A Fresh Approach

22nd September 2017

Lisa Botwright is curious to see if natural deodorants are as effective as the (chemically-laden) high street versions…

With so many cheap and effective deodorants on the market, is there any need to consider looking for a natural alternative? Well, ‘no’ is the short answer. There have been several studies over the last decade or so looking at a possible connection between deodorant and breast cancer, but all have failed to find any definitive link. It seems most high street deodorants use aluminium-based compounds as their active ingredient to ‘plug’ the sweat duct, stopping the flow of sweat to the skin’s surface. Since we apply this chemical, and others such as parabens (the chemical-based preservatives) every day, and so close the breast, there have been concerns that this is contrary to the body’s natural response, and that, more ominously, they may have an oestrogen-like effect, promoting the growth of breast cancer cells. But a 2014 review concluded ‘there was no clear evidence showing that the use of aluminium-containing underarm antiperspirants or cosmetics increases the risk of breast cancer’; no further studies to date have confirmed any similar adverse effects.

And so although the short answer is ‘no’, the long answer might be a little more complicated, and much more personal.

With sales of organic food soaring, and with an increase in people choosing chemical-free beauty options, it seems there’s growing discomfort with the daily chemical assault on our bodies, and a desire to lessen the use of them in whatever small ways we can.

I’ve gathered together some of the most popular natural deodorants on the market, selecting ones with plant-based natural ingredients (leaving out crystal deodorants, another option altogether).

With our busy pace of life, the most important question to ask is: do they work? All the natural ingredients in the world won’t make up for a mid-afternoon meeting where I feel clammy and start to sniff my underarms surreptitiously.

Happily it’s a resounding ‘yes’, although I should qualify that by saying that I’m not an overly-sweaty person (apologies if this is too much information) and also that I bathed each morning before applying them. They’re designed to minimise the growth of bacteria on clean skin, rather than tackle the breeding ground of, say, the underarms of a rugby-playing-shower-avoiding teenage boy.

The first one I try is Aurelia’s cream. It uses a powdered-clay base to absorb moisture and antimicrobial tea tree to reduce bacteria. It’s the priciest of the lot, at £18 (the rest are all £7-8), and I’m a little squeamish about using my finger tips to apply it, but all is forgiven as I smell its glorious blend of lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils.

Easiest to apply are the roller balls from Arrow and Neal’s Yard Remedies, and both have lovely fresh scents too. The peppermint and lime of NYR, is a marriage made in morning-heaven, as far as I’m concerned.

Sukin’s comes in a pump-action bottle and uses a delicious, zingy blend of tangerine, mandarin and lavender as its natural antibacterial properties. My only reservation is that the pump is a little difficult to depress using my left hand (compared to my usual supermarket brand), but perhaps that says more for my lack of dexterity, than any criticism of design.

The most unusual is the LUSH solid deodorant, which comes commendably packaging-free. Despite almost staggering back at its overpowering smell when it’s delivered to me – acidic… sour-lemon drops, perhaps? – I find that once liberated from its paper bag, it smells much less powerful and is not unpleasant to use. It looks a little like a pumice stone, but applies easily, like a solid talc.

These ‘fresh’ alternatives won’t suit everyone, but I find I like the way they enhance my morning routine. And I know that science unequivocally tells me not to be concerned about using chemicals on my skin…but these lovely deodorants are one less thing to not worry about.

Peppermint & Lime Roll on Deodorant

• nealsyardremedies.com £8

Arrow Protect Aluminum-Free Deodorant

• birchbox.co.uk £7

Botanical Cream Deodorant

• aureliaskincare.com £18

LUSH T’eo Solid Deodorant

• uk.lush.com £8

Sukin Natural Deodorant

• hollandandbarrett.com £8.49

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