Sweat is Your Friend
Sweating is good for you! How it ever became popular to market stopping one of the most vital detoxification systems our body has is a mystery to me, and frankly, quite absurd! Sweating is our body’s natural way of eliminating harmful toxins that build up over time. This is important for proper immune function and preventing diseases caused by toxic overload. By trying to prevent this much-needed cleansing process, we are causing our bodies more harm than good.
When we try to stop our bodies from sweating, we allow our pores and sweat glands to clog, trapping harmful bacteria and chemicals under our skin. This can cause a whole slew of problems—especially when the products we apply to our sensitive underarms are laden with toxic ingredients. Studies have shown that continued use of aluminum-containing antiperspirants and deodorants are linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and possibly even breast cancer. Even worse, chemicals absorbed through our skin may actually cause more harm than those we digest through foods, as they enter directly into our bloodstream without filtration.
And it’s not our sweat that’s stinky, but rather the bacteria living in our armpits. Many commercial deodorants, or even worse pore-clogging antiperspirants, are filled with chemicals that actually alter the bacterial makeup of our pits, leaving us smelling stinkier without use. But just because we experience a foul odor initially, doesn’t mean we should continue using those chemical-filled deos. In fact, it’s an even better reason to sweat it out and detox your pits!
While the list of chemicals can go on forever, here are the main culprits to watch out for:
Aluminum (Also Seen as Potassium or Ammonium Alum): Blocks sweat glands to reduce the amount of sweat you secrete. Easily absorbed by the skin and can accumulate over time in the brain, potentially causing Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer and other neurological conditions.
Phthalates: Helps products stick to skin and improves the stability of fragrances. Continue to build up in our bodies over time causing endocrine disruption, which can be toxic to our reproductive glands.
Parabens (Methyl, Ethyl, Propyl, Iso, Benzyl, Etc.): Used as a preservative. Hormone disruptor that mimics estrogen in the body. Currently being studied for links to breast cancer, especially when applied near the underarms.
Fragrances: Not only harmful to the environment but may also cause skin irritation, allergies, and organ system toxicity. Not to mention that the chemical ingredients in scents are concealed and protected by trade law so we have no idea what may really be in them.
Propylene Glycol (AKA Antifreeze): Neurotoxin that may cause kidney and liver damage. In propylene glycol’s Material Safety Data Sheet, workers are urged to avoid skin contact with the toxic chemical as it may cause eye and skin irritation, gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, headache, vomiting, and central nervous system disruption.
TEA + DEA (Triethanolamine and Diethanolamine): Known carcinogens—considered so harmful, both are banned from products in Europe.
Triclosan: Chemical that kills bacteria. Banned by the FDA in soaps yet still common in deodorants and cosmetics. One of the worst endocrine disruptors that encourages resistance to antibiotics. So overly used in products that 75% of people have detectable levels of it in their bloodstream.
Talc (Hydrous Magnesium Silicate): Mineral used to absorb sweat. Classified as a carcinogen when containing asbestiform fibers. Because the quantity of these fibers is unregulated in cosmetic grade talc, there is no way of knowing whether or not it contains them so best to steer clear!
Aloe Vera or Water: Though both are generally harmless ingredients, their presence typically means there’s a synthetic preservative hiding inside to keep them from spoiling, so just keep your eye out.
The 2-Week Challenge: How to Detox Your Pits
Before you can use a natural deodorant successfully, it’s important to allow your underarms to go through a much-needed detoxification period. This allows your sweat glands to open up and release all that toxic gunk trapped in your system. While everyone’s body is different, and the length of time can vary from person to person, it typically takes up to 2 weeks for our underarms to fully cleanse and allow your body pH to adjust to your sweat. Though this may leave you feeling stinker at first, remember this is a good sign that your body is getting rid of what shouldn’t be there ;)
Here are some simple and natural ways to detox your pits and help reduce body odor in the process:
Wear Natural Fibers: Clothing matters! Synthetic fibers like polyester or rayon actually trap in sweat, creating a breeding ground for bacteria to grow and thus stinky odor. Opt for more natural fibers, such as cotton, linen or hemp, which are lightweight and breathable.
Sweat It Out: Like I mentioned before, sweating is good for you so drop those qualms and get in that sauna, exercise, or take a hot shower! The more you perspire, the more quickly your sweat glands can release those toxins and bad bacteria and begin functioning properly again.
Hydrate: With all of this sweating, you’ll need to stay hydrated to replace your fluids. The more hydrated you are, the less dense your sweat will be.
Be Mindful of What You Eat: Alcohol, caffeine, garlic, onions, and spices can all affect body odor so it may help to cut down on these to help keep the stink at bay. Wheatgrass or foods rich in probiotics, on the other hand, may help improve overall body odor.
Dry Off Well After Bathing: Moist environments are breeding grounds for odor-causing bacteria so make sure to dry your armpits well after bathing. This will also make natural deodorant more effective when applying.
Scrub Away: Gently scrub your underarms in the shower with a loofah or exfoliating mitt to help loosen buildup of chemical residue or dead skin cells. Make sure to use a natural soap, and avoid antibacterial soaps as these will kill the good bacteria too.
For me, staying hydrated, sweating it out, and keeping my pits clean helped a lot with the initial odor. Also, avoiding Indian food and spices (I swear I was sweating out masala for days!) But if you’re really struggling with the smells in your first week, try rubbing a pea-size amount of coconut oil under your arms to help—just make sure your pits are clean and dry first. And remember: the smellier you are, the more toxins and unnecessary gunk that’s being released. After all, we’re born with millions of sweat glands for a reason!
Love + Light,