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Anti-Perspiration Evolution

Anti-Perspirant Evolution

Ingredients, Toxicity, Health & Environmental Risks

By Diane Cimetta, reprinted with permission from Greener Magazine

Concern regarding the use of anti-perspirants has been a popular topic of discussion in the press recently. Research and consumer advocate groups routinely raise questions concerning ingredients, toxicity, and long-term health risks, as well as their effect on the environment.

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The use of anti-perspirants against perspiration, a by-product of our bodies’ natural temperature regulating process, is common in western cultures, to prevent rather than mask perspiration odor. Odor motivated the ancient Egyptians to concoct fragrances by mixing citrus scents with sensually pleasing spices. Ironically, in an opposite example of social development, an early indigenous culture in Brazil, The Bororo People, believed body odor was associated with the life force, breath odor with the soul.

While the Bororo people used body odors as a social marker to identify individuals and their families, western society as early 1910 began marketing 'deodorants' and 'antiperspirants,' claiming 'bad odor' was a hindrance to social success. By the mid eighties, a new consciousness began to emerge that focused on human and environmental health; people began to question the excessive use of chemicals in personal products and their cumulative effect on health and the environment.

Current research finds that there are risks from the continued use of chemical ingredients contained in anti-perspirants. Ingredients such as fragrance, BHT, propylene glycol, talc, silica, and peg-8 distearate are listed as hazards for gastrointestinal or liver function, causing a potential risk to the immune and nervous systems. How can we control perspiration without exposing ourselves to health risks or social embarrassment?

There are natural, chemical free anti-perspirants on the market; environmentally friendly, and not tested on animals. The Environmental Working Group has assessed some of these products as 'low' concern, for example, 'Herbal Magic', 'Certain Dri Antiperspirant', and 'Ban Classic Original'.

Another option, suggested in How it all Vegan, is to use a natural anti-perspirant made from cornstarch and a few drops of any essential oil. (Note: For example: Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary, Tea Tree) Using this home recipe ensures that your anti-perspirant is completely biodegradable and the ingredients may be found in most households, which make it convenient as well as inexpensive.

For centuries, people have waged war on body odor by using fragrances from natural sources. Technological advances have supplied us with an arsenal of antiperspirants in a variety of applications from roll-ons to sprays, creams, pads and dry sticks, even gels, which promise to reduce or eliminate perspiration.

Today, we've begun to realize that our attempts to address one social concern (odor) have caused a more debilitating concern, the harmful affects of anti-perspirants on human and environmental health. It’s time to take the initiative and educate ourselves, learn the issues and discover natural products that are in harmony with a healthy lifestyle for ourselves and the planet.


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