As a fitness minded person, I am always working out and running around and even though I am a woman, and we smell like roses, that’s a fact, I do sweat! Revelation!
As a result, I have been looking for a good and reliable deodorant for a while now. I have been quite disappointed by the mass market deodorants, mainly because they either stain my clothes, last only for a while, mix with my sweat smell and make me smell something other than roses (how could they!) or contain ingredients that I’d rather avoid.
I am a Dr in Chemistry and I am not against chemicals. I worked with them for years and have seen first hand that like with everything in life, there are some good ones and some bad ones. While we are alive because of all the good ones that give us food, medicine, science and technology and even simple life, the bad ones can sometimes cause us unwanted results. I do not avoid chemicals and I am not a “natural organic beauty” type person. I seek balance between the good and the bad. I look for options that are lower risk, sometimes even when the risk is not confirmed, simply because there are so many options in the beauty market that allow us to do so. If you can get a lower risk product why not?
I highly recommend you read “The Chemical Misconception – Should we avoid chemicals?”.
One of my issues with deodorants is also their questionable link to breast cancer. The subject is still highly controversial and there is no solid proof to suggest that deodorants cause us breast cancer. However, there are a few studies ongoing, trying to establish whether there is a link or not, due to the fact that a large amounts of breast cancers (one study quotes 54.7% for Scottish women in 2001) are found in the area closer to the armpit, which is where you would use a deodorant. The researchers of this study explain: “Any increase in the disproportionality of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant would be inconsistent with an explanation relating to the greater amount of target epithelial tissue in that region but does parallel the increasing use of cosmetics in the underarm area”.  It is truly curious, whether this is a coincidence or not, one would expect a round breast to have equal chances of developing cancer all around.
While I am absolutely not suggesting that deodorants cause you breast cancer, again there is no solid proof of that, what I’m saying is, since we are spoilt for options in the beauty market, why not take the lower risk ones?
Although, do note, to be technically correct, even if something in mainstream deodorants did cause breast cancer, we don’t know which compound(s) it is and therefore, it could well be that other deodorants with less harsh ingredients, like this one, are also not safe.
Just because natural deodorants contain oils and extracts does not mean they are safe. It actually makes the witch hunt for the bad stuff a little bit harder as oils, extracts etc contain many molecules inside and it could be that the “bad cancer causing” molecule is in there.
Let me give you a quick example, the first ingredient of this deodorant “Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil” sounds absolutely lovely right? However, this oil is not just one molecule it actually contains a mixture of fatty acids for example, and it could be that it is one of those that cause the unwanted effects. Just becausse something is natural or found in nature it does not mean that it is safe. It is the molecule’s structure that makes a differece as to what it does, not it’s origin. Molecules do not have a concience, they are not specifically good because they come from nature.
Point is, we are assuming that these deodorants are safe, we don’t actually have scientific conclusions, but it is an assumption that I at least am happy to take for now. If you want my opinion, if you want to be 100% safe, you are highly concerned or perhaps you have a high risk of breast cancer, just don’t use deodorants at all. They are not a must have beauty product if you shower often!
I like the Elsa’s deodorant. Not because it is organic (another post coming on whether organic food and beauty have any merit) or natural or any of that. I like Elsa’s deodorant because the ingredients contained are not currently suspected for anything.
Does it work? Is it different? And more importantly, is it worth your time and money?
Here’s my verdict:
The deodorant stick has an off-yellow, beige type colour. These type of colours are common for carbon containing molecules, so nothing to worry here. It doesn’t look as fancy as mainstream deodorants but it looks fairly natural and unprocessed which is the point here.
The texture is a thick but not dry solid that spreads easier the warmer it gets. It is not sticky and it doesn’t break off in chunks.
This review is about the Ocean scent and while I cannot say it smells like the ocean, it is fairly refreshing. It has a strong peppermint scent mixed with other smells. It is very pleasant but at the same time fairly discrete when you are wearing it. It truly lasts all day long, even after brutal gym sessions.
There are currently 4 scents to choose from: the sensitive containing Aloe Vera and green tea, the ocean containing peppermint and tea tree (this one), the love containing roses and patchouli and the dew containing bergamot and lime.
I am really bummed out about the love one as the rose scent would be the one I would rather go for. However, there is one ingredient in that one, “eugenol”, that is restricted and in some cases banned as being an immune system toxicant. Whether that is actually true or just a suspicion, if the entire reason for choosing these deodorants is the ease of mind of the “suspected for nothing” ingredients, then this beats the point for me. Shame because I’d like to try the love one. Please remove eugenol Elsa!
I haven’t looked at the sensitive or dew ingredients in detail.
If I’m honest, I had a bit of a “wow” moment when I saw the price of this. One deodorant stick retails for £10, from the brand’s website, and you also have to pay postage fees on top. It is definitely the most expensive deodorant I’ve ever bought, or will ever buy probably. I guess it will last you 2-3 months, depending on usage, and if you want the “ease of mind” of the ingredients you might just have to pay up.
I realise it is a small company that has recently started up but I hope that as they grow they will atleast include the postage in the product’s price. If this product ever has a chance of becoming a mainstream deodorant, it really needs to be cheaper.
I would buy it again but not everyone has a £10+ to spare for their deodorant.
The packaging is really cute. It looks simple but elegant and organised. The branding is minimal but on point. Even though it is made of plastic it feels fairly sturdy and of high quality.
It has a matte finish that feels velvety almost to the touch. The lid unscrews easily and the deodorant stick can be screwed up from the bottom of the bottle. It actually contains a fair amount of deodorant too.
The deodorant came wrapped up in a cute pink paper and with a personal handwritten note. This type of personal touches are great and I hope they keep them up even when the brand grows bigger.
The deodorant also comes with a little booklet that gives a little more info about why Elsa’s deodorants are great.
It is compatible for all skin types but should not be applied on broken skin. Bear in mind that some of the ingredients contained are known to be absorption enhancers so perhaps do not mix this product with others.
This deodorant is suitable for vegans and has only been tested on humans.
The ocean scent has won the Jeney Loves 2017 Platinum Awards Gold.
I hope that Elsa’s deodorants focuses their brand on promoting their products without going down the chemophobic selling route.
There is one phrase on the bottle that I find inappropriate as a chemist:
“Our toxin free deodorant is super effective for adults, teens and tweens”.
While this statement is correct (as far as we know at the moment) it is toxin free, it can be interpreted the wrong way by inferring or the user interpreting, that other deodorants are not toxin free which is not true.
Inside the booklet that these deodorants come with there is also a phrase that says:
“parabens and aluminium can cause irritation and are linked to cancer”.
Again, I feel that this needs to be rephrased. These compounds are suspected to interfere with process that can cause cancer but there is no link as yet. Really have to be careful with such statements.
I really hope that Elsa showcases their products by focusing on the product’s positives and not by comparing it to mainstream deodorants or their suspected ingredients, as there is no proof that they are toxic or bad, at least not just yet.
If you missed this article check out “The Chemical Misconception – Should we avoid chemicals?”.
This deodorant actually works really well. From application to all day function it is really good.
All you need to do is let it warm up under your armpit for a few seconds then swipe up and down once. You might think that’s not a lot but it is fairly concentrated and this is actually way more than you need already.
This little amount lasts me all day long and even survives my brutal workouts. I have never smelled bad while wearing this deodorant and I am amazed with how long it lasts. It actually survives if you have a shower with just water so make sure to wash it out well.
The ingredients are definitely very promising and at least, for now, none of them are suspected to be causing any serious harmful effects other than skin sensitisation to some.
- Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil* – Fragrance, hair and skin conditioning agent, emollient (=softens and soothes the skin), solvent. High in protective antioxidants and antibacterial fatty acids. Can provide deep hydration and conditioning to skin. Some evidence on improving skin elasticity and preventing premature ageing. Safe.
- Maranta Arundinacea (Arrowroot) Powder* – Skin conditioning agent. Some suggest it can treat burns, sunburns and drying up blemishes and rashes. It helps soften and smooth the skin giving a silk-like texture. Often used as a thickener in replacement of talc. Safe.
- Ricinus Communis (Castor Bean) Oil – Fragrance, skin conditioning agent, solvent. When dry, it forms a solid film that can have water-binding properties. Can feel slightly sticky on the skin. Safe.
- Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter – Skin conditioning and viscosity increasing agent. Retains moisture by forming a barrier and reduces the appearance of rough patches and dry flakes. Has anti-flammatory properties, can sooth itchy and irritated or sunburnt skin. Absorbs UVB (not to be used as a sunscreen), has anti-oxidant properties, emollient, skin replenishing. Safe.
- Magnesium Oxide – Absorbent, opacifying agent, pH adjuster. Safe.
- Euphorbia Cerifera (Candellila) Wax – Fragrance, astringent, emulsion stabilizer, film former, skin conditioning agent, viscosity enhancer. Increases the residence time of some emollients on the skin. Can protect and moisturise the skin. Safe.
- Himalayan Pink Salt – An exfoliator, can soften the skin. Some believe it can offer deep pore cleansing and removal of toxins while toning the skin.
- Kaolin Clay – An emollient, drying agent and exfoliator. Absorbs water (=desiccant) and can offer self-preservation of products. It can also help control excess oil and shine of the skin. Safe.
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) – Strong anti-oxidant and skin conditioner. Fragrance ingredient. Hero compound. Safe.
- Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil – Fragrance, skin conditioning agent. Safe.
- Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Oil – Fragrance, astringent, skin revitalising. Has been used traditionally to induce relaxation and as an insect repellent. According to some it can stimulate new cell growth and calm inflamed skin. Can be used in acne treatment due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Safe.
- Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil – Fragrance, anti-oxidant. Controversial compound as it can sooth skin but also cause sensitisation due to containing sensitising compounds such as linalool. Safe.
- Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Oil – Fragrance, astringent. Some claim it has antiseptic, tonic, antibiotic and anti-flammatory properties. It is also said to balance the production of sebum in oily and dry skin which can then improve skin’s elasticity. Can stimulate the lymphatic system to release excess water. Safe.
- Ricinus Communis (Castor Bean) Oil – Penetration enhancer (=can accelerate or increase the absorption of other compounds).
- Magnesium Oxide – Penetration enhancer.
- Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil – Penetration enhancer. The concentration of pulegone in this ingredient should not exceed 1%.
- Citronellol – Fragrance. Can aggravate skin when exposed to air. Restricted concentration in cosmetics. Known sensitizer.
- Geraniol – Fragrance and toner. Restricted concentration in cosmetics. Known sensitizer. Suspected to be an environmental toxin.
Ingredients that can cause irritation to some:
This is actually really case specific, as different people have different sensitivities and allergies. Just because a compound has been reported by some to cause sensitivity, it doesn’t mean you will have an issue. “Sensitizer” compounds being present is not a negative in my opinion, as this is the case with pretty much everything out there and funnily enough I’ve seen even products that are targeted specifically for sensitive skin, containing some compounds that have been reported by some, or are known to be, sensitizers.
If you have sensitive skin or you are prone to skin sensitisation and unwanted reactions, try a little bit of this at the back of your hand first and consult a medical doctor if you are concerned.
With that being said, the following compounds present in this deodorant have either been proven or claimed by some to be sensitizers, irritants, allergens etc: Ricinus Communis (Castor Bean) Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil (strong sensitizer after prolonged exposure to oxygen and light), limonene (sensitizer especially after exposure to oxygen and light), linalool, citronellol, geraniol, citral.
* Certified Organic, naturally occurring in essential oils.
Other than the price, slight tuning in phrases used in their branding and some ingredients in the other scents of deodorants, I think that Elsa’s deodorants have great potential.
I really love the ocean deodorant, it smells great, lasts all day long and truly keeps me odour free. It is fairly discrete, easy to use and doesn’t stain clothes. I highly recommend it.
Beauty is a very personal thing, we all have different skin, requirements and biological build which can influence things. What worked for me might not work for you and vice versa, please leave your comments below!
I am not affiliated with any company or brand. These are my views and experiences.
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