The Loose Debra no-sweat guide to natural deodorants

I sweat like the proverbial horse. Yes there are other ways to start a blog post, but I'm keeping it real and saying I'm fully qualified to test a range of 'natural' 'deodorants' - (the inverted commas question both of these descriptions: you can never be too sure).

Over the years I've progressed from floral Mum, to supermarkets' own brands, to Dove, and then on to deodorants rather than anti-perspirants, and now, with breast cancer in the family, I want aluminium, paraben and other nasties-free deodorant only, thank you very much. Whereas it used to be about not smelling, now it's also about avoiding unintended consequences.

deodorant

a substance applied to the skin to mask or suppress body odours

antiperspirant

an astringent substance applied to the skin to reduce or prevent perspiration

natural

existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind

At some point I heard the 'myth' about breast cancer being linked to Aluminium Chlorphyllate, and the one about breast cancer being linked to preventing sweat escaping from your pits, and, to be honest, I didn't like the sound of either. There are studies which link tumour growth to AC and antiperspirants, but they remain 'inconclusive'. However, I have a brain, and when I use it, I think, 'Hmmm, antiperspirants block sweat pores do they? Hmmm, sweat gets rid of toxins carried by the lymph does it? Hmmm, so that means the toxins don't actually get out and the lymph gets stressed, huh? Oh, and they've found Aluminium Chlorphyllate in lymph nodes associated with tumours have they?' At this point with the rusty brain whirring away, I start to whiff, having set my sweat free and refused to use the toxin- riddled products that actually work!!

So whilst this blog accepts that studies are inconclusive (unless any of our readers can tell us otherwise as we'd love hard evidence!) it nevertheless sets out to determine...

                     Which Aluminium-free Deodorants Actually Work?

A smelly group of deoderants gather on a chair

A smelly group of deoderants gather on a chair

Over the last week, I've used a range of deodorants, run around a lot, and checked my pits many times a day, all in the name of Research.

Friends (well, to be fair, those who would still tolerate me) have been grilled about their personal hygiene habits and let me check their pits too. (Well, what are friends for?). And I even had the chance to ask my gynaecologist if he thought it was a good idea to put aluminium deodorant under ones arms so near the breasts? He said "I go natural" (I'd actually guessed this some years back, but always good to feel vindicated). And he asked, looking at me as though I was completely mad, his default expression, "Why would you put aluminium on your skin? Your skin absorbs everything". And that was the end of the subject for him. He had more important things to do but I don't want to go into further detail.

I've come to the conclusion that we all have different tastes/bodies/hormones/sweating habits, as some friends swore by deodorants that didn't work at all for me, or found my faves "sticky" and "weird-smelling". But, for what it's worth, here are my personal ratings:

I started with the one I've had in my swim-bag for the last year: Weleda's rose scented deodorant spray. I love this because it comes in different sizes (ie, very portable for a bag), and in a GLASS bottle. Plastic bottles have also been associated with cancer, so best to avoid if possible I always think, though some are ok. (Check the numbers on your plastic containers here).

This deodorant is a favourite of mine because it works for me, (though not necessarily 'all day' - I'd give it 5 hours before I get whiffy), and has a pleasant, light floral fragrance. It sprays on (which is great if you're not prone to shaving your pits, as pastes get a bit messy in the hair), and dries quickly. I'm not nearly so keen on the citrus or sage scented ones in the range, as I think they actually smell a bit like sweat, so really what is the point?! (I have to say, in the name of fairness, that my friend Sarah loves the citrus one. She has weird taste though). This comes in at £12.95 for the 100ml bottle and £7.95 for the 30ml. It's "free from aluminium salts and phthalates, contains essential oils to neutralise odours, and doesn't disrupt the body's natural functions". I can testify to this last point with some nice patches under my arms :-)

Next up, I bought PitROK crystal (in spray form) and in a masculine-looking black bottle from Boots for £4.05. PitROK is 'based on natural mineral salts' and contains 'no aluminiums, parabens, SLS, SLES, or propylene glycol'. It's marketed as "sensitive, fragrance-free natural deodorant spray'. Although I liked the serious look of the bottle and the spray form, sadly it was a bit too sensitive for me and my sweat completely overpowered it! I applied at 7.30am, and had to change tops by about 10.30am. 

An old favourite of mine is Jason, 'pure, natural, organic', and no doubt available in a health shop near you. This one smears on quite easily, smells pleasant, and works for most of the day. Aluminium and paraben-free, it's a family favourite in our household, along with the body wash (bubblebath actually but what's in a name?). Jason comes from the Greek for "healer" and the deodorant is free of aluminium and propylene glycol. This one costs about £4.99, and I recommend the aloe vera scent or the apricot - tea-tree, lavender and natural can get a bit pongy when mixed with one's secretions.

'Florere' (say 'flow rare') comes from the Latin "to bloom or flourish, like a flower'. I must disclose that a free sample of Florere  was sent to Loose Debra when we suggested - upon reading that it was unisex, vegan, hand-crafted, aluminium-free and non-GMO - that one word to associate with this product would be 'freedom'. Inspired by a breast cancer survivor, it's billed as healthy and natural. I loved the fact that you can apply the cream with your fingertips, or just use the roll-on, and of course the back story is very appealing. I tried Florere in stick form and really enjoyed the scent and texture - fresh and light both. I walked the dog along the river and came back smelling fresh as a daisy; by evening I wasn't fresh, but at the same time I didn't stink, and I'm grateful for mercies like these. So are those I live with. The only negative is that it ships from the States.

This next one is called "Bionsen", contains "Japanese Spa Minerals and offers "Gentle, long-lasting freshness with 0% aluminium" but does contain other, definitely non-natural, ingredients. This worked very efficiently but didn't smell as 'natural' as the rest, and comes, significantly not from a health shop but from Boots and most other chemists. The roll-on cost under £2, and the spray under £3.

The next one I tried was "Tom's of Maine", billed as "Nature's original deodorant stick". This one uses hops to "inhibit the growth of odour-causing bacteria". And I'd say it worked pretty well. It reminded me of the Jasons texture, kind of smearing over the skin, fairly long-working, pleasant smell, and same kind of container! However, I reckon Jason's lasted a tad longer in the odour-fighting department. On Amazon this costs £5.95, and same in your local health shop.

I also tried Occitaine's natural deodorant (£14, so the most expensive) and Green Peoples, both roll-ons and liquid form. Neither seemed to work for very long, though both were aluminium-free and pleasant. And, you know, it could be me, so I'd love to hear your deo experiences... :-)

Summary...

Brad Pitt: Florere and Weleda 

Cess Pit: Bionsen and PitROCK

Karen Dobres, Chief Freedom Fighter