Hidden Dangers: We grab our antiperspirant stick and glide it on without knowing what we’re applying to our skin. Antiperspirants are designed to stop the sweating process, blocking the pores with aluminum. And while controversial, there are studies suggesting that the aluminum-based compounds may play a role in the development of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, antiperspirants are made with countless chemicals that are believed to cause a range of health complications from birth defects and hormone imbalance to cancer.
What you should avoid: The first thing to steer clear of is aluminum-based compounds – the active ingredients in antiperspirants. These include compounds such as aluminum chlorohydrate, ammonium aluminum sulfate, potassium aluminum sulfate, and the most common one, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex glycine. Some research studies have suggested that these compounds may be absorbed through the skin, acting as estrogen mimickers. It is proposed that this can cause changes in estrogen receptors of breast cells, which may lead to the development of breast cancer. In addition, aluminum compounds are believed to cause nerve-cell damage, which is thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Another potential side effect is kidney damage. Aluminum, like other heavy metals, is eliminated through the urine. This process can stress the kidneys, leading to kidney-related conditions.
Other ingredients to avoid are talc and cyclopentasiloxane – potential carcinogens – and triclosan, an antibacterial agent that may cause endocrine disruption. TEA (triethanolamine) is also an ingredient to do without. Clinical tests show that high doses of triethanolamine can cause liver, bladder and testicular cancer in laboratory animals. Finally, avoid fragrance. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies and dermatitis, and have potential effects on the reproductive system.
Avoid: Aluminum compounds, talc, triclosan, fragrance and TEA
Here’s what to do: First off, don’t fret – you’re not being committed to a life of musty smells and hippie communes. Since antiperspirants are an issue in and of themselves, we recommend using deodorant instead. And thanks to the burgeoning natural products market, finding a non-toxic option isn’t difficult. From personal experience, we’ve found that not all natural deodorants work – but through our own trial and error, we’ve come to rely on Naturally Betsy’s Be Fresh, Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant – Lavender + Sage, Agent Nateur and our own DIY version. Try one of our favorites, or look for a deodorant that is made with aluminum-free baking soda, essential oils and a natural oil base like shea, almond or coconut.