Natural, healthy deodorants have surged in popularity as consumers become increasingly concerned about the array of chemicals they are exposed to in everyday personal care products. A Global Organic Deodorants Market Report compiled by market research and business intelligence company, Expert Market Research, projects that the market for organic deodorants will reach USD152 million by 2026 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 15% in the five years from 2023 to 2028.
The primary growth drivers are an increase in the importance of personal hygiene, a rise in the preference for chemical free products and growing awareness of the harmful impacts of synthetic deodorants and anti-perspirants, including wariness of the effects of aluminium salts.
Ingredients in natural deodorants are often plant-based and more gentle on the skin. In recent years, the odour-battling performance of natural deodorants has also improved markedly, with the best natural alternatives rivalling traditional chemical laden products, even during the sweatiest moments.
With the market for healthy deodorants accelerating, we are observing greater innovation in the category. Natural sprays, roll-ons, sticks, creams, pastes, bars and gels are all available. Although, not all products are created equal and the broad range of products sometimes makes it difficult to select the best deodorant for you and your body. So, what should you look for?
Organic deodorants replace irritants in chemicals with natural ingredients and may contain baking soda, cornstarch, activated charcoal, clays, arrowroot powder, coconut oil, butters, magnesium, Vitamin E, essential oils and much more. Any healthy deodorant worth its weight will include some sort of powder for moisture and odour control, natural oil as a deodorant base and then some form of wax for texture. They will usually utilise moisturising ingredients to encourage healthy skin and scented oils to assist in obscuring smells.
In this article we look at a few of the best (and worst) ingredients to look for in a deodorant to ensure a healthy microbiome.
Arrowroot is a perfect powder for natural deodorants. Arrowroot is soothing on the skin with the gentle, non-toxic ingredient tolerated by even the most sensitive skin types. It is also extremely effective at absorbing excess sweat and moisture as your body perspires in response to temperature changes or exercise. Arrowroot has antimicrobial properties that kill or slow the spread of the bacteria responsible for creating body odour to keep you smelling fresh all day. The ingredient is sometimes used in place of baking soda to neutralise odour, or is often combined to supercharge the odour-busting response.
Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, is a chemical compound with the formula NaHCO₃. It is a salt that is made up of a sodium cation and a bicarbonate anion. While it sounds like a nasty synthetic chemical, the sodium compound -- that appears as a fine powder -- is a naturally occurring mineral form in nahcolite deposits. Although, the baking soda you purchase at the supermarket is most commonly artificially produced. Like arrowroot powder, food grade baking soda does a great job at absorbing moisture to keep you dry. It is also an outstanding deodoriser – its alkaline properties balancing bacteria-loving acids in sweat. Some individuals with sensitive skin may occasionally have a minor reaction to baking soda, but ceasing application for a day or so will usually clear this up. In Lone Kauri deodorants we use a very fine grade of baking soda, which is formulated in small amounts (to maintain a lower PH) alongside arrowroot powder to neutralise odour-causing bacteria.
Coconut oil is a wonderful moisturising agent and perfect for those with dry skin. It has been reported to reduce inflammation, contribute to a more even skin tone and accelerate wound healing. Derived from the kernels, meat, and milk of the coconut palm fruit, the oil also features antimicrobial properties that help defend your skin from damaging microorganisms.
If you are searching for a deodorant that soothes and protects your skin then make sure your product choice includes shea butter in its ingredient list. Rich in vitamins and minerals, shea butter will nourish the skin and keep it healthy. The butter boosts skin moisture and antioxidants present in the product assist in preventing cell damage.
Essential oils are regularly employed to deliver a pleasant scent and help mask the emergence of body odour. They are an effective alternative to artificial fragrances or perfumes which can be petroleum-based. A broad range of essential oils exist, each claiming health benefits. For example – aromatherapists believe sandalwood can encourage mental clarity and provide mood-enhancing properties. Manuka offers balancing and calming properties, while rose geranium is said to be both soothing and energising. Lemongrass essential oils offer antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
We’ve touched on a few of the ingredients you might like to look for in your deodorising products. Just as important are the ingredients that you should avoid. A deodorant on your supermarket shelf can be packed full of chemicals and hormone disruptors that you do not want absorbed into your precious body.
The dermis, glands in the deeper layer of the skin, produce sweat to cool your body when it begins to overheat or is under stress. Aluminium salts commonly found in anti-perspirant products work like a plug – blocking your body's natural sweat pores and stopping sweating. Over the years, there have been suggestions that aluminium in deodorants can impact human health -- although scientific evidence is inconclusive. However, the United States Food and Drug (FDA) does requires anti-perspirant manufacturers to include a warning on products for people with chronic kidney disease – as they may struggle to process the aluminium that is absorbed from antiperspirants and cosmetics. Natural deodorants opt to avoid the use of chemicals and instead attack the source of smell, while allowing you to sweat naturally.
Parabens are used in many deodorants as preservatives and are also used as food additives. The benefit of these chemicals is that they inhibit microbe growth – such as bacteria, fungi and viruses. Some laboratory studies have highlighted possible health concerns associated with weak oestrogen-like properties in some parabens -- such as hormonal imbalances and problems affecting fertility and reproductive organs.
Propylene glycol is a common chemical compound which can be harmful in larger amounts. It is typically used to give deodorants their cylindrical shape. The chemical is made from petroleum and is a member of the alcohol family. It can be a skin irritant, causing allergic reactions with contact. The U.S. FDA says it is generally safe for use in foods, although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires careful handling with gloves when managing the substance.
Many phthalates are gradually being banned. In deodorants, they are sometimes added to the fragrance and are used as a fixative in many body care products. Research published in May 2023 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology on Cumulative Exposure to Phthalates and Their Alternatives and Associated Female Reproductive Health: Body Burdens, Adverse Outcomes, and Underlying Mechanisms noted serious health risks of broad exposure including “alterations in puberty, the development of testicular dysgenesis syndrome, cancer, and fertility disorders in both males and females”. It seems like a fairly good reason to avoid this chemical.