Natural alternatives to deodorant

Author: ANCP   Date Posted:14 May 2015 

Why should I consider a natural deodorant?

Increasingly, more and more people are educating themselves on the importance of clean eating to improve their health and wellbeing. And although it's important to maintain a healthy diet, people are starting to consider that the products we use on our skin are just as impactful on our health. One product that most people use every day is a deodorant. But are there other, more natural alternatives to deodorants that will allow you to maintain personal hygiene without contributing to our daily chemical burden?

Aluminium is present in most antiperspirant deodorants and it is absorbed by the body when applying deodorant directly on your armpits each day. For those with sensitive skin, it can cause irritation, red bumps and rashes. Deodorants that contain heavy fragrances commonly contain parabens. Health conscious people often try to avoid both these substances when choosing more natural deodorants.

What is the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant?

Deodorants are often confused with antiperspirants, but the two are actually quite different. It’s important to understand that sweating isn’t what causes body odour, body odour is actually created by bacteria that feed off of the sweat. Deodorants use antibacterial agents to reduce bacterial growth which will in turn stop odours from being produced, but deodorants will not prevent you from sweating.

Antiperspirants actually block your pores from producing sweat and therefore reducing odour by inhibiting the sweat that the odour-producing bacteria feed on. Antiperspirants use chemicals to disrupt the normal function of the body by preventing sweat from being produced. Both antiperspirants and deodorants normally contain a fragrance that masks any odours produced by bacteria.

What are some more natural alternatives?

Instead of avoiding the use of deodorant when trying to make healthy choices, there are several different types of natural products that are available for daily use.

  1. Home-made deodorants. If you’re really keen, you can make your own deodorant at home. There are lots of different recipes to try out on the internet to find one that suits your body. They typically include natural ingredients like coconut oil, arrowroot powder, baking soda and essential oils that have antibacterial properties such as tea tree oil.
  2. Crystal stick deodorants. These are made from natural mineral salts that contain alum, which is a form of aluminium that cannot be absorbed into your skin. They are normally fragrance and chemical free and are applied by wetting and then using like a stick deodorant. They do not prevent sweating but will help to inhibit bacterial growth and will not stain your clothing. Mineral salt deodorants are also now available in sprays and roll ons for more convenience.
  3. Essential oil deodorants. Containing ingredients similar to the home made option, these are like making your own deodorant, but without the hassle. They commonly contain skin soothing ingredients like aloe vera or jojoba oils, anti-bacterial essential oils such as tea tree or lavender, and oils for a nice scent such as honeysuckle and jasmine. Again they will not prevent sweating but will help to eliminate any body odour. More recently we have seen the introduction of cream deodorants, that contain similar ingredients but also help reduce sweating by including clays and natural powders that soak up sweat.

Health experts also recommend a number of lifestyle changes that can help prevent odour and excessive sweat under the arms. Recommendations include ensuring you consume an average of eight glasses of water each day and eat foods with a high water content. Taking a vitamin B complex and vitamin C can reduce sweating as they encourage elimination of toxins via urine rather than sweat. Low magnesium levels have been shown to contribute to increased sweating and body odour, so topping up with a magnesium supplement may also help.

To reduce the smell of your body odour, eat less spicy foods, garlic and onion, and consider a cup of tea or adding sage to your diet to help reduce sweat production. Liquid chlorophyll added to water makes a nice refreshing drink and can help to neutralise body odours.