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Friday Mashup

Posted Sep 24 2010 9:36am

by Amanda Waltz, blogger

Ever wanted to buy natural health products, but wasn’t sure if they would work? In our newest series, Amanda bravely tests the water for natural health products to give you the scoop. Curious about a product? Email us and we’ll test it for you!


All-Natural Deodorants

I’ll admit it – I’m a sweater, and not the cable knit, argyle kind. We’re talking pit stains before lunch and wearing black every day. I’ve tried every antiperspirant under the sun, from regular to clinical strength, and nothing has worked.

Eventually, I gave up, but not just because of my curse (my mother always tried to comfort me by saying “It’s healthy!” – thanks, Mom), but also because of the perceived risks associated with using antiperspirants.

The problem lies in the dreaded main ingredient–aluminum chlorohydrate. Health experts believe it may be linked to illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and breast cancer.  Parabens , a type of preservative commonly found in many every day products, are also a concern, as they’ve been found in cancerous tumors. Though the studies on these are still inconclusive, I’m not taking any chances.

But switching was no easy task. I had to go through a bunch of different deodorants before I found one that offered decent odor protection and lasted past 3 P.M. Some of the losers I’ve tried, and the final winner after the jump–

Herbal Clear – Clear Aloe Fresh

Herbal Clear

I was attracted to this product by its small price tag (under $2) and wide availability at chain stores like Target and Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, the appeal ended there.

The fragrance smells a bit like a citronella candle – it’s very faint and it doesn’t last long. I had to reapply in the middle of a normal, mildly active day.

Herbal Clear also reacted with my sweat in a way that made my armpit look sudsy. Not cute.

The Verdict: Unless you sweat very little, have no B.O., and never go to the gym, I wouldn’t recommend this. Also bad if you don’t want your pits to look like they’re blowing bubbles.

Crystal deodorant – various brands

Crystal deo

One of the OG’s of natural deodorants is the salt crystal variety, a staple of hippie co-op store shelves. It’s about as uncomplicated as it can get; it’s a glorified salt lick that you rub on your skin to magically make the bacteria disappear. The price usually falls anywhere between $5 – 10, and they last forever (seriously– you could use one of these things well into retirement).

I used one  for a couple of months and it was about as good as wearing no deodorant at all. One of my friends even commented on how I hadn’t been smelling my best lately–ouch. You have to wet it before you put it on, and its sometimes grainy, unforgiving surface wrecked havoc on my sensitive skin. Definitely not a pleasant feeling for newly shaven underarms.

The Verdict: We’ve come a long way, baby. Don’t settle for these deodorizing dinosaurs.

Tom’s Of Maine – Lavender


Along with brands like JASON and Kiss My Face, Tom’s has nationwide distribution in grocery stores, big retailers and pharmacies like CVS and Rite Aid, so you can find it anywhere. It’s also reasonably priced, around $4-6 depending on where you buy it.

In terms of ingredients, they use things like lichen and hops to combat odor. One of the advantages is the variety of natural fragrances, including fruity Apricot and the masculine Woodspice.  I choose Lavender, because I like it, and because it’s more available than some of the others.

The fragrance is pleasant, but it lacks long-lasting performance. Like Herbal Clear, I had to reapply before the day’s end. The stick feels hard and doesn’t glide on very well. Once on, it left an oily, glycerine-type feeling under my arms.

I had the advantage of an outsider’s perspective on this product. My mom also used it and had similar complaints, adding that it also irritated her skin.

The Verdict: It’s not that it’s bad, but it’s just not for everybody. Fragrance wise, they have more selection for both men and women. They also have a kind for sensitive skin.

Arm and Hammer Essentials – Fresh scent
Arm and Hammer deo

A lot of name-brand companies like Arm and Hammer have jumped on the all-natural bandwagon and started their own line of products to keep up with customers demands. The Essentials line is surprisingly cheap ($2-4) and can be found at most supermarkets and pharmacies.

After years of looking for a good deodorant, I stumbled upon this one and I’ve used it ever since. The Fresh scent smells fabulous and lasts for a long time. The formula, which includes ingredients like baking soda (duh!) and coriander, works even after the fragrance wears off. At 5 P.M., I’m miraculously still BO free.

One of the disadvantages is the lack of selection, as you can usually find either Fresh or Unscented. Hopefully, as their sales increase, the selection will, too.  The risk of skin irritation also still exists, but it’s not nearly as bad as what I’ve experienced with others.

The Verdict: Sorry, anti-corporate people–this one wins. But to be fair, if you’re concerned about some of the less-than-natural sounding ingredients, like EDTA and Triclosan , I would do some research and weigh the pros and cons. There’s ethical issues too, like whether they test on animals (there’s no reassuring bunny-with-a-line-through-it label to tell us that they don’t). Plus, studies suggest that some of the ingredients aren’t good for the environment.

At the end of the day, though, what you rub on your pits isn’t the only thing between good hygiene and stinking like a 12-year-old boy after football practice. Diet plays a big role in how you smell. If you stay away from fast food and drink lots of water , you can stave off odor, since sweating is one  way your body releases toxins. And of course, no -brainers like showering regularly and wearing breathable fabrics like cotton also help with odor and wetness. Follow these rules and you might find that any deodorant will be effective.

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