The truth is, nobody wants to be known as that smelly person. In an effort to avoid smelliness, over 90% of kids and adults in the US use some type of deodorant or antiperspirant; get rid of it and balance your bacteria!
Sweat itself does not smell. You might think that it does, because when you sweat is when you will notice body odor the most. But in reality, the bacteria in your armpit is what makes you smell. The bacteria break down the lipids and amino acids found in your sweat and turn it into substances that have that distinct smell that we call body odor.
Two popular BO-fighting methods reign supreme in the market: kill bacteria via a standard deodorant, or block our sweat glands AND kill bacteria using an antiperspirant containing ingredients such as aluminum.
But antiperspirants and deodorants are awful for our bodies! They have many frightening side effects such as breast cancer!
Just like our gut, our armpit also naturally has a lot of bacteria. It is one of the most heavily populated areas on the surface of the body. Over ¾ of the bacteria fall into one of two bacterial groups. One is associated with odor, the other not so much. Just like the gut, which can be destabilized from certain foods or antibiotics that kill off the beneficial bacteria, and allows potentially problematic microbes to take over. The same thing happens in the armpit.
Like with any such ecosystem the goal would be to balance in order to be healthy. Abstaining from these ecosystem-damaging products might be problematic at first, but will stabilize with time. This will naturally dwindle the smellier bacteria into nonexistence with time.
So, why don’t we work with our microbiome, rather than against it? Here are a few ways to get started…
- Make your own deodorant! It is so simple to do:
- 5 Tbsp solid coconut oil
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
Combine the equal parts powder and baking soda. Slowly add coconut oil and work it in with a spoon or hand blender until it maintains a firm texture. If this is to wet for your preference add more cornstarch or arrowroot powder. You can use your old deodorant container, or put in a container with a lid and apply with your fingers.
- Switch to a milder soap: Soaps that contain strong surfactants, remove the protective sebum that is full of the good fats that your body uses to protect your skin. A milder soap will make a better environment for your good microbes to thrive.
- Aluminum Free: Aluminum is typically the active ingredient that inhibits sweating. Recently It has been linked to a variety of long-term health issues and several “natural” brands are marketing their formulas as “aluminum free”.
- Steer clear of Crystal Deodorants: These are the ones that most often claim to be “aluminum free” but check the label, always! Many of them still contain an ingredient known as “alum”, which is typically potassium aluminum sulfate. While it is still a better alternative than most antiperspirants, it still doesn’t make it completely aluminum free.
- Steer clear of antibacterial: Strong antibacterials are what have the most destabilizing effect on your armpit, which makes it difficult for good bacteria to thrive. So ditch the parabens they do absolutely nothing good for your body.