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The Nitty Gritty on Natural Deodorants

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I won’t tell you which natural deodorant to buy, but I will urge you to buy one.  

Do you ever think about the fact that your skin is your body’s largest organ?  What you put on the skin is being absorbed into your body and limiting the amounts of harmful chemical exposure is important.  You’ll notice much of my overall focus in the blog is on products that are part of our daily ritual.  It is those products that stand to cause us the most harm since we use them and their ingredients over and over again.  Deodorant and antiperspirant are no exception, in fact, if you are a woman I urge you to review and switch out this product before you tackle anything else in your beauty routine.  Why?  We shave under our arms – further opening up our pores and sometimes even making small cuts in the skin which more easily allow ingredients to seep into our bodies.  The commercial products on the market today are just not safe – period.

Commercial Deodorant & Antiperspirant – The Toxic List

Every product is different, but below are my top 5 ingredients to avoid in your commercial deodorant or antiperspirant product.  I’ve linked each ingredient to their specific page on the Environmental Working Group site in case you’d like to read further.  As you read through, keep in mind that many of the commercial, non-natural deodorant ant antiperspirant products contain a combination and sometimes all of the ingridients listed below.

Aluminum Chlorohydrate
This is the salt and aluminium compound found in antiperspirants that keeps you dry. Don’t be fooled by crystal deodorant that advertises no aluminium in their product.  It is true that they don’t contain aluminium chloride, but they do instead contain potassium alum.  The reality is that no amount of aluminium (in any form) is needed in your body and there are links between aluminum, Alzheimers and Cancer.

Phthalates
This is found in everything – from vinyl flooring to beauty products to what your kids lunch box is made out of.  Phthalates essentially make plastics more flexible and spreadable.  The problem is that they are also known to be huge hormone disruptors in our bodies resulting in things asthma and fertility issues for both men and women – just to name a few.

Parabens
These are usually used as a preservative to make your product last for months or even years on the store shelf or in your home.  However, parabens have strong links to cancer and male reproductive health.

Fragrance
You can probably guess why this one is used – so you don’t stink.  If your product contains the word fragrance, you’ll never find out what is actually in it.  3000 plus chemicals fall into the category of fragrance and they aren’t required to disclose the exact ingredient in lieu of just writing fragrance on the label.  According to the Environmental Working Group – “The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products.”  I’m sure I’ll be doing a whole post focused on fragrance in the future.

Triclosan
This compound kills bacteria and you’ll most likely see it in any anything that totes the “anti-bacterial” claim on a product.  Similar to phtalates, triclosan is a hormone disruptor and not only that, recent studies have shown links between triclosan and decreased muscle function.

Thinking of making the switch?  Here’s what you should know.

  • Deodorant will keep you from smelling and antiperspirant will keep you from sweating.  There are no FDA approved antiperspirant ingredients on the market today and therefore, if you truly want to cut out aluminum you have to understand that while you may not smell, you will sweat.  It is healthy and normal to sweat.
  • You will need to adjust to natural deodorant.  Given what I just described in the two bullets above, as soon as you stop using antiperspirant especially, all those toxins you’ve been keeping in are going to start seeping out of your body… and they are going to stink!  Your body is going to need to detox and it may take a few days up to a few weeks.  Basically, you’ll need to keep the natural deodorant in your bag and you’ll need to reapply a few times a day – something you won’t eventually need to do.
  • You might have to put deodorant on with your fingertips.  Many natural deodorants do come in a stick form now, but my experience has been that the formulas are slightly different to accommodate the harder texture and often don’t work as well or really require you to push very hard to get the deodorant on.
  • Everyone’s body chemistry is different and just because a natural deodorant works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you.  I love the smell of lemongrass, but lemongrass essential oil doesn’t work with my body and deodorant that contains it makes me smell like body odor and lemongrass.  You wearing the same formula might smell like a dream.  You may need to try several deodorants before you find one that works for you.

Recommendations to Buy

Again, because body chemistry is different, I can’t tell you which deodorant will work for you.  However, I can recommend the brands that have the right ingredients to keep you from smelling and the ones where those ingredients are safe for your body.  You’ll notice I mostly tried to like to unscented or minimal scent options for each product.  I always recommend trying those first to see if the deodorant works for you and then secondly layering in a scent.

I will say that MOST people I’ve spoken to, including myself, have had great luck with PiperWai so if you’re looking for good odds, start with that.  PiperWai is charcoal based which is good for those that might be more sensitive to a baking soda formula and I’ve found that the charcoal keeps you a bit dryer than the baking soda based formulas.  They do have a stick form of their deodorant which I’ve tried, but don’t recommend to others.  The formula doesn’t work as well (for me at least) and you have to really push to spread it on.

What am I currently using your right now? PiperWai (see below) and a new brand a friend recently told me about, FatCo.  FatCo makes beef tallow based products.  More on tallow in a future post, but I’m loving the FatCo deodorant!



Recommendation to Make

One of the best recipes I’ve seen was posted by Mommypotamous.  See below.

Ingredients: 

In a deep bowl, mix baking soda and arrowroot powder (or cornstarch together). Using your hands or a fork, work in the shea butter until it looks like very crumbly dough. Add in essential oil if using and then whip the deodorant together using a hand mixer. It will seem too dry at first and you’ll wonder if it’s really going to come together, but it will. You do need a deep bowl, though, because in the initial stage of mixing you don’t want the powder to go over the side of the bowl. Transfer to a clean glass jar.

To Use
Using your fingertips, scoop out a very small amount of deodorant – really, a little goes a long way – and rub it in your underarm area until it’s invisible. The deodorant will absorb quickly and keep you smelling fresh, but if you want extra dryness protection you can apply a layer of arrowroot powder over the deodorant using a makeup brush.

Who’s on their way to the bathroom to check out the label on their deodorant?


Larisa Explains It All is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

13 Comment

  1. Great information! I knew deodorant has harmful chemicals but i never bothered to find out which chemicals were in them and what their side effects were. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I have been purchasing my natural deodorant online because all the natural recipes seemed too difficult or have way too many ingredients. This one seems super simple with very few ingredients. I’m going to give it a try! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Awesome – I would love to hear how it goes for you! It might take you a few tries to get the formula just right for you so don’t give up if not perfect the first time.

  3. This is great! I have tried so many natural deodorants and have found I am allergic to baking soda. The natural works great for a while but then I break out because of the soda. I’ve tried the sensitive formula without the baking soda but have found these don’t work as well for me. My quest will continue as you have inspired me to keep looking for the perfect one!

  4. This is such an interesting and important topic! I’ve honestly never considered using a natural deodorant but it makes total sense. I just checked and athe product that I use has some of the harmful ingredients that you mentioned. I’ll definitely be trying out these natural options you suggested!

  5. Yes! I’ve been on a journey to only use natural deodorants since I was first pregnant 4 years ago. I need to check the ingredients myself, but the most success I’ve had with a deodorant is Arm & Hammer’s Naturals. Currently, I’m using Native, but I find that it doesn’t last as long for me, and I think I’m sensitive to one of the ingredients. Baking soda, maybe? I’ll look into the ones you recommend!

    In another note, I’d love input on how to line up your Amazon affiliate links. It’s been driving me nuts!

    1. It can definitely be frustrating to have to try multiple deodorants to find the right one. Luckily, most natural deodorant companies have a return policy if the product doesn’t work for you. Don’t shy away from making a return!

  6. There’s no such a thing as allergy or sensitivity to BS. It’s actually irritation caused by too much of it in a product, making it too alkaline for our sweat. I wish consumers would understand this and stop blaming the ingredient when it’s companies that it seems are not making pH balanced products. I’ve tested a few of them with a pH tester and sure enough they are between 6.5 – 8 or higher for some. That’s way too alkiline for our skin and sweat, which is usually a lot more acidic. Here’s a great article about this issue: https://goo.gl/9WWYIq

    1. While I agree with you that some products are formulated with too much baking soda, some people are more sensitive to it than others. For example, I’ve had a friend and I use the same formula deodorant and one of us had a reaction to it and the other hasn’t and had no problems at all. Thanks for passing on the article!

  7. Your post was eye opening to me! I never knew how damaging deodorant ingredients were. I will definitely be looking to replace mine ASAP. Thank you for sharing.

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