Anti-Perspirants vs. Deodorants
Different anti-perspirants work in different ways. Some work by shrinking sweat glands. Others work by clogging or shrinking the pores in your underarms. This action keeps sweat glands from doing their job of regulating temperature, releasing sweat, and ridding the body of byproducts of metabolism. Aluminum compounds found in anti-perspirants have been found to have a number of different possible health risks, including hormonal imbalance and increased risk of Alzheimer's. While anti-perspirants have these disturbing side effects, deodorants work simply to fight bacteria and to scent the underarm. That's why many people believe using deodorants is a much healthier option.
Making The Switch
When you switch from an anti-perspirant to a deodorant, your glands and pores will start to unclog, open up, and function properly. In this transition period--the deodorant detox--toxins and other fluid buildup are being released and one may notice his/her body odor increase. Not knowing the changes that are occurring in their body, this increased odor sends people running right back to their trusty anti-perspirant. Because I believe it is so important to avoid anti-perspirants, I've created these "rules" for making the switch.
PS. Deodorant detoxing does NOT cause rashes. If you're getting a rash when switching to a natural deodorant, and the company tells you "it's just a detox" they don't understand the physiology of the underarm! Read more about the causes for underarm rashes here. Need help? Contact us! Stephanie is one of the founders of the company and has been studying the underarm for more than a decade. She is happy to help you with your underarm mysteries! Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips for Doing a Deodorant Detox
Test a new deodorant product for at least a week before you decide if it's right for you.
2. "Detox" your pits!
If you've been using an anti-perspirant, there's a bunch of "gunk" in the underarms--dead skin cells, chemical residue. Before your shower, dry-brush your underarm skin to loosen this buildup and to gently increase circulation. In the shower, lightly rub a loofah or exfoliating bath mitt on your underarms. Stay away from anti-bacterial detergents for cleaning, only using true natural soaps for cleaning.
3. Sweat it out.
Exercise. Use a sauna. Take hot showers and baths. These things will make you perspire and get your sweat glands functioning properly again. You may notice your underarm sweat being a little thick. This is because the sweat glands in your armpits are different from others on your body. Instead of just water and salt, these glands excrete amino acids. Your glands haven't been able to excrete these amino acids for a while, so there may be a buildup of mucous being released.
4. Stay hydrated.
With all this sweating you need to replace your fluids! Also, the more hydrated you are, the less dense your sweat can be. The less amino and fatty acids in the sweat, the less bacteria will have to feed on.
5. Clothing Matters.
Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo and hemp will help wick perspiration away from your body. Synthetic fibers like acetate and polyester trap sweat in, giving bacteria a warm wet place to live. Synthetic fibers also hold sweat in the fabric, so bacteria actually starts growing on your shirt itself.
6. Cut the red meat.
Many claim that the consumption of red meat increases body odor. In 2006, a group of researchers in the Czech Republic put the theory to the test. The collected the perspiration of males, meat-eating and non-meat-eaters. They then had women judge the odor of the perspiration by a number of factors. What did they find?
"Results of repeated measures analysis of variance showed that the odor of donors when on the non-meat diet was judged as significantly more attractive, more pleasant, and less intense. This suggests that red meat consumption has a negative impact on perceived body odor hedonicity."
Eating red meat, according to this study, does make you smell more pungent. But what's the science behind it all?
Let's take a look inside our bodies to understand what's really going on in this odiferous puzzle. Our bodies have two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands are located all over the body. The sweat that eccrine glands produces is nothing much more than salt water. Apocrine glands, however, are different. Apocrine glands develop during puberty, and are located in the underarm and groin areas. The sweat that these glands produce contain fatty acids and proteins that are then eaten by bacteria. So even though we have bacteria all over our bodies, odor only comes from areas with apocrine glands.
So, let's look at how this relates to the red meat issue. When we eat red meat, our bodies contain more protein and fatty acids than someone on a vegetarian diet. Thus, more proteins and fatty acids are excreted through the apocrine glands of a meat eater than those of a vegetarian. A the underarm of a meat-eater has more “food” for bacteria to eat and multiply with, so there's more body odor.
That said---it's not a hard and fast rule. There are still plenty of stinky vegans! Much of our body odor is dictated by genetics, so do what works for you!
7. Clean, clean clean
You may need to clean more than you're used to, now that you're sweating. Wash your 'pits with hot water and lots of soap. Always make sure that your odors have been completely washed away before you get out of the shower. Leaving your soap on your skin for 30 seconds can help draw out those odors and remove bacteria. Wiping your pits with alcohol can also be a helpful trick--the less bacteria you have to start out with, the less odor you'll end up having by the end of the day.
Now you've made the switch. Congratulations! But just because your new deodorant has pretty flowers on the label and says "natural," doesn't mean you're totally in the clear.
Even the "natural" deodorants you'll find at the store have questionable chemicals.
Ingredients to avoid:
Propylene Glycol is a penetration enhancer, actually breaking down your skins natural protective barrier and enters your bloodstream, bringing any other chemicals along with it.
Aloe Vera or water. While water and aloe vera themselves are not harmful ingredients, their presence means that there's got to be some type of synthetic preservative to keep it from going bad.
Fragrance may contain phlalates that are proven hormone distruptors, particularly affecting the way the female hormone estrogen works in your body (in men, women, and children). Tetrasodium EDTA is actually made from sodium cyanide (a toxic salt) and formaldehyde (a carcinogen).
Synthetic colors like FD&C Yellow and D&C Green are made from coal tar, and can be skin irritants, hormone distruptors, and formaldehyde donors.
Potassium or ammonium alum--these crystal deodorants are actually pure aluminum salt! The full chemical name of potassium alum is potassium aluminum sulfate. (Ammonium alum = ammonium aluminum sulfate.)
Diazolidinyl Urea is a skin and immune system toxin, and has been shown to cause cancer in some studies. Commonly sourced as an extract from animal urine.
Triethanolamine (TEA) is made from ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen.
Parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl, iso, etc) can cause skin irritation and allergies and has been shown in many studies to be a hormone disruptor.
Quaternium-15 is a preservative that can contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Bronopol breaks down to create the carcinogens formaldehyde and nitrosamines according to the FDA.
Octoxynol and Nonoxynol are hormone disruptors and should be avoided by children and pregnant women in particular.
Triclosan has been shown to cause liver damage and hormone disruption. Ceteareth-20 (or 12) is used as a thickener and can be contaminated with carcinogens such as ethylene oxide and dioxane. It is also a neurotoxin, a skin irritant, and has been deemed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review an ingredient not safe for use on injured or damaged skin.