I Stopped Using Deodorant for 2 Years... Here's My Experience
I’ve made it a point to live a healthier lifestyle. This includes changing my eating habits, being more accountable for my sleeping schedule, exercise, and of course being conscious of the products I use on my body. I feel like every bad sentence starts with “I watched a documentary…” - but yes, I watched a documentary called The Human Experiment. The documentary focused on the issues within the cosmetic industry and how the products that we apply on our skin have affected and will continue to affect our bodies. Now, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time prior to giving up mainstream deodorant when I discovered how deodorant and antiperspirant are designed to work, and when I had my own experience.
Before I continue, I do want to be clear and transparent. I am not a licensed medical professional, a scientist or a scientific journal researcher. I am just a girl sharing her experience. I am not pushing some green agenda, and my words should not and are not meant to be taken as the single truth. I’ve done research which is pretty much all that I ask that you do. All I hope is to bring this matter to someone else’s attention. I implore you to do your own research, draw your own conclusions and decide for yourself.
How It Works…
“ANTIPERSPIRANTS WORK BECAUSE THEY CONTAIN ONE OR MORE CHEMICALS LIKE ALUMINUM CHLORIDE OR HYDROXYBROMIDE. WHEN MICROSCOPIC PORTIONS OF THE ALUMINUM ENTER THE SKIN, THEY TAKE WATER WITH THEM. THIS CAUSES SWEAT DUCTS TO SWELL AND EVENTUALLY CLOSE, PREVENTING THEM FROM DELIVERING THEIR CONTENTS TO THE SKIN’S SURFACE” - MICHAEL FRANCO, STAFF WRITER
So basically, deodorants inhibit the body’s natural mechanisms of dispelling sweat. So what - you might be thinking. Body sweat is a natural process, and we do this for many reasons. This process is the body’s own unique temperature regulator that cools you down when it’s hot, and it is a great way for the body to get rid of toxins within your body.
A demonstration on how you are supposed to apply deodorant explained that you apply the product at night so the ingredients have time to clog the sweat glands and prevent you from sweating in the morning. I don’t know what part of this explanation sounds safe, knowing the reasons why we sweat in the first place, but it did not sit too well with me.
Another thing to note is that some of a man’s most important glands are found below their waist AKA the prostrate gland. A woman’s important glands are found in their armpits, hence the increased likelihood to develop breast cancer.
This time last year, January 2018 I got some disconcerting news and this time became the longest 5 months of my life. I found a solid lump in my left breast. I was shocked, scared and thinking the absolute worse. I immediately phoned my doctor and booked an appointment for an examination. My doctor told me that for further information they would have to get an ultrasound done on my breasts to see what was going on. This became the longest and toughest 3 months of silence I have truly ever experienced thus far. Early testing…. I thought to myself that by the time I got an exam it would be too late to do anything. I called back to my doctor frantic because I hadn’t heard anything and I wanted to be proactive. I was truly going out of my mind. I do not have any history of breast cancer in my family but my mind tends to think to the worse possible situation in these type of scenarios. Any statistic that says “.. 98% of people are not likely to be affected…” yeah, I usually make up that 2% - the whole 2% by myself.
In the past three years, my uncle passed away from skin cancer, and my father passed away from stomach cancer, so this only added to my stress knowing that at the very least cancer itself ran in my family. I was scared thinking of the possibilities. The lump wasn’t going away. The lump was getting harder. Finally after 3 and a half months of waiting, I got my appointment. I went to the Ultrasound Clinic in my area to for my exam and waited for my results. About two weeks later, I was booked for a Biopsy.
The morning I went for my Biopsy I was so nervous, but the doctor was very kind, informative and reassuring. Although, because it had been so long since the discovery of the lump, she said I’d have to do yet another Ultrasound in case anything had changed, moved, grown, or appeared. I was really happy that this doctor got everything done very quickly. Within one week, I had my ultrasound done at the clinic that her office was associated with and went in for my Biopsy shortly after.
Two weeks after that, I was called in for my results. I exhaled. The lump turned out to be a benign cyst that had formed in my chest. I am told this is pretty common especially for young women within the Black community. The longest 5 months of my life ended, but the lump still remains a year later. I was told that if it grew, others developed or if it bothered me to call back for an operation to have it removed completely.
The basis of most deodorants is Hydrobromide; which is a kind of salt, and Aluminum Chloride, which is metal based compound. Aluminum-based compounds are the active ingredients in antiperspirants “[that] block the sweat glands to keep sweat from getting to the skin's surface”. Now, to clarify, it has not been proven that antiperspirants and deodorants cause the body to develop cancerous cells as it is not certain if aluminum or how much of aluminum is absorbed into the body.
“WHEN YOU EAT SOMETHING, IT’S BROKEN DOWN BY YOUR LIVER AND DIGESTIVE SYSTEM”…”BUT WHEN YOU PUT SOMETHING ON YOUR SKIN, THERE ARE TIMES WHEN IT CAN ENTER YOUR BLOODSTREAM WITHOUT BEING METABOLIZED” - HEATHER PATISAUL, Ph.D, NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY.
Not Using Deodorant…
Initially when I switched to natural deodorant, I’ll admit, it stung my armpits. It was not the most comfortable experience and my underarms were very sore and irritated. This is because one of the main ingredient’s is baking soda. After years of swiping chemicals under my armpits, there was a lot of residue in my skin that needed to come out first. I assume there was some sort of chemical reaction going on in my pits from the mixture of store bought deodorant and the natural ingredients. My mother also noted the same thing and her armpits were red and sore much worse than mine.
But I was determined to get out of the habit of applying these mainstream products. So, I decided to try and rid my pits of the chemicals that lingered. I went to my trusty Bentonite Clay and Apple Cider Vinegar mixture and applied that under my arms everyday for 5 days. This is intended to rid the pits of the metal from the aluminum. Once I did that, I no longer felt any discomfort under my arms.
Natural deodorant is not going to block the sweat glands in your armpits so it will allow you to sweat. When this moisture meets air, it produces a scent which is why we smell. What it is going to do however, is alter the scent. Now, it is not going to leave you as dry as a chemically derived product, and you will have to reapply if you’re going to the gym. I wear mine when working out and shower as normal after without any issues.
I have noticed over time, my sweat does not smell as bad as it used to. This might have something to do with my increase in water intake as well but I am sure that without the other chemicals, my natural scent was able to push through. And I have gone to through busy days and even hit the gym without any complaints from others around me.
To Deodorize or to Not Deodorize?
In truth, for some people, you may be applying deodorant out of social habit unnecessarily. One study found that not everyone produces the bacteria that leads to odor. Some people just naturally do not produce this odor so they don’t need to apply it. Daytime Host and Stylist Jeanie Mai from The Real noted that she often doesn’t wear deodorant because she is not very hairy and doesn’t smell .
So, the questions still stands, should you be applying mainstream deodorant or not? The truth is it is absolutely up to you. All I can do is lay out the research and share my experience. If its something you enjoy using then by all means continue. I personally have stopped using it all together but that is a personal choice. The growth in my chest turned out to be benign and it is inconclusive if it had anything to do with the deodorant I was wearing. I made a conscious decision to stop using a lot of products that I cannot understand the ingredients of. It’s up to you whether you want to continue using store bought antiperspirants or switch to natural ones. Do not expect that you will be 100% dry and sweat free.
You will still sweat, but your body will thank you!