My longtime relationship with antiperspirants was like that of a social smoker and cigarettes: I knew they were ultimately harmful and comforted myself with the notion that I would one day just give them up for good. The problem is, I was never really certain when that day would come.
I started using more intense antiperspirants just before college, which was around the same time I got more invested in working out regularly. I was so frequently going from class to the gym to the cafeteria and wherever else life took me that I developed a preemptive fear of smelling bad in front of my peers and the people I was trying to befriend.
When I started interning at the start of my sophomore year, I grew to rely upon my intense deodorant habit even more. I was suddenly having to work in professional environments that felt so out of my league, and it kinda made me sweat.
Around the same time, I kept seeing stories about the harmful effects of common antiperspirant ingredients, which can include aluminum compounds and parabens. Antiperspirants than contain aluminum are especially risky because they can be absorbed into your blood stream and have been linked to breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Here lies my real problem and the source of a lot of paranoia. My grandmother, my mom's mom, passed away from breast cancer in her 30s. Though she was diagnosed at a time when research and treatment were scarce, that's certainly not the case right now. If there's reputable information out there about the harmfulness of antiperspirants, then why the f*ck was I using them?
I gave it some thought and realized that my health and longevity were more important than the strength of my deodorant. My next issue, however, was finding the right natural deodorant that smelled nice and was still effective — although I was prepared to be let down by the effectiveness after years of using my stronger one. After arming myself with some knowledge about other aluminum-free deodorants, I ended up settling on Milk + Honey's cream deodorant in coconut and lemongrass scent.
Image Source: Milk + Honey
I had a bunch of initial reservations. First of all, the deodorant is $16, which definitely doesn't make it an economical choice. Also, the notion of a cream deodorant that you have to scoop up with your hands — and thereby rub directly onto your armpits — kind of grossed me out.
While I have to admit I still feel weird about applying it by hand, the price has become slightly more understandable since I realized how a tiny amount of the thick cream can offer a lot of protection. I've also become obsessed with its refreshing scent. It smells crisp, fresh, and gloriously lacking in weird chemicals that my body does not need or want. Just the other day, I got a whiff of my armpit as I was working out and it actually smelled nice — ultimately passing the most difficult smell test.
I'm sure I'll try other types of natural deodorants, but for now, I feel at peace knowing that I can throw away my intense antiperspirant and rely on this pleasant option without fear of offending my co-workers and fellow gym-goers.
Product Credit: Tibi Top, J.Crew Jeans, Kathleen Whitaker Earrings