There’s no way around it, to put it bluntly…we stink. It’s not a bad thing. Perspiration is the body’s cooling mechanism and it is a testament to the amazing specimen that is the human body. During extreme heat, exertion and exercise we notice it the most and it also serves to fight infection and bacteria. It is a natural biological function, so why all the fuss? Well, along with a little discomfort sweating also releases often funky, not so pleasant body odors which are the result of skin bacteria breaking down our sweat secretions. This was not a huge problem during our early stages of evolution since the pheromones released from fresh sweat could potentially land you a mate and to this day our bodies are hard wired to respond to these scents. Eventually we discovered how bathing, washing and keeping clean helped prevent spreading disease and made us feel and smell pretty damn good.
This was the norm for some time as we were quite content with washing and perfuming to keep our bodily fluids and scents at bay. Then, early 20th century marketers pushed advertisements on potential consumers to make them feel embarrassed about their own bodies, bringing deodorants and antiperspirants into the mainstream. A niche product became part of an industry that now sees profits of up to $18 billion a year. Early on, like most of American industry, little regulation and oversight led to all types of ingredients and additives being used. And it isn’t until recently that we are discovering possible correlations between them and disease.
The main ingredient in antiperspirants to prevent sweat is aluminum salts. They work by dissolving in the sweat or moisture on the skin surface of the armpit. The dissolved substance forms a gel, which creates a small temporary ‘plug’ near the top of the sweat gland, significantly reducing the amount of sweat that is secreted to the skin surface. Seems simple enough, but what we are learning through various studies is exposure to aluminum and aluminum compounds can cause pulmonary & respiratory issues, increase risk of liver and bladder cancer and its neurotoxic properties have now become well established fact! Further studies are beginning to link these aluminum based salts to increase risk of breast cancer.
Another ingredient often used in deodorants, antiperspirants as well as cosmetics are parabens which is a common term for a group of preservatives that prevent bacteria from growing in these products. You may have heard the term before and this is because a 2004 study by Dr. Philippa Darbre showed these preservatives were showing up in human breast tumors. It caused quite a stir and while not proving a direct link between parabens and breast cancer, it has inspired further research that may prove paraben’s carcinogenic properties.
Certainly these are not the only chemicals we are needlessly exposed to on a daily basis, but they are ones that can be easily avoided. Making your own natural deodorant can assist you in smelling a little better and save you a bunch of money too! So why not give it a try? I promise you its worth it.
DIY DEODORANT RECIPE
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
4 tablespoons unrefined virgin coconut oil
Optional: 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (I used grapefruit & cedarwood)
Combine all the ingredients into a small bowl, mash, mix, stir into a soft consistency. Transfer into an empty deodorant container, then place in fridge allowing the mix to harden. THAT’S IT! YOU’RE DONE! Pretty simple ain’t it? I am still playing around with additional ingredients so if I find a better mix I will be sure to add it here.