Ingredients to Avoid: Aluminum
If you’re like me, deodorant is probably something you use every day, but not something you think too much about. Take a closer look at the ingredients on your favorite antiperspirant, though, and you’ll notice something that’s definitely worth some thought: aluminum. Aluminum is everywhere in our lives, but if your goal is to protect your health it’s something worth avoiding. Here’s why:
Why I Avoid Aluminum in My Products
The goal of an antiperspirant is to keep sweat from occurring. It does this by blocking your sweat ducts, keeping perspiration from reaching your skin’s surface. Aluminum is the ingredient that makes this happen.
Sweating is part of our natural detox system that works by carrying waste out of the body through the skin. The theory seems to be that if one interrupts this process by blocking sweat, toxins may back up in the body and cause health concerns. If you’re concerned about wetness, there are other solutions out there that allow your body to sweat and then absorb the moisture immediately after the fact. Try products with baking soda and clay to stay dry and avoid these potential complications:
- Kidney Damage: Aluminum is absorbed through the skin whenever you use an antiperspirant. Normally your kidneys eliminate the excess, but not if you have kidney damage. If your kidneys aren’t working like they should, stay far, far away from aluminum.
- Alzheimer’s Disease: In the 1960’s a study found excess amounts of aluminum in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s Disease. While these findings weren’t able to be replicated and therefore were ruled out, theories about the connection between excess aluminum in the body and dementia remain.
- Skin Irritation: Ever notice your underarms getting red, bumpy, or sore? That’s something else you can thank aluminum for. Aluminum sensitivity and allergies are extremely common, and can lead to lots of discomfort if you continue using antiperspirants in spite of them.
Ever opened your email to see a chain-letter warning you that antiperspirants cause breast cancer? These emails stemmed from the theory that since most breast cancers develop in the part of the breast closest to the area where antiperspirants are applied, chemicals (most notably aluminum) may be absorbed into the skin. Once in your system, they may interact with DNA and lead to cancerous cell growth.
Now, there is no conclusive evidence out there proving that aluminum causes breast cancer. However, these theories do reflect the reality that any chemical you put on your skin can enter your body and build up over time. And with a common and harmful ingredient like aluminum, that long-term buildup can have serious consequences.
Some self-care products you can do without: deodorant isn’t one of them. Unfortunately, most conventional antiperspirants include not only aluminum, but other toxic ingredients like parabens, triclosan, and synthetic fragrances. Switching to a natural deodorant is a safer solution.
Some of the people I’ve talked to who have switched to an organic deodorant tell me that the natural options tend to be a little weaker than formulations that use aluminum. In my experience, different brands work better for different people. If you’re interested in living aluminum-free, try experimenting with a few different antiperspirant brands to find one that works for your physiology and activity levels.
When it comes to dangerous ingredients in personal care products, aluminum is one of the ugly ones. We just don’t know the full impact that constant exposure can have. It’s worth it to take advantage of other odor protection options that work with the body instead of against it.
Do you have a natural deodorant that works for you? Share it with us in the comments below!