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Natural Deodorants 101: Have You Made the Switch Yet?

Does it seem like every beauty company is coming out with natural deodorant products?

As the weather warms up, so does that space under our arms. And we all know what happens then–it can get a little gamy, to say the least. So, we turn to deodorants or antiperspirants to keep us smelling fresh, or at least, fresher.

But here’s the thing: Conventional deodorants are controversial. In fact, some health experts say they’re downright dangerous and may increase the risk of certain health issues, including a very real threat of increasing your risk for breast cancer.

That risk comes primarily from aluminum, the active ingredient in most antiperspirants. Aluminum salts prevent sweating (which causes the odor) by actually forcing cells in sweat ducts to swell and shut. The problem is that aluminum is a known neurotoxin that’s been linked to breast cancer because it changes the estrogen receptors in breast tissue (primarily because of the proximity to the armpit).

Aluminum is also linked to serious neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, for which there is no cure. It’s also linked to liver problems that have been connected to Alzheimer’s as well.

So it’s no wonder that more and more consumers are opting for natural deodorant products. Because natural deodorants avoid the toxic aluminum salts, they aren’t truly antiperspirants, so natural deodorants mostly just mask the odor. Of course, some do it better than others.

Part of finding the best natural deodorant for your body is actually in trying a few different products. Because our body chemistries are all different, what works for one person might not work for another. It’s kind of similar to how perfumes will smell different on your skin than in the bottle or on your best friend. The pH level of your skin, the food you eat, the other skincare products you use—they all play a role in how a natural deodorant will work on your skin.

What you do want, though, are clean ingredients. Without question! That means, of course, no aluminum salts. But it also means avoiding ingredients like phthalates, for example, which have been linked to health issues (including cancer).

Natural deodorants that rely on essential oils—the pure essence of fruits and flowers—not only give you a detergent-free fragrance, but the antimicrobial benefit inherent in most essential oils. Because they’re highly concentrated, most essential oils like lemon, lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, rosemary, etc., all help to control bacteria. And it’s the bacteria—not the sweat—that causes underarm odor.

While most of us don’t want to smell like we just came out of a month in the desert with no shower, no one wants to smell like a walking bottle of Tide laundry detergent, either, right? In fact, for most people who opt for natural deodorant products, smelling a little bit more “human” is preferred to the artificial detergent smell.

Of course, it’s a balance—and we want products to work, especially in the office and social situations. But, none of that matters if we’re putting our health at risk with toxic ingredients. So give some natural deodorants a try and find one that works for you.

For further reading, our friends at the Environmental Working Group have a wonderfully comprehensive list of deodorant products ranked by safety of ingredients.

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