I’ve tried a great number of health food store deodorants, the ones that advertise being environmentally friendly and better for you than the run of the mill pharmacy ones. I’ve tried a great many because they tend to work for a week or two and then fail miserably, usually on a high stress day when I really need them to work. I was relieved to find that I’m not alone in this. In her most excellent book, Ecoholic, Adria Vasil writes of experiencing the same problem.
There are certain brands that in the past I found worked for longer: Nature’s Gate and Tom’s of Maine. However, these brands have propylene glycol as their main ingredient, which the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database lists as “moderately toxic,” 4 out of a possible 10. BTW, I have recently discovered that Nature’s Gate Organics deodorants are propylene glycol free, but I have not tried them. I was disappointed to discover Tom’s of Maine uses propylene glycol since they were the first company to develop a “natural deodorant” back in the 1970s and Ellis Jones, in his “the better world shopping guide” rates them as #5 on his list of the 10 best companies in the world from an ethical, environmental and social justice perspective. But I was determined to make my armpits propylene glycol free zones, so I went back to trying out deodorants.
Fortunately my environmentally-friendly hair dresser, Joy, recently introduced me to an Australian organic cosmetics company, miessence organics. Their Aroma Free Deodorant is more expensive than your average health food store brand. However, it has only four ingredients (water, aloe vera, sodium bicarbonate, xanthan gum, and grapefruit seed extract) all of which I am familiar with and comfortable using. The deodorant works perfectly and has continued to work without fail for several months now.
One last note about healthy deodorants. I have also found that deodorant stones or crystals work extremely well, save on packaging, and are about the most cost-effective natural deodorants out there. However, on doing a bit of research, I found that their active ingredient was an aluminum salt, potassium alum, which led me to stop using it, the deodorant aluminum scares of the 1980s being what had led me to change to health food store deodorants in the first place. The Cosmetics Database lists potassium alum as having very low toxicity (a score of 1, with 0 being the lowest possible), however, it also lists data gaps for this ingredient, so I’m still undecided on the crystal deodorant issue.
Incidentally, in preparing this post, I looked up grapefruit seed extract on the database and it gets a score of 3 on toxicity, mostly because of concerns that it might be contaminated with nasty chemicals. So all I can do is conclude that being an informed consumer is hard work and the best path is never a clear one.
Miessence deodorant available at Pure Joy Hair Studio in Westboro, Ottawa, open Wednesday to Saturday, phone ahead 613-728-4069
Crystal Deodorant Stone available from the on-line Outouais store: Scentfree.ca
Ottawa-based website on health and cosmetics: PureKnowHow
International, comprehensive cosmetics database: Skin Deep