The Science of Sweat: Should You Switch to Natural Deodorant?

Let’s talk about sweat. Our bodies' natural, built-in method of keeping us cool and releasing toxins.


We all sweat, and yet there’s still a lot of misunderstanding about the vital role it plays within our body. For example, did you know that the unpleasant odour associated with sweat is not actually caused by the sweat itself? And nor are the yellow stains you might find in the underarms of your white t-shirts?


Most of us manage our sweat with a deodorant or antiperspirant of some kind. However, recent studies have shown that we may be doing more harm than good by interrupting the body’s natural, detoxifying processes.


We think it’s important to fully understand the biology of the body before choosing a deodorant to wear daily. So, in this article, we’re going to break down everything we know about sweat, antiperspirants and the natural alternatives available to you. 



01/ The Science of Sweat

02/ How do Antiperspirants Work?

03/ Is Antiperspirant Toxic?

04/ Toxic Ingredients Commonly Found in Deodorants

05/ A Natural Alternative


The Science of Sweat


Our bodies have two types of sweat glands, known as eccrine and apocrine glands. 


The eccrine sweat glands are found across most of the body, with a high concentration in our hands and feet. When our body temperature rises, the eccrine glands release a clear, odourless fluid to the surface of the skin. The fluid then evaporates, helping us to keep cool.


Apocrine glands are only found in areas where we have hair e.g the armpits and groin. They release a milky fluid when we are stressed. Although the apocrine gland does play a part in regulating body temperature, it works slightly differently to the eccrine gland. 


Interestingly, neither of these glands produce any odour. The sweat our body releases is actually entirely odourless until it reacts with a bacterium that thrives in warm, moist areas of the skin.


The reason our underarms tend to smell more than the rest of our body is due to the different types of sweat glands present. The sweat released by the eccrine glands has a high salt content, making it harder for bacteria to break down. However, the fluid produced by our Apocrine glands contains fats and proteins, such as lipids, that react with the bacteria to create that familiar and unpleasant smell.


How do Antiperspirants Work?


Mainstream antiperspirants work to control unpleasant odours by stopping the sweat altogether. The aim is to stop perspiration and, in the process, avoid the damp, moist environment that odour-causing bacteria thrives in. (This is different to deodorants, which are designed to control odour rather than block sweat.)


So, here’s the science-y bit: Antiperspirants contain aluminium salts which are soluble in acidic formulations. In other words, when the salts come into contact with our sweat, a reaction starts that increases the PH balance of the underarm. This forces the aluminium to precipitate out of the formula and form a plug over the sweat glands. Sweat is still produced by the body, but it is now unable to escape to the surface of the skin.


Regular use of antiperspirants causes blockages that can damage the sweat ducts. This makes it harder for the apocrine glands in our armpits to expel toxins. We personally think there must be a better and more natural way to control our body odour.


Is Antiperspirant Toxic? 


Antiperspirants rely on harmful ingredients to control odour and perspiration. So, not only do antiperspirants inhibit our bodies natural detoxifying process, but they also introduce new toxins into our bodies.


Dr Heather Patisaul, an associate professor of biology at North Carolina State University, has found that many of the ingredients found in deodorant products could be disrupting our reproductive and developmental hormones. 


In an interview with Time Magazine, she said “When you eat something, it’s broken down by your liver and digestive system, but when you put something on your skin, there are times when it can enter your bloodstream without being metabolized.”


Although not everything you apply topically will seep into the skin*, blood tests have shown that many of the toxic ingredients in deodorant pass through the dermis and into our blood. After being absorbed into the body, some of the toxins then end up being stored in the fat cells of the underarm.


*See Magnesium Oxide, a natural mineral we use in our Natural Deodorant Balm, which doesn’t pass through the epidermis.


Toxic Ingredients Commonly Found in Deodorants





Aluminium is known to cause ‘gene instability’ in breast tissue. Philippa Darbre, an oncologist at the University of Reading, has found that this instability can promote the growth of cancer cells. In another study, it was also found that aluminium can cause physical changes to the oestrogen receptors in breast cells, potentially leading to cancer and other illnesses. 


Due to how complicated and slow the development of cancer is, there is no intrinsic proof at this point that aluminium can cause or increase the chances of someone getting cancer. However, over 50% of breast cancers start in the upper quadrant of the breast tissue nearest the underarm region, leading many scientists to believe that there is a strong correlation.


If you are looking for a visual representation of how aluminium can mess with our bodies - the yellow stains that appear on the underarm of your clothes are actually the result of a chemical reaction taking place between the aluminium salts and the proteins in your sweat.




Phthalates are added to cosmetics in order to make the product stick to your skin. With regular use, they can affect the way our bodies produce and use testosterone.  This is because Phthalates disrupt androgen function, potentially leading to reproductive issues for men and women.




Parabens are a widely used preservative added to cosmetic and pharmaceutical products in order to stabilise them. However, there is research to suggest that parabens interfere with the way our body produces and regulates oestrogen hormones (a problem for both men and women).


Due to the close proximity of the underarm to the oestrogen-sensitive tissue found in the breast, studies have shown that regular use of certain deodorants can cause an imbalance in the body's hormonal systems.




Triethanolamine (TEA) and diethanolamine (DEA) are actually banned in Europe due to their carcinogenic qualities, but they are still used in many US-based deodorant products.


The two compounds are used in cosmetics as emulsifiers to mix oil and water. When used alongside certain preservatives, they can break down into carcinogenic nitrosamines that can be absorbed through the skin.




Fragrances are one to look out for. Unlike all other ingredients, which lawfully have to be included in a product label for consumer clarity, fragrances get a free pass. This is due to an outdated loophole that means companies can list any ingredients they add for fragrance purposes under the umbrella term ‘fragrances’ without specifying exactly what it is. Meaning, the fragrance in your deodorant could be made up of any number of irritating ingredients.


A Natural Alternative


One way to avoid all of the toxic ingredients and negative side effects of antiperspirants is to change the way we think about sweat.


Instead of trying to block and stop perspiration all together, we can use natural deodorants to neutralise odour without interrupting the detoxifying process of sweating. This way we work with the body, not against it. We personally believe we should treat our underarms the same way we look after our facial skin. Would you deliberately clog the pores on your face with toxic ingredients?


Our Natural Deodorant Balms are inspired by early Egyptian hygiene practices that involved making pastes out of herbs to neutralise unpleasant scents. Regenerated from ancient recipes, we developed our own blend founded on modern science to create natural deodorant balms that are dependable and reliable.  



The underarm microbiome consists of good and bad bacteria found on the epidermis, in the sweat glands, sweat pores, and hair follicles. Even though the sweat is odourless, it produces an odour once it reacts with the odour-causing bacteria in the underarm microbiome. The internal solution to prevent odour is to replace the bad bacteria with the good ones through diet.

The external solution is to introduce good bacteria to the underarm so that bad bacteria doesn't have a chance to cause odour.

We make our deodorants with our in-house herbal infusion of Calendula, Nettles, Burdock Root and Cleavers to introduce good bacteria to the underarm microbiome to prevent odour without blocking pores or sweat glands - meaning you can sweat and smell great.



Probiotics inside Calendula are made up of good bacteria that help keep your body fight off odour causing bacteria that live inside your underarm microbiome.


Various proteins excreted in sweat are broken down into odorous chemicals by the bacteria that live inside the underarm microbiome. Nettle's ability to deal with protein waste help the body to eliminate this protein waste before bacteria can act on it.


Burdock Root has historically been used to cleanse and purify the body. It helps remove waste and bad bacteria from the underarm microbiome by allowing the sweat to pass through the epidermis easily. It also helps sebaceous glands in the underarm to move oil through them, which lessens the inflammation, preventing acne or boils in the underarm.


When Doe’s have their fawns, they choose large patches of cleavers as their sacred space to give birth. Not only is the cleavers soft and gentle on mother and baby, but it disguises their smell, hiding them away and keeping them safe.

We also add Magnesium oxide, a naturally occurring, anti-bacterial mineral that helps to control odour at the surface of the skin. We chose magnesium because scientists have discovered that it cannot easily pass through the outermost layer of the skin. Known as the stratum corneum, this layer of skin consists of 15-20 layers of flattened, dead skin cells embedded in a lipid matrix composed of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. This layer of the skin is nearly impenetrable by Magnesium ions - meaning that our Natural Deodorant Balms control odour at the surface of the skin without interrupting the body’s natural flow.

Now available in 2 blends, ‘active’ and ‘gentle’, our balms are lightly scented with floral geranium essential oil and completely non-toxic. The active blend has been made for everyday use. Designed to neutralise odour at the surface of the skin, allowing the body to return to its natural rhythms. Meanwhile, the gentle blend has been designed specifically for sensitive skin. This new blend is just as effective as the active blend but is completely free from baking soda. 


Free from aluminium, parabens, preservatives, and any other synthetic ingredients, both balms are rich with organically occurring antibacterial, fungal and viral properties. They work to combat odour while allowing the body to return to its natural flow, so you can sweat and smell great! And all without harming the hormonal system or the sensitive skin of the underarm.


If you’d like to try our Natural Deodorant Balms, we offer a sample size pot containing a week's worth of product. Simply massage it onto clean underarms, and enjoy freshness that lasts all day.


Shop Our Deodorant Balms

Gentle Blend

Active Blend

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1 comment

Love love love your deodorant! The only natural one that works for me.


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