My attention was caught back in 2016 when I was living in the Caribbean and I read a Swiss report on aluminium salts that was quite different and far more negative to other previous reports on deodorants and antiperspirants (see the big difference between antiperspirants and deodorantsbelow in point 3).
The study concluded: ‘Our observations provide experimental evidence that aluminium salts could be environmental breast carcinogens.’ The co-author, Andre Pascal Suppino in an interview, said he expected the cosmetic industry to ‘act like the tobacco industry and state that proof in humans is lacking’. He also compared people’s scepticism over its potential cancer-causing properties to asbestos which was inexpensive and industrially valuable and so took over half a century to finally be banned.
Either way, by this time, I had been considering deodorants over antiperspirants for a while. I was now working with dozens of natural ingredients for my products and was becoming more aware of what was going into my body and onto my skin. Our pores really do act like sponges and blocking up my sweat glands just seemed such an unnatural thing to be doing, now with possible unknown consequences down the line.
2 - Why We Sweat, Perspire and Glow!
You may have heard of the expression that 'horsessweat, men perspire but women glow' - well there is a very good reason why we 'sweat, perspire or glow' at all in the first place.
When I also read more in-depth background on sweat I soon realised that it’s actually the bacteria feeding on our sweat’s fat and proteins that creates the unpleasant odours that we have come to associate with sweat not the sweat itself.
More importantly it soon became clear that a proper deodorant would focus on killing those bacteria whilst allowing the body to sweat and cool down properly which is the primary purpose of sweating - that just made much more sense to me. Whereas aluminium based antiperspirants work in almost a contrary fashion to this as they block the sweat ducts, thereby reducing the amount of sweat that reaches the skin's surface.
I also wanted my body to be healthy - it seemed if you had a good diet and drank lots of water, there wouldn’t be all these super bad, smelly toxins leaving your body anyway. I also wanted to set a good example to my daughter and was regularly asked by my customers if I’d be adding deodorants to my range. With the very hot and humid climate we were living in, well it really was the perfect place to create and trial a natural and effective one.
The obvious side benefit of this was that I could use it for myself and also encourage my young daughter to use it too when the time came. I didn’t want to have any unnecessary risk, not even the slightest one, of exposing either of us to breast cancer, since it is something that runs in my family.
3 - The Difference Between Natural Deodorant and an Antiperspirant!
When we get hot we sweat the body odour is only produced when the fat and protein in sweat mixes with the bacteria on the skin. The under arm apocrine glands produce odourless sweat with a high amount of fat and proteins so as the bacteria feed on the fat and protein and it then creates body odour. So, the problem is the bacteria, not the sweat!
Antiperspirants contain aluminium salts to block sweat by forming gel plugs over the sweat glands in the upper parts of the pores. Sweat is still produced by the glands but it won’t be released where antiperspirant has been applied.
Deodorant, through using ingredients such as bicarbonate of soda, will certainly kill the odour causing bacteria on the skin and inhibit it from forming, meaning when you sweat, there is not enough bacteria sitting on the skin to create an odour. To help reduce wetness we have added other naturally absorbent ingredients such as clay and arrowroot powder.
However, with Sodium bicarbonate being an irritating ingredient for so many people, I knew I had to find another way.
4 - Concerns About Body Odour!
I am definitely someone who perspires quite easily, which is a good thing as I was told that’s why my skin is so clear. Well that is a good to know, but still considering making the switch from standard antiperspirants to a natural deodorant was a difficult one that filled me with a little trepidation as, like most normal people, I was concerned about the remote possibility of smelling, visions of dripping in sweat in the middle of important meetings and presentations. It seemed a risk I wasn’t sure I wanted to take.
Until then, I’d always used antiperspirants, especially when I was working in finance on a busy trading floor and even much later living in the Caribbean, still attending meetings at large hotels and in retail stores selling personal care products of all things, I wanted to make sure, in fact it was (and is) essential that I really needed to make sure I smelt as fresh as a daisy at all times.
So, following on from this there are a few key rules that you should follow religiously to help stop the sweat if you have any concern about your body odour:
Wash every day
Use an antibacterial soap to clean your armpits
Use a deodorant
Shave your armpit hair to allow sweat to evaporate quicker
Wear clothing made of natural fibres, such as cotton, that allow your skin to breathe
Regularly change into clean clothes
5 - Creating The Right Deodorant Formula!
However, after reading this Swiss report, I took the plunge. I knew that if I could create a deodorant to work in that harsh climate, it would work anywhere on the planet. However, it had to be right on four levels. Solid enough not to collapse and melt, sensitive enough for my underarm skin, effective enough to work and eco-friendly in terms of both ingredients and packaging. Therefore, that is what I did. It took a while, much longer than I thought it would to get those all those things right.
I made an initial successful creation using Sodium bicarbonate, even though it’s an ingredient that I am sensitive to, I found that the levels were low enough to not cause irritation to me but strong enough to kill any odour causing bacteria. However, after reading studies about how many people have had a bad reaction to Sodium bicarbonate and would never use it again, I decided to keep looking for alternatives. I was determined to find the perfect deodorant for those who wanted a natural option without bicarb.
Therefore, I tried a deodoriser with the latest eliminating odour technology but after a few days, I found it did not work, as did the volunteers. So I then tried various forms of Magnesium along with a natural probiotic used in cosmetics and foods that has powerful anti-microbial properties and was good for sensitive skin; calming redness and irritation. I found the combination worked perfectly well. I was so excited!
Given that Magnesium is such an important mineral for the body, the fourth most abundant and involved in over 600 cellular reactions, I was happy that this was one of the replacement ingredients.
It also appears that many people are magnesium deficient which comes about by poor diet choices, lack of top soil minerals, for example which can lead to depression, high blood pressure and heart disease. So by regularly using a transdermal delivery (through your skin) to absorb this mineral has been shown in studies to be a good way to receive Magnesium into your body.
On further research, I was surprised to discover that Magnesium not only helps to minimise odours caused by perspiration, it can help regulate energy levels and hormones that promote relaxation, improve sleep quality and also improve digestion by neutralising stomach acid and relaxing muscles within the digestive tract. It can also regulate blood pressure levels and prevent hypertension, with ongoing studies showing it may also reduce the risk of heart disease, improve blood sugar control in diabetes 2 and help combat migraines.
Wow! How useful is that.
Therefore, by using this combination with arrowroot and clay along with two butters and three plant-based emollients, I felt I was on to a winner. Twenty-seven attempts later and I could get it to push up in the tube too!
6 - What You Don’t Want As An Ingredient in Your Deodorant!
Our natural deodorant roll-ons use biodegradable UK made tubes and are free of alcohols, parabens, plastics, synthetic fragrances, petroleum ingredients and now Sodium Bicarbonate as well – ingredients all too often found in conventional deodorants.
You will also regularly see water or ‘aqua’ as the biggest (i.e. first listed) ingredient in mainstream deodorants - water equals bigger margins for these companies, that's all - we do not have any water dilution in our product. When you frequently find synthetic fragrances included in deodorants, they are there as a cheap way to bring scent to a product, but these can also have long-term side effects as well as being skin irritants and more (see our blog on fragrances here).
7 - What You Do Want To Find As An Ingredient in Your Deodorant!
Our all-natural ingredients are key anti-bacterial workers. Arrowroot and clay (which combined make up a large percentage of the ingredients) help to absorb moisture whilst the magnesium and Lactobacillus Probiotic Ferment will neutralise the odour. Organic Coconut oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is moisturising along with the Shea butter and Cocoa butter.
We have also now included three fast-drying, plant-based emollients that add a lovely softness and glide. They will also reduce any feelings of greasiness or tackiness produced by the natural oils and waxes. With added essential oils for natural, lasting scent, I have found what I consider the perfect deodorant combination! Non-irritating, easy to apply, freshly scented, microbiome balancing and bizarrely also, through the magnesium, great for your body inside and out! In addition, you can even re-apply at night for sleep quality!
The essential oils used, as well as offering lovely natural scents, have fantastic beneficial properties in themselves. We have chosen to create our deodorants with four very specially scented variants; without doubt at least one will appeal to your senses.
The refreshing citrus deodorant with Orange essential oil offers anti-inflammatory properties, is good for the immune system, antiseptic and also extremely effective as an antibacterial agent. A 2017 study also showed that Orange essential oil, along with other terpene-based compounds have various types of anti-cancer properties.
Lavender essential oil, found in three of our blends (though you won't necessarily smell it), soothes skin and reduces inflammation, has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. It also reduces feelings of stress and anxiety as does Geranium essential oil which is also said to balance hormones.
Frankincense essential oil was an important one to include and also has a lovely scent. Lab studies have found that it could kill breast cancer cells and disrupt future cancer cell growth, that it contains anti-tumour properties which could also lead to controlled cell death.
Essential oils and their constituents as anti-cancer agents are a fast growing area and it seems that there will be more studies and discoveries over the next 5-10 years. With all these added benefits, it is important we make use of them in this sensitive area of our bodies.
9 - Is There A Transition Period?
Yes, there is a transition period to deodorants from antiperspirants that is true. If you have used antiperspirants for a number of years, your sweat glands have been blocked and during the detox transition period, your body is finally able to rid itself of all those built up toxins, pre-existing bacteria as well as residue from chemical laden products - for a short period of time.
Detox period – the armpit area is an exit area for toxins to escape the body. When we use commercial antiperspirants and even some deodorants, we block these areas and stop the natural process of expelling toxins. We can build up toxins and bacteria in our bodies in many ways, through food choices, alcohol, environmental factors, pesticides found in food to name a few examples.
To minimise our exposure to these toxins, it’s important to make healthy diet choices of more natural, unprocessed and wholesome foods as much as possible, as well as drinking plenty of water.
During this time, your under-arm area may produce more sweat more than usual. If this is the case, don’t worry, it will pass. For me it started to reduce after no more than a few days and the whole process was less than 2 weeks; that was after 20+ years of antiperspirants. The arrowroot powder in the deodorant will also help absorb this sweat as your body will then start to normalise the sweat amount again.
You may also find the area a bit tenderer, I remember this was for a few days too; this is also due to the toxins leaving the body and the lymph nodes becoming sorer and more inflamed for a short period of time. This will pass. Make sure you’re drinking lots of water, eating healthily and exercising to help you to sweat out those toxins. A steam or sauna can also help stimulate detoxification.
Choose a time, (the winter months are a good time) to do your detox. If you are going to work, I found it better to take my deodorant with me and re-apply throughout the day. If at home, in a hot climate particularly, I found it helped to shower or wash under my arms a couple of times a day and use more scented products during that time. I did wonder if it was worth it but it totally IS and I am so glad I stuck it out. I had to remember I’d been using antiperspirants for such a long time; it would take a bit for the toxins to be gone.
There may also be an adjustment to using natural ingredients when switching away from aluminium.
10 - Make Sure You Apply Your Deodorant Properly!
You will first notice that our natural deodorants are made with added emollients for easy glide. You need only apply 4-5 strokes under each arm to get a good coating onto the skin to allow it to work.
11 - Conclusion - There’s Never Been A Better Time To Change For The Good!
October, usually the start of the cold months in Europe (unless climate change goes completely mad) is the perfect time to make that switch to a natural and effective deodorant!
Since switching some years ago now, I have found I do not perspire, a much nicer and more lady-like term, as much as I thought I would and the toxins leaving my body are not potent, probably I would say largely due to a healthier diet. After the initial detox period when my body was able to get rid of the toxins - a short space of time which I’m glad I stuck through - it all settled down and has been really fine ever since, even in the very hottest and humid climates of the Caribbean and Florida.
Never have I found myself in an awkward situation due to using a deodorant (as opposed to an antiperspirant) and often I get the faint scent of the deodorant essential oils on my skin and clothes.
Are you ready to make the change? Let us know how you get on in the comments below.
PS. And while you are here, why not read these very illuminating facts about the beauty industry, their widespread use of synthetic fragrances and how they can affect you in ways you may not have realised - Fragrance Oil or Essential Oil - Can You Tell?
This blog was updated in October 2021
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