Quick question: Do you drink your body lotion or sprinkle that lipstick over your muesli in the morning?
If your answer is ‘Hell No! That’s disgusting!’ well then – think about this: Anything you put on your skin gets absorbed. It goes into your system, into your bloodstream and often into the brain.
I didn’t really think about all this until a few years ago, when I started looking into things more deeply. When I started reading product labels. By now I’m a huge fan of natural solutions and which also means using the right deodorant for that matter.
This is for you if you’ve thought about switching to a natural deodorant but still haven’t made the move or if you’ve been desperately looking for a non-chemical product that actually does work. I’m reviewing a few deos in the next post. Here I start with some facts and a little how-to for the switch.
Health benefits: Why you should consider a natural deodorant
- As I just said: Everything you put on your skin – be it your face, your legs or arm pits – sinks right in! And common drugstore deodorants and antiperspirants are usually full of harmful and potentially carcinogenic chemicals. It’s like a toxic cocktail for your body.
- The ingredients found in chemical deodorants and antiperspirants can cause or increase the risk for the following (just a few listed here):
- breast cancer and Alzheimer’s (Aluminium/Aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY)
- hormone disruption (C12-15 alkyl benzoate)
- itchy skin, blistering and nervous system problems (Benzyl benzoate)
- Super important to know about aluminium: Alumimium is toxic. This metal accumulates in the body over time, so if people tell you this “little” amount in the deodorant won’t affect your health, know that it stays in your body and that you take in aluminium in various ways every day (through particles in the air, through cosmetics, through food and supplements, …). And note: “Antiperspirants are arguably the most important single contributor to the body burden of aluminium as their use involves applying about 2 g of aluminium to the skin every day.” (Christopher Exley, Human Exposure to Aluminium) It’s also worth to check your sunscreen for aluminium, since there’s a good chance that there are high amounts of this metal in there! For a deeper insight, check out the study ‘Human exposure to aluminium’ I just mentioned.
- Synthetic fragrances in chemical deodorants may cause headaches, dizziness, allergic rashes, skin discolouration, violent coughing, vomiting and skin irritation.
- Sweating is a natural cooling process. Using common antiperspirants clogs your pores and inhibits this process. (Aluminium + silicone oil) Do you know this: You’re standing in the shower and it’s almost impossible to scrub the deodorant off? I’ve only had this realisation last year before I ditched my last “rescue bottle” of devilish antiperspirant.
- Getting a better feeling for your body & noticing what’s going on: You can only truly see what’s going on in your beautiful body when you can observe it in a pure, unmasked state –– and that means stripping off any layers that clog your pores or mimic a fresh and flowery scent. Ditching your chemical deodorant can be a powerful step to becoming more aware in general.
BUUUUUUTTT I know: It can be tricky switching to a natural form of deodorant. So here a few facts and what can help you make the change:
What happens when you stop using your chemical deodorant or antiperspirant
- You will sweat more! When you ditch the chemical stuff, your body starts sweating out like it’s supposed to – a mechanism that’s suppressed by a lot of the chemicals in common deodorants and especially antiperspirants.
- You will smell more! At least for the first few weeks.
According to a study from 2016 it goes like this (and that’s how I manage to explain it): Antiperspirants change the microclimate under your arms and suppress the “smelly” bacteria. When you then don’t suppress these bacteria anymore it’s only natural that your body starts adjusting, getting back to normal and, hence, you may find yourself more stinky than usual. But remember: Your body is bringing itself back into balance and eventually you’ll find yourself in that sweet spot of smelling actually OK.
How to make the switch more smoothly
- Start switching in cooler months and not in the middle of summer. In spring or autumn you naturally sweat less and this gives you an undeniable advantage.
- Wash your pits regularly: Be prepared and have either refreshing towels or a reusable wash cloth at hand. You don’t always have to take a shower! I – admittedly – love the refreshment of a quick clean of my pits (not only in summer) and I have no shame in doing so (and you shouldn’t neither)!
- Wear natural fibres: Cotton, silk, wool or bamboo are great choices. They don’t get smelly that fast. Avoid synthetic materials like polyester.
- Try dry-brushing! This is a hack I came across a few times doing my little research for this article. I never dry-brushed my pits, but it makes total sense to me. Dry brushing, well, brushes off unnecessary buildup on your skin (the waxy rests of antiperspirant in your pits) and boosts lymph circulation, helping flush out toxins that have accumulated while you used conventional products.
- Use a good natural deodorant! I’ve been there and I’ve made it the hard way running through a lot of cheap “natural” solutions from the drugstore. My favourites: I haven’t found them there. See my recommendations so you don’t have to go through the trial- and-error buying a dozen deos that work like s***.
And for the long run use these tricks to smell good:
What helps smelling good naturally
- Clean eating: eating whole, non-processed, non-refined and preferably organic food. That’s actually one of the key things that I experienced: as I changed my food away from sugars and processed stuff, I automatically started smelling better and sweating less.
- Less coffee: Coffee can be a game-changer, since it naturally increases your heart rate and can make you sweat more than usual. I can feel this effect most days when I have coffee: I start sweating. Try and observe how you react to coffee.
- Functioning detoxing organs: Make these organs work properly, because if they don’t this can affect the smell of your sweat, too! The kidneys, liver and gut are designed to eliminate toxins and waste products from the body and if they can’t do that (because you don’t drink enough water, for example) your body has to get rid of the toxins through your sweat — and toxin removal is always a smelly process!
- Hydration: Drink enough water to flush out body toxins the way your body’s supposed to.
- Hormones: Also — and I’m citing Nadine Artemis again – unbalanced hormones stemming from issues with the adrenal gland may increase sweat and body odour. Interesting, huh? This means: Quitting birth control pills and limiting your exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals, like fluoride, are another way to reduce sweating.
- De-stress: Stress can make us sweat more and also in a less pleasant way. I remember these business trip days a few years ago where I started sweating basically straight from that moment I put on my pantsuit – oh, my… Fits this fact perfectly, paired with bad eating habits and lots of coffee to make up for a short night due to the early flight. Since I started embracing a more relaxed life, I naturally tend to sweat less and if I do, I pretty much know why.
And one final word of motivation: Nowadays I even have days I don’t use deodorant at all and I don’t smell! Cool, isn’t it? It’s all doable, my friends!