My “Making the Switch” series is about everyday products I am switching out for more natural alternatives. Now on to deodorant!
Oh, deodorant. When you run out of the house without it, you regret it within an hour or two. I actually keep extra in my car for those really sweaty days at the barn. It’s one of those products that we don’t give a second thought to – it’s just a part of our routine. I’ve always worn men’s deodorant, usually Old Spice. I could never find women’s deodorant that wasn’t an anti-perspirant (SO unhealthy for you!) so I stuck with the men’s. However, I never really thought to look into what I was putting on my armpits until a few months ago.
Old Spice, I’ll Miss You (Kind Of)
Check out the score for the deodorant I was using on this nifty website called Skin Deep: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/97333/Old_Spice_High_Endurance_Deodorant_Long_Lasting_Stick_Pure_Sport/
This site can tell you a lot about your favorite products and what kind of chemicals are in them. (Yes, there are often toxic chemicals in our products including those that are applied to sensitive areas like feminine wash, deodorant [yikes, breast tissue is right there in your armpit], and eye creams).
I found the ingredients list for my deodorant on the Old Spice site: Dipropylene glycol, water, proplyene glycol, sodium stearate, fragrance, PPG 3 Myristyl Ether, Tetrasodium EDTA, Blue 1. Uh, okay so I know what water is, but what’s the rest? I got a D in chemistry class, bummer.
“Fragrance” isn’t really helpful either – what exactly is in that scent? In an effort at “transparency,” I was also able to click this link on the site to see a 20 page list of all the ingredients that could be used in their “fragrance” equation. The beginning of the document states:
Our perfumes are formulated with the greatest care and utmost attention to safety. Whenever a perfume is developed or enhanced, our safety scientists evaluate the detailed composition of the perfume to ensure that the product is safe to use. Perfumes are formulated taking into account our stringent internal safety standards for every ingredient, as well as the safety standards set by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). We adhere to the IFRA Code of Practice and the IFRA Standards.
Riiiiight — so the parent company who makes Old Spice is the one who sets stringent “internal” standards for every ingredient, and then the International Fragrance Association sets their own safety standards. Like much of the cosmetic industry, there are no independent, third party members guaranteeing the safety of the products we’re putting on our bodies every single day.
Inspiration to Switch
A few years ago, I noticed swollen, slightly tender lymph nodes in one armpit and was very worried. I asked my gynocologist about them during my regular exam and she didn’t seemed concerned. Now I have them on both sides but they don’t really seem to bother me. I never thought to look into further. Now that I am switching to natural deodorant, it will be interesting to see if those lymph nodes are affected at all as I lower my chemical exposure in that area.
I have no scientific proof for any of this, just something I will keep an eye on.
The 3rd ingredient in my Old Spice is proplyene glycol – associated with irritant and allergic contact dermatitis + contact urticaria [skin rash, redness] in humans; these sensitization effects can be manifested at propylene glycol concentrations as low as 2% (EWG site). This ingredient was also present in my toothpaste, which I no longer use.
The fragrance – which receives a “8” score on the EWG site – is of mysterious origin. (Companies won’t publish the actual ingredients in their fragrance compounds because they are “trade secrets” – it would be like publishing the recipe to an expensive perfume for anyone to copy).
PPG 3 Myristyl Ether – suspected to be an environmental toxin (EWG site).
Tetrasodium EDTA – classified as expected to be toxic or harmful (EWG site).
Whelp, I think I’ve heard enough. I’m ready to try something new and less toxic!
Something More Natural
So – the search began for a new deodorant. Thankfully, a friend recommended the brand I am using now and I simply ordered it online. I am testing out the Schmidts brand deodorant in the Lavender + Sage scent. Ingredients: Arrowroot powder, coconut oil, candelilla wax, shea butter, baking soda, fractionated coconut oil, lavender essential oil, clary sage essential oil, vitamin E, and green tea extract.
I’m totally surprised at how easy this transition was. I really like the scent of my new deodorant. It is not nearly as strong as the Old Spice, but as long as I don’t smell, I’m happy. It does not really “roll on” like the Old Spice. I apply the stick to my armpit for a few seconds to warm it up and then dab it around. It’s white but it goes on mostly clear and hasn’t gotten on my clothes at all.
Even after sweating at the barn, cleaning stalls, or going for a run, I have had no issues with odor. I’m sweating about the same, maybe a little less than usual. My goal with deodorant was never to stop my body from sweating but to stay smelling somewhat fresh in the process. If you’ve been using antiperspirant, this might take some getting used to. But God designed our bodies to sweat.
The Schmidts neutralizes odor WAY better than the Old Spice did. I do need to reapply occasionally. It’s easier to put on in a tank top or before I put a shirt on. Originally, I did experience some skin irritation when I apply it right after I shave, but that happened with the Old Spice, too. I also think my armpits were detoxing from the transition, since I haven’t had that in awhile now that I have been using the Schmidts for some time.
Update: December 2015
I have been using natural deodorant for about 3 or 4 months now. The transition process was surprisingly easy and I am still loving my new deodorants! I stuck with the Schmidt’s for awhile and then recently started trying Primal Pit Paste. Right now I am liking the Primal Pit Paste better – it rolls on a little easier. Currently loving the Lavender scent and John is using the Royal + Rogue scent. I am sweating less than I used to (though the temps are cooler, I can still be a nervous sweater sometimes), my sweat rarely smells and when it does, it’s not strong enough for me to notice it. And John hasn’t been complaining either. 😉
Update: September 2016
So turns out I am slightly sensitive to baking soda, which is a primary active ingredient in many natural deodorants. I have done my armpit detox a few times and have loved that. But alas, I still get a little rashy after using the Schmidt’s or the Primal Pit Paste. However! Schmidt’s just came out with a sensitive skin formula that uses arrowroot powder instead and I LOVE IT. I rarely smell my sweat these days, even after working outside in the hot Virginia sun this summer. If you are experiencing any red bumps or rashes that aren’t related to razor burn, you might need to do an armpit detox or maybe you need to switch to a natural deodorant without baking soda in it. This is the scent I buy here.
Sweating is Necessary + Normal
Our armpits are actually pretty amazing. I found this quote online:
Sweating is an essential and natural biological process that starts soon after we are born. Sweating, or perspiring, is the body’s mechanism of keeping us cool and preventing us from overheating in a warm environment or during exercise or exertion. Our body also produces sweat when we experience strong emotions or stressful situations, during hormonal changes and it helps to play a role in fighting infections.
You’ll never guess where I found this quote! It was one of the first sites that popped up when I Googled “why do we sweat?” It’s from antiperspirantsinfo.com….a site dedicated to keeping you from sweating. Very interesting.
If you’re a nervous sweater like me or deal with excessive sweating (hot flashes, hormonal imbalance, etc), I would encourage you to look into the root cause of why your body is producing more sweat than usual or why it smells worse than it should.
I have read about a lot of people struggling to switch to new deodorant. Your armpits may need to go through a detox phase. So far I haven’t had to do anything but give my armpits time to adjust, but I will share some resources below if you’re not having the best experience making the switch.
Articles on the Science of Sweat:
Armpit Detox/Switching to Natural Deodorant:
Some Recommended Natural Deodorant Brands:
Primal Pit Paste: http://primalpitpaste.com/deodorant/
My husband is obviously having to switch products with me. FUN! He got a different scent of the Schmidts and it gave him a headache (he’s sensitive to some smells). He’s now trying a Primal Pit Paste stick and liking it better. The PPP glides on more smoothly than the Schmidts does, so I have been experimenting with both.
And one last note….I commented in the beginning about antiperspirants being bad for you. A lot of the research I have been doing and share on here may come across as trying to “scare” you into discontinuing the use of your favorite products. That is never my intention. I just think most of us go to the store, pick out something that smells good, and go home and use it. Why wouldn’t we? If it’s on the shelf, it must be safe, right? I am learning that is not always the case. So don’t be scared or think you need to get defensive about your choices. I just want to share what I have been learning and some new products I have been trying and enjoying.
To read more about why I think antiperspirants are unhealthy, here is a good resource: