You overslept, forced to skip breakfast, dressed quickly, and headed off to work. You parked, got out your car, and took off running. Even though you broke a sweat, you made it to work on time. After a few hours, you notice a sour smell underneath your arm.
Yes, you forget to put on deodorant.
Have you ever asked yourself why use deodorant? Besides trying to prevent a certain smell, what’s else does deodorant do?
Absolutely nothing. Deodorant has ZERO health benefits, nor does smelling bad harm you or anyone else. If deodorants don’t optimize your health, then why use them? Good question.
For Western societies, it became “bad” to have body odor starting in the 1950s. At first, people used perfumes to hide their smell. Then along came deodorant and the marketing tactics to sell it. Well, it sure worked, and people have been using deodorants ever since with no signs of it going away.
Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant
First, let’s discuss why we naturally sweat and stink.
Sweat cools of your body and body odor is your natural defense deterring predatory animals away. This distinct scent, called your axillary body odor, is caused by two sweat glands.
The first gland, called the eccrine gland, is activated by overheating. These glands respond by emitting water and salt to cool you off. The other gland is the apocrine gland, which secrets fats and proteins onto the skin’s surface. Both glands work hand in hand, and when water, salt, fats, and proteins are at the skin’s surface, the high volume of bacteria underneath your arm feed, creating your axillary odor.
Next, not all deodorants are the same. Deodorants are not antiperspirants and vice versa, but some can be a combination of both.
If you apply deodorant and go run five miles, your arm pits will sweat. Deodorants have nothing to do with either sweat glands, just your underarm’s bacteria. The chemicals in deodorants make the environment underneath your armpit unhabitable for the bacteria that creates your foul odor.
Antiperspirants are another story. Antiperspirants completely stop you from sweating when applied, and without sweat, your bacteria starves, completely getting rid of bacteria and your smell.
So then, what are the consequences?
Deodorant’s Harmful Effects
One of the many rumors circulating the medical field is that prolonged use of antiperspirants and deodorants have negative side effects, possibly causing breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia, which are completely unknown to society.
It’s been a relatively quiet fact that antiperspirants’ main, active ingredient for plugging up sweat glands is aluminum. Not too sure if you’re aware, but aluminum is very toxic, capable of altering DNA and causing genetic defects.
Then why aren’t more studies done?
It’s difficult. Everyone’s armpit is different, varying greatly from person to person. Besides differences in armpit microbiome, the environment underneath your arm is also very dynamic and ever changing, creating difficulties in finding and maintaining a control group for scientific research.
One study attempted to do so. A study entitled “The effect of habitual and experimental antiperspirant and deodorant product use on the armpit microbiome” determined that deodorant and antiperspirants both change the bacterial density and population in very different ways.
The set of pie graphs below depict everything I’m about to mention. On the far right is the control group containing individuals whom used no product, neither antiperspirant nor deodorant during their life time.
The first difference, which should be obvious, between the pie graphs with no product versus the other two are the change in green and purple areas. Those individuals whom used deodorant and antiperspirants for a long time now had armpit communities dominated by Staphylococcacae instead of Corynebacterium.
Also noted, but not as noticeable, is the increase in “Other” bacteria from using antiperspirants for long periods of time (grey area boxed off in red).
The study clearly shows that deodorant and antiperspirants change the armpit’s biome, with antiperspirants adding new bacteria unknown to the human body before, but the effects from this study can’t accurately be concluded.
My Deodorant Story
A few months ago, I switched deodorants. Don’t know why, but I did. Maybe I wanted a new scent, but I really didn’t have a clue.
After a few days, I noticed more sweat under my arms than usual and my underarms were quite sore. I decided to have a look and found two large lumps (one in each armpit) the size of grapes.
What the hell.
I didn’t panic, did some research, and concluded that my lymph nodes were swollen, and swollen for a reason. The human body’s lymph nodes are part of your misunderstood immune system, and typically swell when something’s not right.
Now, I can’t say for sure if it was a random allergic reaction to my new deodorant. Either way, my lymph nodes were not a fan.
My solution was simple. No more deodorant. After about one week of no deodorant, my swollen lymph nodes were no longer swollen.
During this entire process, I got heavily involved with the side effects of deodorants and antiperspirants, thus the information for this blog post. And in all honesty, I’m glad I used that deodorant. It woke me up to the toxic chemicals and products we put on our bodies on a DAILY basis, and I suggest you do the same.
Hope you all enjoyed this week’s blog post! If you’ve missed last week’s blog post on creating the foundation of your life in your 20s, click here. As always, don’t forget to like, comment, share, and subscribe!
“It’s just as important what you put on your skin as what you put in your body.”
Book of the Month: “You Need A Budget” by Jesse Mecham