Is Organic Deodorant Really Better for You?
The average person may sweat less than a liter, or up to several liters a day, based on what they’re doing – Kathleen Doheny, Web MD
What does organic mean and how does it apply to our personal care products? What is organic deodorant and is choosing an organic product better?
Many people believe that if something is not organic, it is not good for our health. Let’s see how true this actually is, especially when it comes to what we put under our arms to prevent or cover up sweating.
Why Do We Sweat?
Sweating is perfectly normal. In fact it is a necessary function for a healthy body. People have an average of two to four million sweat glands. Factors such as genetics, the environment, age and fitness level will determine how much someone sweats.
The two types of sweat glands in our body are called the eccrine and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands regulate the body’s temperature. As the body’s temperature rises, the eccrine glands release sweat. These glands are found all over the body.
Apocrine glands are found mainly in the underarm and groin. Changes in body temperature as well as stress, anxiety or hormones can trigger these glands.
The apocrine glands produce sweat that contains fat and protein. When the sweat mixes with the bacteria on our skin it can cause body odor.
What Is Deodorant and How Does it Differ From Antiperspirant?
Deodorants contain antibacterial ingredients to help neutralize bacteria. They may contain fragrance to mask odor.
Antiperspirants contain ingredients, such as aluminum salts, to reduce sweating. The aluminum dissolves in the sweat and forms a gel. The gel plugs the sweat gland so very little sweat is released.
What Does Organic Actually Mean?
According to the USDA, when a food is certified organic it has been grown and processed according to federal guidelines. These guidelines prohibit synthetic fertilizers or pesticides to be present in soil for at least three years, before the product is harvested.
An organic deodorant is one that has been made using certified organic ingredients.
Is Organic Deodorant is a Better Choice?
Rather than comparing non-organic to organic deodorant, it is more beneficial to look at the individual ingredients of a product.
Blood tests have shown that some chemicals commonly found in deodorant can make their way through the skin and into the body. That’s why it’s important to understand the ingredients that we are putting on (and in) our bodies.
We can make better decisions when we have the knowledge to identify the ingredients that are considered more harmful.
4 Harmful Ingredients Found in Non-Organic and Organic Deodorant
1. Parabens (Methyl-, Ethyl-, Propyl-, Benzyl- and Butyl-)
Parabens are a very common ingredient in health and beauty products. They are a often used as a preservative.
Preservatives are necessary to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold. They also extend the shelf life of products and protect consumers.
A study conducted in 2004 linked parabens to breast cancer. Despite refutations to these claims , many companies choose to use alternative preservatives.
Triclosan is an antibacterial ingredient that kills bacteria on the surface of the skin. It is particularly useful in treating bacterial skin conditions.
Many of the products we use everyday contain triclosan. These include anti-acne skin care and hand sanitizer. The constant exposure to antibacterial agents mean that the microbes on our body can start developing a resistance to them.
This resistance may lead to a reduction in effectiveness of antibacterial products. This is especially serious if a medical issue needs the body to react to triclosan.
It is best to use products containing triclosan sparingly.
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral made up of magnesium, silicon, hydrogen and oxygen. Cosmetic manufacturers use it to make their products appear opaque. In deodorant talc will help prevent rashes and keep skin dry.
Unfortunately, some talc may also contain asbestos. Asbestos, a known carcinogen, has small fibers that make it very easy to inhale. In 2015 a court awarded a woman in California $13m. She developed a tumor in the lining of her lungs from years of using talc with asbestos particles.
4. Triethanolamine (TEA) and Diethanolamine (DEA)
Household cleaning products, cosmetics and personal care products will often contain ethanolamines.
Both TEA and DEA have been linked to liver tumors. DEA works as an emulsifier. It is commonly found in shampoos, cleaners, and detergents. TEA is also an emulsifying agent. It is used as fragrance and pH adjuster.
It is not the TEA or DEA alone that is harmful. Nitrosamines form when ethanolamines come into contact with certain preservatives. Nitrosamines have been listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as carcinogens.
In fact, the European Commission has banned DEA completely in cosmetics. Hopefully the rest of the world isn’t slow to follow Europe’s lead.
Then Which Deodorant Should We Use?
Why not look for an organic deodorant in its literal sense? That is, one that uses ingredients relating to or derived from living matter.
Look for ingredients such as coconut oil and its derivatives, plant extracts and natural antioxidants. These are some of the beneficial ingredients in Savvy Travelers No Sweat antiperspirant and deodorant wipes.