Most people like to smell good, and to do so, most of us usually rely on our traditional stick of deodorant. But if you're trying to be a little more natural, you might be looking for ways to combat body odor without using deodorant. Although conventional deodorants and antiperspirants can do usually do the trick, they unfortunately can come with some ugly side effects.
Most of us don't think twice about swiping our underarms every morning, but your deodorant likely contains a number of harmful ingredients that can have some long-term negative health effects. For starters, most deodorants and antiperspirants contain parabens as well as phthalates, which can mess with your body's hormones, according to Time.
These products also contain aluminum, which can cause “gene instability” in breast tissue, which could eventually lead to the growth of tumor or cancer cells, according to research from the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry. There is currently no definitive research linking aluminum to cancer, but breast cancer incidence tends to be associated with usage of products that contain the metal, according to research from the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.
Although more research is needed to completely understand the risk of using these deodorants, it can't hurt to start looking for alternative methods to staying smelling nice in the mean time. Here are eight natural ways to combat body odor without using deodorant.
Exfoliate Your Underarms
Keeping your underarms clean and bacteria-free can help improve your natural scent. "Gently exfoliate your underarms once per week," says Tara Pelletier, founder of the natural skincare line Meow Meow Tweet, over email. "You can use a washcloth or a body scrub with oat flour: Mix flour 1 to 1 with oil or water and scrub-a-dub."
Try Rose Water
"Rose water is a natural antibacterial substance, and for added benefits, it has a beautiful aroma," says skin specialist and board-certified holistic health practitioner Diana Ralys, LE, COE, HC over email. Some people mix rose water with tea tree oil, but you can also use it by itself for a floral fragrance.
Use An Acne Wash
Using an antibacterial soap made for acne can help kill some of that bacteria that causes body odor rather than just masking it. "Benzoyl peroxide wash is a great option for killing underarm bacteria," says dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD over email. "Hibiclens is another good option."
Keep Some Hand Sanitizer With You
"The alcohol in sanitizer gels may theoretically kill some of the bacteria on the skin surface, which is contributing to the formation of body odor," says Shainhouse. "Use this option in a pinch, but longer-term use will absolutely dry out the skin and cause irritation."
Use A Salt Block
"Salt, or sodium chloride has the capability to kill many bacteria," says Dr. Jason Loth, CCSP, CSCS, CMTA over email. "With a little water and application to the armpit, this is able to help control body odor for many people without the side effects of fragrance, aluminum, and other chemicals found in most deodorants."
Blend Some Essential Oils
Create your own blend of deodorant using your favorite essential oils. " Oils such as bergamot, blood orange, clove, cedarwood, patchouli, vetiver, and even florals for women such as ylang ylang, lavender, cypress, and geranium are very good at eliminating odor, and they are also antibacterial and prevent sweating," says aromatherapist Richard Hammond over email.
Squeeze Some Lemon
Got a lemon in your kitchen? Rub it on your armpits (but don't forget to throw it out after)! The citric acid in lemon can help kill bacteria and odor, according to dermatologist Ellen Marmur who speak to Allure. Lemon also has mild astringent effects that mimic the pore-closing effect of antiperspirant actives.
Try Out Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is a natural sterilizer and natural anti-septic, which makes it a great option for getting rid of body odor, according to Medical Daily. Apply it directly to your skin to help lower your skin's pH and kill of bacteria.