Ah, sunny days… The return of lunches in the sun, rising temperatures… and sweating! Natural phenomenon, yes, but very quickly unpleasant for oneself and for others when odors get involved. In short, the deodorant becomes the essential gesture of the morning. A gesture, however, not so trivial, for our health as for the planet. Against sweat odors, too, it's time to go natural!
Why do we sweat?
Sweating is a vital natural mechanism. Yes, just that ! Composed of water, minerals and lactate, it is secreted by the sweat glands. These glands are distributed all over the body, most densely in the armpits, feet or palms: the areas where we sweat the most.
His role ? Participate in the thermal regulation of the body. As soon as its temperature increases, under the effect of heat, strong emotions or after physical exertion, a message is sent to our brain to activate its production. As the water in our sweat evaporates, it transfers the heat from our body into the air. True personal climate control! Our sweat simultaneously removes toxins and excess fluids from the body. Finally, it has a social role. Yes Yes ! It carries hormones that influence our relationships: it is thus, in particular, that the newborn recognizes its mother.
So why use deodorants? Mainly because perspiration becomes odorous when it comes into contact with bacteria, dead cells and microbes that proliferate on the surface of the skin. And our society has become very intolerant of these body odors as hygiene has developed. And yes : deodorant is above all a social norm.
Deodorant and antiperspirant: what's the difference?
Have you ever studied the deodorant shelves in supermarkets? For women, for men, special sensitive skin or profuse perspiration, in stick, spray, roll-on... It's hard to find your way around! Well, we're going to drastically simplify the choice for you: we strongly advise against using these conventional products! Explanations:
Behind the common name "deodorant", there are actually two types of products.
Antiperspirants or antiperspirants limit or block the secretion of perspiration. Some even claim 48 hour effectiveness! The dream ? Not really, no. As we have seen, perspiration is an essential mechanism for our health. Obstructing it is not a good idea at all: accumulation of toxins that can lead to illnesses, difficulties in regulating body temperature... Even in the case of abnormally excessive sweating, using an antiperspirant is not the solution. It is better to consult to really tackle the causes - disease, drug treatment, diet... - rather than just masking the symptoms!
Classic deodorants, they mask or prevent the formation of odors by acting against the proliferation of bacteria. They contain antibacterial substances and fragrances… and are not no more recommendable. Irritating, they can cause allergies and disturb the balance of the skin. They even lead to the appearance of resistant bacteria.
Above all, both act with great reinforcements of aggressive or even toxic chemical substances.
Conventional deodorants: caution, danger
In recent years, alerts on the dangerousness of deodorants have indeed multiplied. Main accused: aluminum salts or aluminum hydrochlorides, produced industrially from aluminium. Very effective in capturing water and tightening the pores of the skin, they are suspected of promoting the development of breast cancer, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, of causing anemia and bone damage.
Soluble in water and fat, they penetrate the skin barrier and enter as at home in the body. Since the body is unable to eliminate it, the aluminum released by chemical reaction then attaches itself to the organs, tissues and even passes the placenta. A toxicity established from a certain threshold, of course… which is regularly lowered by successive studies. However, aluminum salts are used in the composition of antiperspirants and many deodorants: far from the ANSM recommendations not to exceed the 0.6% threshold, some contain up to 20%! To recognize them: aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY.
Conventional deodorants without aluminum salts exist. But they rarely escape other harmful substances. Alcohol, an irritant, is often used to make your deodorant dry faster and for its antiseptic properties. The synthetic fragrances, at least irritating and allergenic, often hide endocrine disruptors. The same goes for chemical preservatives, triclosan and parabens in the lead. The risks ? An accumulation leading to hormonal and neuronal problems, reduced fertility, cancers...
All the more worrying as the deodorant is applied to an area where the skin is thin, often shaved or depilated. In other words, hyper permeable. Do not panic, however: the choice is not limited to poisoning yourself or doing nothing. Solutions combining respect for health, the environment and efficiency exist.
Give naturalness to your armpits:
The most effective assets
First solution: baking soda or dietary sodium. Resulting from a simple chemical reaction between natural elements (chalk, salt, water, carbon dioxide), without synthetic components, it is totally biodegradable and highly effective. Capable of neutralizing paint odors and deodorizing your cat's litter, your sweat does not scare him! Another big advantage: it prevents your light clothes from turning dirty yellow in the armpits (but can leave some traces on dark clothes).
To use: lightly massage your armpits with a pinch of baking soda, alone or mixed with coconut oil. Wipe off excess to avoid irritation. That's it, you should be quiet for the day!
The +: easy to find, very economical and efficient.
The - : the application can be a bit sensitive right after shaving. Be careful to choose it very thin to avoid any irritation.
If you like a slightly smelly deodorant, essential oils are for you. Some are able to eliminate bacteria, regulate perspiration and absorb humidity: the essential oils of Palmarosa, Laurel Noble, Sage, Lavender, Tea Tree, Rose, Mint, Hamamelis are particularly indicated. Be careful, do not use them pure: mix a few drops with a vegetable oil before applying this mixture under the armpits. Jojoba oil, non-greasy, is ideal.
The +: effective, easy to use.
The - : pay attention to the dosage (risk of irritation for sensitive skin, allergies, photosensitization) and contraindications for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Finally, their smell can be heady, especially for the Palmarosa.
Other natural active ingredients have valuable virtues. Hamamelis floral water, astringent, can be used all over the body and face. It is also softening, soothing after shaving, anti-limestone and very refreshing: the solution to adopt for the summer! Aloe Vera is antiseptic, purifying, regulates perspiration and leaves a pleasant feeling of freshness. “Grandmother's remedies” are also simple and effective: a slice of lemon (antibacterial) or cucumber (astringent) under the armpits, or cider vinegar. Applied with a washable square, it prevents the proliferation of bacteria.
Reinforce its effectiveness with a few simple gestures: favor loose clothing made of breathable natural materials, limit foods that make sweat smelly (garlic, onion, beer, certain spices, etc.), drink sage herbal teas that regulate sweating. Finally, don't expect these solutions without aluminum salts to prevent you from sweating: going back to being more natural also means getting used to this physiological phenomenon again...
Attention, natural does not mean harmless
Many natural active ingredients are therefore available to you. You can use them alone, pure, combine them (you will easily find recipes), or even look for them as ingredients in commercial deodorants. To make sure you are really dealing with trusted products, read charters and labels: an organic label is unfortunately not a 100% guarantee of protecting you from dangerous substances, whether synthetic or natural.
Because yes, some natural solutions are to be avoided. And in particular one of the best known: Alum Stone, a mineral with antiseptic and astringent properties. Applied moistened on the skin, the Alum Stone slightly tightens the pores, regulates without blocking the secretion of sweat and deposits a light antibacterial odorless layer. But also aluminum salts. Ouch… Synthetic stones (Alun Ammonium), which are very common, are the most dangerous. But if the aluminum salts contained in natural stones are known to be less soluble and more stable, they are not harmless. Their toxic potential is still debated, but the manufacturers themselves advise not to use them after shaving or depilation. In short, if only as a precautionary principle, we abandon this false good idea.
Another solution that we came back to: talc. Natural mineral from the clay family, very fashionable in the 70s, it has a strong absorbent power. But also a carcinogenic potential equivalent to asbestos...
Finally, if you choose a natural deodorant in commerce, ban the aerosol format. Containing solvent and propellant gas, they are highly polluting, involved in global warming and cause asthma. Slightly contradictory! Prefer sprays or even better, solid deodorants or balms. More economical, with generally more ecological packaging, they are also more respectful of the skin. Finally, choose formulas with a low concentration of essential oils and containing little or no alcohol.
- Sweating is a process that should not be hindered: forget the antiperspirants!
- Conventional deodorants, but also certain natural solutions, contain chemical substances – aluminum salts, preservatives, alcohol, perfume – which make them certainly effective but harmful to health and the environment.
- It is all the more important to avoid these substances as the deodorant is a daily product, applied to areas where it easily penetrates the body.
- Natural solutions exist: natural cosmetics or raw active ingredients, it is possible to combine efficiency and naturalness!