Why Use A Natural Deodorant
A Brief History of Deodorant
In many ancient societies, body odor was not considered offensive. Others, like the Romans, were constantly bathing and saturating themselves and their clothing with perfume. Some would carry sachets filled with aromatic herbs to help combat odor.
Greek poet Homer said that good hosts should offer their guests baths with aromatic oils. Maybe we could start a new trend!!
"Mum," the first trademarked deodorant, was created in Philadelphia by an unknown inventor, in 1888. It was a jar of waxy paste cream applied to the underarms made with zinc oxide, which was minimally effective at inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
Magazines ads, like the one on the right (Smithsonianmag.com), from the 1930s, cautioned women that if they did not use Mum deodorant, they would become social outcasts. The ad contains the following words,
“…men sidestep her. The other girls ignore her. For the best reason in the world! It is unpardonable, these days, for any girl to carry the odor of underarm perspiration on her person and her clothing…Don’t risk letting this fault shut you out of popularity.”
The first Antiperspirant, EverDry, was introduced in 1903. EverDry, which contained an aluminum chloride solution that was applied with a cotton swab, was so acidic that it actually ate through clothing and damaged the skin. In the 1940s a chemist named Jules Montenier filed a patent for a buffered antiperspirant which help propel aluminum-based antiperspirants into mainstream personal care. In the 1950s the manufacturers of MUM invented Ban, a deodorant with a roll-on applicator inspired by the ball-point pen.
In the early 1950s, two physicians presented evidence for the role that bacteria played in underarm odor. At that time many manufacturers began using hexachlorophene, a powerful antimicrobial agent, in their deodorants and body soaps. In 1972, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of products containing more than 1% of hexachlorophene for the general public after reports of deaths in the United States and France from brain damage caused by hexachlorophene.
In the early 1970s many deodorant companies began using Triclosan to kill odor-causing bacteria. We now believe that the widespread use of Triclosan may also be promoting drug-resistant bacteria. Triclosan, extremely toxic to aquatic wildlife, has been detected in many U.S. waterways. In 2012 the Canadian government declared triclosan toxic to the environment. On September 9, 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of triclosan and 18 other antimicrobial chemicals in soap.
Also in the 1960s, the Gillette Company introduced Right Guard, the first aerosol antiperspirant. In the late 1970s, countries began banning aerosol sprays containing chlorofluorocarbons as the propelling agent.
I hope you noticed in the above description of the evolution of antiperspirants and deodorants one common theme that is true even today: an ingredient works, we think it is safe, and then we discover it is not. Aluminum chloride, hexachlorophene, triclosan, chlorofluorocarbons--what's next? As we develop more and more synthetic ingredients the list only continues to grow.
Why Use A Natural Deodorant?
The best answer is--Why Not?
But most importantly, the question you have to ask yourself is, WHY do YOU want to switch to a natural deodorant?
Natural deodorants ditch the synthetic ingredients like aluminum, alcohol, antibacterial agents, fragrances, preservatives, etc., and instead harness the power of natural ingredients such as:
- Baking Soda: To neutrallze odor and help absorb moisture
- Plant-based powders like arrowroot, tapioca or cornstarch: To soothe skin and absorb perspiration
- Virgin Coconut Oil: A base ingredients that moisturizes and contains natural antimicrobials
- She Butter or other plant oils: To moisturize and a siky smooth, soothing application
- Essential Oils: Provide a pleasant scent and many have their own antimicrobial benefits
Synthetic chemicals are not needed to create an effective deodorant.
If you are a regular reader of “Ida’s Soapbox,” there is one comment that keeps popping up. "It's What We Don't Know That Worries Me!” and it is worth repeating.
In June 2010 CNN aired “Toxic America,” a special investigative report detailing the pervasiveness of synthetic chemicals we are exposed to in our everyday lives.
Dr. Phil Landrigan, a pediatrician, and director of the Children's Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine stated:
"For 80 percent of the common chemicals in everyday use in this country we know almost nothing about whether or not they can damage the brains of children, the immune system, the reproductive system, and the other developing organs. It's really a terrible mess we've gotten ourselves into."
Making sense of the myriad of ingredients in skincare products is challenging and confusing. One study reports that an ingredient is safe and another reports the complete opposite. There are many ingredients that are "considered safe in the small doses used in skincare products."
But when I think of the various products I use on my skin each and every day, I can’t help but wonder how much is "a safe small dose" after 65 years.
Ingredients DO matter especially with a product that you apply every day and sometimes even many times a day.
The fact is that with some ingredients, like Phthalates (found in artificial fragrances), no one really knows how these synthetic chemicals will affect us over time and years of use.
All "Natural" Deodorants Are Not Created Equal
As consumers become aware of the potentially harmful ingredients in commercial antiperspirants and deodorants, more and more companies are beginning to offer “natural” options.
The goal of packaging or an advertising message is to convey an idea to the target audience.
The goal is to visually convince you to purchasing something.
Sadly, companies have learned that simply changing the name or label by adding a few green leaves or flowers and some words that hint "natural" or "nature" will draw your attention. Their marketing claims often focus on "no added this" or "no added that" rather what is actually added.
Unfortunately, just because a company advertises terms like "all natural" or "organic" on its label or website it does not mean the ingredients will create a healthy environment for your underarms. Synthetic ingredients like fragrance oils and preservatives can often cause irritation and should not be use in a deodorant that claims to be "natural".
If you are really looking for a natural deodorant, do not just rely on the label's claims.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to always read and research the ingredient label so you know what is actually inside the product to be sure it contains only the products you are expecting, and not the ones you are trying to avoid. Become a deodorant detective!
You will often see articles about the evils of a natural baking soda deodorant. I believe that natural deodorants containing baking soda often get a bad rap. Although the ingredients in many natural deodorants may seem similar, each manufacturer has their own recipe, their own formulation for their natural deodorant. There are some natural deodorants that use too much baking soda and too little of the soothing and moisturizing ingredients.
For our two baking soda deodorants our goal was to find the perfect combination of ingredients and hit just the right concentration of baking soda along with a soft, smooth, non-gritty texture to keep odor at bay at bay without irritating skin.
We want to change the way you think about underarm deodorant!
Using deodorant for most people today is as important to their daily routine as brushing their teeth. We have been programmed to believe that strong chemicals are needed to stay dry and odor-free, sweating is bad and the ingredients do not really matter as long as it gets the job done.
When I was a teenager I was very sensitive to commercial deodorants and antiperspirants. They made me itch and gave me rashes. I finally decided that my body was trying to tell me something so I stopped using them.
There were no natural deodorants in those days so I used rubbing alcohol and baby powder. While I now shudder at the thought, it was somewhat effective.
Later, I was able to tolerate some commercial products, but after recovering from breast cancer I decided to give up the chemical-laden deodorants.
Yes, I will admit that all of the misguided scare tactics worked. I tried many of the natural deodorants that were available, but they were not only ineffective, but they also irritated my skin, and some still contained questionable ingredients. Since deodorants are formulated to be used daily and some ingredient components may be absorbed into the skin, I was determined to formulate a safe, effective natural organic deodorant.
If you read my previous blog "The Science of Sweat & Deodorant" you know that sweat itself is almost odorless, it is the bacteria feeding on the sweat that causes the odor.
Our three organic deodorant formulas use ingredients with natural antibacterial properties to help combat odor and organic ingredients like cornstarch and arrowroot powder or natural clay to help absorb perspiration.
I am not going to get into all of the “evils” of the ingredients in commercial deodorants or antiperspirants--because we really don't understand many of these chemicals or know their long-term effects!
But when I began researching many of the ingredients found in some conventional deodorants (phthalates, fragrances, and parabens), I knew I could not continue to use them.
It took me over a year of research, experimentation, and testing on friends, family, and our Chagrin Valley Team, before I finally came up with a deodorant formula that we all loved.
We formulate our deodorants to help control odor, absorb perspiration, and treat your skin with healthy, moisturizing ingredients.
All I ask is that you read the ingredient comparison below and ask yourself one question, “What do you want to put on your skin?”
Ingredients in a popular commercial antiperspirant:
Active Ingredient: Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY (18.5%).
Other Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, C18-36 acid triglyceride, microcrystalline wax, silica, glycerin, fragrance (parfum), dimethicone cross polymer, sunflower oil, vegetable oil (olus), glyceryl oleate, propylene glycol, BHT, t-butyl hydroquinone, citric acid.
Ingredients in a Chagrin Valley Organic Stick Deodorant:
Organic Virgin Coconut Oil; Organic Virgin Shea Butter; Organic Cornstarch; Organic Beeswax; Organic Jojoba Oil; Baking Soda; Organic Essential Oils: Lemongrass and Tea Tree; Organic Rosemary Oil Extract
We want to change the way you think about underarm deodorant!
You can be all-natural and odor-free at the same time!
For information on the difference between deodorant and antiperspirants please read our blog "The Science of Sweat, Deodorant & Antiperspirants"
What's in YOUR deodorant?
Blog Updated September 2020