Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
Sweating is natural—it’s your body’s way of regulating temperature and flushing out toxins. The problem is the smell.
Most perspiration is odorless and is composed of water, salt, and trace elements secreted by the eccrine sweat glands distributed over the entire body and stimulated by heat, physical activity, or nervous tension. The apocrine sweat glands, concentrated in the armpits, most often produce perspiration responsible for odor and are activated by pain, sexual excitement, or emotional stress.
After puberty, the chemical composition of the apocrine secretions becomes ideal for bacterial reproduction. Within a few hours, bacteria normally present on the skin multiply and decompose in these secretions to cause the body odor considered so offensive.
Drugstore antiperspirants promise to keep you dry. They typically contain processed aluminum chlorhydrate or aluminum zirconium as the active ingredients to stop you from sweating. Antiperspirants work by plugging sweat ducts with these aluminum compounds. The problem is that the toxins that would normally come out of these sweat ducts back up in your body. Plugging up your sweat ducts is like plugging up your car’s exhaust system. In addition, these ingredients can cause skin irritation, itching, and redness.
Natural deodorants use mineral salts as the active ingredients, which do not block sweat ducts because their molecules are too large to be absorbed through the skin and are gentler to delicate underarm skin. The most widely used mineral salt in deodorants is alum, which is a natural astringent and kills bacteria that produces odor. Keep in mind that most natural deodorants don’t promise to keep you dry, only odor-free.
Here are some no-sweat tips to make your natural deodorant most effective:
- Allow your body to cool down after showering or bathing before applying deodorant. Glide a small amount over your entire underarm area. Wait a few minutes before dressing so you don’t wipe it off on your clothes.
- Apply before bed. Most likely you apply deodorant in the morning. But if you perspire heavily, use it again at night to keep the bacteria at bay.
- If your feet perspire, use deodorant on them, too.
- Be consistent. The antibacterial effects of natural deodorant are cumulative.
Green Clean: Chlorophyll
Chlorophyll, found in spirulina, wheat and barley grasses, and dark-green leafy vegetables, can be taken internally to help neutralize body odor, as well as bad breath. Taking it in supplement form makes it easy to get a concentrated dose for maximum benefit. One user raves, “I had morning breath, and taking chlorophyll eliminated it within two days.”
SUN CHLORELLA Sun Chlorella A, derived from a lineage of pure green algae that has existed for thousands of years in a chemical-free extraction process, acts as a natural detoxifier and deodorizer while providing essential nutrients.
NATURE’S WAY Chlorofresh is a chlorophyll concentrate extracted from mulberry leaves and can be taken in softgel form as an internal deodorant.
AUBREY ORGANICS E PLUS HIGH C Natural Roll-On Deodorant gives you protection that lasts all day. This herbal roll-on formula includes natural vitamin E, vitamin C, organic aloe, and other skin soothers.
MILLCREEK BOTANICALS Aloe Fresh Deodorant combines tea tree oil to naturally fight bacteria and keep odor in check.
Aloe vera, comfrey, and vitamin E soothe and condition underarm skin.
NATURE’S GATE Lavender & Aloe Deodorant Stick has none of the bad stuff—it’s propylene glycol-, paraben-, and aluminum-free. Baking soda neutralizes odor, while aloe and lavender soothe and protect skin.
Sherrie Strausfogel is the author of Hawaii’s Spa Experience: Rejuvenating Secrets of the Islands. Writing about beauty, spas, health, cuisine, and travel, Strausfogel’s work has appeared in more than 100 magazines, newspapers, guidebooks, and websites. She is based in Honolulu.