Greenwashing is one of my biggest pet peeves. I absolutely hate it when I hear about a new product that is "natural" and "non-toxic" only to find out after reading the ingredient list that it is anything but. I have found deodorant to be especially challenging; trying to find something clean that actually works is no small feat.
When I say something that works, I don't mean something that stops me from sweating. I am all for sweating, it performs an important detoxification function in my body, and to be perfectly honest I would rather have any and all toxins out rather than in. I am, however, trying to find a non stinky way to go about it. There is nothing worse than putting on a deodorant only to find that you don't pass the smell test a couple of hours later!
So what are some ingredients to keep an eye out for when purchasing deodorant? Some of the things I look out for include Aluminum (including Potassium Alum, a primary ingredient in crystal deodorants), Parabens, Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Triclosan, Talc, and perhaps worst of all Fragrance.
If you want to look into this further, a couple of great resources would include the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database and a book entitled No More Dirty Looks (they also have a website by the same name). I found a great breakdown of different ingredients and their toxicity level on the Collective Evolution Website, which includes some of the ingredients listed above along with a few more to watch out for.
Doing all of this research over the past few years has left me feeling pretty dire about personal care products in general. Thankfully I have managed to find a couple of fantastic alternatives that really are non-toxic and natural, and most importantly, actually work!
My top picks are as follows:
Living Libations Poetic Pits - I absolutely love all of the products from Living Libations, and their poetic pits deodorant option is one of my all time favourites. They mix pure, undiluted sandalwood with a variety of different essential oils, so it is easy to personalize based on your scent preference. One sweep is all it takes, so a little goes a long way. It stands up to all kinds of challenges, including hot yoga! I have tried and love the Rose Glow and Petal scents, while my husband is a big fan of the Maverick option.
Meow Meow Tweet - I found this deodorant at The Good Planet Store here in Victoria, and was a big fan right off the bat. The consistency is smooth and easy to apply, and it comes in a couple of different scents. I love lavender, and my husband liked the tea tree scent.
Schmidt's Deodorant - I found this one at Lifestyle Markets and The Market on Millstream. It comes in a range of scents; my husband loves the Cedarwood & Juniper, and I am a big fan of the Ylang Ylang and Calendula. This one has a chalkier consistency, but works well once it is rubbed in.
Dr Mist - another great option is the Dr Mist spray. It is a blend of very simple ingredients (water, sodium chloride, calcium, magnesium and optional essential oils). I found this one to be slightly less effective, but it is a great option if you find you are sensitive to baking soda.
Speaking of baking soda sensitivity, my husband and I found the deodorants above worked really well... Until we started noticing some irritation after sweating more in the very warm weather we have been experiencing of late. We both have super sensitive skin, so it isn't surprising! I started looking into DIY options, partly because I love making things myself, and partly to make use of the growing number of jars we have accumulated. I found an amazing zero waste blog called Trash is for Tossers a little while ago, which has piqued my interest in DIY options to try and reduce packaging as much as possible. I found a couple of great recipes online, one by Scratch Mommy, and the other by The Paleo Mama. I also came across a blog detailing the benefits of Magnesium Oil, which I decided to include in my recipe.
This recipe is a work in progress, however after a week of testing we have found it to be an effective, non-irritating option:
Soothing DIY Deodorant
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp mango butter
2 tsp beeswax (or carnauba wax, for a vegan friendly version)
1.5 Tbsp arrowroot powder
1.5 Tbsp diatomaceous clay
2 tsp jojoba or herbal infused olive oil*
1 Tbsp magnesium oil
5 drops vitamin e oil
5 drops lavender
5 drops Yoga Outreach Signature Scent
* I used a herbal infused olive oil from the Learning Herbs Herbal Remedy Kit, which includes calendula, comfrey, plantain and St John's Wort)
In a double boiler (or heat safe bowl set over a regular pot) melt coconut oil, mango butter, and beeswax. Let cool for a minute or so, then add arrowroot powder and diatomaceous clay, and blend until smooth. I used a mini food processor attachment for our immersion blender and found it worked really well.
Add the jojoba or infused olive oil, magnesium oil and essential oils of your choice and blend until smooth. I used lavender and a lovely blend from Yoga Outreach that I happened to have on hand, but tea tree would be a great option as well. Use a spatula to scoop the deodorant cream into small jars, and you are good to go! Using a mini spatula to scoop out product is a good option, although fingers also work in a pinch.
If you are currently using Antiperspirant you will definitely notice a difference switching to one of these non-toxic alternatives. But please keep in mind that sweating is a good thing, and that there are lots of healthy alternatives that really help manage the stink factor!
Have you found other non toxic deodorant options? If so, I would love to hear about them in the comment section below!