What is deodorant? Taking the sting out of body odour
We all like to stay clean and fresh, but doing so can be a confusing business. With so many products and options available, it can be hard to decide what to use.
So here’s a handy guide to what’s available:
Despite what you may think, deodorant is completely different to antiperspirant, although the effects of using one - staying fresh and odour free - are the same.
A deodorant’s primary function is to limit the growth of bacteria that causes body odour. To do this it uses anti-microbial ingredients to ‘kill off’ bacteria, yeasts or molds. What’s more, deodorants often perfume the skin they are applied to, to give an extra sweet smelling layer of protection from body odour.
Natural ingredients, including tea tree, sage and citrus, have been used for centuries as deodorants. This is because they are anti-microbial and create environments that bacteria can not live or reproduce in. Citrus oils, such as Sicilian lemon and bergamot, have the added benefit of containing alpha hydroxy acids, which means they are able to break down sweat and sebum. And, when expertly balanced, natural ingredients are able to keep bacteria under control while keeping your skin’s microflora in tact.
The earliest known mention of deodorants comes 9th Century Persia, where scholar and polymath Ziryab, recommended its use as part of his devotion to personal hygiene in the Umayyad court of Islamic Iberia. Commercial deodorants first originated in the USA in 1888. Today, deodorants often contain alcohol based ingredients that make your underarms inhospitable to microbes or include antibacterial chemicals like triclosan to kill off bacteria.
Currently, the most popular forms of deodorant are roll-ons and sprays. Sprays most commonly come in the form of aerosols, which were first developed in the 1920s. Around 20 years later roll-ons was developed and proved popular and convenient. But, both roll-on and aerosol deodorant come in liquid form, and for this reason has to be cased in plastic or metal, which creates waste that must be recycled or sent to landfill. Each year eight million metric tons of plastic alone ends up in the ocean, so it’s mind boggling to think how much deodorant packaging is wasted everyday. What’s more, deodorants often contain preservatives that can take hundreds of years to biodegrade.
Opting for a natural deodorant doesn’t just help the environment though. Fresh natural ingredients have an array of benefits that go much further than keeping you as clean as a whistle. The vetivert oil found in The Guv’ner is great at revitalising skin, while the powdered horsetail herb in T For Toes foot powder is anti-inflammatory - so super on hard-working feet.
Antiperspirants and deodorants are NOT the same thing. A deodorant works to limit the bacteria that causes bacterial growth, while an antiperspirant mission is to stop bodies sweating. It looks a bit like this:
By blocking the sweat ducts, antiperspirants create conditions in which bacteria cannot grow and multiply.
The modern formulation of the antiperspirant was patented by Jules Montenier in 1941, and in the 1960s the first aerosol antiperspirant came onto the market with immediate commercial success.
The main ingredient of antiperspirants are aluminium chloride compounds, such as aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly. When they mix with sweat they turn into a solid gel that plugs the sweat gland tubule. Over time, as the skin renews itself, the plug loosens and comes off. Even deodorants and antiperspirants that market themselves as natural can in fact contain aluminium compounds in order to boost the effectiveness of the natural ingredients.
The use of aluminium compounds in deodorants is a somewhat controversial topic, and, because it is a relatively new invention, it has a shorter history of safe use for compared to natural deodorisers. In addition, many people are allergic or irritated by the presence of aluminium in their cosmetic products. If you want to avoid antiperspirants and aluminium products there are plenty of natural alternatives to try - including the entire Lush deodorant range. Whether it’s a powder or a solid you won’t find aluminium in any of them.
Body sprays are usually alcohol based. And, because alcohol is also a common ingredient in deodorants, some body sprays are marketed as ‘deodorant body sprays’.
And, while the alcohol in these sprays will have a deodorising effect on your skin, their primary function is to perfume - and the alcohol helps it do this by delivering that perfume onto the skin before it evaporates leaving the fragrance behind.
Most liquid perfumes are alcohol-based, and body sprays are generally the lightest in perfume strength.
Body sprays do not deal with sweat or bacteria, and only function to make your skin smell different - think of them as a finishing touch rather than a deodoriser.
Natural powders offer a gentle but effective alternative to preserved, aluminium based deodorants and antiperspirants.
Because of their high absorbency rate, they allow your body to sweat while limiting bacteria and keeping you clean and comfortable.
Antimicrobial Ingredients, such as powdered tea tree and sage, pair up with super absorbent sodium bicarbonate or lycopodium powders to control sweat and leave your feeling delightfully dry.
A dusting powder will leave your skin feeling silky soft when full-on deodorant action isn’t required. You can use a dusting powder like you would a perfume or body spray: for a gentle but long-lasting scent. These powders can also be dusted over freshly moisturized or massaged skin for a matte finish, or sprinkled over the body to make slipping into your clothes a little easier. They are also excellent for areas of the body that rub together, as they lower friction and reduce chafing or redness.
Just like the powder and solid deodorants, dusting powders are self-preserving.
So, there’s a multitude of ways to keep you smelling not only fresh but fantastic. Just remember, everybody is unique - what works for one person may not be another’s bag. It is all about experimenting to find what works for you.
There’s a multitude of ways to keep you smelling not only fresh but fantastic. Just remember, everybody is unique - what works for one person may not be another’s bag. It is all about experimenting to find what works for you.