there parabens are mentioned: butylparaben, methylparaben or propylparaben. These are the most
The concern surrounding parabens is that they get into your system, though your skin and can mimic estrogen, thus causing hormonal imbalance.
While this theory is still not confirmed by the medical community, parabens are considered safe by doctors. They have been used for a long time and they are cheap an efficient. Some say, that the bad press the parabens are getting is just a shady marketing move to make beauty brands which to different preservatives – more expensive ones.
You Can Actually Understand the Labels
What I think truly makes natural deodorants so appealing is that you can actually understand the label.
Most of us don’t have any kind of medical training and all the scientific naming of different substances make us feel unsafe and suspicious about products. We all have bicarbonate of soda and coconut oil in our cabinets, we use them quite often and we feel safer when we see simple, readable ingredients on labels.
Good Variety to Choose From
Even if natural deodorants follow quite a standard recipe, you still have quite a lot of options.
You can choose those which are 100% vegan (with no beeswax in it), with no bicarbonate of soda (in case you have sensitive skin) or fragrance-free (with no essential oils in it). Also, not to mention that those that have fragrance smells really good and there’s a lot of different combinations to choose from.
So basically the could fit any type of preferences and skin types.
Then What Is in a Natural Deodorant?
Usually, the recipe for a natural deodorant is quite standard, but based on the type of product and brand, ingredients may vary.
Here’s what’s usually in a natural deodorant and why:
- wax, oils or butter for texture – ingredients such as coconut oil, beeswax, Shea or cocoa butter are very common as the base of a natural deodorant. They give the deodorant texture and also hydrate the skin
- essential oils for fragrance and antiseptic protection – there’s no secret that essential oils have antiseptic properties. Not all of them, but tea tree, lavender, sage or lemongrass oils prevent bacteria from forming
- powders for absorption – in order to control the odour and the sweat, almost all natural deodorants have baking soda and/or arrowroot powder or corn starch
Look for the lucky combination of the ingredients above mentioned and you’ll know the deodorant you chose is natural.
Conclusion: Make an Informed Decision
So far there is nothing bad or ugly pointing the finger at natural deodorants. They are made from natural ingredients, are cruelty-free and vegan. Sounds like the perfect combination!
Also, it’s important to be aware that natural doesn’t automatically mean good. People have terrible reactions and allergies to certain natural compounds. The classic example of “natural doesn’t mean all good” is poison ivy: it’s natural, but it’s dangerous for your health.
The advantage of natural deodorants is that you can choose from a wide variety of ingredient combination. There are natural deodorants that don’t use baking soda because quite a lot of people are allergic or their skin gets irritated by this ingredient.
Make sure you check the ingredients list and that you are aware of any possible allergies.
If you notice any weird changes, such as redness and itchiness in the armpit area, stop using the deodorant and visit your doctor.
If you’re not sure which one you should choose or if you should give up regular deodorants at all, go to your dermatologist and double-check. Your doctor is the best person to give you more in-depth information about natural deodorants, based on your skin concerns and medical history.
Have you ever used natural deodorants? Why did you make the switch?
I made some cute, colourful informative cards for you to either pin, share, or keep on hand. Hope you find them useful!