At Thompson Tee, we believe underarm sweat solutions shouldn't compromise your health. In this guide, we’ll set the record straight about natural deodorants:
- Do natural deodorants work?
- Why choose natural deodorants?
- Concerns with natural deodorants
- Ingredients to avoid in natural deodorants
Do Natural Deodorants Work?
Yes and no. It really depends on the brand, its active ingredients, and your level of body odor. While antiperspirants (also called deodorants or antiperspirant-deodorants) prevent wetness, deodorants only provide body odor protection.
Antiperspirants use chemicals like aluminum to physically plug your sweat ducts and block sweat. Because deodorants don’t stop sweat, they are not considered antiperspirants.
There are different tiers of natural deodorants: those that are primarily chemical-free, those that are 100% chemical-free and homemade deodorant with ingredients like activated charcoal, cornstarch, tapioca starch, baking soda and coconut oil.
Why Choose Natural Deodorants?
Natural deodorants don't stop sweat like antiperspirants. But there are a few reasons you might go with deodorant instead.
You prefer not to use chemicals
Beyond aluminum, most antiperspirants contain other chemicals, including parabens, phthalates, and triclosan. Truly natural and organic deodorants block odor and keep you smelling fresh without artificial chemicals.
You have sensitive skin
If you have sensitive skin, ingredients like alcohol, aluminum and even baking soda could irritate your skin. Deodorants derived from natural ingredients offer a safer, gentler alternative.
You want to avoid yellow stains
When mixed with sweat, aluminum found in antiperspirants is known to cause yellow stains on clothing. Swapping antiperspirant for a natural deodorant could eliminate this issue and save more of your shirts.
You don’t mind sweating
Sweating is a natural function that helps regulate body temperature. As sweat evaporates on the surface of your skin, you feel cooler. However, unabated sweating could be an embarrassing problem if you have hyperhidrosis or sweat excessively.
Downsides of Natural Deodorants
Before investing in natural deodorants, there are some potential downsides you should prepare for.
Combining certain natural ingredients can create a gritty, ChapStick-like texture that is often difficult to apply.
To ease application, press the product against your underarms for 30 seconds or so before applying so your body heat softens the solution.
Coconut oil is commonly used as a base for natural deodorants. However, because coconut oil has a low melting point (around 77°F), many natural deodorants melt faster than regular deodorants.
Avoid storing your natural deodorant in direct sunlight or hot environments (like your car) to maintain a solid form.
Yellowing & Residue
Natural deodorants containing beeswax can leave a residue on clothes and skin — even after showering. However, solutions made with candelilla wax, a thin, smooth wax, tend to leave less residue than products made with beeswax.
Baking soda is a highly effective deodorizer found in many natural deodorants. However, too much baking soda can irritate the skin, causing rashes and redness. If you have sensitive skin, be wary of natural deodorants that use baking soda as a primary ingredient.
Read more: 7 Tips for Switching to Natural Deodorant
Ingredients to Avoid in Natural Deodorants
Like all consumer products, "natural" and "organic" labels don’t always mean what you think they mean. There are plenty of workarounds to claim that a product is natural. Here are some suspect ingredients to avoid in deodorants.
The term "fragrance" often signals a trade secret mixture of chemicals in deodorant. Brands can use this phrase to not disclose the chemicals that comprise the scent. If you have hyper-sensitive skin, avoid synthetic fragrance (or even essential oils) in natural deodorants, choosing fragrance-free formulas instead.
Many deodorant brands use talcum powder (or talc) to absorb moisture, control odor and reduce friction during application. In its natural form, talc contains the cancer-causing agent asbestos, according to Cancer.org.
While talcum powder used in consumer products today is asbestos-free, talc has come under scrutiny for its link to ovarian and lung cancers. Studies on both humans and animals have produced mixed results.
Propylene glycol is used in antifreeze and other consumer products like deodorant. However, the FDA and World Health Organization recognize propylene glycol as generally safe for use in foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Still, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires the use of gloves when handling the substance and disposal by burying it, signaling its potential harm.
If you’re concerned about the chemicals in your deodorant, check its ingredient list before you buy.
Read more: Top 11 Natural Deodorants in 2022