Summer can be a scary time to think about testing a new deodorant. Especially a deodorant branded “natural”. But there are a few good reasons to ditch your conventional anti-perspirant and opt for a deodorant with fewer chemicals. The best part is, you don’t have to sacrifice personal hygiene to do it! Here’s why natural deodorants are the way to go, and what brands actually work.
Why do we sweat, and why does it stink?
We wear antiperspirant to stop sweating. But sweating is the body’s way of keeping cool (as the sweat evaporates, it removes heat from the skin). And sweat itself doesn’t stink – it’s the bacteria that breaks down the sweat that causes B.O. So while antiperspirants attempt to stop or at least reduce sweating (typically with aluminum), deodorants work on eliminating the bacteria to reduce odour. Some lucky people are actually inherently non-stinky sweaters and don’t require deodorant at all.
Do antiperspirants cause cancer?
There have been reports that anti-perspirant can cause breast cancer. However, the medical community, including the Canadian Cancer Society, indicates antiperspirants do not increase the chance of breast cancer. On the flip side, there have been studies that show chemicals from antiperspirants, namely parabens, in breast tissue. So the cancer link is arguably up for debate.
Do you really need an antiperspirant?
The efficacy of antiperspirants is also a grey area. And because we’re told we need them to keep friends and not offend our colleagues, many of us are afraid to try life with just a deodorant. I automatically started using antiperspirant as a teenager, because that’s what people did. But really, it did nothing to reduce sweating. I only realized this when I made the switch to a natural salt crystal deodorant (hear me out, it’s not as crazy as it sounds). So while every body is different, don’t automatically assume just because you’ve been using antiperspirants since your hormones went into overdrive that you actually need them.
Conventional vs Natural Deodorants
Whether you use a conventional antiperspirant or deodorant, chances are it’s full of ingredients that are potentially harmful – connected with hormone disruption, allergies, and cancer (parabens, phthalates, fragrance/parfum, to name a few). They’re branded very well, with lovely sounding scents, and catch phrases like “24-hour protection” (which means nothing, by the way). And since you likely apply deodorants every day, sometimes to broken skin, chances are you’re adding to your body’s overall concentration of these chemicals (your body burden).
Natural deodorants focus on essential oils and naturally-occurring substances to combat bacteria – like tea tree oil, baking soda, and coconut oil. They may also contain moisture-wicking ingredients like cornstarch. Not all natural deodorants are created equal, and there are many that decidedly do not work. But since not everyone reacts to all formulas the same way, what works for one person might not work at all for another. To help reduce the trial and error involved in switching to a natural deodorant, I am pleased to give you a list of the most recommended natural deodorants as recommended by moms (i.e. tested through city summers, toddler tantrums, hormone-induced temperature changes, exercise, and anything else life might throw at you).
The Best Natural Deodorants
LoveFresh – This is by far, hands down, the most recommended product – and it’s from Toronto, which I love. It comes as a paste that you apply with your fingers, or a newer version as a stick. I’ve tried two scents personally, and had better luck with the Lemon Verbena. You can find it at www.skintoskingoods.com (a Toronto-based business), or at The Ten Spot locations. Another cream I’ve tried that worked quite well but doesn’t get much recognition from others is Purely Great (from The Big Carrot).
Toms of Maine – This is the deodorant people love to hate. It works great for some, not at all for others. There are also some concerns about it containing propylene glycol which can irritate some people. But when it works, it works really well. And it’s easy to find (health food stores, Loblaws, etc.). (3 on Think Dirty)
PiperWai – Another cream style from the US that appeared on the show Shark Tank. I haven’t tried this one, but it gets rave reviews on mommy groups. It’s only available online in Canada (www.piperwai.com).
Salt Crystal – This one doesn’t get a lot of attention, but it is a very cost effective option that’s worth checking out (there are a few different brands available at health food stores). I used this for a long time but developed a skin sensitivity (likely a pH balance issue). It’s literally a salt block that you wet and apply.
Switching to a natural deodorant, especially from a conventional antiperspirant, can be a daunting task. But given how far natural deodorants have come, it’s definitely not as challenging as it once was. If you’re scared, just keep a stick of your regular stuff in your bag so you know you’ve got back up instead of using your fear as an excuse not to try. What’s the worst that can happen?
If you’re ready to make the switch to healthier body care and household products but don’t know where to start, check out my Detox Support services.