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Deodorant Debate

Whether we like it or not, it is part of our culture: we are perceived in part by how we smell. When you get a whiff of someone (sometimes ourselves) with bad body odor, it can be pretty unattractive.   This is of course why most of us use deodorants or anti-perspirants as a bid to try and keep our pungent pits at bay. But is this actually detrimental to our health, and if so, what are our other options?

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Armpits are designed to sweat for a good reason. However, a morning spray or roll of products designed to stop this natural process has actually become a normal part of most of our morning routines. Quite simply, sweating is good for us so by stopping this process we’re essentially blocking the exit door for the toxins in our bodies and forcing them to stay in our systems! Like the bowels, liver, urinary system and lungs, our sweat glands are supposed to help keep the body clean.

Sweat is an odorless fluid consisting of 99% water.  Normal sweat evaporates from the skin very quickly, and leaves no unpleasant odor behind. An unpleasant smell under the armpits or on the skin, occurs only when your body needs to employ bacteria to eliminate excessive sweat that could not be removed by fresh air, usually because of wearing synthetic clothes that do not permit proper aeration.  When there are excessive amounts of toxins that need to be “digested” by bacteria, a strong, putrid smell occurs.

Body odor often occurs for a reason. It can be a sign of constipation and can also indicate poor performance of liver and kidneys. But instead of reading these symptoms as a sign of imbalance in the body and solving the problem, most people merely search for ways to shut down the symptoms with antiperspirants and deodorants.

Although seemingly essential in our society, antiperspirants and deodorants can also be damaging to the body. Deodorants neutralize the smell of perspiration through their antiseptic action against bacteria, while antiperspirants minimize body odor from even being released, by using aluminum-based compounds to form a temporary plug in the sweat ducts. The latter actually stops the flow of sweat to the skin’s surface, trapping any toxins in with it.

While this may not seem like a big problem, our armpits happen to contain lymph nodes, which act like little filters for our blood and form an essential part of the immune system. They help our bodies recognize and fight germs, infections, and other foreign substances. As you can imagine, it’s important to keep them clear of chemicals, alcohol and heavy metals if they’re going to do this well. To make matters worse, these nodes also act as a gateway, allowing these substances that are used in many deodorants to travel directly into the blood system.

One such heavy metal, Aluminum, is a hazardous material that is allowed to be added to anti-perspirants in regulated amounts.  However, there is no scientific proof that these “regulated amounts” of what is essentially a poisonous substance in the human body, are actually safe.  Arguments against the use of aluminum emphasize the fact that aluminum accumulates in the brain over time and may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and also breast cancers.

Deodorants are considered healthier than antiperspirants because they don’t interfere with perspiration, but many conventional brands contain harsh, potentially toxic ingredients that should be avoided. Ingredients to avoid include parabens, all forms of aluminum, and the following substances:

  • Propylene glycol: absorbs quickly through the skin and which has not been fully investigated for carcinogenic potential.
  • Talc: classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer if it contains asbestiform fibers, which are unregulated in cosmetic grade talc.
  • Steareth-n: may be vegetable derived but is processed with ethylene oxide, a known human carcinogen.
  • Triclosan: a synthetic antibacterial ingredient found in deodorants that can in interfere with our hormonal systems.

So what is a stinky so and so to do? Luckily several personal care companies are catching on to the public’s desire for toxin-free products. Deodorant crystals are a safe and effective alternative to antiperspirant and commercial deodorants. Crystal deodorants, made of 100% all natural mineral salts, prevent odor from happening in the first place by neutralizing the bacteria. These don’t work for everyone though, so there are also plenty of chemical free deodorants out there that use essential oils and other natural ingredients to inhibit bacteria growth and stop the smell.

Remember that everyone’s body chemistry is different. What worked for your friend may not work so well for you and you may have to try a few before you find the right deodorant. You may want to experiment with your own formulations, so here’s a good base recipe you can play around with:

Liquid Deodorant Recipe

As there are no preservatives, the spray will last up to four weeks. Keep refrigerated to prolong the shelf life.


  • 1/4 cup witch hazel extract
  • 1/4 cup aloe vera gel
  • 1/4 cup mineral water
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
  • 3 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops patchouli essential oil
  • Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to blend

Essential Oils for Deodorants 

Many essential oils are powerful against bacteria and also provide a pleasant fragrance. It’s important to understand what qualities oils have to blend them successfully. Hot oils such as cinnamon, clove and thyme are strong antibacterial agents, yet they can be irritating on delicate underarm skin. It is best to use them in very small percentages, or not at all if you have very sensitive skin. Use additive free, good quality organic, cold-pressed oils. Here are some recommended oils for deodorant blends:

Lavender - calms the skin and has a soothing effect. It blends well with most oils including patchouli, lemon, sandalwood and tea tree

Lemon -  contains a sharp citrus scent and blends well with eucalyptus, and lavender

Patchouli - softens the skin and has an earthy and musky scent. The oil combines well with lavender

Peppermint - has a refreshing and cooling menthol fragrance. It blends well with cedarwood, eucalyptus, lavender and rosemary

Rosemary - fights bacteria and has an astringent effect. It blends well with cedarwood and peppermint

Eucalyptus - has pleasant woody undertones and is gentle on skin. It mixes well with peppermint and lemon

Cedarwood - is a good choice for men and combines well with peppermint and rosemary

Sandalwood - has a sweet exotic fragrance and blends well with lavender and lemon

Tea tree oil - has a slightly pungent scent and is best used in minute quantity. It complements eucalyptus and lavender oils

There are of course ways of changing what comes out of your body, by changing what you put in it! A very healthy diet rich in unprocessed vegetables and grains and low in meat-based products, alcohol, and caffeine helps reduce body odors. Chlorophyll is a natural plant nutrient that is known as ‘nature’s deodoriser’ and helps cleanse you from the inside out…so is well worth trying out! Eating healthy foods helps in general elimination of toxins, as well as keeping you healthy. One more motivation for eating healthy – you are less smelly and need deodorizing less! Regular showering and wearing fabrics that breathe can also do wonders for a sweeter smelling you without compromising the health of your body.

Live well, live long, live naturally

Renée x


Thank you. I love this article, I've tried so many products. I do occasionally wear an antiperspirants, and after two days of wearing it I feel that my breast hurt a bit, more tender. I try to use mostly a Tom's of Maine natural deodorant (the liquid, because the stick rashed me really bad) and I drink a lot of water to get toxins out (as well as liquid chlorophyll). I was wondering if Kora would eventually have a deodorant?

Hi Kelley,  
Wow, that's amazing that you can actually feel the difference in your breasts after you've worn antiperspirants after a few days - you must be so in tune with you body, which is awesome! It sounds like you're on the right track with everything that you are doing too. KORA doesn't have any plans to do a deodorant in the near future...but you never know when that might change because there is definitely a demand out there for a really good one! x

Hi Renée.
Thank you for this article.It´s so useful as I´ve been thinking about more natural alternatives to the deodorant I currently use in the last weeks. A friend of mine told me a partner bought at an organic stand in a market a mineral that is a natural deodorant. That partner told my friend she only had to wet it and then roll it on the armpits and that it was great, effective and that it didn´t dirty clothes as many deodorants do. But my friend doesn´t know the name and she isn´t seeing that partner in a while. Would you please tell me that mineral´s name if you knew it?

You're welcome Amanda. Yes, there are natural deodorants out there that are made up of mineral salts. These are sometimes called 'Mineral Salts', 'Mineral' or 'Crystal' deodorants. They are commonly made up of Potassium Alum or Ammonium Alum (not too be confused with the nasty aluminum used in antiperspirants!) Here is the link to one of the most popular mineral deodorants (gives you lost more info and you can also buy them here)  
I hope this helps Amanda! x

Thank you for answering so soon Renée. Of course it helps I´ll take a look at all the information later as I don´t have time so much time know and I have to make it with enough time to think about it, understand everything and choose the option I prefer.

Thank you, Renée for the tips! I am a Lavilin girl, but I will try out your recipe one day!!

You're most welcome Jackie :) I've recently discovered 'Black Chicken' natural deodorant paste and it is amazing! x

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