While sweating is good, smelling bad is not. But exposure to the toxins in many deodorants is worse. Homemade deodorant may just be the perfect solution.
But if you've ever tried homemade deodorant or expensive non toxic deodorants you know that sometimes they don't work. You end up with a drawer full of wasted money and effort. The trick is to find a combination of natural ingredients that works for you one ingredient at a time.
Sweating is one way your body cools you when it's hot, so it's OK to sweat. And, while there is disagreement on this in the scientific and medical community, some research suggests sweating also releases some of the toxins in your body.
For example, numerous studies have found heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury (all of these are carcinogens) in sweat. The endocrine disruptors BPA and phthalates have also been measured in the sweat of study participants.
I'm not suggesting that if sweating is good, excessive sweating (through saunas and hot yoga, etc) is even better. I believe the best way to be healthy and stay healthy is to reduce your exposure to toxins and support your liver.
It's also OK to sweat because it's better than using antiperspirants that use toxic chemicals to stop you from sweating. The most notorious is aluminum chlorohydrate and aluminum zirconium, which are toxic to many of your body's organs.
While it's OK to sweat it's not OK to smell bad. Body odor occurs when the bacteria on your skin begins to break down the protein and fatty acids in your sweat. Since body odor is caused by bacteria, deodorants contain chemicals that kill bacteria (antibacterial).
Mainstream deodorants use some pretty nasty chemicals to kill bacteria, like triclosan (an endocrine disruptor and probable carcinogen). Alcohol is also commonly used as an antibacterial. Alcohols, like SD-alcohol 1, increase skin absorption, making it easier for the other chemicals in your deodorant to be absorbed through your skin.
A less toxic approach is to use safer ingredients that have antibacterial properties, things like coconut oil and tea tree oil.
Parabens - used as a preservative.
May disrupt your endocrine system, cause cancer and may be toxic to your immune system and your nervous system.
**Fragrance - an undisclosed concoction of chemicals.
May cause endocrine disruption, cancer, allergies and contribute to asthma.
Triclosan - used to kill bacteria
It can can disrupt your endocrine system, cause cancer and suppress your immune system
Phthalates - used to make fragrance and soften plastics. Not on the label.
Causes endocrine disruption, allergies and contribute to asthma.
BHT/BHA- used as a preservative.
BHA is anticipated to be a human carcinogen, while BHT has been linked to an increased risk of cancer
PEG - used as an emulsifier.
Often contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals.
**A group of researchers from Australia have been measuring the volatile chemicals (VOCs) released into the air from the products you use every day. They, and other researchers have found that many of the dangerous chemicals found in products like deodorant are used to make fragrance. These chemicals can pollute your indoor air.
Some deodorants announce proudly on their labels that they are natural or organic, but don't be fooled by these claims. There are no regulations on how these words can be used.
A great example is Arm & Hammers Essentials Natural Deodorant. There is nothing natural about it. It contains triclosan and fragrance chemicals.
Some ingredients also don't show up on the labels. You won't find phthalates or limonene (this reacts with ozone in the air to create formaldehyde, a carcinogen) on the ingredient list.
Also, many products that are labelled green may be as dangerous to your health as regular products. The research that I mentioned in the last section found that 80% of the most common VOCs emitted from cleaning and personal care products are the same between green and regular products, including those that are classified as toxic or hazardous.
And, of the 17 green products they tested, 7 emitted at least one cancer-causing air pollutant.
There are several kinds of nontoxic deodorants that you can buy, like Primal Pit Paste and Tom's of Maine. But my experience with nontoxic deodorants is that some of them worked OK, some of them gave me a rash, and some of them didn't work at all.
There's a lot of trial and error involved and these deodorants aren't cheap. At an average of $10.00 bucks a pop, it can get very expensive trying to find one that works for you.
There are also lots of recipes for homemade deodorants floating around. Because I've been using nontoxic approaches to BO for 20+ years I've tried them all. And again, some of them will work for you and some won't.
Instead of giving you a few homemade recipes where you have to buy a bunch of ingredients, then make the stuff only to find out it doesn't work for you, or gives you a rash, try the one ingredient at a time approach.
SPRAY ON DEODORANT
1. If you like to spray on your deodorant start with:
2. If you need something stronger to control odor add 10 drops of Tea Tree Oil (kills bacteria) for every ounce of vodka or witch hazel. Try it out for a week.
3. If you still need more odor control try adding one part apple cider vinegar to your spray. The best type to use is raw and organic.
1. If spray on deodorant isn't strong enough for you or you want a creamy deodorant that you rub on start with:
2. If you need something stronger add tea tree oil (10 drops per ounce of coconut oil) and try it out for a week.
3. The next ingredient to try would be either shea butter or my secret BO weapon - neem oil. (neem oil has a very strong smell that takes some getting used to). Mix one ounce of either or both into 2 ounces of coconut oil.
My favorite homemade deodorant is a 1/4 cup of coconut oil mixed with a good squirt of neem oil and 10 drops of tea tree oil.
4. Finally, if your homemade deodorant still needs some oomph add a couple of tablespoons of arrowroot powder or a tablespoon of baking soda. Baking soda, which is an excellent deodorizer and an ingredient in many nontoxic deodorants, can irritate your skin and cause a rash, so experiment with small amounts at first.
Making Bar Deodorant
Once you find a combo that works you can easily turn it into a solid stick type deodorant. The trick to making your homemade deodorant solid is to add beeswax. Grated beeswax is the easiest to melt and since grating beeswax is a chore try this type.
An easy recipe is one part beeswax to one part coconut oil to one part shea butter. Melt your oils and beeswax in a jar placed in a pot with two inches of warm water on low heat. If your homemade deodorant recipe includes neem, tea tree oil or baking soda, add after melting. Once melted, pour into molds.
*You may need to adjust the amount of beeswax you use depending on how hard or soft you want your deodorant.*
But please don't do what I've seen some websites suggest. Don't use plastic deodorant tubes as molds! If you've read any of my posts on plastics you known that pouring hot things into plastic containers means a lot of toxins will leach from the plastic.
It defeats the purpose of making homemade deodorant if you're going to contaminate it with endocrine disruptors like BPA and phthalates. Instead, line a muffin tin with unbleached muffin papers and pour your homemade deodorant into them to set. Store any that you don't need immediately in the fridge.
The beauty of using homemade deodorant is that you reduce toxin exposure, save money and only use ingredients that you need. Give it a try and let me know how the one ingredient at a time approach works for you.