What are antiperspirants and why are they bad for you?

A deodorant in general is something that prevents odor. An antiperspirant is something that prevents sweating. Antiperspirant deodorants stop a person from sweating, and therefore keep the armpits dry and prevent bacteria from accumulating and smelling bad. Antiperspirants do this by using aluminum to clog the sweat glands and temporarily disable them. Some aluminum is absorbed through the thin skin of the armpits into the sweat glands. From there, the aluminum is transported all throughout the body, which is why we see it on the hair tests of people who use antiperspirant deodorants. Aluminum is a highly toxic heavy metal. Aluminum toxicity is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, kidney dysfunction, Parkinson’s disease and other very serious conditions.

Additionally, because aluminum is known to alter DNA and has estrogen-like properties in the body, there are additional concerns about it contributing to the incidence of breast cancer. In fact, clinical studies on women with breast cancer show disproportionately high amounts of aluminum in the upper outer area of the breast. (Go here for a very scientific explanation of those findings:

Because aluminum is found abundantly in nature, there is an opinion in the world (outside of holistic nutrition) that it can’t be that bad for you, when in fact, it is broadly recognized as an extremely dangerous substance. Even the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), in December 2004, mandated that all antiperspirants containing aluminum and aluminum compounds must carry a “black box” label that warns consumers of the potential health hazards of aluminum, especially to people with reduced kidney function, and to keep the products away from children.

For more information on sources of aluminum and possible conditions associated with aluminum toxicity, see our Aluminum article.

All-Natural, Non-Toxic Alternatives

Here is a list of all-natural, non-toxic deodorants that you can try:

Truly’s РThis is our favorite deodorant. We carry it so you can get in our office or through our online store: The ingredients are organic coconut oil, organic powdered sugar, baking soda and beeswax.

Others you can try:

Real Purity

Penny Lane

Be Green
For an added bonus, you can use coupon code “mosesnut10” to get 10% off of your first order!

Green Tidings – Available through Amazon

Organic Fields of Heather – Available through Amazon

Freedom Stick – Available through Amazon

Native Deodorant – Free shipping through

Primal Pit Paste

Safe & Chic is a one-stop-shop for all of your natural body and cosmetic products, including deodorant, shampoo and more:

There are many other brands you can try at the health food store, too. You may have to try several different brands before you find one that works for you. One tip when using natural deodorants is to wash your armpits when you shower several times. Soap, rinse, and repeat another couple of times. The first and second soap/rinse cycles will often be just rinsing off the deodorant. After that, the additional soap/rinse cycles will be actually cleaning your skin. This is particularly true of oil-based deodorants like Truly’s.

DO NOT USE CRYSTAL DEODORANTS. These contain alum which is a form of aluminum. Other words used to disguise aluminum in ingredients lists are “mineral” and “rock”. Hair analyses of people who have used “Crystal,” “Mineral,” and “Rock” deodorants show elevated levels of aluminum.

(For more information about other body and cosmetic product ingredients to avoid, see Some Ingredients to Avoid in Body, Bath & Skin Care Products and Cosmetics.)

IMPORTANT: The above natural deodorants will help fight the bacteria and prevent odor, but they will not stop you from sweating. It is common for people to get a red rash under their arms when they first stop antiperspirant deodorants. This is caused by the toxic aluminum from the antiperspirant deodorant coming back out through the skin and is also due to the body getting used to having moisture in the area. This usually clears up within a couple of weeks.

If the red rash continues, you can try this very simple solution: Mix 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar into 1 cup of distilled (or very well-filtered) water in a small container. Spray bottles work very well for this. Dab or spray a small amount into your armpits and rub it all over your armpit area. Hold your arms up and allow your armpits to dry completely before you apply your deodorant. (Quick note: If you have shaved your armpits, wait at least 30 minutes to apply this solution.) You can re-apply this solution later in the same day if you find it helpful.

If you sweat excessively, you may want to consider bringing another shirt with you to work so you can change out of your sweaty shirt into a clean one.

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