The Deodorant Debate: Spring/Summer Edition

I think it is time to revisit that age old debate…the one about being stinky or not.

For some of you, I will suggest that you have something of an easier task in finding an antiperspirant than my poor, old, sensitive arm-pitted, living in Texas self.  If you don’t have to face 90+ degree weather everyday, there’s that.  If you DO, then you likely have the same debate I have.

So, there was the baking-soda and water spray, which I used for about a month.  And the verdict:  Doesn’t really work on really hot days.  AND, even this water and baking soda formula was too “hot” for my sensitive skin.  I never switched it up with aloe vera or anything more moisturizing, because I discovered I didn’t really like the mess of it…waiting for it to dry and dealing with it dripping everywhere.  Yeah.  Gross.

Lafe’s, which I had also reported on back in December, is still on my counter as an effective back-up for not having something else. It is also water-like in its drippy-ness and needing to dry, and it does contain potassium alum, which contains aluminum. This concerns me for more than one reason, but if you read this article at Mother Nature Network, it seems to suggest that potassium alum isn’t as absorbable as other forms of aluminum commonly found in other deodorants/antiperspirants. And, when you look it up on the Skin Deep Database, it is graded with just a 1. Combine this deodorant with synthetic clothes, however, and it is lacking…at least for me. It does not irritate, my skin, though. So, that’s why it is still on my counter…good enough for most days, but when I have an important event or meeting, I have backup.

I said I would do it, and I did.  I splurged on LaVanila’s Healthy Deodorant.  It cost $18.  That is not a typo, and it isn’t missing a decimal.  I chose the Vanilla Passion Fruit, but I didn’t think it smelled too much like either–it did smell nice, though. Similar to the other natural deodorants, it worked decently with natural fibers and less so with synthetic fibers.  I didn’t notice it feeling wet or sticky, and it was very much like a standard solid deodorant stick, which I personally prefer.  The sad news for me, though, was that something in this “healthy” product was still too strong for my sensitive skin.  My significant other, though, liked it and said he didn’t notice it smelling too girly.  Truth be told, he actually went looking for it when I had misplaced it one morning saying “where is MY deodorant?”  He works construction in the Texas heat, and though he specifically prefers deodorant over anti-perspirant, he was happy with it’s de-stinking abilities.  The major problem, however:  when I told him how much it cost, he was shocked and a little upset that I would spend so much on something like deodorant.  “For this little thing?”  Yeah.  Not worth it for me, but maybe for you, if you don’t mind the expense.

The major disappointment for me was Desert Essence Tea Tree Deodorant.  Now, one of the things that is difficult about blogging about products is that the formulas change, like, almost every day.  I purchased this deodorant around January, but the kind I bought isn’t on the market anymore, unless you happen to find it in store that doesn’t turn over products often.  Anyway, don’t bother.  My main complaint with this product is that it is hard to apply.  It seems more “gluey” and sticky than glidable and applicable.  It just didn’t want to “go on” and maybe that’s why it didn’t work.  Stinky pits by midday.  Like didn’t work at all.  My significant other also gave a thumbs down on this one as “not working.”  Desert Essence has many other fine products, which I totally encourage you to try.  If you are brave, you might even try one of the new formulas of deodorant, but I would honestly try something else. Especially at almost $7 a pop.

And, just one more review that is really more of a “beware.”  In one of those moments where you are at the drugstore at midnight picking up random things you need (like a gallon of milk, tweezers, a birthday card for a co-worker, and deodorant), beware of the “natural-sounding” versions of deodorant that you may find from a reliable-sounding brand.   For example, Sure has made deodorant for decades.  I think some of us might remember commercials that had people dressed in business professional clothing stopping in the middle of a meeting to “raise your hand if you’re sure!” or some such.  Anyway, as it turns out, their recent formulas for just “deodorant” seem fairly mild as far as toxic chemicals go.  The asterisk next to that statement, of course, is the fragrance formula may contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals like phthalates.  Or it may not.  We don’t know.  However, and this is my main point, as odd as it may seem, Sure’s “Natural Extracts” version has a worse ranking than than its regular stuff on the Skin Deep database.  Now, it’s still not that bad, but it has more “non-active” ingredients making up the base of the product, and some of these are considered more toxic than less.  Go figure.

Also, you may think Arm & Hammer’s Essentials Natural Deodorant sounds like it would be pretty awesome.  Well, not only do we not know what is in the fragrance formula, but this version also uses Triclosan, an endocrine disruptor, as an anti-microbial to keep the stink down.  This is definitely something you do not want to put on freshly shaved skin every day, and serves as prime example of “what not to buy” when you are wandering those drugstore aisles too late at night.

Of course, one glaring reality that I have yet to discuss in this blog is the fact that all of these products are delivered in the form of a plastic container of some sort.   Many do not have recycling labels, and many, even if they do have a number on it, aren’t really readily recyclable, because the inner workings or caps are made of different plastic types.  Can you imagine how much plastic goes into landfills just because we feel the need to apply chemicals to our pits so we won’t stink/sweat?

You can, of course, like me, go back to the drawing board, and make your own.  My dear friend, Rebecca (fellow naturalist and good food foodie), swears by a simple powdery mix of baking soda and cornstarch dispensed by a glass spice-shaker…you know the kind they have at pizza parlors for the red pepper flakes?  Just a dusting seems to work for her.  I haven’t tried it yet (I will, I swear), but she smells pretty nice every day, and she even rides her bike to work in the Texas heat!  That sounds like a winning product review to me!

I personally think I am going to return to my original preference and create a spray formula of some sort (alcohol? water? aloe?) that will be scented with essential oils or oil blends that do not contain any crappy chemicals in them.  Hey, it works for me.

I will keep you posted on this on-going debate, but until then,  feel free to share any good finds or recipes that really work.  Any good ideas are welcome here!

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Categories: aluminum, deodorant, endocrine disruptors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “The Deodorant Debate: Spring/Summer Edition

  1. Jessie

    Hey – how about Lavilin? Any experience with that one? Just bought some on Amazon.

    • I have not tried Lavilin, personally, but their website indicates that they have commitment to being all-natural, aluminum-free, and even fragrance-free. I did confirm with them that they do not use phthalates, and they also indicated that all of the ingredients are available per product on their website. Hope it works for you!

  2. Barb Rodman

    Have you tried Tom’s deodorants? they claim to be cruelty- and aluminum-free. I like the unscented one, but wonder if you know something about them I don’t.

    • Hi Barb! No, I have tried Tom’s, but it simply doesn’t work for me. I wish it would, because it is widely available, but after a major fail on a hot day in a suit jacket while I was on travel, I had to say “never again.” It is true that they are aluminum-free and otherwise non-harmful chemically laden, so if it works for you, keep on with it, I say!

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