Your Armpit is a Chemistry Lab

2 min read

Global sales of menswear may be outpacing that of womenswear now, but when it comes to grooming, men are a long way behind the beauty market. Some might argue that men are a long way behind women when it comes to hygiene in general, but that’s another story. Certainly, if the beauty market has been pushing natural products for a while, they’re relatively new to male grooming.

Deodorants may be about to help change that. Corpus, an American brand from skincare brand JP Mastey, has now launched its first unisex natural deodorant, using a vegan-friendly formula of plant-based ingredients and essential oils to create a line of five fragrances, including cedar and rose. What’s just as appealing is the fantastically classy packaging (though Clinique may have something to say about the use of that shade of green). Similarly natural products coming onto the market use the likes of coconut oil, baking soda, beeswax and powdered sugar to similar, deodorising ends.


Will men take to using a natural roll-on? There’s a line of thought among some men that unless a grooming product feels like it’s having the effect of a small nuclear weapon, ideally one visibly packed with acids and sandpaper, then it can’t be effective. It’s a line of thought that needs to change. And especially with deodorants, with mainstream products typically loaded with ingredients that are – research suggests – bad for you, the environment, or both.

Aluminium, for example, is used to completely stop perspiration (note: sweating is a natural and necessary process) but has been linked – albeit not conclusively – to siezures, Alzheimer’s, kidney problems. Phthalates and parabens – look out for ‘methylparaben’, ‘propylparaben’ and the like on your deodorant – can disrupt your hormonal balance. Propylene glycol, which is used to increase absorption, as well as to help stop your deodorant drying out, is a skin irritant, as one might expect from a substance made originally to be used in anti-freeze. Triclosan, used as an anti-microbial – it’s bacteria that gives sweat its odour – has likewise been linked to cancer. It’s classified in some places as a pesticide.

So, yes, all of these ingredients pack a punch, but laid out like that, shouldn’t strike most men as the kind of thing they really want to rub into their skin just to stop some sweating. Putting something on your skin, by the way, means that it can enter your bloodstream without being metabolized. At least when you eat a toxin your liver tries to break it down. It doesn’t help either that some of these toxins are best stored in fat cells – just like the ones perfectly located in your armpit.


That you might not wish to risk your health for the sake of smelling sweeter is perhaps even more the case given that we’ve become victims of some nifty marketing. Deodorants are a line of products for which the need was invented by the advertising industry. Sweating was positioned as a medical disorder (it’s not) by ad campaigns during the 1910s, with, they suggested, ‘B.O.’, or body odour, being a personal problem nobody would tell you about. Apart, of course, from someone trying to sell you a deodorant…

So, from today, go natural with your deodorant. Or even – and this is not as radical as it sounds – simply don’t use one at all. You may well find that your need is mostly in your head.

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