It’s true that we’re living in the most perspiration-inducing times.
In between being ensconced in our homes for the foreseeable, the reality of an indefinite amount of Zoom calls, and our newly-adopted hobby of running, there’s definitely a fair bit of anxious-sweat flying around our now-deserted neighbourhoods.
But, just as you may be using this new surplus of time to clean your make-up brushes and have a beauty product cleanse, it may also be time to give a semblance of consideration to the products you use to disguise your sweat.
In 2019, the global antiperspirant and deodorant market was estimated to be worth about $74.55 billion (approximately £60 million.)
According to data provider SEMRush, there were 577,190 online searches for products including “eucalyptus deodorants” and “aluminium-free deodorants” between the years 2018 to 2019. While the organic and natural market grew by 23 per cent in 2019, its ninth consecutive year of double-digit growth.
“Natural beauty has become a global trend, just last year the skincare business was worth over £116 Billion, with 30 per cent of that coming from natural products,” states Dr. Simon Jackson, founder of the award-winning natural Modern Botany deodorant (£25, shop it here.) “People are wanting to go back to a more natural way of living, the chemical and plastic generation of the seventies and nineties is over and people are more interested in what they put on and in themselves and what damage it is having to the planet.”
In recent years there’s been a slew of suggestions from some scientists that aluminium, an active ingredient in antiperspirants that works by blocking sweat glands, could be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to SEMRush, one in five of the searches from 2018 to 2019 relating to natural deodorant were for aluminium-free products.
“We have no proof that aluminium in deodorants causes cancer. But with the amount of controversy over it, the more important question is how safe it is to use,” explains Lisa Harris, a London-based skin specialist.
Dr. Jackson expands, “There is no scientist who will put their name to any research claiming clinical tests on aluminium-based deodorants causing cancer, but if you refer to the chemicals that are in synthetic deodorants, like aluminium salts and aluminium formate, both of these have had links to hormonal imbalances, which is a precursor to breast cancer.”
The US-based Alzheimer’s Association has attempted to demystify the notion that aluminium-based products contribute to memory loss, given that research exploring the link is inconclusive. The organisation stated that early scientific studies involved animals that had a greater susceptibility to aluminium than humans, with the results leading to incorrect assumptions about the metal’s effect on the human body.
Dr. Jackson expands, “Natural deodorants work by using natural ingredients to combat the bacteria that feed on sweat. Sweat doesn’t smell, but the bacteria that feed on the sweat give off the body odour smell we are opposed to, so if we reduce or destroy the bacteria under the arm it removes the body odour smell.”
His Modern Botany creation comprises a blend of 11 essential oils which are known for their anti-bacterial properties, including tea tree and coriander seed oils.
Clare Vero, founder of Aurelia Probiotics, formulated her brand's Botanical Cream Deodorant (£18, shop it here) whilst pregnant in 2016. The cream-to-powder deodorant is formulated with natural kaolin clay, arrowroot, sodium bicarbonate, shea butter as well as essential oils such as tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender.
“People, in general, pay much more attention now to what they put into and onto their bodies. Natural deodorants are beneficial for a number of reasons, with the main draw being that they are free from aluminium salts,” Vero explains. “It took about 20 iterations to get the deodorant we have today.”
Alongside the potential health implications which accompany antiperspirants, natural deodorants require a period of trial and error to find one which works for you. One person’s favourite natural deodorant might not work for someone with more sensitive skin, or a heavier sweater. Many natural deodorants rely on baking soda to absorb moisture, for example, but too much baking soda can cause skin irritation in some people.
Dr. Jackson summarises, “People are often confused about the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. The antiperspirant mechanism is usually found using an aluminium salt to block the pores, whereas natural deodorants will use something like witch hazel, which is a natural astringent that reduces the pore size so we don’t sweat as much.”
So while natural deodorants won’t stop you from sweating the way antiperspirants do, they’re an option which are as clean as they are clean-smelling.
Scroll through the gallery above for just some of the best natural deodorants to try now.