This year the world will spend an estimated 18 billion in US dollars on deodorant. Whether gearing up for a business meeting, a night out on the town, or a work-out with a friend, most of us take great care not to smell any worse than strictly necessary. Instead we buy and wear deodorants, antiperspirants, and body sprays to maintain a dry appearance and a more socially acceptable scent than nature intended. Increasingly, fragrance is no longer the key concern when choosing the right odor control. We health conscious, internet savvy, educated consumers are questioning the long ingredients lists in small print and wondering why corporations are selling us harsh chemicals, common allergens, and suspected or known toxins in their brand name personal care products. The indiscriminant use of aluminum compounds by the industry is a consumer complaint worthy of a closer look.
Aluminum is an element. It is the most abundantly found metal in the earth’s crust. Unlike iron or calcium and a number of other elements that your body needs to function properly and maintain good health, aluminum is not needed in any amount by our bodies. Aluminum is a neurotoxin that infers with the normal functions of the blood brain barrier. Unfortunately using aluminum containing deodorants and antiperspirants puts aluminum in your body. Skin cells absorb the aluminum compounds commonly used as active ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants.
Does aluminum cause disease in humans? The easy answer to that question is that a lot of very smart people think so. Various studies have linked aluminum with various neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s Dementia and Alzheimer’s (AD.) In AD for example a study showed a possible causal effect involving aluminum and a protein causing aluminum deposits to build up in the brain. According to the American Cancer Society, a study suggests that absorbed aluminum changes breast tissue and estrogen receptors. The study concluded that aluminum may increase the risk of breast cancer. The ACS calls for further study. It is accepted science that absorbed aluminum is passed on to a nursing infant through breast milk.
Critics point out that aluminum is everywhere and that exposure to aluminum via deodorant is but a small part of possible exposure. Corporations justify selling foil for food using the same arguments. What everyone can agree on is that while we can not avoid all the aluminum in our foods, water supplies, and physical environments, we all are free to decide not to apply more of it daily directly to the tender skin of our underarms after every bath and shower.
Many health-minded consumers have chosen to switch to “natural” and “organic” deodorant alternatives. These can be more expensive and harder to find. Some people find they produce better results. Some choose them for the higher quality ingredients and peace of mind. Wholefoods carries a good selection and often have testers available so you can test the fragrance and texture at least before purchasing. Once you find a product, a better deal might be offered online.
Some common drugstore brands, like Soft N Dri, Arm & Hammer, and Old Spice have responded to public demand to offer aluminum-free versions. These are usually less expensive and easier to find locally than many “organic” alternatives. Always be certain to read the label even if it states “Aluminum-free” in big colorful letters on the front.
Don’t get discouraged if the first Aluminum-free deodorant you try doesn’t work out. Keep in mind that you may have to try several to find one that works well with your own personal body chemistry. To save money during the search, take advantage of sales, read reviews and Google for coupons or free sample offers. If you have a DIY spirit, you can experiment and customize your own aluminum-free deodorant. Get started with recipes and tutorials online.