Deodorant is something you probably don’t think much about—aside from needing to apply it before running out the door in the morning. You may ponder over your desired brand or scent in the store, but have you ever looked at the ingredients? Do you know what your deodorant actually contains and what it might do to your body?
There have been numerous claims about the health and safety of deodorant and antiperspirant over the years—some of which lack substantial supporting evidence. Even still, it’s important to be aware of what is actually in your deodorant and what the potential risks may be so you can make an informed choice about how to stay smell-free.
Deodorant vs antiperspirant
It’s first important to distinguish between deodorants and antiperspirants, although many people conflate the two. Deodorants are used to mask or eliminate body odor, meaning you’ll still sweat, but you are less likely to smell bad.
Antiperspirant, however, actually temporarily stops the sweat from occurring at all. Usually, this happens by plugging the sweat glands to stop sweat from flowing to the skin’s surface. This helps you feel dry and remain odorless.
Some deodorants may contain antiperspirant, but not all do. It is possible to find deodorants that do not contain the antiperspirant ingredients.
There are a few reasons you may raise an eyebrow at your traditional deodorant when you take a glance at the ingredients list. Although some things need to be more thoroughly studied to make a solid claim, the potential risks of some ingredients may influence you to take the natural route.
Deodorants and antiperspirants alike are likely to have a host of chemicals and metals in them. Many of these are linked to fragrances, which most non-natural deodorants will not specify the ingredients for. Some of these chemicals and synthetic fragrances have the potential to irritate the sensitive skin there, especially after shaving.
Most antiperspirants also contain aluminum compounds. Aluminum is the key ingredient to antiperspirant’s efficacy. It works by plugging the sweat ducts under your arms, helping to prevent sweat temporarily and keep you dry throughout the day.
The aluminum found in antiperspirant worries some consumers because of a study that suspected aluminum to be a potential cause of breast cancer. Because of a high percentage of people developing breast cancer near the armpit and the presence of aluminum in cancerous tumors of the breast, some researchers believe aluminum may be dangerous to our health and linked with cancer.
More studies are needed to confirm this theory, though. Aluminum has not been proven to cause cancer.
Similar beliefs have also been linked to parabens, which are found in many cosmetic products. Again, the research has been inconclusive, and more research is needed to truly determine whether parabens are potentially dangerous.
Additionally, wearing antiperspirants daily may potentially affect the microbiome of bacteria and microorganisms living on your skin. A healthy balance of these microorganisms is necessary to keep your skin healthy and free of infections, and they may even help to keep you less smelly.
Benefits of natural deodorants
Even though more extensive research is necessary to confirm the major risks of deodorants and antiperspirants, the possible risk associated with these ingredients may make some consumers wary. If you’d prefer to play it safe and avoid deodorants or antiperspirants with aluminum, there are many on the market. A lot of these deodorants are all-natural, as well.
Most natural deodorants work to combat the bacteria on the skin instead of halting sweat. The mixture of sweat and bacteria is generally what causes strong body odor. There are many benefits associated with using natural deodorants like these.
- No aluminum or parabens: One major benefit of using all-natural deodorant is the elimination of the potential risk for health problems associated with ingredients like aluminum and parabens. This allows you to keep your body safer while more research is conducted.
- Natural scents, not chemicals: The elimination of chemical-based fragrances is also appealing to many. Most natural deodorants use essential oils for fragrance, instead, which come with their own unique benefits for the skin and body. Natural deodorant may even be able to soothe sensitive skin naturally through plant-based moisturizers and essential oils intended for fragrance.
- Natural process: Because you’ll still sweat without antiperspirant, your body will be better able to flush out toxins and regulate its body temperature. Protecting this natural process may help you stay healthier for longer.
- Benefit to your laundry: Natural products tend to wash out much more easily from clothes, where chemical-based deodorants and antiperspirants are known to build up over time, changing the texture of the fabric and even causing yellow staining.
If you’d like to try a natural deodorant, you’re likely to experience many benefits while eliminating potential risks. Take time to research a reputable brand and experiment with the ingredients that work best for your body.