What’s in Your Antiperspirant?

To smell or not to smell, is that the question?
Over the last 10 years or so there has been quite a bit of conflicting information about whether we can safely use antiperspirants containing aluminum, or not. The controversy comes from studies that show that, over time, toxic levels of aluminum can accumulate in the breast tissue closest to the armpit. This accumulation occurs more in women than men, likely because women generally shave their armpits, and armpit hair either blocks the absorption of aluminum, or razors cause tiny nicks in the skin which allow the aluminum to be absorbed more readily. Whether there is a link between aluminum and breast cancer or not, it can’t be good to accumulate toxic levels of any metal in your body. Other studies have linked the use of parabens in antiperspirants and other skin products with a greater risk of breast cancer because parabens can mimic estrogen in the body, and estrogens have been definitely linked with breast cancer.
Sweating, whether from the armpits, feet or the rest of our bodies is a perfectly normal mechanism for controlling heat in our bodies as well as detoxification. The problem with body odour comes not from the sweat itself, but from the bacteria which normally grow on our body interacting with the sweat and causing odour. Since the 19th century, deodorants and antiperspirants have been available on the market. Deodorants act by allowing you to sweat but either neutralizing the odour or inhibiting bacterial growth. Antiperspirants act by producing a plug which blocks the sweat follicle, preventing any sweat which is produced from exiting the skin. Blocking the sweat follicles themselves doesn’t necessarily cause harm, except if the lymph nodes also become blocked. This is what happened to me about 15 years ago. I had a bit of a scare, because the blocked lymph duct appeared, at first glance, like a lump in my breast. After a mammogram and ultrasound showed that it was not a lump, my Doctor advised me to stop using aluminum containing antiperspirants. Now, I sweat a lot, so I wasn’t sure how I would be able to stop using antiperspirants. However, with some trial and error, I found one that works very well for me – Clarins Doux Deodorant. I have been using it since that time, with excellent results in terms of odour control. Upon doing the research for this blog article, however, I discovered that it contains Triclosan, a powerful antibacterial which I would never knowingly use because the overuse of it in hospitals and other institutions has led to the development of superbugs. Here is the link to the website which I used to discover the ingredients in my deodorant. Try finding some of the products you use on this website. You’ll be surprised. Another one that I have used is L’Occitane deodorant. It has a wonderful smell and works great, however I found out that it actually does contain aluminum! Both of my deodorants do not have a list of ingredients, perhaps because I bought them at a duty free shop at the airport? Let the buyer beware!
The marvelous thing is that stores now have a really good selection of deodorants which do not contain any questionable ingredients. As an aside, if you are trying to avoid aluminum on your body you should avoid the “crystal” or “rock” type deodorants, which are most often alum crystals, which do contain aluminum. One brand which has been recommended to me by friends is Penny Lane, which contains only coconut oil, baking soda and cornstarch in the unscented one, but apparently works great. This is my choice from now on. I like the idea of using as few chemicals on my body as possible, considering we are exposed to literally thousands of chemicals a day which we cannot control.

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