As the temperatures begin to soar here in Texas, there's a question that I get asked daily at the spa - What deodorant should I be using? Why is natural important when it's just my arm pits? Will a natural deodorant leave me a smelly mess? Well, I'm here to clear a few things up and share what to look for and what to avoid.
I want to make one thing known- I am all about efficacy. I am always looking for the cleanest, greenest, most natural option I can find but I will throw it out in a heartbeat if it does not work. I mean, I'm an esthetician and massage therapist, smelling good (or at least neutral) is a requirement! Thank goodness for new formulations that do the job and avoid unnecessary toxic exposure.
Ingredients to Avoid
Aluminum salts are the main ingredient used in antiperspirants to stop wetness from occurring. To simplify the process: they plug up the sweat glands and do not allow your armpits to sweat. In the beginning, was my primary reason to start using a natural deodorant. I am a firm believer in our bodies ability to 'detox' itself. One of the ways that it does that is through sweat. There are also lymph nodes in the axillary area- it can't be a good idea to plug up a 'detox' zone right next to our lymphatic system (another pathway in the 'detox' system in our bodies). It just doesn't make sense to me to plug them up.
According to Cancer.gov- Aluminum can have an estrogen-like effect on the body when long term exposure occurs. Estrogen has been linked to the growth of breast cancer cells so it's not a huge leap to think that there could be a correlation. There hasn't been conclusive evidence either way but I figure, when in doubt- throw it out!
Parabens are preservatives found in nearly every conventional product imaginable (personal care products, food, pharmaceuticals, you name it). Parabéns have come under fire over their estrogen-like effects on our bodies. Once again- constant exposure to excess estrogen, or what your body thinks is estrogen, is not good. In addition, parabens have been found in breast cancer tumors. This does not equal causation but it gives you something to consider and to weigh out the risks for yourself.
Artificial fragrances can be a chemical minefield. Companies can use the term "fragrance" or even "natural fragrance" to hide "trade secrets" which basically means that they can lump tons of ingredients together and not disclose them to the public. This is one sneaky way that companies can avoid telling you about some of the more unsavory chemicals that they may put in their products. This can really increase your toxic exposure. If they don't list out the ingredients- call the company. If they won't tell you what is in it- find another brand.
Click here for an article that breaks it down in more detail.
On labels as phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance. Phthalates are one of those sneaky little ingredients often lumped under "Fragrance". Phthalates are commonly used as plasticizers in nearly every type of product you can imagine. They are often used as solvents and keep things flexible. This can be great for the 'feel' of a product but not so great for your body. The problem comes down to the amounts being used. We are exposed to them in tons of products and they have linked exposure to endocrine disruption, reproductive/developmental toxicity, and even cancer (read more here from The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics).
This commonly used anti-bacterial agent is so prevalent that studies have shown it to be found in 75% of American's bloodstreams. Studies linked to antibiotic resistance, hormone disruption, and even found to impair muscle function in humans. Not good. It is easily absorbed by the skin so the thought of applying this to freshly shaved armpits is disturbing to say the least.
Ok, so I know what to avoid- now what?
Now is the fun part- picking your new clean, great smelling deodorant! Click Here for some suggestions on some of my favorite brands that work and smell amazing!