With all the worry and concern about the inclusion of aluminum in deodorant, it’s important to be aware of some of the facts and statistics surrounding the controversy.
Here are some of the more interesting quick facts about aluminum and deodorant that may help influence your choice on which brand to use.
Aluminum in deodorant – facts and figures
There’s some confusion about the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant and people often use the two terms interchangeably.
They are actually different things though, and often you won’t find aluminum in deodorant. You will, however, nearly always find it in antiperspirant unless you use a natural one.
The aluminum is actually the substance that stops you from sweating. It combines with the chemicals in your sweat to create a gel that blocks your skin’s pores from releasing sweat.
The popularity of deodorant and antiperspirant
Deodorant was first invented centuries ago in ancient Egypt. Due to the extremely hot and arid environment of Egypt, the ancient Egyptians would apply spices and herbs to their underarms to mask their natural body odor. Only certain spices and herbs would do, though, since some would spoil in the heat, defeating the purpose. Cinnamon became very popular for this purpose.
According to studies, today somewhere between 90 and 95 percent of men and women use deodorant. Broken down by gender, those figures come out as about 90 to 91 percent of men and between 94 and 95 percent of women use deodorant or antiperspirant on a daily basis.
Commercial antiperspirants first appeared on the market in the early 1900’s. They did have one major issue though. They were so acidic from the aluminum compounds they contained that they would often cause skin irritation and eat through clothing. As a result, the popularity of antiperspirant soon waned and it didn’t become popular again until the 1940s, when a new formula was found.
Why we sweat
We wear deodorant to cover our natural smell, but do you know what causes our smell in the first place? You may find the answer somewhat surprising. Bacteria found in and on our body, like many other forms of bacteria, thrive in dark, moist environments.
These environments, like our armpits, can become breeding grounds. Once we’re out of the shower, the bacteria will start to multiply there, mixing with our body’s own natural chemicals and sweat to create scents and odors. For some people, these scents can actually be quite appealing, while for others, they can be very foul smelling.
The scent we give off depends entirely on how much we sweat, how long the bacteria has been left there, and how our body chemicals mix with them.
Do you ever develop yellow stains or crusty stains in the armpits of your clothing? That’s because of the aluminum chloride found in antiperspirant.
While sweat is a natural way of removing toxins from the body, the armpits are not a part of that process. The lymph nodes and sweat glands found under the arms are not a primary source of toxin elimination from the body.
The aluminum in deodorant is not the only problem
The aluminum in deodorant and antiperspirant is not the only ingredient that can cause skin irritation. The harsh chemicals and perfumes found in deodorant can cause severe skin irritation on their own. Some of them have also been linked to health issues themselves. An example of this is parabens, which are added to make deodorants and antiperspirants longer.
Aluminum chloride is also a compound used to make styrene, polystyrene, and detergents.
Studies have been inconclusive
There have been many medical studies carried out over the years, but they’ve all failed to find a conclusive answer to the dangers of deodorants with aluminum. There have been several studies performed since the 1990s, when the original claims arose online, but studies have come out both for and against the claim. Some of the research centers that have performed the tests include the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.
Even if there is no conclusive evidence linking deodorant with aluminum to certain medical conditions, the aluminum in deodorant and antiperspirant can still be harmful. Aluminum chloride, even while using the modern formula for antiperspirants that combine it with other materials to balance out the acidity, can still cause skin irritation and rashes. The armpits are areas of very sensitive skin, especially for those who shave, and the addition of this acidic compound can lead to severe irritation, redness, swelling, burning, and general discomfort.