The hot weather has arrived, and with the heat comes increased sweating and the rise of natural body odors. Deodorant is a product which most of us use every day rather unconsciously in the name of hygiene. However, conventional deodorant products often contain an array of potentially dangerous chemicals.
Since deodorant is a product that we apply to our skin and do not wash off all day, these chemicals linger and absorb into our bodies continually. For this reason, it is imperative to go the natural route for our odor-busting needs.
A large percentage of deodorants and antiperspirants contain some form of aluminum. Aluminum compounds, including aluminum chlorohydrate and aluminum zirconium, function by blocking sweat glands. When absorbed into the skin, aluminum has been linked to neurotoxic and carcinogenic properties, and may also lead to hormonal imbalances.
Some deodorants still contain parabens, compounds which have been linked to endocrine disruption, among other health issues. While some companies have recently stopped using parabens, they are still prevalent in many brands. Another common chemical featured in deodorants is triclosan, which is used for its antibacterial properties and preservative qualities.
Triclosan has also been linked to affecting hormone production, as well as to contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and pollution of lake sediment. For this reason, it has been recently banned in many personal care products in Minnesota. (We expect other states will follow.)
Antiperspirants are often even worse than regular deodorants, as they prevent the body from releasing sweat, a necessary cooling and detoxification mechanism. Crystal rock deodorants are somewhat safer, but often contain alum, another form of aluminum composed of mineral salts.
Luckily, nature has a variety of alternatives to keep your underarms fresh and odor-free. One of the main hidden gems that can be used for this purpose is organic, extra-virgin coconut oil. Not only does this amazing, multi-purpose oil contain antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties (among others), it also functions as a light moisturizer, great for those who shave their armpits and experience irritation.
If you are not planning on doing a heavy workout or spending hours in the sun, or for those who only need a mild deodorant, a thin layer of coconut oil may be all you need. For extra odor protection, mix in some baking soda. This natural odor neutralizer works for the smelliest of messes in your kitchen and bathroom, and can keep body odor at bay, as well.
Many essential oils have deodorizing properties, such as peppermint, wintergreen and sage. However, these should not be applied directly to underarm skin, as they are very potent. Instead, mix in a few drops with some coconut oil or shea butter before applying. For a pleasant, floral smell, add some lavender essential oil.
If you’ve just come inside from a workout, do not have time to shower, and wish to deodorize, all it takes is a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel. Witch hazel is made by distilling the bark, leaves and/or stems of the Hamamelis virginiana shrub, and has a long history of use for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
For a simple, do-it-yourself deodorant, start with half a cup of baking soda, and mix with half a cup of arrowroot (a natural moisture absorber) or cornstarch. Melt about half a cup of organic, extra-virgin coconut oil in a double boiler over the lowest heat setting until just melted.
Mix into the dry ingredients to reach a glue-like consistency, and add about 15 drops of your favorite essential oil (or oils). Mix well, pour into a shallow glass jar, and let it set at room temperature.
To use, simply scoop a bit with your hands (you don’t need much) and rub onto your underarms. The result? Natural odor protection without the harsh chemical exposure.
-The Alternative Daily