And how it's actually making you stink, too.
Deodorant and I have had a rocky relationship.
When I was only 11-years-old, my parents alerted me to the new smell that was oozing from my underarms. I was given a stick of regular, store-bought deodorant and just like that, it became a part of my daily life.
With every passing school year, every sports team I joined, and every crush I developed, my deodorant use slowly increased. Before I knew it, I was using clinical-strength deodorant, applying it several times each day, all in hopes of taming the beast. And yet, by the end of the day, I still reeked.
If I could go back and give my high school self some advice, I would tell her...
“Throw that deodorant in the trash can and NEVER USE IT AGAIN”
The reason? It turns out that using deodorant can actually make you smell worse. Here's how.
The antiperspirant in your deodorant works by clogging your pores with aluminum-based compounds. This stops you from sweating. Well, at least, from your armpits. Of course, sweating is a natural function that serves the body by cooling it off. If your body wants to sweat...it's going to sweat.
Clogging up the pores in your pits just means that the sweat is going to escape elsewhere. That explains the sweaty hands and glistening forehead that I struggled with constantly when I used regular deodorant.
The other downside of stuffing your pits full of strange chemicals is that it doesn't stop you from producing sweat there; it just stops the sweat from coming out.
Wearing aluminum-ridden antiperspirant is like building a dam inside of your body. The sweat just sits in your skin, trapped behind the dam, festering in the dark. This can alter the bacterial makeup of your underarms, and not in a good way.
Once that strong, artificial smell of your deodorant fades, the angry monster that you've created underneath the skin rears its ugly head. And you end up smelling even worse.
If you think smelling worse is enough reason to quit store-bought deodorant, wait until you read this.
According to the Breast Cancer Fund, high levels of parabens have been found in biopsy samples of breast tumors. It's not a myth, it's not a rumor. It's real.
It makes sense when you think about it. Parabens are a common ingredient in store-bought deodorants. We slather that deodorant right onto our skin, and the parabens have a one-way ticket through our skin and directly into our upper breast tissue, which is exactly where breast cancer forms.
If you are like most women in the United States, you shave your armpits, too. This opens your pores and makes you even more vulnerable to absorbing those parabens.
If you need any more evidence that deodorant can cause breast cancer, consider this. Despite the fact that men have breast tissue just as women do, and that men can get breast cancer just as women do, women are 100 times more likely to get breast cancer than men. Coincidentally, it has also been found that women have much higher levels of parabens in their bodies than males of the same age. Is it just me, or is there a correlation here?
Natural Ways to Stamp Out the Stink
When I learned about all the harmful ingredients found in deodorant, I quit it. I even stopped shaving my armpits. I felt better, like I was taking charge of my own health and at the same time I was breaking the social pressures put on women that I always found to be ridiculous anyway. Empowerment!
Then again....I smelled. Bad.
While every person has a right to proudly unleash their natural scent on the world, I decided it wasn't for me. I wanted to feel empowered AND smell good. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to achieve both of those goals.
Focus on your diet.
“You are what you eat.” It's always been true. And I know, onions and garlic are delicious and so good for you. But if you're looking for ways to cut down on smelly, you might try cutting back on smelly foods. (note: french onion soup is just too good for me to follow this rule)
Drink More Water
If you don't have a glass or reusable bottle of water within arms' reach of you right now, you probably don't drink enough water. I know, I'm guilty of it too. But once I get into the habit of sipping on water all day long, it really does make a difference.
Being hydrated will dilute the toxins in your body, so when you do sweat it will be – well – mostly water, rather than a stink bomb of bacteria. Plus, sipping water cools off your engine, giving your body less reason to sweat in the first place.
You can keep it interesting by plopping in a few berries, or some lemon and mint.
Use (Truly) Natural Deodorants
As powerful as I felt each time I proudly declared that I'd chosen a deodorant-free life, discovering a beautifully scented deodorant that I know is safe to use feels pretty freakin' powerful too.
A word of caution; be careful if you decide to shop for deodorant at the store. Big companies will say anything to sell their product, but products labeled “natural” are not always so. Look for deodorants that are paraben-free, aluminum-free, and are also free of artificial colors and scents.
To read more about studies mentioned in the article, explore the links below!
Aluminum, antiperspirants, and breast cancer:
Breast Cancer Fund on Parabens:
Parabens found in breast tumors:
Sarah is a guest writer for LaRose Bath & Beauty. After spending almost four years working towards a degree in Education from the University of Central Florida, she decided to take a leap, swapping traditional school for independent study and travel. Now, Sarah is after a freelance career that will let her continue doing what she loves; writing and exploring.