For several years now, consumers have worried that the aluminum-based compounds in many brands of antiperspirant deodorant may be bad for health. Aluminum’s function in antiperspirants is to form a plug in sweat ducts, preventing sweat from coming to the surface of the skin. Parabens in deodorants – which are used as preservatives - may also be hazardous. Both aluminum and parabens can cause hormonal disruption by mimicking the behavior of estrogen in the body’s cells. Estrogen can promote the growth of breast cancer cells, which is especially alarming when you consider where you’re putting that antiperspirant – under the arm, right next to the breast.
While the evidence isn’t conclusive that antiperspirants containing aluminum and parabens can cause cancer, many consumers are now seeking alternative products that don’t contain these substances.
Adidas makes an antiperspirant deodorant whose active ingredient is cotton, rather than aluminum: its name is Cotton Tech. It also contains no alcohol. It works very well to control wetness; I found, however, that after a few hours, it combined with my body odor in an unpleasant way. It’s rated very highly on Amazon.com, so my experience seems not to be typical.
Dr. Hauschka makes a natural deodorant which is very highly regarded – it’s expensive ($23 on average), but its active ingredient, zinc ricinoleate, reportedly banishes odor very effectively. It won’t stop wetness, because it’s not an antiperspirant.
Aubrey Organics Calendula Blossom Natural Deodorant Spray has a strong smell, according to some users, but covers up body odor well. The Environmental Working Group gives this deodorant a low hazard rating, meaning it contains only the tiniest amounts of potentially unhealthy substances.
You can go a step further and create your own deodorant. Natural deodorant recipes usually contain a moisture absorber like cornstarch, a deodorant like baking soda, and a fragrance that also works as an antibacterial agent, such as tea tree oil or lavender oil. You’ll then mix it with a binding agent – solid coconut-oil shortening is a good choice, and can be found at the grocery store. You can press this mixture into an empty stick-deodorant container, let it set for a day, and then use it as you would a store-bought deodorant. It will absorb some moisture, but not as much as a traditional antiperspirant.
Originally published at Natural Family Online