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At a glance
Deodorants use antiseptic and antibacterial ingredients to break down sweat and inhibit odor-producing bacteria, but work superficially on the skin and have no effect on the sweating process. Natural deodorant manufacturers use ingredients like lemongrass oil and sage as antimicrobials; aloe vera and chamomile to soothe the skin; clay minerals to absorb moisture; or potassium alum, which leaves a layer of salt on the skin, to inhibit bacterial growth.
Antiperspirants, on the other hand, contain ingredients that block the pores to reduce the amount of sweat released. Most mass manufacturers’ antiperspirant-deodorants contain perspiration-inhibiting and antibacterial ingredients to fight both wetness and odor. The aluminum chlorohydrate and aluminum zirconium used in many commercial antiperspirants to block pores and inhibit sweat are soluble compounds that may be absorbed by the liver, kidney, brain, cartilage and bone marrow, and have been linked to Alzheimer’s.
Ingredients to look for
Potassium alum (not aluminum)
Spotlight on: Crystal Body Deodorant
Eric Rabichow, director of operations at Burlingame, Calif.-based Crystal Body Deodorant, introduces Crystal’s new Crystal Essence products.
Tom’s of Maine Sensitive Care Deodorant in Bay-Lime: Aloe and chamomile soothe sensitive skin, hops inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria and lime and bay extracts give a fresh scent.
Desert Essence Dry By Nature Stick Deodorant: Aloe and neem seed oil combine with extracts of matricaria and marigold to make a great-smelling deodorant.
Weleda Wild Rose Deodorant: This nonaerosol spray can be applied as often as needed; organic wild rose and orange blossom extracts are added to a variety of botanical oils to eliminate bacteria and leave a delicate scent.
Crystal Body Deodorant Crystal Essence in Pomegranate: The all-natural mineral salts you expect from Crystal (which form a salty layer on the skin that prohibits odor-causing bacteria) infused with essential oils.
Honeybee Gardens Deodorant Powder: This talc-free powder is made from deodorizing baking soda, absorbent corn starch and arrowroot, with a slight essential-oil-based fragrance. Bonus: A portion of the proceeds go to breast cancer research.
Tom's of Maine photo courtesy Tom's of Maine