Deodorant – Myth, Truth, & Safe Alternatives

The truth is that conventional deodorant is unhealthy for you, and unhealthy for the environment.  There are many harmful ingredients in deodorant and antiperspirants, but one of the most toxic (neurotoxic, actually), and which we absorb through our skin when we wear deodorant, is aluminum.  The mining and processing of aluminum ore is also extremely damaging to us through damage to the environment.  In Christopher Exley’s article in the American Journal of Medicine, titled “Aluminum in antiperspirants: More than just skin deep,” he points out that different individuals may absorb and retain more or less aluminum than others, though they are ‘rolling on’ the same amount each day, and that consequences of retaining aluminum in the body should be studied short and long term.   Christopher states: “It is generally accepted that the skin is an effective barrier to the transdermal uptake of aluminum, although this assumption is based on very little published data .”

An Austrian epidemiological study recently published in EBioMedicine (age-matched case-controlled study, involving 209 female breast cancer patients and 209 healthy controls) shows that the use of antiperspirants was significantly associated with breast cancer risk.  Read more about the study here.

For many years, I thought that my ‘Natural Deodorant Salt Crystal Stick’ was totally safe.  Myth!!  After reading the information on the company website, I learned that the crystal is made of potassium alum.

“…potassium alum (KAI(SO4)2-12H2O), drawn from bauxite ore.  Bauxite ore is formed by the rapid weathering of granite rocks in warm, humid climate and can be purified and converted directly into alum.  Unlike aluminum, alum is a salt.  If an aluminum-metal compound, such as the highly soluble aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium, is used as an antiperspirant, that compound is readily absorbed.”

As soon as I saw the word “alum” I was on alert.  This substance is, in unarguable fact, a form of aluminum.  Their claim that the compounds are too large to be absorbed makes absolutely no sense.  And it appears that no studies have been done to evidence this claim.  The People’s Pharmacy has a web page dedicated to this topic, containing more than enough concerning information, which led me to seek the expert opinion of Christopher Exley.  And with the recently published Austrian study showing an associated risk with breast cancer, we know deep down there is something very wrong with this picture.  We need to stop using aluminum-containing antiperspirants and deodorants.  Potassium alum simply is, just another form of aluminum.  For a deeper dive into aluminum, see my dedicated post.

So, how to avoid the aluminum-laden store-bought??  Homemade deodorants are not as powerful as the commercial varieties – consider this a good thing 🙂  However, they do work effectively enough, at least for me.  But as every body is different you may need to spend some time/trial & error.  And often, we need to change our definition of acceptable, or normal 🙂  We can’t always have our cake and eat it too.  At least not right now.

Everyone is different, so try the things listed on the deodorant recipe list, and find out what works for you.  I have not tried everything on this list, but magnesium oil works really well for me!  Sometimes a dusting of corn starch works fine too.

Remember — you need to sweat — your skin is porous for a reason.

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