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by Emma Peters January 30, 2018

Conventional deodorants contain a lot of chemicals that are potentially harmful yet it seems to be the hardest product for a lot of people to make the switch on.

Skin health and conscious makeup are being talked about more and more, but when it comes to going natural, I’ve found getting people to replace their trusty deodorant takes a bit of convincing.

It’s an attitude that needs to change though. The underarms are a natural exit point for the body, meaning that when we sweat there’s a good reason for it! Underarm sweat helps excrete toxins, chemicals and all kinds of nasty waste products - so what happens when we mess with the system and use chemical-heavy, conventional deodorant?

Like most long-term effects from these kinds of products, the outcome isn’t all that pretty. Here are some facts, tips and gorgeous natural brands to help you ditch that stale aluminium-based roll-on for good!

Don’t be afraid to nurture good bacteria

(Image: @thebeautychef)

Chemical deodorant is often marketed as healthy because it kills off bacteria, but in reality that’s the opposite of helpful. One of the pitfalls of chemical-based antibacterial products is that the product can’t distinguish between good and bacteria. Our bodies rely on certain strains of bacteria and microbes to function properly. When you strip them away, you strip away that functionality too.

New York Times writer Julia Scott participated in an AOBiome experiment in 2014to prove the benefits of good bodily bacteria. The experiment had her misting a tonic mixture ofcultivated Nitrosomonas eutropha onto her face, scalp and body daily instead of using her regular chemical cleansing products. At the end of the experiment she found her skin was softer, smoother and had far smoother pores than before too!

Dr Mercolaexplains that it’s experiments like these that are now prompting the cosmetics industry and medical field to rethink stripping away bacteria entirely. He recommends steering clear of conventional antiperspirants altogether.

“Even as a college student, I realized if the chemicals can destroy my clothes, it probably wasn't good for my body, so I elected to avoid it,” he explains.

“I find that regularly washing my armpits with soap and making sure my diet is clean with minimal sugar and plenty of fermented vegetables are all that is needed to keep my armpit odor from being offensive.”

Let yourself sweat a little

As well as eliminating helpful bacteria, anti-perspirant deodorant also blocks sweat completely. It might sound like a good thing at first, but did you know a certain degree of underarm sweat is actually beneficial?

Sweat helps to get rid of toxins and harmful viruses - it’s a bit like your body’s natural filtration system. Natural deodorants let the body perspire a normal, healthy amount so you stay free of nasties 24/7.

A 2012 study by NCBI cited sweating as ‘long regarded as cleansing and of no risk’, helping to remove and eradicate toxic elements in the body. It reviewed scientific literature pertaining to toxic excretion in sweat - particularly lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic. What they found was that in most literature, sweat was shown to decrease levels of these carcinogenic toxins in the body.

Without sweat as a cleansing bodily function, toxin levels would build up and potentially cause serious health risks.

Ditch the aluminium

Natural deodorant NZ

Another worrying aspect of conventional deodorant is the amount of aluminium in it. Because most people use their deodorant every day, it’s easy for this potentially dangerous metal to accumulate in the body.

A more recent NBCI study (2014)explains that aluminium build-up in the body can inhibit helpful enzymes and interfere with the body’s natural absorption of calcium, fluorine and iron.

It also states that aluminium interferes with most cellular and physical processes in the body, comparing to the lesions found in neurons affected by aluminium similar to Alzheimer's patients. When aluminium builds up within tissue it can interfere with estrogen receptors, and may even cause DNA alteration and epigenetic effects too.

What’s more, this kind of build-up is especially concerning for women as more and more research points to potentially cancer-causing aluminium building up in the breast tissue over time. A 2007 study from Keele Universitylinked topical aluminium application (which is what happens when you use an aluminium-based anti-perspirant) to possible implications for the cause of breast cancer.

The study states, ‘Scientists have found that the aluminium content of breast tissue and breast tissue fat was significantly higher in the outer regions of the breast, in close proximity to the area where there would be the highest density of antiperspirant.’

Scary stuff, right?

How do I make the switch?

Although this all sounds daunting, thankfully there are so many aluminium-free, natural deodorants to try out - you just have to stay patient with your own body as it adjusts to big switch.

If you’ve been a long-time anti-perspirant user, believe it or not, your underarms have to get used to sweating properly again which can take anywhere from 2 – 4 weeks. Essentially, this process is your body ridding itself of the chemical build up in that area. It’s normal, it’s healthy, and it might look a little like this.

  • WEEK 1:You’ll hardly notice any change in moisture or odor. The body hasn’t started its natural deodorant detox just yet.
  • WEEK 2:Odor and wetness will start to creep in just a little. This is absolutely fine and normal, it’s your system getting rid of chemicals and toxins sitting underneath the skin.
  • WEEK 3:There’ll be more sweat and odor than Week 2 and possibly a little skin irritation. Thankfully though it’s only temporary, this is mainly due to your sweat glands working hard and creating heat that let bacteria thrive for a short time.
  • Week 4:Congratulations! By this stage your body should be totally adjusted with little to no odor or wetness.

Know your natural deodorant brands

Now that you know all about the potential dangers of chemical, heavy metal-laden deodorants and anti-perspirants, here are a few of my favourite natural deodorant brands for good measure.

All of these brands are super healthy, totally gorgeous, and committed to supporting your body’s natural detoxification process rather than hindering it.

Eco by Sonya Driver Coconut Deodorant

Eco Coconut Deodorant NZ

(Image: @ecobysonya)

This great smelling natural deodorant lets toxins release naturally rather than clogging and blocking pores. Eco Coconut Deodorant has no synthetic ingredients, parabens or aluminium – only the good stuff!

Its amazing scent comes from a fusion of lavender oil, coconut oil and chamomile, all ingredients that are gentle on sensitive skin.

Eco’s Coconut Deodorant also helps keep you dry by adding cornflower to their unique mix.

Zoo Nurtured Deodorant

Zoo Nurtured Deodorant NZ


Zoo Nurtured Deodorant uses arrowroot, coconut oil and shea butter to absorb moisture, stop odour and nourish the skin.

It’s palm oil free and completely vegan, with 50c of every pot they sell donated toThe Orangutan Project.

They also make all of their deodorant in comparatively small batches, ensuring the product itself stays far fresher for far longer.

Lavanila Natural Deodorant

lavanila deodorant nz

Lavanila, knows sweating is one of the most healthy functions a body has! They’ve created a gorgeous natural deodorant that allows the body to excrete toxins while still keeping you fresh all day.

All their ingredients are selected using a rigorous 4-step process to assess performance, safety, sourcing, and environmental impact. What’s left is a wonderful blend of things like vanilla oil, coconut oil, aloe vera, green tea, kakadu plum and lemon oil for a delicious natural scent.

Switching to natural deodorant is such an easy way to stay healthy, it’s a wonder more people haven’t done it already.

As far as wellbeing is concerned, here at Belle & Sage we definitely think it’s time to start sweating the small (but very important stuff). Natural deodorant is a great way to eliminate toxic heavy metals from your body, support healthy sweat production and cultivate helpful bacteria all while smelling fantastic.

Explore your natural deodorant options this week, and don’t forget to report back on your own sweet-smelling detox!


Dr. Mercola. (2015, January). Antiperspirants Can Make You Smell Worse By Altering Armpit Bacteria. Sourced from:

Jaishankar, M., Tseten, T., Anbalagan, N., Mathew, B. B., & Beeregowda, K. N. (2014). Toxicity, mechanism and health effects of some heavy metals. Interdisciplinary toxicology, 7(2), 60-72.  Sourced from:

Keele University. (2007, September 2). Aluminum In Breast Tissue: A Possible Factor In The Cause Of Breast Cancer. ScienceDaily. Sourced from:

Scott, J. (2014, May). My No-Soap, No-Shampoo, Bacteria-Rich Hygiene Experiment. The New York Times Magazine.Sourced from:

Sears, M. E., Kerr, K. J., & Bray, R. I. (2012). Arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in sweat: a systematic review.Journal of environmental and public health,2012. Sourced from:

Emma Peters
Emma Peters

Emma Peters, organic makeup artist, creative director and founder of Belle & Sage, is committed to leading the conversation around beauty and wellness. With over twenty years of experience as a make-up artist, she knows you don’t have to sacrifice quality for clean.

She’ll help you find the what, learn the why, nail the how, and everything in between.

Letting you know more, wear better, and start making beautiful choices: from the inside, out.

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