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Sticking It to Body Odour

Natural deodorants & antiperspirants


Sticking It to Body Odour

Stroll through the health and beauty section of any store, and you'll find rows of deodorants and antiperspirants. The trouble is many of these conventional products contain ingredients that may be toxic for you and the environment.

Nobody wants to smell bad. Stroll through the health and beauty section of any store, and you’ll find rows of deodorants and antiperspirants. The trouble is many of these conventional products contain ingredients that may be toxic for you and the environment.

Avoid putting toxic chemicals on your body and in the environment with natural solutions—here’s how.

Why go natural?

Two studies highlighted possible links between chemicals found in deodorants or antiperspirants and cancer. In 2003 researchers discovered that women who used antiperspirants/deodorants and shaved their underarms frequently were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier age.

In 2004 other researchers found that 18 out of 20 breast tumours studied contained traces of parabens, a preservative used in deodorants.

Parabens mimic the activity of estrogen in the body’s cells, as do aluminum-based compounds which are also found in these products. Scientists speculate these chemicals may stimulate cell growth, leading to breast cancer.

While many manufacturers have removed parabens from these products, aluminum remains the active ingredient in conventional antiperspirants.

Later studies have not supported the link between parabens, aluminum, and cancer. The National Cancer Institute states that while no conclusive evidence links cancer with antiperspirants/deodorants, it still feels further research is needed to determine the effects of the chemicals on cell DNA.

More chemicals, more reasons

Other chemicals in conventional deodorants and antiperspirants may also be unhealthy. Dyes and perfumes cause allergic reactions such as rashes, itching, allergies, and eczema.

Triclosan, a common antibacterial agent, has caused liver damage in some lab animals and can create resistant bacteria. Zirconium, another common chemical, can result in small lumps or granulomas forming in the armpit. Even talc, when used in aerosol products, can trigger inflammation of the lungs, bronchial irritation, and the development of fibrous lesions.

The impact of conventional products doesn’t stop at your underarms. Every time you shower, you wash these chemicals down the drain. Once in the water system, they can disrupt the endocrine systems of fish, birds, and mammals—including humans. Even the best water filtration systems may not be able to deal with all these contaminants.

Natural alternatives

For a healthier alternative, check out your local health food store. Look for brands such as Aubrey Organics, Burt’s Bees, Lafe’s, Pure and Natural, Weleda, and Wild Country. These products use natural plants and minerals to deliver safe, long-lasting odour protection. They come in a variety of forms including stick, roll-on, and non-aerosol sprays.

Or try natural deodorant stones made from mineral salts such as potassium alum that eliminate odour-causing bacteria and help control perspiration. Fragrance- and alcohol-free and non-staining, these stones can last for six months to two years, making them cost effective. To use, slightly moisten the top of the stone and rub over clean skin, or apply to damp skin after a bath or shower.

Because people’s body chemistry differs, you may have to experiment with different brands and products to find the one that works well for you. With a wide range of choices, plus sensitive skin formulas, you’ll be able to find the right one for your skin.

You can even make your own deodorant. Mix baking soda (which deodorizes) and cornstarch (which absorbs moisture and deodorizes) in a container. Apply them with a powder puff after a shower while your skin is still damp. For a spray version, use apple cider vinegar or witch hazel. Or dab on a blend of essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and patchouli.

Eating a diet rich in unprocessed vegetables and grains and low in meat-based products, alcohol, and caffeine also helps reduce body odours—so does wearing natural fabrics that breathe.

When it comes to deodorants and antiperspirants, go natural and be healthy.

Choose these ingredients:

  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Charcoal
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Ammonium alum
  • Mineral salts
  • Algae extracts
  • Green tea
  • Natural preservatives such as lichen
  • Aloe vera
  • Essential oils

Avoid these ingredients:

  • Aluminum-based compounds, including aluminum chlorohydrate, ammonium aluminum sulphate, potassium aluminum sulphate, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly
  • Parabens, including methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or benzylparaben
  • Perfumes (often listed as fragrance or parfum)
  • Hexachlorophene
  • FD&C colours
  • BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
  • DEA (diethanolamine)
  • TEA (triethanolamine)
  • Quaternium 18 (a sensitizer that can cause rashes beyond the area of application)
  • Talc in aerosol products
  • Triclosan
  • Propylene glycol
  • Petroleum-based chemicals


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