Deodorant or antiperspirant is something most of us apply daily. We prefer to feel clean and fresh — not stinky. But many people are still unclear about the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. Consequently, the majority of the populous is slapping, smearing, and spritzing on toxic chemicals to sensitive — and sometimes freshly-shaven — areas without even realizing it. Now, that stinks.
Deodorants vs. Antiperspirants
What’s the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant? I’ll start by saying antiperspirants are the pits. No, really. They are designed to prevent our bodies from sweating. While this sounds nice in theory, it’s not.
A 1980s TV commercial with Gillette’s trademarked slogan, “Never let them see you sweat,” left many of us in fear of sweating. As it turns out, the real danger is that antiperspirants use aluminum, a neurotoxin, as the active ingredient to block the pores of our skin to prevent us from perspiring. However, sweating is one of our main body’s functions to release toxins from our system.
Where do these toxins go when they can’t be released? Our armpits are in close proximity to the lymph nodes and breast tissue. A study published in the European Journal of Cancer found “underarm shaving with antiperspirant/deodorant use may play a role in breast cancer.” That’s important since, according to research, only 5% to 10% of cancer is genetic, whereas the remaining 90% to 95% is rooted in environmental and lifestyle factors.
Hmmm, purposely adding a heavy metal that is linked to an increased risk in Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and breast cancer near sensitive organs doesn’t exactly scream smart. So, the next time you’re running late for the airport or a meeting, apologize, have faith — or better yet, let them see you sweat. Your health depends on it.
Benefits of Sweating
I can tell you from personal experience, that once you switch from antiperspirant to deodorant, you will sweat, especially initially. That’s good because you’re ridding your body of built-up toxins such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury, according to a study published in the Journal Environmental Public Health.
I carry a natural spray deodorant in my purse and reapply on the go when needed. Its natural antibacterial and antifungal ingredients prevent odor-causing bacteria from growing — hence, no odor. The longer you use a natural deodorant, the less you tend to sweat. Primal Pit Paste offers a Pit Detox Protocol that explains the detoxing process (and why you shouldn’t sweat it). Here are a few benefits more of sweating:
- Reduce the risk of kidney stones: In addition to toxins, sweating through exercise releases excess salt and calcium from the body and, according to researchers from the University of Washington, can reduce the risk of kidney stones. Without sweating, excess minerals travel to the kidneys and urine, potentially forming kidney stones.
- Regulates body temperature: The evaporation of sweat from the skin, our largest organ, helps maintain cool body temperature while preventing overheating in extreme heat or during an intense workout. Without this regulation, one can feel dizzy, faint, or develop skin rashes.
- Banish acne: Sweat causes the pores of our skin to open and release the build-up that can lead to breakouts.
Unfortunately, it’s not just aluminum that antiperspirant users need to be wary of. There is a host of other petrochemicals and preservatives that can disrupt hormones, cause cancer, and affect organ functions.
5 Toxins in Deodorants & Antiperspirants
- Triclosan: Classified as a pesticide by the FDA and a probable carcinogen by the EPA, Triclosan is an antibacterial linked to antibiotic resistance, skin irritation, allergies, and thyroid issues.
- Propylene glycol: The active ingredient in antifreeze, propylene glycol is also used to soften products. Metabolized in the liver, studies have shown that it can cause damage to the central nervous system and heart.
- Parabens: These are synthetic chemicals that cause hormonal imbalance. Parabens are linked to birth defects, organ toxicity, and an increase in hormonal-related cancers including breast cancer.
- Synthetic fragrances: The word fragrance, or parfum, can mask hundreds of other chemicals, including phthalates. Phthalates are linked to a higher risk of birth defects in women with high levels of phthalates in their blood and urine.
- Aluminum: A metal and neurotoxin, it’s linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and breast cancer.
6 Natural Deodorant Picks
It’s time raise your hands and enjoy odor-free and chemical-free confidence with natural deodorants that work. Here are a few of my favorite brands that are free of parabens, propylene glycol, petrochemicals, aluminum compounds, and synthetic ingredients including artificial colors and fragrances. Whether you prefer a stick, roll-on, cream, or spray, you’ll be sure to find a deodorant to suit your sweaty needs while avoiding the pitfalls of antiperspirants.
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The first Crystal natural deodorant stone made its debut at New York’s upscale Henri Bendel department store in 1984. The Crystal brand has since expanded its line with a vast offering of deodorants comprised of mineral salts and natural plant essences made without aluminum chloride/chlorohydrate/zirconium, parabens, or artificial fragrance. And here’s a bonus: The entire line is vegan and cruelty-free.
Crystal’s deodorants come in dreamy natural scents, including Lavender & White Tea, Chamomile & Green Tea, Pomegranate, and Vanilla & Jasmine. My personal favorite is their line of Mineral Deodorant Sprays, with a quick-dry barrier that blocks odor before it starts. These are cool and clean, but leave no residue, no staining, and no white marks! They’re not sticky or oily and they dry fast. Crystal deodorants are available in stick, roll-on, stone, and spray.
How does a pit spritz of Jasmine & Grapefruit or Lemon & Sage sound? The Erbaveva deodorant line is USDA certified organic, cruelty-free, and free of chemicals. It harnesses the power of organic essential oils and organic grain alcohol to reduce perspiration and naturally fight underarm bacteria. The cool thing is you can also spray this on carpet, fabrics, and even your yoga mat! Available in spray.
California-based JK Naturals uses handcrafted and certified organic ingredients to create natural deodorant sticks. They incorporate pure steam-distilled essential oil for scents like Lavender and Peppermint + Tea Tree. JK Naturals deodorant features antimicrobial and odor-eliminating properties to leave you feeling and smelling fresh throughout the day. In addition to their line of 100% natural deodorants for adults, they offer a deodorant line just for teens. I kinda love Cedar + Fir for my husband. Available in stick, cream, or roll on.
Native‘s products pack a proprietary formula — composed of simple ingredients including beeswax, baking soda, coconut oil, and shea butter — that naturally fights odors. In addition to their seasonal scents, Native also offers a selection of feminine and masculine aromas. Their Charcoal deodorant incorporates the power of activated charcoal combined with citrus undertones to form a fresh scent. I love their new plastic-free packaging, which is made from paperboard and ships in a 100% recycled paper mailer. Available in stick.
Formerly branded Primal Pit Paste, Pretty Frank deodorants are still made with natural and organic ingredients and avoid nasty chemicals. They use the power of baking soda for odor absorption, coconut oil and shea butter to moisturize skin, and organic arrowroot powder to keep you dry. The line is cruelty-free. Their Pit Detox Bundle is perfect for anyone switching from traditional antiperspirants. It keeps you dry and odor-free while expelling toxins and impurities in a way only activated charcoal can do. They also offer Natural Deodorant Sprays in clean and refreshing Coconut Lime and Lavender scents. The sprays can be used under the stick or cream for added protection. Also, those with sensitive skin will love their baking-soda free options. Pretty Frank is available in stick, spray, and cream.
The Nourish Organics line of USDA certified organic and cruelty-free deodorant seems to be discontinued, but you can still find them on Amazon. Their natural scents — including Lavender Mint, Almond Vanilla, and Geranium — will make you forget synthetic fragrances. Ingredients include naturally deodorizing cornstarch and vegetable protein, soothing shea and cocoa butter, beeswax, and coconut oil. Nourish Organics deodorant is available in stick.
Editor’s note: Originally published on March 1, 2019, this article was updated in February 2021.