If you’re a mom, the words Zinc Oxide conjure up memories of applying barrier cream after each diaper change. Zinc Oxide is super safe and is a godsend for dealing with pesky diaper rash in babies. But did you know that Zinc Oxide is also a powerful antibacterial compound?
Read on to discover why Zinc Oxide is a now a crucial ingredient in modern all natural deodorants.
What exactly is Zinc Oxide?
To discover why we need Zinc Oxide in our deodorants we must first examine what it is and where it comes from.
Zinc is a naturally-occurring metallic element similar to Magnesium or Iron. Like Iron and Magnesium, Zinc exists in the building blocks of the body and skin and is necessary for the maintenance of health and balance. It also contributes to the health of the immune system and maintenance of enzyme systems and cells. It is essential for protein synthesis, collagen formation, and helps skin heal. Zinc and one of its various compounds, Zinc Oxide, have been used in medicinal and industrial applications for centuries.
Zinc ore is processed with oxygen molecules until the substance is vaporized, condensed, and finally appears as a fine, white, crystallized powder. Only in this oxidized form ( ZnO) can it be combined with base creams and other formulations to create skin care products used today.
Interestingly, Zinc Oxide has been used for medicinal purposes for more than 2,000 years. Greek physician, pharmacologist, and botanist Dioscorides, described the oxidation process of Zinc in his writing, “De Materia Medica.” Although it is unclear when the medicinal benefits of Zinc compounds were discovered for the first time, the oldest and closest reference was found in an ancient Indian medical text, “The Charaka Samhita,” which dates from 500 B.C.E. The text describes a healing salve called “Pushpanjan,” which was used to treat the eyes and open wounds.
Zinc Oxide as a compound is not water soluble, therefore, it cannot be applied topically in its pure form; it usually needs some form of carrier agent, like foundation, sunscreen, or moisturizer. As a topical ointment, Zinc has been proven to treat a multitude of rashes, speed wound healing and aid in tissue regeneration. Current research has also indicated it can help in the treatment and prevention of acne, among other benefits. Zinc is the key ingredient in many diaper rash creams, calamine lotions, sunscreens, and vitamin supplements.
Zinc Oxide’s ability to heal wounds, promote tissue regeneration and treat Acne is due to its highly antibacterial properties. And this is exactly why it’s now becoming a top ingredient in natural deodorants. Let’s take a look at sweat and what happens when it leaves our bodies.
Sweat, Bacteria and Body Odour
Our bodies excrete two types of sweat: Eccrine and Apocrine. Eccrine sweat, which helps lower our body temperature (think exercise sweat) is produced uniformly and is secreted all over our skin. Apocrine sweat, on the other hand, is secreted where there is an abundance of hair follicles (in the scalp, armpits and groin). Although both types of sweat are odorless as they exit our pores, apocrine sweat is more often than not the main culprit in the development of bad odor. Why? This is because apocrine sweat contains an abundance of fatty acids and proteins but eccrine does not! Skin-dwelling bacteria such as Staphylococcus hominis and Corynebacterium contain enzymes that break down the fatty acids found in sweat into shorter molecules (think about a scissors cutting a long strip of paper into shorter pieces). The result of this enzymatic activity is the production of pungent compounds like butyric acid and thioalcohols. These are the compounds responsible for stinky body odour. So what did we learn kids? It is the presence bacteria that is responsible for the generation of body odor. Fresh newly secreted sweat is basically odorless.
This is where the addition of Zinc oxide in deodorant plays a crucial role....
Zinc Oxide and Its Role In Natural Deodorants
The anti bacterial properties of Zinc Oxide combat odor caused by sweat and bacteria by actually blocking the generation of short chain fatty acids by odour-causing Corynebacterium and Staphylococcus homini. For these reasons, Zinc Oxide is THE perfect ingredient in natural deodorants plus it's a great alternative to baking soda deodorants since baking soda tends to irritate the armpits.
So let's take a final quick look at all the benefits that Zinc has to offer.
The Benefits of Zinc Oxide in Deodorants...
Zinc acts as a skin protectant.
Zinc is up to 3x more effective than aluminum chlorohydrate (the bad stuff) used in deodorants and antiperspirants.
Zinc is a natural mineral that is effective in combating body odor.
Zinc has amazing properties that can help soothe your skin.
Zinc oxide is a remarkable mineral that offers an alternative to baking soda in natural deodorants.
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