Rethinking Antiperspirant: Part I


Growing up, there was a commercial on TV featuring a man riding a bus, boasting that he didn’t use deodorant. The other passengers rolled their eyes and held their noses making it clear this wasn’t something to be proud of.



That commercial and other messages must have had a strong impact on me. I remember going to high school one day and realizing that I’d forgotten to use antiperspirant that morning. I walked around feeling self conscious the entire day. Wait, what? I wasn’t self conscious because I smelled bad, but because I wasn’t wearing antiperspirant. The product had evolved from a means to an end (stopping me from smelling) to an end in itself. Kudos to you, marketing geniuses. You got me.

For years I dutifully used antiperspirant daily (though I stopped stressing about it). Why not? Everyone else does? But we put huge numbers of chemicals on our bodies every day with our shampoo, moisturizers, sunscreen, toothpaste and more. (To get an idea of how many, click here). Don’t believe these chemicals get into your body? Guess again. Medication is administered in the form of patches precisely because the skin is permeable.

Photo Credit: 2Stef27
One of the concerns with deodorant is that the aluminum found in most of them is suspected to be a cause of breast cancer. An article in science daily talks about how the incidence of breast cancer was greater in the parts of the breast close to the underarm. The article goes on to say:
The major constituent of antiperspirant is aluminium salts which have long been associated with cancer, as well as other human disease. The daily application of aluminium-based antiperspirants should result in the presence of aluminium in the tissue of the underarm and surrounding areas, though there is almost no data on aluminium in breast tissue.” [1]  
Whether aluminum is a carcinogenic is impossible to know right now. You can find scientists arguing that aluminum is perfectly safe, while others argue that there is a causal link to cancer. We may have a definitive answer in ten or twenty years. In the meantime, I’ve stopped using antiperspirant. Feel free to roll your eyes and hold your nose. I haven’t used regular commercial antiperspirant for almost two years.

In my next post, I’ll outline alternatives to commercial deodorants.


This post was shared with  The Prairie HomesteadButter BelieverThe Nourishing GourmetReal Food ForagerHartke is OnlineKelly the Kitchen KopGnowfglins, The Nourishing GourmetPenniless Parenting, and The Healthy Home Economist.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I never heard of the cancer aluminium link but I have heard it related to alzheimers.
Darlene

Kelsie said...

I started using Burt's Bees herbal spray deodorant. It's made of alcohol and various essential oils (mainly sage). Sure, I smell a little "woodsy" after I put it on, but the smell diminishes after awhile. The antimicrobial properties of the oils, however, do not. I just got in from mowing, and while I sweated up a storm, I don't smell at all. It's the ONLY natural deodorant that has ever truly worked for me, and a local mom n' pop pharmacy sells it (yay!).

The most awesome thing about making this switch is that I used to have really awful, embarrassing, miserable psoriasis on my scalp. As in...I couldn't comb my hair back...couldn't wear dark colors...I itched constantly. I tried everything natural and unnatural, and nothing worked very well at all. Within a week of ditching my conventional deodorant/antiperspirant, the psoriasis was almost totally gone.

I wasn't thinking the other morning and I put on my old deodorant...and by the end of the day, I had patches of psoriasis flaring up again on my scalp. I've looked all over the Internet and only found one other person who made this same connection between their deodorant and their psoriasis...but that seemed to be what did it for me.

Leslie @ Real Food Freaks said...

I gave up anti-perspirant last summer. Nasty stuff... although, truth be told, I do miss dry pits! I use coconut oil and baking soda-- I still sweat, but I don't stink!

Michele said...

I will be interested to see what you recommend in your next post. I've been using talcum powder, and so far it has been working. I live in Florida, and may need to try something different when the temps reach the mid-90's...I would also be interested to know what other alternative personal care products you and others use. I'd like to find a happy medium between primitive home-made things and chemically-laden products from the store.

Ruth Almon said...

@ Leslie
I know what you mean.

@ Michelle
Talcum powder isn't a good option if you're looking for something safe. Google talcum powder and cancer.

Heather said...

Great post! After I had my first baby I stopped wearing commercial deodorant and started making my own. There was something concerning to me about breastfeeding and having commercial deodorant that close to her little face. This was almost 4 years ago now, and before I really understood all the problems with commercial deodorants/shampoo/lotion etc. Looking forward to your next post! I hope to post my deodorant recipe on my blog next week :-)

Anonymous said...

I have been on the anti anti-persperant bandwagon for a few years now. I use natural deodorants when I'm around the house (or none at all if noone is scheduled to come visit), or I pat a little baking soda under the pits...works great!

Michele said...

I quit using antiperspirant about 6 months ago. Since then, I have been using Tom's of Maine deodorant. I have used the apricot scented and the lavender, both smell nice.
I am worried how I will do once the hot weather comes. I live in the dry desert and it gets pretty hot in the summer.
I know that the stink is actually caused by bacteria eating the sweat (yuck) so maybe a little hand sanitizer to the armpit, then reapply deodorant could do the trick for me?

Ruth Almon said...

Michelle,
There are lots of good options, but I wouldn't use hand sanitizer, or at least, I wouldn't use it regularly. Google tryclosan.

Kristina said...

In February I gave up conventional anti-persperent. Feel better knowing I'm not putting aluminum or parabens under my arms! :)

Jill@RealFoodForager.com said...

Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!
http://realfoodforager.com/fat-tuesday-march-13-2012/

Michele said...

Coincidentally, just yesterday I stumbled across the fact that talc may be linked with cancer when I was researching something else--just before I read your reply. I couldn't believe it--something I've been using for years and that seems so harmless can actually be contributing to cancer! Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. I enjoy your blog and wish you all the best.
Michele (from Florida)
P.S. I tried posting this already, but it didn't show up, so this is my second attempt. If a similar post appears, that is why.

Ruth Almon said...

I read about talc years ago, and it surprised me too.

Anonymous said...

Please be careful and read the ingredients list on your natural deoderants. Many contain propylene glycol which is also harmful to the human body. I tried using Everclear for years,and it worked OK even if I probably smelled like a lush, but when I started learning about most corn being GMO I thought it would be better to find something else. I feel like I have tried just about everything and not much works. I am now using Herbalix Geranium which is pretty good, but I'm going to try magnesium oil too. I have read quite a lot about that and how people who are deficient in magnesium tend to have strong body odor. (That's me!) I hope it will work!

Wonderwoman said...

Great article. I stopped wearing store bought deodorant 7 years ago. I took a whole year for...you know...there to be any kind of bad smell. That can't be a good thing - a whole year! I've learned that different homemade remedies work for different people. Not just one thing works for everybody...so don't give up if the first few 'natural' things don't work.

Ruth Almon said...

Great advice, Wonderwoman. This is definitely not a one-size-fits-all issue.

Laurie said...

Good for you! I've made my own deodorant and used various natural brands until I found what worked for me.

http://lauriesnotions.blogspot.com/2011/08/quest-for-natural-deodorant.html

Penniless Parenting said...

Thanks for sharing. I have a natural DIY deodorant recipe on my site, but honestly, most of the time I just use nothing...

PitStik said...

Try our vintage all natural deodorant made with Coconut Oil, Baking Soda, Cornstarch, Beeswax and Melaleuca Oil. PitStik – Changing the way you stik your pit **It WORKS!!!**
www.etsy.com/listing/104196499/2-pit-stik-all-natural-vintage-scentable
~*~*~*~*~* COMING SOON *~*~*~*~*~*~*
Our all natural milder deodorant for your junior or tween - twit-Stik!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...