Another great article courtesy of Miessence®.
This most shared graphic on the Miessence Facebook page this week outlines some of the potentially harmful ingredients found in some commercial deodorants.
But the idea of a underarm antiperspirant-deodorant is a relatively recent one.
Being the social (and vain) creatures that we are, the idea of smelling nice has long been the focus of chemists – with the earliest recorded treatments going back to ancient Egypt which popularised the concept of under arm shaving, as well as developing elaborate combinations of scents to mask body odor.
In Asia, sticks of mineral salts that killed the bacteria under the arms was another centuries old successful method to remaining selling sweet.
Bathing and liberally dousing with perfumes became the predominant way of staying odor free for centuries until an enterprising surgeon developed a product made of zinc chloride and wax to keep his hands sweat free during surgery.
Within a couple of years it was discovered that aluminium chloride helped reduce sweating – and not just mask the odor.
People had been successfully dealing with body odor for years, so it might be presumed that it would be an uphill battle to persuade the masses to use a product that it might be argued wasn’t a necessity.
But it was just the job for a new 20th century phenomenon – the advertising industry. But it wasn’t all coming up roses, as the Smithsonian Magazine reveals in this terrific article:
Although the product stopped sweat for up to three days—longer-lasting than modern day antiperspirants—the Odorono’s active ingredient, aluminum chloride, had to be suspended in acid to remain effective. (This was the case for all early antiperspirants; it would take a few decades before chemists came up with a formulation that didn’t require an acid suspension.) The acid solution meant Odorono could irritate sensitive armpit skin and damage clothing.
Adding insult to injury, the antiperspirant was also red-colored, so it could also stain clothing—if the acid didn’t eat right through it first. According to company records, customers complained that the product caused burning and inflammation in armpits and that it ruined many a fancy outfit, including one woman’s wedding dress.
The solution was to create a stigma worse than wearing a hole in a few clothes – unpopularity and social exclusion.
The same magazine article has a terrific gallery of period print advertisements which told women that if they did not use the product then they would never be asked out on a date!
A century on from Odorono’s first successful advertising campaign, the use of deodorants is ubiquitous – very few people would dream of starting the day without it.
However it does raise the question of what is in deodorants today and are they any good.
Let’s take aluminium chloride – the ingredient that makes an antiperspirant what it is.
Aluminum compounds, such as aluminum zirconium and aluminum chloride, are used in many antiperspirants to shrink sweat glands and prevent wetness
. Like parabens, these compounds have estrogen-like properties, and some scientists are concerned that aluminum could be absorbed through the skin and promote the growth of cancer cells
Phthalates and propylene glycol, amongst other ingredients are coming under increasing study. Propylene glycol is another common ingredient that is used in antiperspirants and deodorants. This is a petroleum based material that is used to soften cosmetic products due to its slick consistency. It is a cheap way to make skin care products more easily applicable to the skin. The argument that propylene glycol is safe in small amounts has been questioned by consumer safety advocates. In large quantities, studies have shown that it can cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and heart. This chemical is even found in many of the processed foods we eat today.
Logical thought follows that decreasing our exposure to propylene glycol is the prudent thing to do. It is for this reason that using skin care products that are propylene glycol free is becoming popular in health conscious circles.
Phthalates are another class of chemicals that are often used in deodorants and antiperspirants that you may want to avoid. Phthalates are used in cosmetics, synthetic fragrances, plastics, body care products and medical goods. They help to dissolve other ingredients and to create a better consistency.
The problem with phthalates is that they have been linked to a variety of health issues. High phthalate blood and urine levels in women of child bearing age have been linked to a higher risk of birth defects. This suggests that phthalates may disrupt hormone receptors as well as increase the likelihood of cell mutation.
Miessence deodorants are made with none of these potentially harmful chemicals – using instead only natural ingredients many of which (like our essential oils) are certified organic.
An a easy to read ingredient comparison table can be found on this page.
Sweating is a completely natural phenomenon – in fact it’s our body’s built in air conditioner! It is also odorless and only becomes stinky when bacteria begins to break it down.
A thorough daily grooming routine, a healthy diet and a genuinely natural, organic deodorant to add a little light scent and to absorb a little bit of perspiration is all most people need to keep sweet all day.