Antiperspirant or the deodorant is a personal product. The decision as to whether or not to use one is often a personal one to make and for the most part, this depends on what you are comfortable with. Whether it is controlling the odor under your arms or it’s the need for a feminine touch, you need to know what to expect from these products before you can decide to use them. 

Today, there are numerous stores that offer deodorants and antiperspirants of different kinds, so it’s imperative to be conversant with what they contain so you can be certain the products don’t affect your health negatively. For a long time, there has been information on the dangers the deodorants and antiperspirants could pose on human health and these are all in connection with the ingredients they contain. This article will offer all the information you need to know about deodorants and antiperspirants so you can decide whether you’ll go for the commercial products or opt for deodorants and antiperspirants that are free of aluminum and other elements deemed detrimental to your health.

What is Antiperspirant?

In most cases, people tend to use deodorants and antiperspirants interchangeably. However, it is important to note that there is a difference between these two. The antiperspirant is a product which controls both human sweat and body odor. When applied on the skin, the aluminum salts contained in the antiperspirant dissolves on the surface of the skin thus creating a plug on the sweat glands. Roll-ons and sprats often contain aluminum chlorohydrate that helps in controlling sweat, while the stick and gel antiperspirants contain aluminum zirconium. On the other hand, deodorants contain microbial agents which help in preventing the body odor. However, unlike antiperspirants, deodorants do not control the flow of sweat.  The antimicrobial components mainly contained in deodorants are polyhexamethylene biguanide or triclosan. Although deodorants help in preventing the body odor, CDC warns that their continued use can result in antibiotic-resistant strains due to the existence of the antimicrobial chemicals.

What are the Ingredients of Concern?

As mentioned, antiperspirants and deodorants can contain chemicals that could be detrimental to your health. Here are some ingredients contained in antiperspirants that could pose a danger to your health:

1. Aluminum

As an element, aluminum is quite common in antiperspirants. Aluminum functions by plugging the sweat ducts to prevent excessive sweating. On the cell levels, it can lead to genomic instability, meaning it could enhance the tendency of cells to mutate which, in turn, could result in an increase in the chances of tumor growth. However, there is hardly a clear connection between aluminum and the risk it possesses because scientists have not been able to understand how this element is absorbed through the skin. Even so, according to reports from Europe, aluminum has been shown not to be safe for use especially when it comes to personal care products.

2. Phthalates

These are common ingredients in antiperspirants, deodorants, and other personal care products. Phthalates are utilized in making other ingredients flexible in addition to their role as fragrance-producing ingredients. The main issue about this chemical is its ability to cause a disruption in the endocrine system. Additionally, exposure to phthalates can lead to early onset puberty in female and this has also been linked to breast cancer.

3. Triclosan

This is an antibacterial chemical that is found in deodorants. The function of triclosan is to kill the germs that cause odor on your skin. It is an endocrine disruptor as it mimics hormones and interferes with their signaling. The disrupting abilities of this chemical are supported by numerous studies. Triclosan has also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Due to the numerous health concerns associated with this chemical, the FDA has banned the use of Triclosan in soaps. Nevertheless, despite the banning of triclosan in hand soaps, this chemical is permitted for use in other skin care products such as the deodorant.

4. Fragrance

Formulations of fragrance, which in most cases are trade secret information, may comprise of numerous ingredients. Since the formulations are a secret, the identity of the ingredients is often unknown, thus making it impossible for one to identify the different ways these ingredients can affect your health negatively. Nevertheless, there are some common ingredients of fragrance you need to know about. For instance, synthetic musks such as the tonalide and galaxolide are usually associated with the disruption of hormones. Additionally, some formulations may contain allergens such that cosmetics companies are sometimes required to list the common fragrance allergen during packaging. Apart from that, fragrance formulation contains phthalates along with other numerous ingredients that continue to remain a secret for cosmetic companies.

5. Butane and Isobutane

Butane and Isobutane are often utilized as propellants in deodorants. Although the use of butane is restricted in the European Union, such restrictions do not exist in the United States. If anything, both the butane and isobutane (an isomer of butane) have been deemed safe for usage despite their global restrictions.

Antiperspirant/Deodorants Association with Breast Cancer

As mentioned, the active ingredient of aluminum found in deodorants and antiperspirants plugs the sweat gland temporarily, preventing you from sweating. According to a report by the National Cancer Institute, the aluminum-based chemicals are absorbed into your skin through nicks that may result from shaving. That way, aluminum increases the risk of breast cancer because antiperspirants and deodorants are often applied to the armpit leading to the absorption of the chemicals in areas close to the breast.

In addition to that, the studies indicate that compounds of aluminum which are absorbed close to the breast can lead to estrogen-like effects. Since estrogen can enhance the growth of cells that cause breast cancer, there is a possibility that these chemicals contained in antiperspirants and deodorants can lead to breast cancer.

Despite the close connection between breast cancer and antiperspirant/deodorants, there have been conflicting studies on this matter. A study conducted in 2002 assessed the increased risk of breast cancer among women who used deodorants and antiperspirants. According to this study, it was found that women who shaved their armpits and used deodorants or antiperspirants had no increased risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, another study conducted in 2003 proved otherwise. In this study, there was a higher level of breast cancer risk among women who shaved and used antiperspirants or deodorants. This was the case especially for women who used these products frequently and those who started using deodorants at an early age.

Studies on the relationship between antiperspirant/deodorants and breast cancer continue to be conflicting, but what comes out clearly from these studies is the need for further research on the matter.

The connection between Antiperspirants and Alzheimer’s disease

The debates about the connection between Aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease began back in the sixties. Most commercial deodorants and antiperspirant contain aluminum-based compounds. For a long time, the arguments about the risks associated with aluminum revolved around Alzheimer’s, a degenerative form of dementia that mainly affects people above the age of 65.

According to some studies, the concentration of aluminum in Alzheimer’s brain cells is above normal. This is quite an interesting finding because it is known that higher levels of aluminum could result in nerve toxicity and, in some cases, Alzheimer’s disease. It is not difficult to see how one can accumulate this element in their bodies because antiperspirants and deodorants are not the only products containing aluminum. It is contained in products such as antacids, aluminum cookware, aluminum tubes that contain toothpaste brands among other components.

Natural v. Aluminum-Based deodorants and Antiperspirants

As mentioned earlier, a good number of commercial deodorants and antiperspirants depend on antimicrobials or aluminum to control odor and sweat. Apart from that, many of these products contain parabens as well as some carrier chemicals to allow for ease of application to a person’s skin. These may include PEG-8 distearate, Cyclomethicone, and hydrogenated castor oil.

On the other hand, natural cosmetic products do not control sweat but prevent odor through the use of safer, non-aluminum ingredients. In natural deodorants, the mineral salts are the primary ingredients that control odor. The potassium alum or mineral salts occur naturally and form a temporary layer on your skin as opposed to plugging up the skin’s pore. The formed layer inhibits the growth of bacteria and stops the odor.  In addition to that, mineral salts do not cause skin irritation and are considered safe. You can view Primal Life Organics to learn more about natural deodorants and other skin care products that are safe for use.

Final word

Although no studies exist which conclusively identify aluminum and other chemicals as the major cause for Alzheimer’s and breast cancer, it’s important to note that the results aren’t out yet. It’s sensible that exposures in smaller quantities could eventually lead to accumulation in the body’s tissues. The truth is, the human body does not need aluminum to function but somehow people get to absorb these elements through the use of unnatural skin care products. To be on the safer side of things, it is imperative to use natural antiperspirants and deodorants as these are safe and do not contain harmful chemicals.