Walking down a cosmetic shopping aisle can be a daunting task. The range of antiperspirant and deodorants available can be bewildering. All promise, "fresh, clean, 24-hour protection", but they are doing the same thing... Right? So how does natural deodorant work?
Let's talk about sweat
Sweating is a natural process and a body defence system. It cools you when you exercise, and helps to get rid of waste and toxins from the body when you are sick. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, fresh sweat doesn’t ‘smell’ at all. It’s only when the sweat sits around for some time that the whiffy problems start to arise. That's right, as gross as it may sound, once your body starts to produce sweat, it also produces bacteria that "eats" our moisture. The waste generated from this bacterial banquet is what creates our body odour. This is why we associate body odour to sweat. This is also why everyone's natural body odour is different. Differences in our skin microbiome cause slight differences in our skins ecosystem. This affects the odour produced.
Antiperspirant vs deodorant
They both sit next to each other on the shelf. Sometimes a product may work as both, but what’s the difference between the two?
Antiperspirant helps to stop you sweating. It does this by restricting or blocking the flow of sweat from the sweat glands. This in turn, reduces the ‘wetness’ and the bacteria which produce the odour. Though there is little hard evidence that this is bad for your body, it does stop or hinder a natural process. A 2016 review found no link from antiperspirant to breast cancer. It did also suggest that there is a strong need for further research.
Deodorant, by contrast, masks the smell of your natural body odour. It does this by killing the bacteria that "eat" your sweat. No bacteria, no smell and it’s as simple as that.
Nerd fun fact
The Food and Drug Administration considers deodorants to be cosmetic. That is, a product intended to cleanse or beautify.
By contrast, it considers antiperspirants to be a drug. A product intended to treat or prevent disease, or affect the structure or function of the body.
Stopping the sweat
It would make sense that if you can stop the sweating, then the problem goes away right? Well, kind of yes, but the human body has evolved over quite some time to protect and care for itself. Slathering on artificial compounds to stop body function will affect this natural process. At its worst, this can increase body odour as the skin ph balance or immune system becomes affected.
A sweaty science
Though we think about sweating as one thing, there are two types of sweat gland covering the human body. First, we have apocrine glands that carry fat and protein secretions from within the body. Second, we have eccrine glands which excrete salt and water to keep the body cool.
When our under-arm bacteria chow down on these apocrine secretions, they release an acid. It's this acid, when moistened by eccrine secretions, that is the main cause of body odour.
There are many bacteria that hangout in your hot bits. The bacteria corynebacterium, staphylococcus, micrococcus, and propionibacterium are all involved. They setup home in your pits and take care of this sweaty biological processes. In the same way as you need bacteria in your gut, this can be a good thing. According to a study in 2016, changing your skins ecosystem can make you smell worse. in short, changing your skins microbiome, could lead to a growth of new and even smellier bacteria!
Stop the smell
Modern science has created all kinds of wonderful inventions. From controlling fire to putting a man on the moon, we are awesome! A lot of attention is also directed to taking care of the human body. Whether artificial or natural in origin, we now know what concoctions help to keep us healthy.
Keeping it real
Trying to avoid artificial ingredients? There are a few things that all-natural deodorants contain:
Some kind of antibacterial agent such as tea tree or coconut oil
A natural scent (optional) from essential oils. Lavender, sandalwood, cinnamon etc, the choice is endless
A natural absorbing agent such as corn starch or bicarb soda.
Using the above ingredients will stop the spread of bacteria. All this without damaging or blocking the sweat glands and reducing body odour.
Deodorant home brew
Want to make your own deodorant? Sure you can! The internet is an amazing place. You can find homemade deodorant recipes in places such as this one from health line
Readymade and ready to go
We at Plastic Free Aussie have sourced just such a deodorant range for you from Woohoo. A selection of deodorant sticks from scent free to tropical. All ready to go whatever your preference.
Whichever you choose, remember that sweating is a natural process. Don't let it stop you from putting your hands in the air and living your best life :)
Check out more of our body care products available for delivery straight to your door.