The Great Deodorant Debate

Are Americans forgoing deodorant for no good reason? The New York Times Sunday Style section brings the deodorant debate to the surface again. It chronicles the tales of individuals who have given up deodorant, with minimal consequence. It also touches on the negative impact of the daily shower, a practice that ninety-three percent of Americans engage in. According to The Times, people are concerned about stripping away natural oils on the skin with constant washing, as well as the negative effects of aluminum in deodorant. But does this argument hold any weight?

First of all, antiperspirants and deodorants, while often used interchangeably, are not the same thing. Deodorants neutralize our natural odors, whereas antiperspirants close off the pores with astringent, preventing them from excreting sweat. Or, as actor/producer Todd Felix describes it, antiperspirants are akin to covering your pores in saran wrap.

According to the National Cancer Institute, reports are conflicting. The site states, “There is no conclusive research linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer.” Even so, there may be concerns about the presence of parabens in deodorants and antiperspirants. The presence of parabens was found in 18 out of 20 samples of cancerous breast tissue. The researchers did not, however, test healthy tissue from other parts of the body. They were also unable to pinpoint the source of parabens in individuals with cancer. The Alzheimer’s Association did not specifically address aluminum in deodorant, but the website does state that, “studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s.” 

It seems rather difficult to ascertain exactly what impact deodorant is having on our health. Luckily for those who are concerned about their health, aluminum and paraben free deodorants are popping up everywhere. Yet some supposed “all natural” deodorants contain an aluminum compound that is different from the aluminum that is in “traditional” deodorants. People have also started to use things like lemon slices and baking soda to stave off underarm odor without shelling out the money for alternative deodorants.

A quick Google search reveals that there are countless natural deodorants on the market. To find the most effective brand, though, seems to require trial and error, based upon the personal accounts posted online. According to one market research firm, the average American age 24 and under uses deodorant an average of nine times per week. With the jury still out on the safety of aluminum and paraben deodorants it can’t hurt to switch to an all natural alternative, provided that it controls your body odor. Have you found a way to handle your daily life without using deodorant or antiperspirant? Leave your tips in the comments.

Photo thanks to Mugley


Shannon Murphy
Shannon Murphy6 years ago

I make my own deodorant from coconut oil, cornstarch, and baking soda. Works great, no icky chemicals. Antiperspirant prevents our bodies from performing very vital functions. Sweat is how we regulate our body temperatures and one way our body expells toxins. It's also true that showering daily removes our natural oils, which also perform the function of moisturizer and protectant. Same goes for hair washing. The more often you wash your hair the more greasy and damaged your hair becomes, because the scalp must work overtime to constantly produce the oil that's been washed away. The body is designed to take care of itself, it's our vanity that disrupts these natural processes. There are plenty of ways to balance health and hygenine. Just takes a little leg work and like the article says, a little trial and error.

Maria O.
Maria O.7 years ago

I just started using products by a company called PrimaJolie and I like them very much. Their deodorant is all natural and pure and really works.

Tammy F.
Tammy F.8 years ago

If you can smell your own body, get a clue, others can too.

Dean P.
Dean P8 years ago

suppose again it is up to ones individual beliefs.I don't like the stenchy smell of body odor.

Sarah D.
Sarah D8 years ago

I use deodorant regularly. The smell of sweaty pits is not a pretty one.

Serina O.
Serina O.8 years ago

I love my natural body odor, and rarely use deoderant. I probably use it once or twice a week when I know that I will be exerting myself and dont want to reek. and I only shower every other day, and I am a 24 year old female that is not at a loss for admirers. It annoys me when people are obsessed with smelling like flowers.

Stephen Y.
Stephen Young8 years ago

What rubbish

Empress Ginger
Ginger Strivelli8 years ago

Oh Ye Gods....people....these neo-hippies who walk around reeking are just not 'cool' they are just rude and gross. Get a clue, there are all-natural products if you just are paranoid about normal deodorants...and I don't mean patchouli, that crap just smells gross and blends with rather than covers up BO.

Kathleen W.
Kathleen W.8 years ago


Rebecca Johnson
Rebecca A B8 years ago

We are animals. We have a smell. Good health and reasonable cleanliness helps us not to be ripe. That's about it. NEXT.