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My college roommate Sophomore year went shopping with me once to get new deodorant/antiperspirant.  As I reached for the pH-balanced Secret, thinking it was a pretty healthy choice, a look of horror came across her face and she basically yelled, “You’re buying that?” like I was purchasing heroin or something.  She went on to tell me what I’m about to tell you now and I’ve been using natural deodorant ever since.

1) Antiperspirants contain aluminum-based compounds, which may cause dementia.

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Aluminum-based compounds such as aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex gly (the active ingredient in antiperspirants) have been linked to breast cancer and dementia.  People argue that the aluminum only causes forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s in large quantities.  Even though the aluminum compound only amounts to about 20% of the antiperspirant itself, when used every day, it builds up in the body and may cause harm. These studies are largely debated, but still.

2) You don’t sweat nearly as much as you think you do.

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As a naïve fifth grader, I was immediately exposed to information about periods, safe sex, and proper hygiene such as shaving my legs and using antiperspirant.  At the time, I knew my body was about to change and produce more sweat, so instead of waiting for my armpits to get sweaty, I just started using antiperspirant.  My preference was Secret, since it was more shiny and colorful compared to other brands.  Every now and then, I would forget to wear antiperspirant and the days I did, my pits would sweat like crazy.  Sometimes, it would get so bad that I had to go into the bathroom and blot them with paper towels before I could go out in public.  Don’t even get me started on middle school dances.

In fact, when you forget to wear antiperspirant, you don’t sweat more because you need the antiperspirant, but because your body reacts to the lack of antiperspirant by producing more sweat.  In this way, these harmful chemicals force you to use antiperspirant every day.

If you work out a lot and you’re generally a very sweaty person, you should probably stop reading and at least know that aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex gly is super bad for you.  I don’t suggest you stop using antiperspirant if you really do need it because there isn’t really an alternate option besides lots of towels.  However, for those of you like me, who sweat very little and/or participate in sports where sweat does not matter (kayaking, swimming, rock climbing, skiing, skydiving), read on.

Edit: Tom’s of Maine currently makes an aluminum-free antiperspirant.

3) It doesn’t hurt after shaving

Applying antiperspirant after shaving in the shower (this only applies to people who shave their armpits, by the way) can be painful, especially if you accidentally nicked yourself or have razor burn.  If you use a natural deodorant that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, you shouldn’t feel pain after applying the deodorant in any case…Unless, of course, you make your own and do an awful job.

4) It smells amazing.

No description needed.

What to Do Instead of Using Aluminum Compounds

Instead of avoiding deodorants altogether, you can use natural deodorants or even make your own using household products such as baking soda and coconut oil.

1) Natural Deodorants

You can buy natural deodorants at most stores.  My favorite is the Arm & Hammer one pictured here.  Not only is it wonderfully pH balanced and free of harmful chemicals, but it also has a nice scent.  If you can’t find it in stores, you can buy it online here.  Other loved aluminum-free deodorants include Tom’s of Maine, Burt’s Bees, and Trader Joe’s deodorant.

2) Make Your Own!

Although I haven’t tried it yet, my natural blog buddies swear by making your own deodorant.  This recipe involves coconut oil, arrowroot powder, cornstarch, and baking soda.  There are a bunch of other recipes out there and you can experiment to find what’s best for you.  You can even make up your own recipe!  Whatever you do, make sure you don’t overpower on the baking soda.  I’ve heard this can cause rashes.  You should always balance the baking soda with an oil (coconut oil, jojoba oil) or apple cider vinegar.

3) No Deodorant / Reliance on Showering

I know people who do this and have no problem with it.  I always like to at least use something to make myself smell nice, but if body odor really isn’t a problem for you, go for this method!

How to Adjust

Warning:  You’re going to sweat A LOT while your body adjusts to the lack of chemicals.  This adjustment period can last about a week.  Don’t let this stop you!  The benefits are well worth it!

While I went through this phase, I seriously considered switching back to regular antiperspirant.  However, after about 5-7 days, my body had adjusted to the natural method and I barely sweat at all.  I stuck with my Arm & Hammer.  In order to deal with this period, you should regularly check up on your pits and dab them with a towel or something.  I reapplied my natural deodorant about three times a day to make sure I wasn’t smelly.  Anyway, after you’ve made it through the adjustment phase, you should be home free!

Have you used any of these methods with success?  Failure?  Comment below.

Also, here’s a yak:

Images (in order): wisequacks.org – cloudfront.net – commitnesstofitness.com – whstatic.com (WikiHow) – annabrixthomsen.com – armandhammer.com – hansgrohe-int.com – wildyakfilms.com

Please let me know if I’m using your photo and you would like it removed.

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