Our All Natural Deodorant Guide for Your Armpit Detox
It's springtime and if you're like us, your mind is drifting towards doing a little spring cleaning, not just around your home, but around your body, mind, and spirit as well. At Una Biologicals, we know how important occasional detoxification is. You may have already checked some items off your detox punch-list. But just as a friendly reminder, let us ask you, have you detoxed your:
- Liver? Check!
- Home? Check!
- Mind-stream? Check!
- Armpits? Che.... Say what now?
Yup, that's right, today we want to talk about your underarms! More specifically, we want to address the use of conventional deodorants and antiperspirants. Like many beauty products, personal care products often contain ingredients and impurities that are not very nice to our bodies. And since polite society tends to frown upon body odor, you may wonder: are there natural ways to control armpit odor? Of course!
Are My Armpits a Toxic Waste Dump?
The need to detox your armpits may not have been top-most in your mind, but there actually is reason to be concerned. The body uses many metals, like iron, zinc, copper, and molybdenum. (Many important enzymes contain molybdenum, plus it's just fun to say "mol-IB-deh-num"!) There are many metals the body does NOT use like lead, arsenic, and aluminum. And like lead and arsenic, aluminum is toxic, which is why the use of aluminum-free deodorants have become a thing.
Aluminum is not our friend. An article from The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, says that "Immediate steps should be taken to lessen human exposure to aluminum, which may be the single most aggravating and avoidable factor related to Alzheimer's disease." Yikes! So why do conventional antiperspirants frequently contain aluminum salts? Because they work!
Antiperspirants help you sweat less by blocking your pores, the tiny openings in your skin that are connected to your sweat glands. Aluminum salts dissolve on your skin and “seep” into your pores. This helps plug up your pores and stop some of your sweat. The maximum amount of aluminum salts allowed in over-the-counter antiperspirants is 15 percent. However, the prescription antiperspirants that doctors and dermatologists recommend to help treat excessive sweating, hyperhidrosis, can contain up to 30 percent aluminum salt. That's a bunch!
Besides aluminum, other common chemical ingredients found in deodorants and antiperspirants are parabens, triclosan, phthalates, and propylene glycol. Research has linked these ingredients to several medical conditions including types of cancer and reproductive development issues.
Parabens: Parabens are preservatives used in many deodorants, and according to a CDC parabens factsheet are absorbed through the skin. This preservative has been shown to mimic estrogen in the body’s cells, interfering with the way your body produces hormones. The FDA still allows the use of parabens because they're "probably not carcinogens." However, many U.S. brands of deodorants and antiperspirants have phased out their use due to public concern about a possible link to their use and breast cancer.
Triclosan (TCS): As a pesticide, triclosan is used to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. Many skincare brands add the substance to deodorants to kill bacteria. In 2016, the FDA banned TCS from soap products after a risk assessment was performed. However, TCS is still allowed in other personal care products such as deodorant. Triclosan is readily absorbed into human skin and oral mucosa and found in various human tissues and fluids, according to the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health.
Phthalates: "Phthalates" is one of only two English words that start with "phth." (The other is phthisis, related to asthma.) Despite its quirky nature as a word, phthalates have been linked to asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, obesity, autism, and reproductive issues. They are plasticizers found in deodorants, fragrances, lotions, and children’s toys. The Consumer Product Safety bill, passed in 2008, banned the use of some phthalates in children’s products and required the Consumer Product Safety Commission take a closer look at the chemicals.
Propylene glycol: Used in foods and consumer products, propylene glycol has developed a bad rap for its use in antifreeze and the EPA’s stringent safety disclosure instructions requiring gloves when handling it and disposal via burying. It is mostly implicated as a possible irritant to people with sensitive skin and is a potential allergen. The European Union has stricter guidelines than the United States about how much can be in products.
How Long is the Detox Process?
While transitioning to natural deodorants, you may find that you get a reaction (itchy pits or a rash). If you’ve been using conventional deodorant or antiperspirant for years, it can take two to four weeks to detox and expel all of the aluminum in your pits that has been preventing you from sweating. You may go a couple of days or even a week without noticing much difference between your antiperspirant and natural deodorant. As we said earlier, the aluminum compounds in antiperspirant form a gel-like plug and constrict the pores in your underarm.
When you stop using antiperspirant you will temporarily experience an increase in growth of odor-causing bacteria in the underarm area. During this period of time, you may also feel additional moisture because your body is sweating, which is the body’s natural way to flush out toxins. It is important to know that this odor-causing bacteria won’t last forever. It's just a part of the detox process that happens when you discontinue using a conventional deodorant and/or antiperspirant and your microbiome begins to return to a healthy state.
What Can Help?
Detox Mask: Sweat doesn’t actually smell. The bacteria on your skin breaking down acids and proteins in your sweat is what produces the B.O.! Armpit detoxes are said to help “purge” your armpits of all the chemicals that built up from conventional deodorants and antiperspirants that alter your armpit’s microbiome. You may be able to help your body along during this detox phase by applying either a clay mask or activated charcoal mask to your pits.
To do this:
- Measure out about 2 tbsp bentonite clay.
- Measure out about 3 tbsp of water.
- Mix them together to form a paste.
- Apply the armpit mask to your pits (just like you would with a face mask).
- Let the mask sit for 10 minutes or longer on your pits.
- Wash it off with water.
- Repeat daily or as needed while you detox.
For a more soothing concoction, substitute coconut oil for the water.
Apple Cider Vinegar: It turns out that including apple cider vinegar in your diet is not only a powerful detox ingredient for your body, but it’s also a very effective topical agent that can neutralize odor-causing bacteria on the skin. The antimicrobial benefits of vinegar, in general, have been known for millennia. Hippocrates, the parent of modern medicine, is said to have used it to clean wounds more than 2,000 years ago. However, unfiltered apple cider vinegar seems to be even more potent, probably due to its unique mixture of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria that give it that murky appearance.
To use as a topical:
- Dab on your pits with a cotton ball or washcloth. Dilute with water initially.
- Allow to remain for a minute or two.
- Rinse well with water. The shower is best as the vinegar has its own smell.
Use in a detox mask:
- Prepare an armpit mask as described above.
- Use 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
- Use 2 tbsp water.
- Rinse well with water to remove vinegar smell.
Baking Soda: A Healthline.com article, Baking Soda as a Deodorant: What Are the Benefits and Side Effects? discusses this must-have ingredient in anyone's natural products repertoire. Like apple cider vinegar, it can be used to control the growth of bad bacteria during the transition to natural deodorants and/or to neutralize their yucky smell. It can also be a one-two punch when used after apple cider vinegar. The residual vinegar smell is the result of acetic acid. Baking soda is alkaline and literally neutralizes the acetic acid. Just be sure to rinse very well afterwards, in the shower for instance, because the skin's normal pH is slightly acidic. Also, as the article advises, check for skin sensitivity on a small patch of skin, like the crook of your elbow, the first time you try it just to be sure it's not an irritant for you.
DIY Natural Deodorants
The Healthline.com article above says you can simply use baking soda by itself as a natural deodorant, but recommends making a deodorant paste instead. Some ideas the authors offer:
- Cornstarch: Mix 1 part baking soda with 6 parts cornstarch. This actually has an antiperspirant effect and can help keep you dry.
- Shea butter: Mix 1 part baking soda with 2 parts shea butter. This may be a better option for folks with dry, sensitive skin.
- Coconut butter: Mix 1 part baking soda with 2 parts coconut butter. This is another option for folks with dry, sensitive skin.
- Coconut oil: Mix 1 part baking soda with 4 parts coconut oil, and add a drop of an essential oil, like lavender essential oil.
Arrowroot is another odor-busting ingredient. A homemade deodorant that really works, according to the author and publisher of Simple Green Smoothies, uses arrowroot powder. Her recipe is:
- ½ cup baking soda
- ½ cup arrowroot powder
- 5 tbs coconut oil
- 20 drops grapefruit essential oil or another essential oil with antibacterial properties such as tea tree essential oil, lavender essential oil, lemongrass essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil, or rosemary essential oil.
Which is the best natural deodorant? Well, ours of course! You can find our All Natural Stick Deodorant and All Natural Roll-on Deodorant on our wellness page. As we said earlier, polite society frowns upon being stinky. However, we believe in your right to be not-stinky without any harsh chemicals! Our vegan deodorants are made with a combination of natural ingredients that will keep you fresh as a daisy without stopping your body’s natural detox process.
Our stick deodorant uses:
- Clays: to absorb moisture
- Aloe (organic): to soothe your skin
- Baking Soda (kosher): antimicrobial and odor absorber
- Shea Butter (organic)
- Jojoba Oil (organic)
- Carnuba wax (organic)
- Cocoa Butter (organic)
- Arrowroot: pore tightening
- Pure Essential Oils
- Lime Bergamot scent that dissipates once applied
Our roll-on deodorant is free of baking soda (for those with sensitivity) and uses:
- Antimicrobial Dead Sea Salt
- Aloe Vera Gel (organic): to soothe your skin
- Willow Bark Extract (organic): an antibacterial that soothes irritated skin and clears pores
- Witch Hazel (organic): tightens pores and relieves razor bumps
- Vegetable Glycerin (organic)
- Tee Tree Essential Oil
- Sage Essential Oil
- All conventional antiperspirants contain aluminum salts.
- If you've been using one and then stop, you will have an adjustment period of two to four weeks as your body re-acclimates.
- You can use the tips above to help detox and minimize your stink-factor!
- During and after your armpit detox process, you can make the transition to a chemical-free, home-made deodorant.
If you don't have the time, energy, or inclination to make your own natural deodorant, you can buy one from us that is free from chemicals, additives, unnecessary preservatives, and artificial fragrances. With products from Una Biologicals, you can simultaneously NOT offend your family, friends, and coworkers, nourish your body and soul, feel good, look good, and, above all, smell good!
All Una Biologicals products are Gluten Free, Vegetarian friendly, and many are Vegan. And we never test on animals. Please visit our website for more information about our wide variety of products. And if you enjoyed this blog, please free to share it on any of your social media!