Natural Deodorant Myth – Debunked

Natural Deodorant Myth – Debunked


October 22, 2019

Natural deodorant seems to be the new ‘gluten-free’ fad. Does it actually work? Are all the scares around antiperspirants true? Are your chances of getting breast cancer increased because of antiperspirant use? How does this affect pregnancy or thyroid problems?

This slew of questions was prompted after seeing vegan bloggers/YouTubers, Instagrammers/whatever-you-want-to-call-them that I follow promote natural deodorant usage and encourage their readers to do the same. So, selfishly, I popped to Instagram to ask my followers and friends what their thoughts were on the topic. I was blown away with the conversation that started and felt excited to tackle this preconception around natural deodorants.

So, I firstly want to show the results of the poll (anonymously) to share what questions everyone had and their reasons for switching from antiperspirants to natural deodorant. Then I’ll dig into my research and the conclusion I’ve come up with.

Instagram Poll Results

I then asked “why did you decide to switch to natural deodorant?”

Then a few of you messaged me with your findings and thoughts on the topic…

One follower also shared this article with me which was interesting and whilst I don’t agree with all of it, it certainly makes you question the Refinery29-esque posts that float around the web to create an unnecessary buzz around beauty products and fad diets.

After such a phenomenal response, I then started getting others asking me to post my findings. So, I decided to dive into hours of research online to really confirm the myth once and for all! After combing the web for research with large enough sample sizes I was able to find some of the following key results:

Aluminium:

& Breast Cancer:

This was a big focus of my research and seems to be the most common concern amongst those polled.

1. ” The expert group’s conclusion coincides with those of the French, European and American health authorities. After analysis of the available literature on the subject, no scientific evidence to support the hypothesis [that antiperspirants caused breast cancer] was identified and no validated hypothesis appears likely to open the way to interesting avenues of research.”

2. “There is currently no evidence for an association between aluminium exposure and the development of breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.”

3. “These findings do not support the hypothesis that antiperspirant use increases the risk for breast cancer.”

& Radiodermatitis:

I didn’t even realize this was a thing until I started doing research. Apparently, one of the scares out there is that if you have breast cancer and are going through radiation therapy, either deodorants or antiperspirants can cause radiodermatitis (an insane rash – Google at your own risk!). The conclusion is that neither the aluminium in antiperspirant nor regular deodorant caused an increase in radiodermatitis.

1. “According to our noninferiority margin definition, the occurrence of skin toxicity and its related symptoms were statistically equivalent in both groups. No evidence was found to prohibit deodorant use (notwithstanding the use of an antiperspirant with aluminium) during RT for breast cancer.”

2. “We found no evidence that the use of either aluminium-containing or non–aluminium containing deodorant adversely effects axillary skin reaction during conventionally fractionated radiation therapy for breast cancer. Our analysis also suggests patients in the aluminium-containing deodorant arm had significantly less sweating without increased symptoms of axillary radiation skin toxicity. These results add to the evidence that the prescription of deodorants during radiation therapy for breast cancer is now questionable.”

Thyroid

One follower mentioned thyroid problems as a side effect associated with antiperspirant use but I was unable find any concrete studies on the correlation.

Conclusion

There is no hard evidence that aluminium chlorohydrate (key ingredient in antiperspirants) is linked to breast cancer or other health concerns. There was one caveat/tangent (not aluminium related) I found for pregnant women, however, and have included those findings below for those interested.

Pregnancy

1. “Parabens and phthalates are potential endocrine disruptors frequently used in personal care/beauty products, and the developing fetus may be sensitive to these chemicals.”

2. “Leave-on PCPs (personal care products) were found to be a more probable source of phthalate exposure than the use of rinse-off PCPs. We suggest pregnant women reduce the frequency of leave-on PCPs use during pregnancy to avoid such phthalate exposure.”

Self Guinea Pig Trial

Even after all the research conducted, I decided to do a natural deodorant trial on myself (in the middle of summer in Miami no less…) out of pure curiosity and to see if switching would truly make a difference in reduced pit stains (aluminium is the culprit here). Supposedly, our body needs to go through an antiperspirant detox period (you’ve been preventing your pits from sweating all these years after all) of about 4-6 weeks when you switch from antiperspirants to natural deodorants and each week you’ll find your body reacting differently to the new deodorant. This article explains what should happen week by week.

So what happened to me when I did this trial? Giving myself a damn decent detox period of about 8 weeks (double the recommended time suggested) I can say that my experience was NOT at all like that graph shown in the article above.

I was wet and smelly for the entire period. Surely moving from LA to Miami (in the middle of summer) was certainly a factor in the amount of sweat exiting my body, but two solid months of trialing different natural deodorants (I went through about 5 different brands/types) should’ve been enough for me to find something that worked and didn’t leave me incredibly self conscious 24/7.

Nope. I not only couldn’t find a deodorant that didn’t leave me feeling wet all day (although, the Dr. Teal’s brand was actually the best despite it’s cheap price and lack of high reviews compared to the other brands I tried!). The smell never disappeared (yes, even factoring in the amount of garlic I eat on a daily basis). I had to carry around the natural deodorant stick in my purse to top up throughout the day and found myself dying for a shower the moment I got in the door.

I will say the only benefit I noticed was a complete lack of yellow pits on my white tees. So that theory was proven true! My clothes would last longer (#30wears) but this benefit was not enough to outweigh the wet, smelly, self-conscious mess of a girl I’ve been for the past two months.

Ergo, I have returned to antiperspirants. My husband is happier to cuddle me and I have piece of mind knowing that I am not harming my body despite all the scare tactic articles circling the web.

I’m sure some reading this will still decide to stick with natural deodorants and maybe some of you have sighed a massive breath of relief knowing you don’t have to continue suffering and will switch back to antiperspirants. Whatever you decide to do, I’m not judging! At least hopefully now you feel a wee bit more informed.

If you’re passionate about this topic (or just find yourself spending countless hours online researching topics like this), I’d love to hear your thoughts! Did you find a study that I missed? Share it with me!

Love,

Saffy

xxx

2 Comments

  • Sarah Minnick
    October 23, 2019

    I was just thinking about how I hoped this post was coming soon yesterday! Have you found any cruelty-free and zero-waste (or close to it) antiperspirants out there? I’d dying to cut down on my plastic consumption since recycling isn’t a think here in the kingdom.

  • saffy
    October 24, 2019

    Yay! I’m so glad we were in sync! I’ve not been able to find a replacement for the standard deodorant yet… :/ I too am reducing my plastic use in the bathroom but that is one I’ve not been able to figure out yet… I’ll let you know if I do find a replacement though! xxx

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