This month’s Detox Your Life in a Year post is an important one! Your deodorant may contain lots of harmful chemicals, and you’re putting it on an area of your body that absorbs up to 100% of what you put on it. If you’ve been thinking about switching up your deodorant or wanted to try making your own, now is the time! It has been one of my favorite lifestyle changes, and it’s an interesting conversation starter. Our detox posts give you monthly tips to help you decrease your chemical exposure and live a more natural life. We mentioned personal care products last month, but I felt deodorant needed its own post!
Why Your Deodorant Could Be Harmful
First of all, it’s good for you to sweat. Sweating is a way your body naturally releases toxins, lowers body temperature, clears skin, and fights infections. Antiperspirants block your sweat glands, so they might not be a healthy choice. Body odor comes from bacteria, not from your sweat glands. Our armpits have aprocrine glands, which secrete a thicker sweat. This produces odor when combined with the bacteria on our skin.
Aluminum, which is a metal, is the primary ingredient used in most antiperspirants. It helps block sweat from escaping pores, and has been linked with breast and prostate cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. Deodorants don’t usually use aluminum. They instead use other potentially harmful ingredients to kill the bacteria on our skin.
Parabens are considered endocrine disruptors. They are in anything from tupperware and shower curtains to lotions and deodorants. Parabens mimic estrogen and can upset our delicate hormonal balance. They are linked to breast cancer, skin irritation, contact dermatitis, rosacea, and fertility problems. Anything that affects your hormones can also affect your weight.
Both deodorants and antiperspirants usually contain fragrance. When we discussed Fragrance last month, we learned companies don’t have to disclose the chemicals used because of trade secrets. “Fragrance” could mean hundreds of chemicals combined to make a particular scent. These chemicals are linked to hormone disruption, birth defects, infertility, breast and liver cancer, allergies, and asthma.
Other perpetrators include Proplyene Glycol which in large amounts is linked with damage to the liver, heart and brain. Triclosan is a suspected endocrine disruptor. It’s linked with antibiotic resistance in bacteria, skin irritation, liver toxicity, and is harmful to fish and wildlife. TEA and DEA are also in many deodorants, and are restricted in Europe because they are considered carcinogens. DEA is linked with kidney and liver toxicity, while TEA is linked with allergic reactions.
Remember basic science: correlation does NOT equal causation. Just because something is linked with a particular problem doesn’t mean it causes it. However, if you’re trying to detox your life, you want to decrease your chemical exposure as much as possible.
I recommend reading this article to help you keep a good balance on the facts and taking precautions when it comes to this topic: Cancer.gov – Fact Sheet.
I hesitated to make my own deodorant for two reasons. One was the convenience factor. Number two was the question of when did I become this person who makes deodorant?! My husband jokes that I’m not the same person he married, but my new habits make him feel like he’s back home in Vermont. Making my own deodorant has been slightly inconvenient at times, but it’s cheaper and works better than what I was buying. I’ve tried a few recipes that I’ll share, and I’ll tell you my thoughts on them.
No one’s skin, sweat glands, and pH balance are the same, so you may have to try a few until you find one that works. I suggest splitting ingredients with friends and creating them together. This way you can try different recipes and ingredients to see what works best for you. (Pinterest Party, anyone?)
- 1 Part Coconut Oil
- 1 Part Pure Baking Soda
- 1 Part Corn Starch (Organic, Non-GMO)
I loved this recipe, but after I shaved I would get some irritation. Nevra said that’s from the baking soda, and sometimes she uses only coconut oil. I just used 2 tablespoons of each to start with. [PIN IT!]
- 1/4 cup Pure Baking Soda
- 1/4 cup Organic Cornstarch or Arrowroot Powder
- 4 tbsp. Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil
- 5 drops of essential oil (optional) – She recommends Lavender or Sage
This is mostly the same recipe as the first except for it uses arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch. I discovered that for me, arrowroot powder does not work as well as cornstarch, but many of my friends have used this recipe and loved it! [PIN IT!]
- 1/2 cup witch hazel
- 1/4 cup aloe vera gel (or juice)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 10 drops Clary Sage Essential Oil
I haven’t tried this, or any recipe with beeswax like the other she shared. However, I’ve had success with most things I’ve tried from her blog, so I thought it was worth sharing for anyone interested in a spray! [PIN IT!]
#4- My Favorite!
And finally this is my new homemade recipe that I LOVE. Several bloggers use shea butter and/or beeswax in their deodorants. I finally broke down and tried shea butter because even if it didn’t work, it has so many other great uses! I adapted this recipe from Wellness Mama.
- 1 part Coconut Oil
- 1 Part Organic, Non-GMO Corn Starch (you could use arrowroot powder instead)
- 1 part Pure Baking Soda
- 1/2 part Shea Butter (look for fair trade, raw, unrefined, organic shea butter, like this kind)
- A few drops of essential oils (I usually use lavender, but I also used lemongrass this last time).
Melt the coconut oil and shea butter in a pan on the stove and then combine with other ingredients. Sometimes you have to keep homemade deodorant in the fridge because of the coconut oil, but I haven’t had to do that with this recipe.
To make a normal sized amount, my “one part” was 2 tablespoons. I keep mine in a glass container or a reusable deodorant stick, which might be good for those of you who don’t like the idea of rubbing your armpits! ;) The shea butter has stopped any irritation I would get from the other products, and it has been effective for me.
If you’re not ready to make your own, there are several brands you can try that are free of potentially harmful ingredients. One reason I resorted to making my own was because I couldn’t find any that worked. A few months ago I found Primal Pit Paste on the Food Babe’s blog, which has worked for me pretty well. I used it when traveling because it was easier…. but I needed to reapply because it’s made with arrowroot powder. That’s the only one I can attest to, but here are some links of brands recommended by others:
Make it a goal this month to try out one of these recipes or brands. Let me know what you tried, how you liked it, or if you have a different tried and true recipe or brand! I love being on this journey with you! And don’t forget that exercise is one of the best ways to stay healthy and detox. By joining The Fit Tutor community you can get workouts designed by a personal trainer right in your home, for as little as $11.99/mo!