Why you should think twice about your deodorant

Living in a warm and humid climate such as Singapore means that most people are likely to use deodorants and antiperspirants. But have you ever questioned what makes these products so “effective”?

We often overlook the words “for external use only”, or think we understand them. Unfortunately, nothing applied to the skin can truly ever remain ‘external’, because our skin is permeable and easily absorbs what we put on it. Be it 60% absorption as some studies claim, or less than that, these chemicals make their way into our bloodstream and other parts of our bodies. Upon application, the chemicals in deodorant stay for long hours on your skin, giving it ample time to take it all in.

That might not actually seem to be a problem, until you learn about the harmful ingredients these deodorants contain. Most conventional deodorants have aluminium chlorohydrate, parabens, propylene glycol, triclosan, TEA, DEA, and quaternium 18, among other toxic chemicals.

That might sound a bit confusing, so let’s break it down, starting with aluminium. The World Health Organization has linked exposure to aluminium to Alzheimer’s disease, and aluminium-based compounds continue to be active ingredients in antiperspirants. Parabens also increase the risk of breast cancer. Propylene glycol is known to cause contact dermatitis, kidney damage, and liver damage, while TEA and DEA are hormone disruptors that are known to form carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals. Triclosan can be absorbed through the skin and is said to cause liver damage, and quaternium compounds are the number one cause of preservative-related contact dermatitis. Fragrance, usually the deciding factor for our choice of deodorants, can give you anything from allergies to cancer.

That is an overwhelming list. If you want to stop subjecting your body to those unwanted dangers, try going natural, or if you are feeling adventurous enough, make your own.

Natural Cosmetic News advises people to stop and go for natural substitutes. Natural deodorants  can nowadays be found in specialty retailers, supermarkets, mass merchandisers and online. It never hurts to go check the safety quotient of ingredients on Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, because even those that claim to be 100% natural might contain chemicals you don’t want on your body.

According to alternativemedicine.com, Ammonium or potassium alum, the ingredients in solid crystal deodorants, work by constricting the protein in sweat so that malodorous bacteria have less to feed on. Clay minerals such as kaolin and bentonite and natural powders like cornstarch or arrowroot help absorb moisture. Witch hazel, sage, alcohol, and other astringents work by evaporating the moisture on the skin and constricting the pores. They are usually used in conjunction with essential oils that have antibacterial properties.

Should you choose to make your own, Mother Nature Network suggests using baking soda as a deodorant. Mix an eighth of a teaspoon of baking soda with a little bit of water — don’t dissolve it — and rub it in. You can also create a baking soda and cornstarch mix to fight odour and help prevent wetness. Simply mix one part baking soda with six parts cornstarch and dust a little on your body.

The web portal also says that citric acid in lemon juice can kill odour-causing bacteria, and there are people who swear by the lemon deodorizing method. Rubbing alcohol too, they recommend, is another inexpensive and easy deodorant that kills odour-causing bacteria. Simply fill a spray bottle with alcohol and spritz your underarms with it. You can even add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to give it a scent — witch hazel absorbs oil and is mildly astringent, and tea tree oil can help relieve body odour.

Article submitted by Vaishnavi Sairaj

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