What is a Deodorant?
Some people do not realize that there is a difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant, but there is. A deodorant kills bacteria, that’s why some deodorants contain neomycin, the same ingredient in some antibacterial creams or ointments. Deodorants neutralize odor from sweating by killing bacteria, but they don’t stop us from sweating or perspiring. You see, it is not the sweat that smells. When the bacteria eats the sweat on our bodies it causes the odor. In a nutshell, deodorants kill the bacteria. No bacteria, no odor.
The History of Deodorants
Many years ago women would use perfumes to cover up any body odors. The first “commercial” deodorant, in the form of a cream, was made in1888 and it was called “Mum”. I even read that there was another early deodorant called “Everdry” that was so strong it actually ate right through clothing. Wow! I wonder what ingredients that deodorant used!! Much easier to use roll-on deodorants arrived on the scene in the mid 20th century. By 1959 we saw spray on deodorants, although they came under fire in the mid 70’s when CFC’s from aerosol cans were banned. I still remember being in my highschool locker room with everyone spraying their under arms with deodorant – boy sometimes it was tough to breathe with all the fumes in there.
Are Americans Obsessed With Sweating?
An exchange student from Belarus lived with our family for nearly a year. The first thing we noticed was that she had body odor, and she didn’t seem to use any deodorant or antiperspirant. This was a delicate subject, how do you tell someone they need to use this for good hygiene? I did some talking with friends who had also hosted exchange students from Europe and they had to deal with the same issue. I’m not saying all European’s are this way, but we Americans seem overly obsessed with body odor. I took our new “daughter” to the local supermarket and showed her the rows and rows of deodorants, and told her that this was very important to Americans. Then we bought her some! It’s clear by the stocked shelves in our stores that Americals don’t like to perspire.
The Aluminum Scare and Natural Choices
There are many people who say that the aluminum used in our antiperspirants can cause Alzheimer’s disease, and this has been a hotly debated issue. The FDA has allows aluminum in products such as antacids, buffered aspirin, and even toothpaste. Still, if it is a concern of yours, there are plenty of alternative, natural choices from which to choose.
Be careful, however, that you know what you are getting. I purchased a “deodorant crystal” and the ingredients in it were mineral salts and ammonium alum. I later was told that ammonium alum is an aluminum salt. The crystals do work, but if you want to avoid aluminum be sure to check ingredients before you make that purchase. Personally, I have found a wonderful deodorant from Weleda (a company who has been around since 1921). It’s called “All Natural Citrus Deodorant”, and the ingredients in it are grain alcohol, water, lemon juice, vegetable glycerine, and natural fragrance – it smells similar to citrus. I really like the way it works for me. I have read that ingredients such as eucalyptus, sage, and coriander also work well. Either way, deodorants may be a safer choice over antiperspirants since I don’t believe deodorants contain aluminum.
The Breast Cancer Scare and Antiperspirants
Several years ago I received an email telling me that antiperspirants can cause breast cancer. No doubt you also received one similar to it – these were really making the rounds via the world wide web. The sender of the message claimed that she had been to a seminar on breast cancer and learned that because antiperspirants prevent us from sweating, toxins are not being released from the armpits and are instead being deposited into the lymph nodes near the arm pit. They claimed that these toxins build up over time and can cause cells to mutate and ultimately could cause breast cancer. I have read quite a lot about this theory, and it is a controversial subject to say the least. Once again, if you want to err on the side of caution, deodorants may be a better choice over antiperspirants because deodorants do allow the body to sweat.
Antiperspirants prevent sweat from reaching the skins surface by using astringents, such as aluminum salts for one, which works by blocking sweat ducts so they cannot release sweat.
You Can Make Your Own!
Annie Berthold-Bond, author of “Clean and Green”, “Better Basics for the Home”, and “The Green Kitchen Handbook” gives some good suggestions for making your own deodorants. You can also do a simple search on the internet and find a plethora of websites with homemade deodorant recipes.
The Best Time to Apply Deodorant
I read somewhere that 20% of all Americans take their bath or showers in the evening. They also say that the best time to apply deodorant is right after a bath or shower, while the armpits are still damp. The bacteria fighting ingredients are activated by moisture (like when we sweat), so you will get a jump start on your day if you are taking showers in the mornings instead of in the evenings.
Scented or unscented, cream or roll on, gel or powder like, clear or white … so many choices when it comes to choosing an antiperspirant or deodorant. I am amazed by how many people don’t know there is a difference between the two. And of course there are the dual versions that are both an antiperspirant AND a deodorant, which may be a choice for some consumers as well.