Salt of the Earth Natural Deodorant

Friday non-food treat: June

Food should be enjoyable—but it shouldn’t be your greatest source of joy. Each month I focus on a non-food treat that’s boosting my happiness, in the hope that you’ll find some pleasure in it too!

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OK, I know deodorant isn’t necessarily something you’d associate with joy, but hear me out! I’m delighted to have discovered this, and chances are you will be too.

Firstly, let me give this a little bit of context. As any woman will tell you, a product that a) keeps you smelling fresh and b) doesn’t mark your clothes at all is the deodorant panacea. It’s also surprisingly rare within the conventional beauty market, let alone within green or ‘natural’ product lines.

For years I used a mainstream deodorant brand, and was reasonably happy with its effect. It kept my underarms dry and, even though it claimed to leave no marks, the slight white dusting it left in the folds of tops was nothing to worry about, as it came out easily enough in the wash.

However, I was always slightly bothered by the long and intimidating ingredients list. Do you have butylphenyl methylpropional, dimethicone or hydroxycitronellal lurking in your bathroom cabinet? Do you know what they are? Would you slather such raw ingredients on your face without caution?

Nope, me neither.

When it comes to food, if you can’t pronounce something on an ingredients list or don’t know what it is, it’s probably best to avoid eating it. The more I learn, the more I believe it’s sensible to take the same approach with products you use on your skin.

Having said this, we also need to pragmatic. While there is such a thing as a detoxification load—and it serves us to be mindful of what we’re putting on our body—I find that too much focus on this can be detrimental. Is the stress of checking every single ingredient in your cosmetics worth it for the day-to-day, discernible impact it will have on your health? For most people, probably not.

You simply need to take an approach that works for you. I use many ‘conventional’ make-up products, simply because I find them to look, feel and perform better than their greener counterparts. I am, however, willing to be more flexible with my deodorant choice.

When I set out to find more natural deodorant, little did I know what a journey I would be undertaking. Some did nothing at all, others were such thick pastes that I could feel them all day, and some had such high essential oil content that they made my skin unbearably itchy (isn’t the world of beauty filled with glamour?).

Finally, at the recommendation of an in-the-know friend, I tried this one. And what a relief! It genuinely keeps you smelling fresh, but it leaves nothing on your clothes in the process. They also have fragranced products in their range—which comprises both sprays and roll-ons—but the one I use is fragrance-free and thus suitable for both women and men (as my husband quickly discovered).

For those who are interested, the active ingredient here—the one that keeps odours in check—is potassium alum. This is a naturally occurring mineral salt, not to be confused with the synthetic aluminium (specifically aluminium chlorohydrate) that’s used in many mainstream deodorants.

Aluminium chlorohydrate works by blocking pores in the underarms, preventing sweating from the outset. It is this absorptive quality that has led to concerns surrounding the safety of this ingredient, as traces of aluminium have been found in breast tissue [1].

Potassium alum works quite differently. It’s naturally antibacterial, inhibiting the growth of the odour-causing underarm bacteria. This is a key difference that’s useful to understand: natural deodorants (including this one) will stop unbecoming odours, but they won’t necessarily stop you sweating as much as conventional deodorants.

And is this a bad thing? Your sweating function is there for a reason, after all. Most people would agree that blocked pores on your face are something you’d want to avoid, so why should it be any different for your underarms?

For me, the payoff is worth it. I’m fine with a little dampness on a hot day (and it really is only a little) if I know I’m being kinder to my body. Much like eating healthy, nourishing food, there’s a unique kind of satisfaction that comes with knowing you’re treating yourself well.

That’s why this deodorant is this month’s non-food treat: for me, it represents a further shift towards supporting the natural balance that’s so essential to health.

Lest I get ahead of myself, I’ll admit I’m not quite ready to give up my non-smudging mascara to be kinder to my eyelashes. Who knows, I may well get there…

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