Just this past week two of my friends asked me about deodorant largely because they are trying out new ones that are more natural. The usual course of action for people is to head right to Tom’s of Maine since they have really cornered the marketing on “safe” deodorant. In both instances this week those friends complained that the Tom’s caused reactions on their skin and asked why and what to use instead. I’ve covered this topic before but since I’ve recently gotten so many questions about deodorant lately I think it’s time to revisit it. I’m not certain what causes so many people to react unfavorable to the Tom’s of Maine deodorant but I have heard this for years. My father experienced bad rashes from the Long Lasting formula and was ok once he switched back to the basic formula. I think this might end up being the common theme when people complain about these reactions. I have never included Tom’s on my list of recommendations due to the Propylene Glycol content.
What’s Wrong With My Deodorant?
Time for a refresher course! Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants use an aluminum compound as the active ingredient. Dove’s active ingredient is ALUMINUM ZIRCONIUM TETRACHLOROHYDREX GLYCINE COMPLEX (mmmm that sounds safe). Some studies have shown there to be a link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s and possibly some forms of breast cancers. It’s true that all the research is not conclusive but it does suggest a possible link, not to mention the evidence indicating a strong link, and that’s enough for me to want to avoid it. You will always find evidence to the contrary but the research is continuing. But that’s not all there is to be concerned about. Deodorants are also laden with hormone disrupting chemicals like parabens and phthalates which mimic estrogen and are linked to a bevy of health issues. (Early puberty in girls, premature delivery, impaired sperm quality and sperm damage in men, genital defects and reduced testosterone production in boys, genital defects and testicular cancer. Studies are now showing that phthalates are linked to obesity.
I’ve read a lot of studies and while all research is typically inconclusive or a big fat “maybe” I feel that enough evidence is there to warrant concerns. These are petrochemicals that are overprocessed and you’re applying them to your underarms every single day. That’s a lot of exposure to chemicals that may very well cause some serious health issues. MightyNest has a great article on this subject that outlines what ingredients I avoid as well as they do.
What’s Safer To Use?
I look for deodorants void of aluminum based compounds, but also that don’t contain the typical ingredients I avoid in all my skin care: parabens, synthetic fragrances (phthalates), and petrochemicals (PEGs, propylene glycol). But the nice part is I have discovered a lot of deodorants that not only work great but are completely made with natural ingredients. I rest easy! And I don’t stink, even on my worst sweaty days. Here are some of my picks for safer deodorants:
Updated January 22,2014
Best In Show
- Aubrey Organics (Spray, Roll-on, & Men’s)
- Ava Anderson Non-Toxic Deodorant – Ingredients look great!
- Avalon Organic Botanicals Lavender Deodorant Spray
- Bubble & Bee Pit Putty & Deodorant Sprays - I’m a fan of the Geranium Lime Pit Putty. Works and smells good. I love the company and the very smart ingredient guru Stephanie who runs the show. She now has deodorant creams too.
- Burt’s Bee’s Mens Deodorant
- Deodorant Club - Ingredients look amazing!
- Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Deodorant
- Erbaviva Deodorant Spray
- Fiddlebumps Apothecary herbal Citrus Deodorant
- Good For You Girls – Targeted for tweens and teens, looks good but if you avoid sodium benzoate or polysorbate 20 keep looking.
- LaVanilla Natural Deodorant - Looks ok but has the same stearate ingredient that Tom’s has which I suspect could be an irritant. Has nice scents though. Give it a go.
- Miessence Deodorant Roll-on - I know a lot of people like this one and claim it works great.
- Poofy Organics Deodorant
- Purple Prairie Botanicals Deodorant
- Real Purity Deodorant
- Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant Cream - Looks great – beautiful ingredients and different scents to choose from!
- Soapwalla Deodorant Cream - I have had GREAT success with this and really love all her products. Highly recommend.
- Terressentials Organic Super Protection Deodorant
- Weleda Deodorant (all scents) - I really like these (the Rose Scent especially) but you have to be careful of the sting factor if you just shaved.
Runner Up Brands (Better but ehhh)
- Jason Natural Cosmetics Deodorant – Confession – I really like this one and use it. It’s not 100% natural but I have used this as my safety net deodorant when I needed extra protection.
- Tom’s of Maine Natural Deodorant – Uses Propylene Glycol as their main ingredient. My parents both use this with great success but I had a not effective relationship with it myself and never went back. I have gotten many emails from friends, readers and family that they have experienced a reaction to some of these products though.
- Kiss My Face Active Enzyme Deodorant - Not chemical free and contains Phenoxyethanol.
- Earth Science Natural Deodorant – Not chemical free and main ingredient is Propylene Glycol.
- I’ve chosen not to list crystal deodorant stones and sprays because of the possible unintentional aluminum content. To read more about that please visit Stephanie Greenwood’s blog for more information.
Making Your Own
This recipe comes from my buddy Statia who used to help out around here.
What you’ll need:
- A deodorant container (save your old one, and re-purpose it)
- coconut oil (the solid kind)
- baking soda
- essential oil (whatever your favorite is, which is nice, you don’t have to smell like “fake baby butt”)
- vitamin e oil
- corn starch
- Add the dry ingredients in a bowl first. Mix equal parts corn starch and baking soda.
- Add equal parts coconut oil, mix thoroughly.
- Add a few drops of vitamin e and your essential oil. You can add as much as you like, but I wouldn’t go overboard. The mixture will be a bit more flaky if you use more oil.
- Knead the mixture with your fingers until it forms a ball like consistency, it should be hard enough to put into the deodorant container, but still malleable and not crumbly. Put the cap on and let set overnight, and voilà!
OR: Here’s another great recipe from The Soft Landing!
A few things to remember when switching to a safer deodorant:
BE PATIENT. You’ll need at least 2 weeks to adjust, so if you go a couple days on a new deodorant and you still experience odor issues this could mean your body is still ridding itself of toxins. You might have to try a brand or two to find the right one for your body chemistry too, so give it some time. If one doesn’t work try something else. Everyone is different and what works for me might not work for someone else. You have to find the right deodorant for YOU. Once I found what worked for me I never went back. I haven’t used mainstream deodorants in about 4 years. I don’t smell funny either.
Exfoliate. Its a good idea to GENTLY exfoliate your armpits once in a while to remove any dead skin blocking your sweat glands and pores. Use a really soft washcloth and gently massage the area. Don’t use scrubs or salts as this might damage the delicate skin of your armpits.
Sweat! The reason deodorant makers put Aluminum in their product is to prevent you from sweating. There is a major problem with this in that you are supposed to sweat, sweating is your body’s way of ridding itself from toxins and impurities. Once your body is used to not having antiperspirant it can actually regulate your sweating. Since switching I have not noticed being “wet” unless I am huffing and puffing on the treadmill, in which case who cares. What matters is I don’t SMELL like sweat.
Let’s talk about B.O. I have read that diet has an effect on your smell so pay attention to what you ate prior to discovering your pits smelling a little ripe. Some say red meat is a culprit. Being perfectly honest, once my body regulated and adapted to my new safer deodorant I rarely if ever smell. Not even in the hot sun, not after I work out, and even if I skip a day showering. For the sake of science, I’ll admit I skip a day here and there. (What, like you never did? LIES!)
Do you have a natural deodorant you like? Or a DIY recipe? Tell me about it!