I'm about to get very candid with you all: I discovered I had B.O. in middle school gym class after catching a whiff somewhere between badminton and capture the flag. It wasn't overwhelming, I just thought Huh, this is new and weird. It's then that I started piling on the heavy-duty deodorant and practically bathing in Victoria's Secret Love Spell on the daily.
Since then, I've graduated from body splashes to more luxury fragrances, but the aluminum-rich antiperspirants remained steadfast. In my mind, they were the only formulas that worked for me, and so agreed the chanting Arrid slogan ("Stress stinks! Arrid works!" for anyone who doesn't remember/wasn't alive during that time—oof, I feel old). Yes, mainstream deodorants may prevent odor and excess sweating, but many scientists warn against their usage.
While no studies have confirmed a direct link between aluminum in deodorant and breast cancer, research suggests that because you're applying it near your breasts, the aluminum will then be absorbed into the breast tissue and cause estrogen-like effects, which could lead to breast cancer (estrogen can promote the growth of breast cancer cells).
Additionally, scientists believe parabens in deodorant may also mimic the activity of estrogen in the body. Whether there is a connection to cancer or not, there are several lymph nodes within the armpits that produce protein particles to capture invaders like toxins and viruses, so by constantly pushing aluminum into the armpits, the lymph nodes then have more work flushing out toxins in addition to those they already remove from the environment and your diet, and thus, you can start to experience a backup (and consequently, swelling).
That's where natural deodorants come in. They're made with friendly ingredients that aim to do the same heavy lifting that mainstream deodorants do, minus the bad-for-you toxins. However, the process of detoxing from your current deodorant and your body adjusting to a natural formula can take up to a month. Yes, that means you will potentially have B.O. and excess perspiration for 30 days' time. But there's good news: If you're like me and cringe at the thought of smelling like a middle school gym kid for any stretch of time, you'll be happy to know that there's a new product on the market that cuts that transition time in half.
Enter Lavanila's The Healthy Underarm Detox Mask ($26).
Lavanila founder Danielle Raynor knows the importance of a hard-working antiperspirant: She's an active woman and a former soccer star, so creating a line of natural deodorant products that work are paramount to her. Keeping this top of mind, she conceptualized The Healthy Underarm Detox Mask, the first-to-market blend of charcoal, malic acid, and silica to draw dirt, bacteria, and aluminum out of the underarm area. The tube comes with a built-in brush, so you can squeeze the product out and brush it on without creating a mess.
Yes, you'll technically have a black gel-like substance (it doesn't harden or dry) in your pits for 10 minutes, but Raynor recommends applying just before you hop in the shower while you brush your teeth or apply a hair mask so you can rinse it right off.
After meeting with Raynor, I was convinced to switch to natural deodorant, mostly to cut ties with aluminum, but also because Lavanila's deodorants smell so incredible that I was convinced the detox process wouldn't be miserable. In fact, during my first week of wearing said natural deodorant, I didn't notice any odor whatsoever (but, co-workers, if you're reading this, please let me know otherwise). I'm attributing this to the fact that I masked twice during this time period, which not only helped remove impurities from my pits, but it also lightened the skin in this area, which was another welcomed side effect.
But even if the mask didn't account for a faster transition period, the very act of detoxing my armpits makes me feel more at ease and that I'm taking care of a very sensitive and important area of my body. Not to mention proceeds from every purchase go toward breast cancer awareness, so investing in the mask is a win-win.
While we're on the topic of detoxing, learn how to reset your entire body without going on a cleanse.