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  • Writer's pictureChin Ling

Smelly Natural Deodorants

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

Can you keep yourself smelling fresh, and using as few chemicals as possible?

Summer is the time of year when we reach out for that familiar deodorant or anti-perspirant and feel relief when we’ve masked those body smells. We produce sweat from all the sweat glands covering our body but it’s mainly the sweat that comes from apocrine glands in our under-arms that worries us. The sweat itself does not smell. It is made up of water, salt, fats, proteins and waste acids. The bacteria that collects in the under-arm area breaks down the waste substances and body odour is produced.

There’s no shortage of controversy and argument over the safety of deodorants and anti-perspirants. There have been claims that the use of anti-perspirants in particular correlates with the increase in breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. However, authors Dr Stephen and Gina Antczak refute this. They say that, in spite of the use of anti-perspirants starting the 1950s, the rate of breast cancer remained constant throughout the 20th century. Secondly, anti-perspirants are widely used in both Japan and USA. But whereas in Japan, breast cancer is rare, in USA, among Japanese women eating a Western diet there is the same incidence of breast cancer as for the average American woman. They instead link a higher incidence of breast cancer to a high-fat low-fibre diet. [Source: Cosmetics Unmasked.]

Aside from cancer safety scares, there are some side effects to using these products: skin irritation, contact dermatitis, and just breathing in the spray versions. What does that do to your immune system?

Deodorants kill or control growth of bacteria on the skin. Anti-perspirants reduce the flow of sweat from the apocrine glands by blocking the ducts that carry the sweat to the skin. Both types also contain perfumed chemicals to mask the smell. Whether the safety of these products worries you or not, you could be surprised at what alternatives there are available. Some of the ‘natural’ alternatives contain the mineral salt ammonium alum which inhibits the growth of bacteria without clogging pores, while still allowing toxins to come out.

Fortunately now, it is far easier to find crystal and botanical deodorants in your high street pharmacy or on the www and some are suitable for vegans. Favourites include the original Pitrok, Salt of the Earth and Weleda, plus newer brands such Ben & Anna and Biork.

Humans are designed to sweat. It’s our way of cooling ourselves down. It’s also the body’s process of eliminating waste materials through the skin. So anything that can block the sweat ducts and interfere with this natural process on a regular basis does not a healthy lifestyle make. However, if you absolutely must use an anti-perspirant, make your choice carefully.

Look for an aluminium and alcohol-free anti-perspirant for excessive sweating. Although there is nothing natural about blocking sweat, if aluminium in anti-perspirants concerns you then these are an alternative.

When deciding how to neutralise those body odours, you could always go for home-made options. Citrus juices from oranges and lemons seemed to keep the ancient Egyptians odour free, or so we are told. You can go one step further and make your own combinations! Remember that whatever you put on your skin is absorbed into your body: the good, the bad and the chemicals.

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