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Do 'natural' deodorants work as well as regular ones?

Non-natural Deodorants
"Say, Jim, how about we add a little extra parabens in this batch to see what happens."
"Say, Jim, how about we add a little extra parabens in this batch to see what happens."
Genin Andrada/Getty Images

When it comes to underarm odor protection, you can go with an antiperspirant to keep you from sweating or a deodorant to help mask the odors caused when you sweat. Perspiring is a natural function of the human body. It helps to regulate your body temperature and balance your salt levels. The thing is, sweat doesn't actually have an odor. The foul smell that comes from sweating too much under your arms comes from bacteria on the skin's surface. Your underarms have something called apocrine glands. They carry secretions of fats and proteins from within your body, riding a wave of sweat, to the outer surface of your skin. It's these fats and proteins that react with bacteria to create the distinct smell known as axillary body odor.

If you choose an antiperspirant, you'll be getting a product that helps to block the sweat glands under your arms. No sweat means no secretion of fats and proteins and, ideally, no odor. The problem with antiperspirants is that they contain a host of chemical ingredients that some feel are potentially harmful to your health. To block the sweat under your arms, antiperspirants use aluminum compounds to clog the skin's pores. These compounds have been under fire in recent years as being tied to breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Cancer Society and the Mayo Clinic all say that there is no proven link to these diseases, many consumers still prefer to exercise caution in using these kinds of antiperspirants.

Non-natural deodorants also contain some suspect chemical ingredients that many folks try to stay away from. Triclosan is one of them. It's classified as a pesticide by the FDA and used in deodorants to kill bacteria that causes body odor. Parabens are another one on many people's hit list. They're preservatives found in virtually every personal care product you'll find in your bathroom, unless you're into the natural thing. Parabens have been found in breast cancer tumors, causing the cautious consumer to avoid them in favor of products that don't use chemical preservatives.

So what's a discerning shopper to do? The answer could lie in all-natural deodorants, but do they work? Find out on the following page.