Living in hot and humid Singapore means we’re no strangers to perspiration, which is your body’s way of staying cool and preventing you from getting a heatstroke.
However, sweating also leads to stanky body odour. But this isn’t something a few quick swipes or spritzes of deodorant can’t resolve.
How deodorants work
To understand how deodorants work, you first have to understand how body odour is developed: our underarms are warm and moist locations that bacteria thrive in and certain bacteria feed off our sweat and produce smelly compounds that cause the dreaded body odour. Deodorants contain alcohol to eliminate these nasty sweat-feeding, odour-causing microbes and fragrance imparts a pleasant scent.
Antiperspirants, on the other hand, can be thought of as an upgraded deodorant. They contain aluminium salts that travel down the sweat ducts, effectively plugging them. Besides being a physical barrier for sweat to reach the surface of the skin, it also signals the sweat glands to stop producing so much sweat. No or less sweat equals less food for the bad bacteria, which in turn results in reduced odour. Easy right?
The cons of deodorants
Unfortunately, deodorants and antiperspirants are not without their downsides. For one, alcohol is indiscriminate when targeting microbes. This could result in a disrupted skin microbiome and lead to bigger problems in the future.
Another issue is in the aluminium salts. Those in the clean beauty camp assert that these compounds can lead to complications such as breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Scientific research, however, has not found a causational relationship to prove these claims.
Finally, the presence of other potentially toxic and “non-natural” ingredients like parabens sways people around from these widely-available fresheners.
The upside of natural dodorants
If you wish to mitigate even the slightest risk, switching to natural deodorants might be the way forward. Natural deodorants tend to contain three main ingredients: 1) antibacterial ingredients like coconut and tea tree oil, 2) essential oils to provide a pleasant, masking scent and 3) a desiccant such as baking soda, arrowroot and cornstarch to soak up the sweat.
While you technically can make your own natural deodorant at home, it might be way easier to just purchase one if you don’t want to deal with all the fuss and muss.
It’s important to keep in mind that those starting on the natural deodorant journey, will have an initial “detox” phase. Purging can happen, resulting in a stronger body odour as the skin and microbiome acclimatise to the new product.