You are probably (hopefully?) using a deodorant or antiperspirant regularly, if not daily. This is a great habit if you want to stop body odor in its tracks. But the real question is - which one are you using?
There are important differences between a deodorant and an antiperspirant. Let's talk about those differences...
Deodorants vs. Antiperspirants
An antiperspirant is designed to stop you from sweating in your armpits completely. As the name implies, it is designed to stop you from perspiring. It typically uses aluminum as a way to clog the sweat-ducts and prevent sweat from escaping. According to How It Works Today (link no longer active),
Ions of this [aluminum] compound – examples of which include aluminium chlorohydrate and aluminium chloride – are withdrawn into the cells that line the human body’s eccrine gland ducts. The eccrine glands are responsible for producing the majority of the body’s sweat and are located en masse in the armpits. As the compound’s ions are absorbed into the ducts, they carry water with them, causing the ducts to bulge and swell to a level which forces them shut. As a consequence of this process, any sweat is directly blocked from being excreted through the skin as it normally would.
This use of aluminum is very controversial. One side of the controversy claims that this use of aluminum contributes to breast cancer and Alzheimers. The other side claims it is completely safe. Of course, each side cites studies to support their opinion.
So while it's helpful that antiperspirants can stop you from smelling like sweat or body odor, it's important to realize that they do this by preventing you from sweating.
In contrast, a deodorant is designed to minimize any odor from sweaty armpits. Deodorants do not stop you from sweating.
While not sweating at all may sound like a great option, it's actually very important for your health to regularly sweat.
What are the benefits of sweating?
Sweating has several very real benefits.
1. Sweating helps you regulate your body temperature. When your body gets hot, the heat activates your sweat glands. Your sweat glands work by bringing water and salt within your body to the surface of your skin as sweat. As the water in you sweat evaporates, it cools your body.
2. Sweating may help you expel toxins. According to the New York Times: "The body does appear to sweat out toxic materials — heavy metals and bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in plastics, for instance, have been detected in sweat."
3. Sweating may reduce the risk of kidney stones by helping to excrete excess salt and calcium. But it only helps if you consume enough water. If you become dehydrated by excessive sweating, it can actually reduce your urine output and increase your risk of kidney stones.
Should You Use a Deodorant or Antiperspirant?
The real issue comes down to the safety of antiperspirant. But as I mentioned earlier, the science is not necessarily clear. When the science conflicts, I find it important to research and make the best, informed decision possible.
When it comes to breast cancer, the argument against anti-perspirants says this: Aluminum (such as aluminum zirconium and aluminum chloride) contain estrogen-like properties. Since estrogen can increase the growth of breast cancer tissue, it should not be used.
One key study that is often cited was done in 2007. The breast tissue of 17 breast cancer patients was measured and found to have higher levels of aluminum in the outer regions of the breast. Opponents of antiperspirant use hold this up as proof that antiperspirants are evil. Proponents of antiperspirant safety point out that breast tissue from non-breast cancer patients was not tested and that there is no link between the existence of the aluminum and the breast cancer.
For me, if I have a viable option, I would rather err on the side of caution. I personally believe that God designed the body and our skin to sweat to help rid itself of toxins and to regulate its temperature. To daily prevent this process for the sake of our physical appearance can't be healthy. To introduce aluminum onto our skin, when it has not been proven safe, simply does not seem like a wise choice to me.
I admit that I do keep a tube of antiperspirant available for special events like weddings or interviews. But I've had that same tube for over 5 years and still haven't finished it yet because I personally choose to avoid antiperspirants as much as possible.
Antiperspirants not only stop you from getting the benefits of sweating that I mentioned above, but they use unhealthy ingredients like aluminum to do it. Even though aluminum is a neurotoxin, it is used to physically clog the pores in your armpits to prevent the sweat from being released.
If your body can't remove the toxins through your armpit sweat, those toxins can end up in your lymph nodes or breast tissue. In fact, a study in the European Journal of Cancer, concluded that “underarm shaving with antiperspirant/deodorant use may play a role in breast cancer.”
And while I have no plans to stop shaving my armpits any time soon, it's important to me to choose the healthiest options I can find.
Have I convinced you yet that you should stop using antiperspirants?
"I have tried several of the deodorant scents and the Rosemary Mint is my favorite so far. This is also the best natural deodorant on the market!" - Katie D.
Years ago, when I became aware of this issue, I created a natural deodorant that is aluminum-free (as well as paraben and phthalate-free) to use on our family's skin. After months of testing and feedback, we made it available in a Citrus Tea essential oil blend that is designed to fight odor-causing bacteria.
"I love the GMS Citrus Tea deodorant. The scent is so fresh. I can hardly believe it works with just dabbing it on. To get away from aluminum based antiperspirants is very freeing. One less toxic chemical in the system! Yay! Thank you GMS. You're changing lives for the better." - Christine J.
As the popularity of the deodorant grew, we included other scents - Baby Powder, Cedarwood, Lavender, Rosemary Mint, and Unscented. We also made a baking soda free version available for those who have sensitivities to baking soda.
"If you are looking to try natural deodorant but have had issues with it before, I can't recommend GMS's baking soda free formula enough. After much trial and error, I've landed on the the natural deodorant that works best for me (Lavender is my favorite scent)." - Leah B.
Switching to a Natural Deodorant
If you haven't already, I strongly encourage you that it's time to switch to a natural deodorant.
If you try the deodorant, please be aware that it can take time for your body to make the adjustment. Some people reported some initial irritation and/or a rash until their body detoxed. Here is some information on how to Detox Your Armpits. If you have a severe reaction, please discontinue use.
And remember, when applying the deodorant, just "dab" it onto your armpits - don't swipe it on. It's softer than many commercial products and you only need a little bit.
When you start using a natural deodorant, you may find that you initially start to sweat more. Don't be afraid of this, it usually calms down after your body expels some of the toxins you've been holding onto.
And just to warn you, your body odor might be more intense at first. Which is ok. Your body is doing what it was designed to do and is expelling toxins! Drink some extra water if possible and simply keep the natural deodorant handy and reapply when needed.
Over time, most people find that the longer they use a natural deodorant, the less they tend to sweat.
Natural Deodorants use Safe Ingredients
The Natural Deodorant from Goat Milk Stuff contains ingredients you don't have to fear. You will never find any of these toxins in any of our products:
- Triclosan - a possible carcinogen
- Parabens & Phthalates - synthetic chemicals found in certain fragrances.
- Aluminum - linked to dementia, Alzheimers, and breast cancer.
- Propylene glycol or other petroleum based ingredients.
Just natural ingredients that are safe to use.
Bottom line - more studies need to be done to show whether or not aluminum in anti-perspirant is safe to use. Until then, our family (and hopefully yours) will take the safe route and stick with our natural deodorant.
PJ & Crew