While there’s an entire world of stigma around woke and cancel cultures, we can probably all agree that it’s high time hygiene companies wake up to the problems their products face and the general population cancels commercial deodorants. Don’t worry—no one is suggesting deodorant get canceled altogether. No one wants to smell that. But what if natural deodorant looked, and smelled, a little different?
It’s becoming more common knowledge that commercial deodorants aren’t healthy, but not everyone knows how to make the switch to natural deodorant and pit care. It’s easier than you think, but there’s also a little bit of science involved. Let’s sniff around and learn a few tricks to snuff the odor and win back some essential hygiene.
Deodorant: A History
Prior to 1888, commercial deodorant didn’t exist. People applied talcum powder as a natural deodorant. But if you’ve done any amount of research about deodorant and pharmaceutical lawsuits, you already know this takes a bad turn. In its natural state, talc is a mineral that is odorless and absorbent. But some of these mineral deposits are contaminated with asbestos. You’ve seen the commercials on TV. Yup, same asbestos. Obviously, swiping that right up in your pits (or anywhere else on your body, really), so close to sensitive lymph nodes and tissues in the underarm and breast area is not a great idea.
Generally speaking, for a long list of similar reasons, you want to avoid deodorants with aluminum, parabens, and any form of talcum. Natural deodorants usually avoid most or all of these. Cancer is one of the number one reasons avoiding toxic deodorants is a good idea. Others include an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. And that’s just scratching the most known surface.
Read More: Deodorant Dangers and the Healthiest Options
Let’s Geek Out
Regardless of the pros and cons, natural deodorant and commercial deodorant serve a purpose: people don’t want to stink. And while body odor is obviously offensive, understanding the scientific explanation of the essential function of perspiration and what actually causes body odor might help you feel better about that smell and make better decisions surrounding armpit care.
To start, perspiration is a totally natural function of your body. Everybody sweats. The number one function of sweat is to control body temperature. It’s how people cool down. As the water in your sweat evaporates the surface of your skin cools down. Because your pores are open when you sweat, perspiration also serves to help your body push out dirt from your skin as well as detox. In other words, it’s sort of a self-cleaning natural deodorant process.
As the popularity of commercial deodorants grew, so did interest in preventing the unsightly and sometimes slimy sensation of sweat. This is the primary purpose for including aluminum in commercial deodorants—it blocks the pores and prevents sweat from reaching the skin’s surface. But knowing that sweat is your body’s cooling and detox function, we can conclude that preventing sweat can actually lead to a dysregulated system, one that cannot properly regulate its own temperature and other functions. It also prevents the detox of an essential and highly delicate tissue in close proximity to breast organs. Starting to see the possible correlations for cancer and other illnesses?
Here’s the real mind-blowing kicker: sweat doesn’t even make you stink. All this hard work and toxic overload to prevent body odor, and it doesn’t actually target the primary culprit. So what causes body odor? Bacteria. Yup, bacteria sitting in a dark, sometimes damp place is what leads to bad BO. Knowing that, let’s take a look at a few key steps we can take toward natural deodorant and improving our armpit health.
Read More: When Do Kids Need to Start Using Deodorant?
Natural Deodorant Action
Now that we know what actually causes bad body odor and the harms that come with interfering with our body’s natural processes, we can take a look at natural deodorant practices and products that can help us make a difference. Here are four essential steps to keep in mind:
- Skincare—Since we know that bacteria is the main culprit in bad body odor, it makes sense that keeping your armpit skin clean is a good first step in tackling natural deodorant. But it’s more than just cleanliness. We also don’t want to excessively dry out or strip the skin in our armpits, as that can lead to an increase in surface bacteria and, consequently, odor. So yes, wash your armpits in the shower, please. But also care for the skin there throughout the day. Castor oil is a fantastic antibacterial, as are some essential oils like tea tree.
The best natural deodorants that use castor oil, essential oils, or other gentle ingredients can also be part of your daily armpit skincare routine. Some notable brands include Agent Nateur and Primally Pure.
- Pit detox—Help your pits out from time to time, especially if your diet and/or hormones are changing (more on that below). Using bentonite clay and water, make a simple paste and smear it over your pits before hopping in the shower. Let it chill there for a few minutes and then wash like you typically would. The clay is highly absorbent and can help pull toxins from your skin, thus acting as a natural deodorant.
- Diet—We’ve all heard the phrase you are what you eat. Well, here it is again. Your body absorbs what you eat, and that affects your whole being. But the more processed the food, the heavier the toxic load on your body. And the heavier that load, the more your body tries to excrete while you sweat, and the more bacteria are probably hanging out in those dark places, thriving on the bad stuff leaving your body. A cleaner diet will naturally lend itself to balancing all areas of your health, including your skin, which includes your armpits. Never thought you’d be calling food a natural deodorant, huh?
- Hormones—This one is trickier to control, although diet and good clean skincare both play a major role in supporting your hormones. The science here is a bit more complex and diverse, but the bottom line is that as your hormones change, so can your body odor. (This is why some women struggle with body odor after a pregnancy—their hormones can take months to return to a state of normalcy and the constant swings contribute to body odor.) It’s weird and advisable to address this one with the help of a healthcare professional, but the hormones don’t lie.
Maybe this was way more than you ever wanted to know about body odor, sweat, and approaches for natural deodorant. But now you know a few things that perhaps you didn’t know before, and you can make the best decision for yourself and your armpits. Trust me, your armpits will thank you!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out Daily Mom’s Healthy Living Section for more advice, tips, and tricks.
💖 NEWSLETTER: DAILY READS IN YOUR INBOX 💖
Sign up to receive our picks for the best things to do, see and buy so you can relax and focus on more important tasks! Let us help you be the best version of yourself you can be!
GET MORE FROM DAILY MOM, PARENTS PORTAL
Newsletter: Daily Mom delivered to you
Instagram: @DailyMomOfficial | @DailyMomTravel