The Microbiome Changes on Your Skin
Have you recently made the switch to natural deodorants, only to find that they fall short in preventing B.O? Maybe they worked for a few days or weeks, but then B.O. came back with a vengeance. Don't worry; you're not alone. One of the main reasons for this unexpected outcome lies in the changes to your skin's microbiome. Our skin is a complex ecosystem, teeming with billions of beneficial bacteria that help maintain its health and balance. However, some stinky bacteria and fungi also call our skin home, and they live off of our sweat and whatever we put on our skin. Conventional antiperspirants and deodorants contain harsh chemicals that can create an inhospitable environment for the good bacteria, leading to an overgrowth of odor-causing bacteria. Natural deodorants claim to get rid of the harsh chemicals, but often either still use harsh natural chemicals or use fragrance ingredients that feed the bad bacteria.
Some natural deodorants boast impressive ingredient lists, filled with gentle botanicals like aloe vera, which are beneficial for your skin, but they might not be great for controlling what lives on your skin. And not all of these natural ingredients are equally effective in combating body odor. While they may soothe and nourish the skin, they lack the power to neutralize the potent smells emitted by the bacteria that feed on sweat. So often they are just another layer of fragrance on top of B.O. But still, the biggest risk is that many of the ineffective ingredients actually feed odor-causing bacteria. Imagine how tasty a cake smells when its freshly baked. But now imagine its been sitting in the trash rotting while its being eaten by bacteria. Nice fragrances often mean something is tasty… for you and bacteria.
The Risk of Getting Rashes
As you venture into the realm of natural deodorants, you might notice an increase in skin sensitivity and rashes. This is often due to the presence of baking soda, acids, or essential oils in certain formulations. While these ingredients can help control sweating and odor, they can also cause irritation in some individuals, particularly those with sensitive skin. Baking soda, in particular, has a higher pH, which can disrupt the skin's natural acidic barrier, leading to redness and discomfort. Acids, like glycolic acid can also burn sensitive skin. While essential oils have been linked to various skin and health disorders depending on what plant they originate from. Understanding your skin type and selecting a product tailored to your needs is crucial to avoid unwanted rashes and ensure B.O. is combatted effectively.
Bacteria: The Culprit Behind Odors
Body odor isn't caused by sweat itself but rather the bacteria that thrive in its presence. These bacteria break down the proteins and fatty acids in sweat, releasing volatile compounds that stink. While natural deodorants may minimize sweat through absorbent ingredients like cornstarch or arrowroot powder, they might not effectively address the underlying cause of odor, allowing the odor-causing bacteria to persist. Charcoal is a similar ingredient that is regularly used to capture odors, but the bacteria on your armpits will produce more odor than a charcoal deodorant can adsorb.
Fragrances: Just a Cover-Up
We've all encountered deodorants and antiperspirants that boast alluring fragrances to mask odors. Unfortunately, natural deodorants often adopt a similar approach, using essential oils and natural fragrances to create a pleasant scent. However, these fragrances merely cover up the smell rather than targeting the root cause. And once you start to sweat, a hybrid funk emerges that is no longer pleasant. While these options might help you smell better temporarily, they won't combat the underlying issue effectively. If you're sensitive to certain fragrances, they may even exacerbate skin irritation and lead to discomfort. And as various countries and industries begin to phase out synthetic fragrance use, the hunt is on for an effective odor-protection solution.
Unveiling Odor Protection Solutions
Fear not, for there are ways to banish those pesky odors. The big kicker is that most the smelly bacteria will colonize your clothes, where they have far more surface are to proliferate.
Here are some tips to consider:
- Probiotic Deodorants: These formulations are supposed to introduce beneficial bacteria to your skin, promoting a balanced microbiome and combating odor-causing microbes. Probiotics help crowd out the bad bacteria responsible for unpleasant smells, maintaining a healthy underarm environment. Just be careful that this is unregulated and you might not be getting the beneficial bacteria mentioned on the label.
- Personal Hygiene: Regular bathing, thorough drying of underarms, and changing clothes frequently all contribute to odor control. Ensure you maintain proper hygiene habits to complement the efforts of your natural deodorant.
- SWIFF spray: Recent innovative products like SWIFF spray both neutralize odors and prevent odor-causing bacteria from colonizing your clothes. These products can last through the wash, and don’t need to go on your skin. Importantly, they are fragrance free and solve the problem, rather than mask it.
Remember, finding the perfect natural deodorant that suits your unique body chemistry might require significant trial and error. Be sensitive to your skin and respond quickly if you notice rashes, pain, or worse odors. Embrace the journey towards healthier underarm care, understanding that natural solutions may take time to yield the desired results, and ingredients lists should be read carefully.