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Our philosophy: deodorant is not made to be one-size-fits all. Like medicine, like skin care, like body care – not only do our needs vary from one person to the next, they also vary day to day, moment to moment.

A guide to choosing your Nala deodorant:

As a baseline, all Nala deodorants are unisex, safe for all ages, and free-from aluminum, known carcinogens, and cruelty.

From there, each formula is unique. In addition to different scents, each Nala deodorant is a different strength to best suit individual needs.

A quick run-down of our three deodorants to help guide the conversation of which deodorant may be best suited to your needs today.

Peppermint-Charcoal Detox Deodorant

The Peppermint-Charcoal deodorant is our most gentle formula, baking soda free. Recommended as a transition deodorant for those new to free-from deodorants, but also great everyday deodorant. Use alone, while detoxing, or in conjunction with one of the other two. The deodorant glides on clear and a little goes a long way. 

Peppermint has naturally cooling properties which can lower your internal temperaturemaking it a great deodorant for the summer time and warm weather. For hot sleepers, apply it before you go to sleep to wake up feeling tingly and refreshed.

Lemon-Myrtle Geranium Deodorant

A light lemony smell, this Lemon-Myrtle Deodorant is an excellent everyday deodorant. With a low percentage of baking soda, it is a more gentle formula than the Sandalwood and offers stronger protection than the Detox. 

Organic Lemon-Myrtle extract not only gives off fresh citrus vibes but it is also a powerful cleansing agent with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties2. Providing light, floral undertones, organic Geranium serves to fight bacteria3 and leave you feeling fresh.

Sandalwood & Bergamot Deodorant

Our strongest deodorant with the highest concentration of baking soda. Great for those days where you’re looking for a little bit of extra protection, or a good everyday deodorant for heavier sweaters. The Sandalwood & Bergamot is our best-seller among men but is enjoyed by all sexes.

Sandalwood has a ceremonial significance in addition to being a strong disinfectant. Its emollient (read: smoothing) properties remove harmful bacteria from the surface of the skin while also soothing any irritations or breakouts4.

Reach for this one on days of big meetings and long shifts. Our co-founder Ada wore this on her wedding day.

Decision time

Take your own personal needs into consideration when purchasing your next deodorant. Start with a deodorant that calls you most, and adapt as your needs evolve. Feel free to rotate, mix them up, and use them in conjunction with each other (detox at night, a baking-soda deodorant during the day is a popular combination). It can require a shift in mindset, but learning about your own individual needs and preferences and how they vary will allow you to best serve your needs. You know you best, honour that.

Still stuck on where to start? Shoot us an e-mail at sayhello@nalacare.com, we’re happy to help.

References:

1 Aishwarya Balakrishnan /J. Pharm. Sci. & Res. Vol. 7(7), 2015, 474-476. Therapeutic Uses of Peppermint –A Review

2 Wilkinson, Jenny M., and Heather Cavanagh. “Antibacterial activity of essential oils from Australian native plants.” Phytotherapy Research 19.7 (2005): 643-646.

3 Prabuseenivasan, Seenivasan, Manickkam Jayakumar, and Savarimuthu Ignacimuthu. “In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 6.1 (2006): 39.

4 Burdock, George A., and Ioana G. Carabin. “Safety assessment of sandalwood oil (Santalum album L.).” Food and Chemical Toxicology 46.2 (2008): 421-432.

In terms of beauty, our society doesn’t look too kindly on sweat.

We may be beset by advertisements encouraging us to live the sweat life, but those ads are usually accompanied by images of pristine-looking men and women without so much as a touch of glow on their brows.

The beauty industry has even gone so far as to employ chemistry to physically block our sweat glands – in the form of antiperspirant – rather than allow a little moisture to escape our underarms.

We at Nala have a different approach to sweat.

We think sweating is nothing short of a small miracle.

The release of moisture from the pores of your skin is a highly effective, fine-tuned system with significant health benefits – and it’s time we started celebrating it.

How sweat works

Sweat is secreted through the pores of the skin via our sweat glands. We all have between 2 and 4 million sweat glands in our body, although the number doesn’t necessarily dictate how sweaty an individual will be: factors like gender, genetics, environmental conditions, age and fitness level/weight tend to determine sweat more than quantity of glands.

Eccrine sweat glands are spread throughout the body, and their chief role is to regulate the body’s temperature.

When our autonomic nervous system (aka our involuntary body responses) experiences a rise in body temperature, it signals the eccrine glands to emit a mix of water, sodium, and other trace materials in the form of sweat. This sweat then cools to the temperature of the air outside the body, and helps to drop our internal temperature.

This automatic reaction is easiest to notice on a cool day if you’ve been exercising – as soon as you stop moving your sweat cools quickly, as does your overall body temp (sometimes to your detriment). Still, how cool is it that our body intrinsically releases sweat in order to keep our temperature out of the danger zone?

The other kind of sweat gland is the apocrine gland, found only in the underarm and the groin.

While these glands respond to rising body temperature, they’re also triggered to release sweat when we experience anxiety, stress, and/or fluctuating hormones. Unlike eccrine glands, apocrine sweat glands release a bacteria that helps to break down sweat, but is also responsible for body odour.

Regardless of number or kind, our sweat is essential for maintaining a healthy body temperature range.

But that’s not all.

Detoxification

The detoxification, or “detoxing” of our bodies is still an incredibly important process (albeit one that’s often misrepresented).

Our sweat is an essential form of natural bodily detox, which is why practices like steaming, saunas and sweat lodges have existed for centuries.

We’d like to clear a few things up for you, though.

First, our body has another finely tuned system that mostly manages the toxins that enter our bodies: between our liver and kidneys, most of the harmful substances we ingest or absorb are processed, contained and expelled.

Problems start to arise, however, when our bodies are overwhelmed by toxins and the liver and kidneys can no longer process the load. When this happens, excess toxins are stored in our fat, and, from there, secreted through our sweat glands.

The most important thing you can do for detoxification is to support your vital organs by eating well, minimizing drug and alcohol intake, and avoiding chemically-laden cleaning and cosmetic products.

However, given the sheer volume of environmental toxins we come into contact with daily, regular sweating due to exercise or saunas is a great way to detoxify, provided you’re staying hydrated.

Rather than mortification at your sweat, try reminding yourself that sweat is a sign your body is monitoring itself, ensuring all systems are go, and flushing harmful substances.

Awesome.

Everything in moderation

Allow us to restate our position: sweating is awesome, in moderation.

About 3% of the population of North America suffers from a condition called Hyperhydrosis, or excessive sweating.

We’re not talking about the occasional embarrassing sweat stain, either: people with severe hyperhydrosis can have trouble doing everyday things like gripping a steering wheel or writing with a pen, if the condition is localized to their palms (for instance).

If you think your sweating has gone well beyond what’s healthy, talk to a healthcare professional.

If you contend with the occasional sweat stain, rejoice! Your body is functioning beautifully.

What’s the deal with aluminum?

In an early example of online health trends, in the 1990s a chain email (remember those?) decrying the use of antiperspirant went the 90s version viral, showing up in hundreds of thousands of inboxes over the course of several months.

It was the first time that the debate about deodorants, antiperspirants, and, in particular, aluminium content in these products was brought to mass attention. Rather than having resolved itself in the last 25 years, however, aluminum is still a hotly debated topic in the cosmetics world.

And with good reason.

Below, we break it down for you – the allegations leveled at aluminum in antiperspirants, and why we choose to stay away from them here at Nala.

Plugging up your sweat glands (How antiperspirant works)

Antiperspirant was developed at the turn of the 19th century, and relied on straight aluminum chloride mixed with sweat to form a gel that plugged the user’s sweat gland. Unfortunately a significant portion of the population proved mildly allergic to the aluminum chloride, and developed itchy rashes and inflammation in their underarms when using the product.

Time may have passed, but modern antiperspirant relies on the exact same technology – an aluminum chloride compound that’s less allergenic mixes with sweat to form a gel-like substance. This gel literally plugs up your sweat gland, keeping sweat from escaping the body.

Given that sweating is a natural function our body employs to flush our system of toxins, and, alternately, to keep us cool and free from heat stroke, you can appreciate how stopping the process altogether might be cause for concern.

The “body burden” of aluminum

When fish swim in mercury-heavy waters, they bear what scientists have dubbed the “body burden”: they present with elevated levels of mercury in their systems.

The same is true of the aluminum compound found in antiperspirant – regular users have been found to have highly elevated aluminum levels. The effect of aluminum on our systems is still hotly debated, as you’ll discover in our next two points, but it’s been reliably shown to have a negative impact on our kidneys, at a minimum.

Xenoestrogens and Cancer

Now we move into more contested territory, and the basis of “aluminum-gate” from the early 90s: do elevated levels of aluminum in our system cause cancer, breast cancer in particular?

While there still isn’t 100% conclusive scientific proof of the link between the two, more and more research is tending that way because aluminium has been shown to be a xenoestrogen.

Xenoestrogens are substances that mimic estrogen in the body, plug into our estrogen receptors, and encourage our body to start producing new cells where new cells aren’t needed. The impact is seen in the reproductive centres of the body (because estrogen plays a central role in our reproduction), and includes everything from cysts, to full blown tumours.

While these cysts and tumours are not always linked to cancer, the correlation (and research backing the correlation) is growing.

The threat of Alzheimer’s

The other big conversation to do with aluminium relates to brain health – specifically, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is a debilitating, fatal disease that causes memory loss and dementia in its sufferers. While there’s, again, not solid proof that aluminium contributes to the onset of the disease, those with dementia due to Alzheimer’s have been shown to have increased levels of aluminium in their brains.

The verdict

So does aluminium cause cancer and Alzheimer’s disease?

The answer is, simply, that we don’t know… yet.

No one can seem to agree whether this ingredient directly causes these conditions, but there’s enough science-based, peer-reviewed research out there for us to know that this metal does end up in our system, and does wreak havoc once there.

And there’s more than enough correlation between these diseases and the metal for us to want to keep it out of daily-use products like deodorant and why Nala and all our products will always be free-from aluminum.

Creating Nala has been a labour of patience, dedication, and – most of all – love.

When we started on our journey we knew we wanted to create a product that supported health & well being at a much deeper level than what we could find on the market.

We chose deodorant as our first venture for that reason – deodorant can be an incredibly personal, oftentimes vulnerable product choice. If you wrestle with excess sweat or body odour, you know how onerous and embarrassing it can be to find a solution.

What’s more, deodorant is one of the worst offenders when it comes to toxic beauty products.

As we dug into the market, we knew for certain we needed to include two elements in our deodorant line: a free-from label/philosophy, and a detoxifying product.

What it means to be free-from

Free-from is a relatively new label in the beauty world, but it’s rock-solid when it comes to defining our product philosophy.

At the most literal level, our products will be free from the laundry list of toxic ingredients found in conventional antiperspirants as well as any free-from ingredients found to have a negative impact on health and well-being. All Nala products, including our Nala Free-From Deodorant will be always free from the worst offenders listed below. This is our promise to you.

Nala free-from deodorant is free from:

  • aluminum – changes your estrogen receptors; linked to liver, kidney and brain issues
  • carcinogens  – substances that can lead to cancer
  • parabens – mimic estrogen in the body; cause cancer
  • phthalates – interfere with, mimic or block hormones
  • propylene glycol – considered a neurotoxin; known to cause liver and kidney damage
  • cruelty – None of our products will ever be tested on animals.

Beyond the literal, however, the free-from label is aspirational. It puts high-quality ingredients at the forefront, and reminds us, every time sit down to talk about a product, that our deepest commitment is to create something free from the negativity and pitfalls of the current beauty industry.

The decision to detox

Now that you know what actually goes into your conventional deodorant, you might better understand the decision to release a detox deodorant alongside our daily use deodorant.

The truth is that using conventional deodorants and antiperspirants over the years has probably left an unfortunate build up of chemicals in your system.

You can read more about what might be going on in your underarm in our Nala Detox Guide, but, suffice it to say, the area could probably do with a clean-up – which is exactly what our detox deodorant provides.

In the spirit of being free-from (at a literal and aspirational level) we couldn’t have you use our deodorant without first going deeper and undoing some of the damage done by past products.

While it’s still a new and growing label, free-from represents a shift in what it means to consume beauty products, take care of ourselves, and what we demand of the beauty industry. We’re excited to see where it takes us next!

We’ve gone into quite a bit of detail about why you should switch to a free-from deodorant (especially if you’re currently using an antiperspirant, but we realized recently that we haven’t said much about how that process can and should go.

We really do understand the hesitation to change your tried-and-true underarm solution: scent and sweat are sensitive matters, and, unfortunately, “natural” deodorants don’t always have the best reputation for being effective.

If you know you want to avoid the harmful chemicals found in many conventional deodorants, and you’re ready to stop plugging your sweat glands with the aluminum in antiperspirant, below you’ll find a less intense way to transition into free-from deodorant use.

Step 1: Read Labels

Not all of us want to spend time online reviewing products and researching ingredients (although, if you do, we highly recommend the EWG’s Skin Deep Database), so start with this: turn over your chosen free-from or natural deodorant, and make sure these ingredients aren’t on the label:

  • aluminum
  • parabens
  • phthalates
  • propylene glycol

If you avoid these four main offenders, chances are you’ll be purchasing a clean product.

Step 2: Detox (Optional)

We’re big fans of detoxing due to the number of environmental toxins humans are exposed to on a daily basis, and this extends to our underarm situation.

A good detox deodorant will help pull harmful substances from your armpits, sweat glands and lymph nodes, and get your body ready for the switch to a natural deodorant by reducing harmful bacteria and improving natural scent.

That being said, if you switch to a free-from deodorant and continue using it over time, your body will eventually detoxify itself – it’ll just take quite a bit longer.

If you’re interested in the detox process it will take about four weeks, and you can refer to the Nala Guide to Detox for further instructions.

Step 3: Plan a gradual transition

Try an every-other-day tactic for your new free-from deodorant, or apply it first thing in the morning and then “top up” with your conventional product in the afternoon.

Pay attention to how you feel & smell – after two weeks your body chemistry should start to shift, as you get used to the new product.

Step 4: The full switch, or back to the drawing board

After two weeks of alternating, you should be ready to fully commit to your free-from deodorant: your body will be used to the new, cleaner product.

However, if the product you’ve selected isn’t working for you, you’ll know by this point, too.

If this is the case, we implore you: don’t give up! Every body on the planet has a unique chemical make-up, and you may have simply selected a product/scent/brand that isn’t right for yours. We’re spoiled for choice nowadays when it comes to natural and free-from beauty products; why not try out another one?

Other ways to support the transition to free-from deodorant

Like so many health & beauty topics, underarm sweat and scent is a multi-faceted issue that has many causes – and many solutions.

Deodorant is obviously the first line of defense, but there are other ways to ensure you smell pleasant and don’t sweat excessively. Among them:

Wear natural fibres – synthetics tend to trap sweat and breed bacteria due to their lack of breathability, whereas natural fibres like organic cotton and bamboo allow the armpits to air out and breathe.

Drink enough water – your body needs to naturally detox every day, and ensuring your stay hydrated will help you flush the toxins that breed bacteria (and cause that funky BO smell) in your armpits

Eat a clean diet – things like excessive sugar consumption will feed bacteria in the body, causing a less-than-pleasant odor when you sweat.

Let yourself be human – there are certainly some medical conditions that cause excessive sweat and scent, and we understand completely the desire to treat them. Beyond those cases, however, most of us have just been told too often that any natural scent or sweat is ugly, embarrassing, or gross. This truly isn’t the case! Self-care doesn’t mean being perfect, it means loving your whole, human self – sweat and all.

When all’s said and done, good health, clean products and a little more self-love are the components of a successful switch to a free-from deodorant.

Roaming the aisles of your local drugstore, Sephora, or even health food store, you may have noticed a distinction in the world of underarm care: sweat & odour solutions are typically divided into deodorants and antiperspirants.

At Nala we fall firmly into the the deodorant camp for a few reasons we feel passionately about, but realize aren’t necessarily common knowledge.

So, without further ado, we give you: the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants, and the reasons we think you should limit your antiperspirant use as much as you can.

Deodorant, defined

Underarm deodorant is, quite literally, any substance you put on your armpit to improve its smell.

We’re all adults here, and can cop to the fact that, sometimes, we a little stinky. Our armpits are home to the majority of our apocrine – or sweat – glands. These glands create body odour because the sweat they secrete is full of protein, which bacteria can break down easily.

(Fun fact? The other concentration of apocrine glands in the body is in our groin area.)

The standard for conventional deodorants is to employ a chemical cocktail to neutralize the odour, while still allowing the armpits to sweat.

Free-from and natural deodorants work a little differently, by using natural ingredients to detox the area and deal directly with the bacteria, but the goal is the same: improve odour while still allowing the body to secrete sweat.

One caveat we should mention: some of the essential oils used in our formulations do actually help control sweat, due to their antibacterial (tea-tree & bergamot) astringent (geranium, cedarwood, rosemary, peppermint, and citrus) and calming (lavender, Ylang Ylang) properties.

These oils don’t prohibit your sweat, however: they just help your body manage and reduce it naturally.

And then there’s antiperspirants.

What’s in an antiperspirant? Good question.

The chief aim of antiperspirants is to prevent your armpit from sweating.

To be clear, we get how amazing this may sound, especially if you’re someone who worries about sweat stains on the regular and has to avoid fabrics like silk. Unless there’s a large body of water and pina colada involved, it can really suck to be sweaty.

Unfortunately, antiperspirants achieve their aims using aluminium. The aluminium salts in antiperspirants form a plug over the sweat glands, preventing sweat from leaving the gland and funneling it back into the body.

This is worrisome for two reasons:

The aluminium in antiperspirants is absorbed into the body’s circulatory system via the sweat gland, and accumulates. In one study, a regular user of an antiperspirant containing aluminium had a toxic level of aluminium in her system after four years of use. Aluminium at those levels has been strongly linked to breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. (The good news? Eight months after switching to a natural deodorant the issue was resolved.)

Your body is meant to sweat! Sweating is the body’s natural form of detoxification, and it helps us flush unwanted and unhealthy substances from our system. Prohibiting that sweat from leaving the body means all of those toxins are still present, and can contribute to countless health issues.

So while it can be inconvenient or even downright embarrassing sometimes, your underarm sweat is a vital function for your health – and plugging it up with aluminium is not the answer.

Another caveat: some people do suffer from serious conditions, such as Hyperhidrosis, that cause them to sweat excessively. Of course we’d never suggest you just “sweat it out” when you’re significantly damper than most, and self-conscious about it. What we do suggest is focussing on finding the root cause, and eliminating the problem systematically, as opposed to plugging up your sweat glands day after day.

Deodorant vs. antiperspirant, and, in all things, moderation

As we’re careful to explain in our detox guide, we’re not about drawing a hard line – nor the stress that comes with being restrictive – here at Nala.

We get that sometimes you have presentations, dates, award ceremonies and weddings to attend, and a go-to option that prevents embarrassing pit stains can feel like your best friend.

You can absolutely use antiperspirant once in awhile and still be a healthy person. We just encourage to let go of the fiction that sweat = ugly, gross, and unlovely, and put down those aluminium-filled antiperspirants.

If you’re a committed user who wants to make a change, try using free-from deodorants at times when you’re going to sweat anyway, like at the gym or the beach. Or keep using the antiperspirant every other day, and try our detox deodorant at night to help flush out the sweat that’s still in your system.

There a million moderate ways to move away from regular antiperspirant use – we hope you find one that works for you!