I made the permanent switch to natural deodorant back in November 2018. It’s something that was recommended to me by an urgent care doctor I saw in high school after discovering a cyst in my underarm area caused by a blocked gland. That blocked gland lead to surgery, and a long search to find an aluminum free deodorant that actually worked.
So what does aluminum in deodorants do, and why are more people making the switch to aluminum free deodorant?
Antiperspirant vs. Deodorant
First of all, it’s important to know the difference between an antiperspirant and a deodorant, even though the word “deodorant” is commonly used as an overarching term.
Antiperspirant contains ingredients that prevent underarm sweating, on top of addressing odor. These are technically considered an over-the-counter drug, and are regulated by the FDA. Deodorants, on the other hand, only tackle the bacteria and odor under the arms, but do not prevent sweating. They are considered cosmetics because they don’t contain aluminum or other active ingredients.
What does Aluminum Do?
According to Catie Wiggy, Vice President of Marketing & Product Innovation at CRYSTAL (my favorite deodorant brand), “Aluminum is an ingredient commonly found in antiperspirants which work to block your sweat glands to reduce sweating.”
Since aluminum blocks your sweat glands, this can potentially lead to experiences like mine. “Antiperspirants with aluminum can definitely cause fluid retention in our bodies. People who sweat a lot are more prone to developing these issues. It is also common for teenagers to experience fluid build-up since their hormonal levels are not yet balanced,” explained Dr. Nikola Djordjevic. “This is why I always recommend using aluminum-free deodorants.”
More Health Concerns
One of the scarier narratives you’ll hear about aluminum is the link to breast cancer in women. However, according to BreastCancerNow.org, current evidence doesn’t support a correlation between antiperspirants and an increased risk of cancer. Dr. Nikola adds, “In order for a cell to be damaged, large doses of aluminum would have to penetrate the skin and enter deep down inside our bodies. When we put on deodorant, aluminum usually stays on the very surface of our skin, so the likelihood of developing cancer due to aluminum deodorant is quite small.”
What we do know is this: there’s a purpose behind sweating, like releasing toxins and regulating body temperature. This is a process that needs to happen to keep everything running the way it should be, so why inhibit that?
The Best Aluminum Free Deodorant
Since my experience in high school, I have tried a lot of different natural deodorants with little luck. Sometimes the natural ingredients irritated my skin, other times they just weren’t heavy duty enough for my B.O. after a workout. That all changed last year, when I tried out the Crystal Mineral Salt Deodorant. You can read my full review here, but it’s just a literal stone of pure mineral salt that creates a barrier against odor-causing bacteria. You apply it by getting it wet first, then rubbing it in your underarms.
Again— this is a deodorant, so it doesn’t block sweat, but the odor control lasts up to 24 hours, and I can vouch for that! Plus, the stone version can last up to a year and only costs $7. I feel like I’ll get even more than a year’s worth out of mine, which hasn’t shrunk much since I first started using it. The brand also has more traditional invisible solid sticks and roll-on formulas if the stone doesn’t seem convenient or compatible with your lifestyle due to the need for water to activate it.
I can’t tell you how glad I am to have found a natural deodorant that works for me and lets my body do its natural thing. Even though it doesn’t inhibit sweating, I don’t find myself sweating through my clothes and I don’t experience any body odor, even after high intensity workouts. In fact, I feel like I probably sweat less now because my body isn’t trying to overcompensate for the blocked glands. Just a theory! 😉