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baking soda, coconut oil, essential oils (like tea tree), optionally wax (bees or candelilla)

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deodorant bars
fragrances, aluminum, parabens, triclosan, VOCs, and phthalates
by Jason Denney

Deodorants fall into cosmetic products, and I’m starting to notice a pattern. There are a lot of common cosmetic ingredients and fragrances that are controversial and not always well regulated, with inconclusive cancer studies, yada yada. So, to be safe, it’s best to stick to products with the fewest ingredients and fragrances. The top controversial aspects of deodorants are aluminum, parabens, triclosan, VOCs, and phthalates. Aluminum might cause cancer and other issues. Parabens might mimic the hormone estrogen and promote cancer growth. Triclosan might affect thyroid hormones. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can create smog/pollution. Phthalates might be linked to reproductive issues, low IQ, and asthma.

Uh, can I just not use deodorant? Well, actually deodorant has become popular just in the past century. Previously, people just used tons of perfume and also probably just stank. However, with the help of advertising propaganda, we became convinced that the love of our life is avoiding us because our pits stink, thus deodorant took hold. Nowadays, there’s a modern approach of using bacterial sprays that are supposed to balance the cultures on our body to minimize the effects of bacteria that grow in our pits and make us stank. MotherDirt produces one such product and the owner apparently hasn’t showered in years, but doesn’t really seem like a viable alternative in practice.

An alternative that was new to me was using “crystals” of potassium alum mineral salts for deodorant, and it seems it works rather well and apparently has been used as deodorant (among other uses) in Southeast Asia for centuries .

DIY recipes center around wax, coconut oil, some essential oils, and baking soda. A few recipes here & here.

I tend to not promote major brands as they’re typically entangled in questionable practices, however, I wanted to note that Proctor & Gamble is doing a test run of paper deodorant tubes for Secret and Old Spice deodorants. I think you just have to chance upon them in the wild at Wal-marts for the moment.


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