We’ve talked a lot about clean skincare and beauty products recently, but there is one classic culprit we haven’t yet talked about yet. And if you’re not closely checking the ingredients list on this product, it can do your body dirty… we’re talking about your antiperspirant. But how can you survive a sticky summer without it?
First of all, it’s important to distinguish between deodorant and antiperspirant: deodorant only masks scent, and antiperspirant is the stuff that prevents sweating. Most commercial deodorants you see are a combination of the two, but the antiperspirant half of the equation is the one you want to be wary of—because that’s the bit that has aluminum.
Why to avoid aluminum-based antiperspirants?
But why on earth is aluminum in our antiperspirants at all? Well, aluminum salts are really good at blocking and plugging the sweat ducts in our underarms, so they’re the perfect ingredient to inhibit sweat production. So when you read “stay dry for 24 hours,” you’re really reading, “there’s loads of aluminum in this thing.”
Aluminum is really good at doing its job of blocking sweat production — but that doesn’t make it a good thing. Antiperspirants have come under a lot of criticism because of the potential health risks of placing it directly under your arms on a daily basis — an area that is very close to your breast tissue and lymph nodes. At the moment, there’s no conclusive evidence that proves aluminum-based antiperspirants increase breast cancer risk, but there is some reason to believe there could be a link between the two… we just don’t know enough yet. Regardless, we do know that it can be absorbed into the skin and bloodstream, and studies have found traces of aluminum in breast tissue structures.
What else is in your deodorants?
It’s definitely a good idea to consider ditching the aluminum under your arms, and especially so if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive. Another thing to make sure your deodorants are clear of are parabens, which are maybe even worse than their metallic counterpart. For a refresher, parabens are preservatives that are found in loads of beauty products like shampoo, foundation, and cleansers — and some deodorants/antiperspirants have them as well. But they’re not just normal preservatives: they can mimic estrogen, and there have been studies showing parabens found in breast tissue as well. Because they can affect your hormones, its recommended to avoid parabens during pregnancy—just another reason to scan the back label on your go-to deodorant.
A lot of this feels like it’s kind-of-a-risk-but-not-proven, but it’s worth pointing out that aluminum-laden antiperspirants just aren’t great for your skin as it is. Your body likes to sweat: it helps you to regulate your body temperature and eliminate toxins. If you’ve got aluminum salts blocking your sweat glands, your underarms can’t do their job, which means your body can’t do its proper job of regulating your systems.
The good news is there are so many great aluminum-free and paraben-free deodorants on the market, and more popping up every day. When making the switch your body will go through a bit of a detox period, but once you’ve adjusted to these cleaner deodorant options, you’ll be so happy you did. To get you started we’ve rounded up some of our favorites below.
Want healthier, happier underarms? Check these out:
This is Dove’s first-ever aluminum-free deodorant (and it’s less than $3!). You can find it in a variety of scents like their classic cucumber and green tea, coconut and pink jasmine, or our personal favorite: blue fig and orange blossom.
We’re getting beachy vibes from this coconut oil-infused deodorant by Kopari. Free of aluminum and parabens, this is a simple but seriously effective deodorant that goes on smoothly. It does contain added fragrance, which is a drawback as that’s considered an ‘added nasty’. Something to keep in mind before opting for this pick, but it works for a lot of women and many people swear by it.
Schmidt’s products use botanically derived ingredients and minerals—no chemicals or animal products here! We love the huge range they offer: there’s something for everyone with so many fresh scents made from natural ingredients. They also have a line of deodorants specially formulated for people with sensitive skin, so if your underarms are particularly prone to irritation, check this one out.
Native’s deodorant looks like your classic stick iteration, but it’s free of aluminum, parabens, and sulfates—and we love that it’s cruelty-free! It’s also pretty easy to get your hands on (thank you, Target!). They’ve got a great lineup of scents that play both feminine and masculine, so you can get your guy on it, too! In fact, our favorite is the Citrus & Herbal musk — you’ll find it in the men’s aisle but it’s a great scent that wears well all day long.
This is a crystal mineral deodorant stick, which makes it just about the cleanest product out there. Simply wet it to apply, and swipe under your arms for all-day coverage. It’s also a great economical option because it lasts about a year–and it won’t melt in your bag like other deodorants, so it’s a great one to keep in your handbag on hot summer days.
This one is definitely a diversion from your classic stick deodorant, but the powerful vegan ingredients make it really work. It’s a natural deodorant balm that’s free of parabens, aluminum, silicone, phthalates… and basically everything else bad (and its packaging is plastic-free!). Activated charcoal absorbs moisture while tea tree and coconut oils fight odor-causing bacteria. If you’re willing to try something a bit different, this one won’t disappoint.