How To Switch To Natural Deodorant! (And Why!)

I did it.

It’s one of those things I want to PROCLAIM TO THE WORLD, except I cannot do so without appearing like an utter freak. (Which perhaps I am, but one must keep up appearances.) So I shall now silently proclaim it to the virtual world:¬†The switch to natural deodorant has been accomplished!

It wasn’t easy.¬†I wasn’t so much worried about the smell, but rather the¬†sweat¬†side of things. Because sweating makes me feel gross. And I HATE feeling gross. I don’t mind feeling miserable from¬†temperature¬†or¬†fear¬†or¬†pain¬†or¬†awkward social situations, but from grossness? I’m just like… um NO. I even tried switching to an all natural deodorant last year, sweated for a day, and kissed the concept goodbye.

Before getting into the nitty gritty of the (now successful!) transition, as well as the product I use, let’s take a look at the very concept of sweating, and why it’s actually a good thing!

WHY WE SWEAT

sweat adWe’ve got lots of sweat glands. By lots, I mean 1.6 – 4 million lots. We’ve actually got sweat glands everywhere except the lips.¬†(Oh hey chapped lips!)¬†These glands are coiled tubes underneath the skin which let stuff out.¬†(Let it go!)¬†They’re primarily responsible for¬†keeping our body temperatures regulated,¬†by directing heat via water evaporation out of the body, and cooling the skin. Regulating your body temperature not only keeps you happy, it also keeps your brain and body happy. An overheated body doesn’t do anyone much good.

In addition to serving as onboard air conditioning systems, sweat glands also¬†excrete water and electrolytes,¬†and¬†form a protective barrier on the skin¬†to thwart bad bacteria. Some sweat glands even¬†release pheromones, AKA: Come Hither¬†chemicals. (So stopping up your glands with antiperspirants¬†is a very unsexy thing indeed.)] Notice¬†I didn’t list “remove toxins.” That research is actually mixed on that front. Contrary to poplar belief, we don’t¬†hardcore¬†sweat out toxins. For all you hot yoga/sauna fans, sorry! Detoxification primarily occurs through stuff like the liver and the bathroom. That said, we¬†do¬†detoxify a bit through the skin, and some studies show¬†sweat may release things¬†like cadmium, BPA, environmental chemicals, and other nasties. I know I totally just contradicted myself. Basically, detoxification may not be the¬†primary¬†reason we sweat, but it’s likely a nice side effect. As a n=1 sidenote, I’ve also noticed that, since adopting a Paleo diet, my sweat doesn’t smell that bad. Hmm…..

HOW WE SWEAT 

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 10.29.12 PM.pngThere are two main types of sweat glands. Eccrine glands are found all over our skin, with high concentrations in the hands, feet, scalp, and forehead. They release a salty water mixture. Apocrine glands are found infamously on the armpits, as well other nifty places like the breasts, ear canal, eyelids, nostrils, and genitalia. (That list make me laugh.) They release a thicker substance of water, carbohydrates, and proteins.

Sweat glands are controlled by the uncontrollable automatic nervous system. They can be turned on by physical exertion, environmental temperature, as well as emotions and nerves. Oh hey sweaty palms!

WHY SWEAT DOES (OR DOES NOT) SMELL

Sweat by itself actually doesn’t smell bad. It’s when¬†bacteria on our skin¬†feed¬†on the sweat, that things start getting a little funky. You could, in theory, sweat a¬†ton¬†with no smell, or sweat a tiny bit, and conjure up a stench, Pig-Pen style!
It also means perfumes just mask the bad scent, and potentially encourage bacteria to boot! On the other hand, natural antibacterials can keep your sweaty regions free of bacteria, preventing the scent from occurring in the first place.

WHY MOST DEODORANTS/ANTIPERSPIRANTS ARE BAD (And not in a crazy conspiratorial way.)

According to the FDA (not that I’m a fan of the FDA, but whatevs),¬†deodorant is a cosmetic. Antiperspirants are over the counter drugs.¬†Yep. And while manufacturers claim there is no direct link between antiperspirant chemicals and health problems, these are the same types of companies which allow chemicals, colorings, trans fats, etc. in our food. Just saying.

Antiperspirants commonly contain¬†aluminum,¬†which keeps us FRESH! by literally¬†blocking our sweat ducts. The sweat ducts absorb the aluminum ions, and then¬†swell and squeeze close.¬†Anything trying to get out, well,¬†doesn’t get out. Does that sound healthy to you? ¬†To make matters worse, aluminum is a¬†neurotoxin¬†linked to things like liver toxicity, Alzheimers, other degenerate diseases, and breast cancer. (Aluminum in the skin may particularly affect estrogen receptors in the breast, encouraging cancer.)

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO STOP

Green Tidings Deodorant.PNG

Loving this stuff!

Unlike my previous failed attempt, this time I RESOLVED to do it.¬†I researched the vast galaxy of natural deodorants for hours. I was saddened to realize that the¬†antiperspirant¬†aspect of deodorant is really what I like… and really what I needed to get rid of. {SIGH} I finally settled on¬†Green Tidings All Natural Deodorant, in Unscented Extra Strength. ¬†It had¬†rave reviews¬†(oh hey 4.5 stars out of 4,854 reviews!), was¬†decent priced¬†($7.99!), contained¬†all natural organic ingredients, and also¬†didn’t promise to make you not sweat,¬†but would absorb moisture¬†via stuff like tapioca starch and baking soda. (I found such honesty oddly refreshing, pun intended.)

I sucked it up, mentally prepared myself¬†for hours of yucky, sweat-induced grossness, and swiped on a smidge. I was skeptical. Unlike my smooth feeling Dove, I didn’t really feel, well,¬†anything. Should I apply more? Yet the instructions started by saying, “You don’t need to apply as much as you think!”, promising that a few light swipes would last for 24 hours, and that if it felt creamy, that actually meant I’d applied too much. I guess this was a #trust moment.

So I went about my life.

And ya know what?¬†It wasn’t that bad.

I did notice perspiring a little bit more than usual, but not terribly so. And as the days passed, even that light sweat mostly dissipated.¬†I actually feel less gross now. Not even kidding. I think wearing chemical antiperspirants put your body into a weird cycle of perspiration, where you’re shushing your body most of the day. It’s like when you try to hold in tears or a sneeze or a cough… it just becomes unbearably worse. Ya gotta let it out!

After a few weeks of wearing completely natural deodorant, I don’t¬†think¬†about the nature of my pits anymore, as I did in the past. I simply swipe on the Green Tidings after a shower, and I’m good to go. I’m hooked. The stuff smells like nothing. Literally it has no smell. At the same time, it makes me have no smell. Everybody wins!

 

REFERENCES 
http://perspectivesinmedicine.cshlp.org/content/4/2/a015222.abstract
http://jap.physiology.org/content/100/5/1692

The science behind sweating


http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2014/01/10/sweating-benefits.aspx
https://www.boundless.com/physiology/textbooks/boundless-anatomy-and-physiology-textbook/integumentary-system-5/accessory-structures-of-the-skin-65/sweat-sudoriferous-glands-397-4497/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21057782
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22253637

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