The truth about natural deodorants

The truth about natural deodorants

There are many myths and many misunderstandings about natural deodorants.

During the last years we have seen a growing number of deodorants that flee from the active principle that we find in deodorants "from the super": aluminum salts. The search for an alternative that naturally respects skin sweating and is equally effective has become a headache for many formulators, including ourselves.

To understand the problem well, we must start at the beginning.

What is sweat and why does it smell?

Sweat is a liquid secreted by the sweat glands, which are a special type of gland found in our dermis and flow directly to the surface of the skin. They fulfill a function of cooling or regulating body temperature.

Why does it smell? The sweat that the apocrine sweat glands emanate (those found in the armpits and groin) is more viscous than the sweat that we secrete in the rest of our body. In the case of underarm and groin sweat, it is made up of water, lipids, esters and polysaccharides, which is a liquid that can be degraded by bacteria. Sweat alone does not smell. What is the problem, then? That the environmental conditions of the armpits and groin (lack of light, humidity, poor ventilation), together with the lipids, esters and polysaccharides found in the sweat of the apocrine glands, favors the proliferation of bacteria, which degrade the sweat making it smell. Yes, you read that correctly, the smell of sweat is due to the proliferation of bacteria in our armpits and English.

How does a deodorant work?

There are two types of key factors in a deodorant product:

1. Antiperspiration, which prevents sweating and with it the degradation of it and therefore the unpleasant smell that we all know;
2. The anti-odor function, which does not directly prevent sweating, but rather helps prevent the proliferation of bacteria and the degradation of sweat (it makes the sweat not smell, without preventing its segregation).

The antiperspirant effect is found in the deodorant of all life, the "super". How is this antiperspiration effect achieved? Through aluminum salts. You can find them in the INCI list of the vast majority of deodorants, under the name of Aluminum chlorohydrate or Aluminum zirconium pentachlorohydrate. These aluminum salts act on the eccrine and apocrine sweat glands, occluding them and preventing them from fulfilling their function. The result is a reduction in the amount of sweat produced.

Are aluminum salt deodorants harmful?

In recent years, aluminum salts have been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer's. The reality is that so far there is no rigorous evidence or studies that have shown a link between aluminum and these diseases.

On the other hand, the OCU (The Organization of Consumers and Users) issues the following recommendation: “Although not much is known about the effects and absorption of aluminum present in cosmetics through the skin and studies are lacking in this area, yes there are recommendations to reduce exposure to aluminum by reducing the use of antiperspirants. "

There are many active ingredients that cover this objective from different approaches. Here are the main and most efficient:

  • Citric Acid Ester (INCI Triethyl Citrate): citric acid is an organic acid present in most fruits, especially citrus fruits such as lemon and orange. Citric acid ester is a very effective enzyme inhibitor. It inhibits the enzymatic breakdown of sweat and prevents the formation of bad odors.
  • Sodium bicarbonate (INCI Sodium Bicarbonate): it is a crystalline solid white compound that is obtained from a naturally occurring mineral called natron. It has antibacterial properties and helps reduce its proliferation.
  • Tea tree, lavender and peppermint essential oil (INCI Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia Oil, Mentha Arvensis leaf oil): these are essential oils with antiseptic and deodorant properties.
  • Coconut oil (INCI Cocos nucifera oil): coconut oil provides repairing, protective, moisturizing and purifying properties, but in a deodorant it can help prevent the proliferation of bacteria and fungi.
  • Cornstarch powder, clays and other minerals: they act as moisture and sweat absorbents, to slow down the breakdown of sweat.

Bottom line: natural deodorants don't prevent sweat

Personally, I believe that sweating is natural, because sweating is a physiological function necessary for our body. This opinion is not based on the possible adverse effects of aluminum salts, which, as we indicated above, are not proven, but is based on the fact that when sweating ...

  • We regulate body temperature.
  • We eliminate waste substances and toxins.
  • We manage to maintain the pH of the body surface.
  • The horny layer of our skin stays hydrated.

Regardless of the risk (or not) that derives from the use of aluminum salts, we do not believe that we should prevent sweating by occluding our sweat glands, because by doing so we are preventing the normal functioning of our body.

We believe that a deodorant product should prevent odor, and in turn should be formulated to keep our armpits hydrated and healthy.

Our definitive deodorant proposal

From our SOLITO zero waste brand we have developed a deodorant based on shea butter, which allows natural perspiration and offers effective protection.

It is formulated on the basis of cornstarch powder, sodium bicarbonate and alum powder. Overall, it improves the overall health of the underarm area with a quick-drying texture.

The cornstarch powder captures the moisture, the bad smell. Sodium bicarbonate prevents the proliferation of bacteria and the essential oils it contains provide bactericidal properties. It does not contain perfumes, alcohols or aluminum.

In addition, in the next two months, we will include Citric Acid Ester in the formulation, which will complement the aforementioned active principles with its enzymatic inhibitory properties, which prevent the degradation of sweat.

There are two varieties of this toilet bowl:

  • Mandarin Deodorant: this variant also contains essential oil of orange and tangerine, and essential oil of litsea cubeba that provides a very pleasant citrus aroma.
  • Charcoal Deodorant: this variant includes charcoal as an additional anti-humidity agent, which stands out for its absorbent capacity and complements cornstarch in its function of absorbing moisture and excess sweat. It also contains peppermint essential oil, which provides antibacterial properties and an incredible sensation of freshness!


Article written by: Eric Steinbauer, Co-CEO and Co-Founder at Kriim.

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