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Zero Waste deodorants from a microbiologist's perspective

Zero Waste deodorants from a microbiologist's perspective

Italian Version

Do you know that odor does happen when you sweat, but it’s not because of sweat?

On the armpits (axilla) there is the largest and permanent population of microorganisms that thrives on secretions from our glands. Microorganisms living in the armpits use the your sweat gland secretions as food and as they break down these molecules, volatile odor compounds are released (a.k.a smell) . They are mostly  Gram-positive bacteria of the genera Staphylococcus,Micrococcus and Corynebacterium . Corynebacterium Minutissimus being held main culprit for the bad body odor from armpits.

Your skin is fairly acidic. Your sweat with the sebum on your skin form something called an acid mantle that protects the external layers of skin. If skin’s pH rises into the alkaline range, its natural balance is disturbed. Essential epidermal lipids cannot be synthesized and skin loses water and dries out. In this condition, the outer layer of skin (or epidermis) is no longer able to work as a protective barrier. This is slightly different in your underarms region, naturally moistened by sweat and often tucked away from the sun.

Alum Stone and Bicarbonate of soda are two of the most commonly used zero-waste deodorants that work by changing the pH of your armpits.
Optimal bacterial growth occurs at neutral or slightly acidic pH and can be reduced at higher-pH (alkaline) created when baking soda or an alum stone are used as deodorants.

I use an alum stone that works by simply wetting it and rub it under my underarms for a few seconds and releasing a thin mineral layer on the skin that will maintain an alkaline pH. Deodorant stones are 100% pure mineral rocks and will last you a very, very long time . And I am talking about years. And are in my opinion absolutly the best for travel and camping because they are just, you know, a rock. You can find them at any natural/bio store or on Amazon but it will come with some sort of packaging.
I don’t smell bad but I don’t even smell of flowers. I simply don’t smell. But if you do want to smell of something you can try the following recipe of my deodorant paste.


1 part bicarbonate of soda
2 parts of corn starch
1 part of coconut oil
5 drops of Thyme essential oil ( thyme,tea tree, eucaliptus and lemon all have antimicrobial effects and will work as preservatives. But you can choose any type of oil based on what you like)

EXTRA: 1 teaspon of melted beeswax. In this case you have to add some extra starch and this is only if you want to achieve the consistency of a balm, otherwise the other way will be quite a runny ( will work as well as the version with the wax)

on double boiler melt the coconut and the beeswax. once they are melt add the EO and the powders.
Mix and pour in a clean container of choice and voilà.

If you don’t have beeswax already or don’t have access to a bulk store to get it package free, consider purchasing the deodorant paste already made, the cost migh be the same and save you a lot of time and money. Fantastic brands are No Pong, Zero Waste Path and Earth Purities

Alum has proven efficacy in Inhibits Growth of Human Axillary Malodor- Producing Skin Flora in Vitro but it might not be as efficient for everyone at first. Armpits need a detox period from commercials deodorants, when your skin will restore its natural balance. You might need to wash your armpits several times a day during the transition or go through a clay mask ( but don’t go crazy with it, just do it once) and adjust your diet slightly. I personally had to go through bicarbonate-based concoctions first and then the stone.
My partner, a 30-yo man that works as a blacksmith never used deodorant in his life and never smelled. So please keep in mind that we are all different and what works for me might not work for you.

But why baking soda has been getting so much bad reputation lately?

When acid ( skin) and alkaline (baking soda) deodorant is applied to our underarms a chemical reaction occurs. Someone might have bad reaction and the possibility and severity of the rash or irritation depends on the amount of baking soda in the product or the person’s acid mantle pH level, which can be affected by age, gender, or race, as well as medication, diet, or even that time of the month.

So why do we need commercial deodorants?

Commercial deodorants were launched in the early 1900 by an advertising campaign that promoted the idea that odors made women unattractive and in a pretty offensive way according to modern standards.

So please, be proactive, make your how researches ( PubMed is a wonderful tool, a database of all scientific papers ever published ) and don’t believe in everything they tell you on TV and magazines.

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