When searching for the perfect deodorant, it’s important to understand what goes into it because ultimately, your skin is the largest organ on your body and the fact is that a lot of what we place on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream – just think about nicotine and birth control patches! (1)
Here is everything you need to know about aluminum-free deodorants and how to choose one that’s right for you.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ANTIPERSPIRANTS AND DEODORANTS
Although most people use the terms antiperspirant and deodorant interchangeably, they are not the same. Antiperspirants work by preventing perspiration or sweat from occurring – usually with Aluminum. Deodorants allow perspiration, but block odor. Deodorants accomplish this by going straight to the source and killing the bacteria that cause odor. From a purely natural standpoint, it makes more sense for us to use deodorants, as it is a more natural process.
Sweating is actually good for us. It’s a natural function of the human body that helps regulate body temperature and balance salt levels. It is often mistaken that the unpleasant smell comes from sweating itself when in reality, the cause of odor is from the bacteria on the skin’s surface.
The problem with antiperspirants is that they contain a handful of synthetic fragrances and harmful ingredients including aluminum compounds which clog the skin’s pores. If you find that your underarms are irritated, it may be an allergic reaction to aluminum which is toxic to the body and has been associated with a number of health issues including:
- Alzheimer’s Disease (2)
- Bone Disorders
- Breast Cancer
- Kidney Problems
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), says that there is no proven link to these diseases, but “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” says Dr. Philip Harvey, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Toxicology.
Many consumers still prefer to exercise caution in using these kinds of antiperspirants. Either way, each of us has to take the initiative and actively seek out the products that are healthier for us.
WHAT DO SCIENTISTS KNOW ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS IN ANTIPERSPIRANTS AND DEODORANTS?
“Aluminum-based compounds are used as the active ingredient in antiperspirants. These compounds form a temporary plug within the sweat duct that stops the flow of sweat to the surface. Some research suggests that aluminum-based compounds, which are applied frequently and left on the skin near the breast, may be absorbed by the skin and cause estrogen-like (hormonal) effects” (3).
Because estrogen has the ability to promote the growth of breast cancer cells, some scientists have suggested that the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirant contribute to the development of breast cancer (4)
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN ALUMINUM-FREE DEODORANT
Aluminum-free deodorants should consist of essential oils and all natural or organic ingredients. Aluminum-free alone may not be enough as some deodorants that claim they are aluminum-free are still high risk, according to the Environmental Working Group, and can contain chemicals such as triclosan and propylene glycol.
Some research has focused on parabens, which are preservatives used in some deodorants and antiperspirants that have been shown to mimic the activity of estrogen in the body’s cells (3). Although parabens are used in many cosmetic, food, and pharmaceutical products, according to the FDA, most major brands of deodorants and antiperspirants in the United States do not currently contain parabens.
Consumers can look at the ingredient label to determine if a deodorant or antiperspirant contains parabens. Parabens are usually easy to identify by name, such as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or benzylparaben. The National Library of Medicine’s Household Products Database also has information about the ingredients used in most major brands of deodorants and antiperspirants.
THE BOTTOM LINE
With new evidence and reports pointing out the side affects of aluminum in our personal care products, it is difficult to ignore the potential danger of so many health and beauty items on the market. What it boils down to is that each of us has to take the initiative and actively seek out the products that are healthier for us.
Do you use organic or natural personal care products? Tell us about them in the comments!
(4) Darbre PD. Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer. Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry 2005; 99(9):1912–1919. [PubMed Abstract]