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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Smell Good, Naturally…

by Melissa Ida and Rebecca Gorski

It’s no secret that our personal care products are laden with chemicals and they are bad for us. As with anything you put in or on your body, you need to know what is in that product. We have to be very vigilant consumers and learn to read the ingredients, not just the pretty words on the front of the product packaging. There is no regulation for “natural”, and that’s no secret. The fun part becomes learning what to look for and how to avoid those things.

In addition to shampoos, lotions, soaps, and sun screens, deodorants are on the must-know-what’s-in-them-before-I-put-them-on-my-body list. How bad are deodorants and antiperspirants and how do you know what to look for? Here is a list of chemicals frequently found in deodorants that you should definitely avoid:


What it is: One of the most common elements in our environment and the world’s most common metal, it is used for many things, including our personal care products.

What it does: It restricts the sweat from releasing through your underarms, thus letting you remain odor-free. However, in that process, the antiperspirant is absorbed by your body, aluminum included. The toxins that should be releasing themselves from your body go back in and are absorbed.

Problems with this include: a suspected link between Alzheimer’s disease and toxicity of aluminum (The World Health Organization, 1993), and it may be linked to problems with the sweat glands and lymph glands in and around underarms.

What can you do about it?

The biggest thing you can do to control the scent of what comes out of your body is to alter what you put into it. Foods that cause foul odors include: large quantities of red meat (causes stagnation) and  highly processed dietary foods lacking in fiber but high in white flour, sugar, and hydrogenated oils. Foods that help: plant-based foods like whole grains, leafy greens, fresh fruits, sprouts, raw nuts and seeds, healthy oils, parsley, cilantro, celery, mint, and the aromatic herbs sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. The chlorophyll and other phytonutrients cleanse from the inside out.

Eliminate or reduce problem-causing foods and increase natural foods and you might still sweat when you’re hot and overworked — but you might not smell so bad when you do.


What it is: This is one of the most common antimicrobial agents used in antibacterial soaps, detergents, deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, towels, mattresses, and so on. It was initially developed as a surgical scrub for medical professionals. The surprising news is that in 2005 the FDA found no evidence that antibacterial washes containing triclosan were superior to plain soap and water for protecting consumers from bacteria.

What it does: It is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity and low levels may disrupt thyroid function.  Some studies show that the triclosan could react with chlorinated water to produce chloroform, a probable human carcinogen.

What you can do about it: Avoid personal care products with triclosan and triclocarban on the ingredients label. In addition, do not use antibacterial soap or other antibacterial products.


What it is: According to the EPA, formaldehyde is a probable carcinogen, though the risk of cancer from absorption through the skin is not fully understood. The chemical can also trigger adverse skin reactions in children and adults who are sensitive to the chemical. Contact dermatitis specialists recommend that children avoid exposure to products containing formaldehyde. Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives called formaldehyde releasers break down over time in the container.

What it does: When used in deodorants and antiperspirants, formaldehyde comes into direct contact with the skin and is absorbed through its pores. When absorbed or inhaled, this chemical  can cause short-term and/or long-term effects. Short-terms effects, such as skin sensitivity, rashes, and allergic skin reactions,  have all been linked to formaldehyde use.  Long-term effects, however, may be much more severe. Past studies have shown a correlation between formaldehyde use and leukemia and brain cancer.

What can you do about it? Avoid roll-on antiperspirants that list formaldehyde-containing preservatives such as Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15 on their labels. By substituting preservative-packed antiperspirants with more natural deodorants, you will be doing your body a favor. Deodorants with plant-based, biodegradable ingredients ensure a healthier you and a greener environment.

Smelly and Good Choices!!

Lime Mint & Lovage Deodorant Enjoy our refreshing lime mint and lovage scented deodorant with quality direct from our organic herb fields, nurtured through hand processing, and infused with the desire to bring nature’s healing to your well being. $8.00

Coconutty Coconutty is probably the world’s only deodorant with powdered coconut milk, both creamed and desiccated coconut and coconut oil to help it stay in place all day. $7.95,

Aromaco Deodorant Aromaco Deodorant is our cooling, patchouli scented deodorant block based on an infusion of astringent witch hazel and chamomile vinegar. This also has odor-bashing baking soda in it too, so use it on your feet, your armpits and anywhere else you want to keep smelling fresh and lovely. (Vegan)  To Use:  Apply directly to underarms, feet or anywhere that needs a little stink control. Sold by weight, $6.95

T’eo Deodorant It contains effective essential oils that get to work quickly and efficiently on the bacteria that live on your skin and effectively breaks down sweat. Lemongrass and tea tree oil to kill unpleasant microbes, juniper berry oil to purify and detoxify, and fresh grape juice which acts as a gentle astringent. (Vegan)  To Use:  Apply directly to underarms, feet or anywhere that needs a little stink control. $7.95

The Guv’ner The Guv’ner has come to us fresh from the LUSH kitchens — and it’s our strongest, most effective deodorant yet. The Guv’ner was created for the boys. $9.95

Quick Facts About Your Skin:

“Aluminum can be absorbed into the skin,” explains Dr. Kris McGrath, a Chicago-based allergist. “When it breaks free, it’s highly charged and may affect DNA, which can increase the risk of cancerous cells.”

“Parabens, which are used as preservatives, can behave like a weak form of estrogen — and high estrogen levels over long periods of time may be linked to breast cancer risk.”

Pass the Salt

Not so long ago, “natural deodorant” meant scraping a cold salt rock against your skin or laying heavy on the patchouli in the hopes of masking odor. While these protections did little to stave  off sweat, they offered an alternative to conventional B.O. busters — and their accompanying health risks.

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