Activated charcoal, diet teas and so much more. How do you know which healthy living trends are fads or the real deal? It’s all in the research.
We decided to tackle aluminum-free deodorant and find out what the experts have to say about the rise of deodorants that are making waves in the worlds of fitness and natural health. Keep reading to find out why you don’t want aluminum in your pits and what to look for instead.
THE LOWDOWN ON ALUMINUM
It is actually impossible to completely avoid aluminum. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), it’s in the air, our food, soil and more. However, just because it is unavoidable doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make yourself aware of how it is entering your body and what you can do to limit your intake.
One recommendation the ATSDR makes is to reduce how much “aluminum-containing antacids” and “buffered aspirin” you are taking. Another simple way is to make the switch to aluminum-free deodorant. How can that make a difference since the aluminum is just sitting on our skin? It actually turns out it isn’t; it is being absorbed into our body through the sweat glands.
“Antiperspirants contain an aluminum-based compound that temporarily plugs the sweat ducts and prevents you from perspiring,” explains Rebecca Killian, Executive Vice President, Creative, Design & Product Development at sweatWELLth. “While sweating may be embarrassing it is natural and good for you. We sweat in order to release toxins from our body so stopping this function is detrimental.”
That sounds scary, we know. Katie Sturino, a blogger empowering women at her site The 12ish Style and founder of Megababe adds that because our armpits are so close to the lymph nodes, we definitely don’t want toxins and potentially harmful chemicals to be absorbed there. This has been found to be vital for women, especially, as aluminum has been associated with breast cancer.
“Aluminum has been shown to concentrate in the breasts, to cause gene instability and alter cell division,” notes Dr. Lauren Deville, a naturopathic doctor based in Arizona. “While this doesn’t absolutely mean that aluminum causes breast cancer, it’s been shown to be higher in patients with breast cancer than in those without. To me, this is compelling enough that it’s wise to avoid it.”
As stated above, it is impossible to completely halt all exposure to aluminum. However, making small changes, such as your deodorant choice, can reduce the amount that enters your body.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR INSTEAD
So what exactly should you be looking for in the ingredients list when shopping for deodorant? The first thing is to make sure it is free of other chemicals, too.
“Aluminum-free alone may not be enough as some [deodorants] still contain chemicals like triclosan and propylene glycol,” reveals Killian. “Both are fierce endocrine disruptors and you should avoid them at all cost.”
Instead, look for natural ingredients. These will often include baking soda and cornstarch. You’ll often also see essential oils. Deville notes that is because these — another popular ingredient is witch hazel — have similar properties to block odor without plugging up your sweat glands.
If you want to see an example of the ingredients list for natural and aluminum-free deodorants, you can check out sweatWELLth’s Good For You, made with activated bamboo charcoal, or Rosy Pits by Megababe, which is actually baking soda-free as Sturino found sensitive skin could actually be irritated by the ingredient.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN MAKING THE SWITCH
Now that you’ve decided to switch to aluminum-free deodorant, you can just grab one and be good to go, right? Wrong. Actually, Sturino says it can be a real journey. “Deodorants are so personal and there is not one product that will work for everyone, so unfortunately, you have to kiss a few frogs before you meet your new deo,” she adds.
When making the transition, you may notice you have an odor and feel a bit sweatier than normal. The good news is that will all change; it’s just your body making the switch and getting used to having sweat ducts that are no longer plugged. In fact, Killian says you can expect up to a 30-day detox during the transition.
“Honestly, since sweat is one of the body’s primary emunctories for eliminating toxins, I don’t like to block it unless someone has a big problem with sweating too much — called hyperhidrosis — which often goes back to poor methylation (one of the liver’s main routes of elimination, among other things),” notes Deville. “Killing odor is a good idea, though, since nobody in this toxic world is 100% clean! So I’d focus on products like coconut oil, zinc oxide, milk of magnesia or even some antimicrobial herbs.”