There’s been a lot of buzz lately around aluminum-free deodorant and while I’m not one to easily fall for the hype, I am game for any trend that reduces the amount of toxins and chemicals I put on or in my body. When I first heard about this movement, it immediately sparked my curiosity. There’s been an overwhelming amount of stories around how aluminum filled antiperspirants lead to breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, and a number of other serious diseases. But apparently, deodorants with aluminum aren’t as dangerous as we’ve been conditioned to believe.
“Aluminum has been erroneously shunned by the mass media. A few reports about aluminum linked to breast cancer, kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s disease have been magnified and overstated by the media and numerous other outlets,” says dermatologist and spokesperson for Dove, Dr. Mercedes Gonzalez. “According to the Personal Care Products Council and the FDA, the vast majority of data available does not indicate any harmful effect from using antiperspirants that contain aluminum. Although, there is no evidence to suggest that the use of aluminum in antiperspirants is harmful to human health, there are many who prefer not to use it if it not necessary — just like you wouldn’t take an ibuprofen pill if you don’t have a headache.”
According to the American Cancer Society, no research or scientific evidence has been found suggesting a link between breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use or deodorant use (even those that include aluminum).
Dr. Gonzalez explains that most traditional deodorants and antiperspirants contain aluminum because it works to keep underarms dry by controlling the flow of sweat. The good news is if you have been using an aluminum-based deodorant, chances are you’re okay and you’re going to be okay, as no current research shows that it can lead to any health issues down the road. But if you do choose to swap it out for one that doesn’t have aluminum, just know that you’ve got options.
If you’re still confused as to why you should even consider going aluminum-free after all, look at it this way: A lot of folks these days are cleaning up their beauty routines. Chances are the skincare and makeup products you’ve been using for decades aren’t going to cause any real harm or damage to your body but it doesn’t hurt to switch over to products that are free of harsh chemicals. So why not?
“Aluminum from antiperspirants is considered safe,” Dr. Gonzalez emphasizes. “I think people read reports, that are not backed by true medical or scientific expert research and they believe it. Aluminum is found everywhere in our environment, it really is nearly impossible to completely avoid exposure to it. It is even found in over-the-counter products such as antacids.”
And if you’ve been worried if it’s safe to use deodorant with aluminum if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, fret not. Gonzalez wants you to know you’ll be fine.
“It is not dangerous to breastfeed using an aluminum-based deodorant. The choice of deodorant vs. antiperspirant is really dependent on you, your body and what your lifestyle requires. Both deodorants and antiperspirants are suitable for everyday use depending on what benefits you are looking for, and for pregnant and breastfeeding moms,” she says.
Which brings me to my next point. Gonzalez says if you’re going to go shopping for an aluminum-free deodorant, you might want to start off by knowing the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant because apparently, they aren’t the same thing. Though, I’ll be the first to admit that I did NOT know that.
Antiperspirants work to control odor and sweat, keeping your pits dry — hence why they always contain aluminum. “Deodorants are used to control odor, not sweat so they rely on ingredients that help you feel fresh and combat odor throughout the day,” Gonzalez explains.
Now for the million dollar question, can you find a natural aluminum-free antiperspirant? Most dermatologist will say no because aluminum is what works to prevent the sweating in the first place. That’s not to say that you can’t find an aluminum-free deodorant — again, not antiperspirant — that works well enough to keep your pits smelling fresh — despite possible wetness. Fortunately, there are plenty of those in the market these days.
A few popular ones right now are Farmacy’s Freshen Up All-Natural Deodorant that’s made with natural ingredients like moringa, papaya, and kaolin clay. Real Purity Women’s Natural Stick Deodorant is another one I’ve heard a ton of good things about. But if you’re one of those chicks who only swear by Dove Deodorants and have been using them for years — like me — you might want to consider Dove’s 0% Aluminum Deodorant. It contains no aluminum and no alcohol and not only works to keep odor at bay but also contains moisturizers to keep underarms soft and protected from irritation. Just keep in mind that aluminum-free deodorant does not tackle wetness and sweating. I repeat, aluminum-free deodorants do not tackle wetness and sweating. Only antiperspirants that contain aluminum are designed to do that so think about all that before making the decision that works best for you and your lifestyle.