By a mom who happens to be a doc with an entrepreneurial spirit

Why anti-perspirants are the pits: opting for natural deodorant

Why anti-perspirants are the pits: opting for natural deodorant

Keeping body odor under control


Nobody likes to have sweaty and, much less, smelly underarms. In order to keep our noses happy, the deodorant industry has created all sorts of solutions to help combat sweat and odor. Let’s face it, being stuck next to a stinky human in a crowded subway is well, quite literally, the pits. However, some of these solutions may not be the best for our health and well-being. Is there such a thing out there as a natural deodorant that works? What about anti-perspirants? Are they truly so terrible? Let’s find out, shall we?


How does anti-perspirant work, anyway?


Anti-perspirants use aluminum based substances to literally get in to our sweat ducts and plug them up. This way, they prevent sweat from coming out and forming those unsightly wet “pancakes” on our clothes. Another function is that it helps minimize unpleasant smells.  As moisture accumulates in our warm underarm environment, bacteria thrive and they start producing that distinct body odor.


Aesthetics and pancakes aside, sweating has many important functions for our body. Most people know that sweating is a way of regulating our body temperature and staying cool when we heat up. For example, when we exercise, our blood vessels dilate to release some of the heat we produce out into the environment. It also starts the production of sweat which will evaporate and, as it does this, it brings down our body temperature and cools us.


Another important function of sweating is detoxification. Our skin acts like another “kidney”. Sweating helps remove salts from our blood in a simplified kidney fashion.  I used to have a roommate in college who liked to go the gym the next morning after a hard night of drinking. She said it helped her feel better and get rid of any hangover. I found it impressive that once sweating started, you could literally smell the rum as if it was Friday night happy hour at the bar 🤣 Little did I know at the time that it was her sweaty skin doing it’s detox job!


What is so bad about anti-perspirants anyway?


Well, as we discussed above, sweating is an important part of our overall health, so you probably don’t want to stop it from happening all the time. In addition, deodorant anti-perspirants have many compounds that may not be so good for you!


Let’s discuss a few of these:




As we mentioned, aluminum is the main ingredient that prevents sweating in anti-perspirants.  We apply the aluminum close to the breast tissue. Some studies suggest that it can behave hormonally similar to estrogen. Estrogen promotes the growth of breast cancer tissue. This brought into question whether or not this compound could produce breast cancer. A 2014 review could not confirm a clear association between aluminum containing antiperspirants and the development of breast cancer. 


Other studies suggest a link between aluminum and Alzheimers dementia, but again, there have been conflicting reports and none have been conclusive.


Finally, aluminum is responsible for the yellow staining that occurs in the underarm area of our light-colored clothing.




Parabens are a preservative that was very common in many deodorants and antiperspirants. Recently, many personal hygiene products and cosemetics have shied away from them, with good reason.


These chemicals mimic the activity of estrogen in our cells. Furthermore, studies have shown the presence of parabens in breast cancer tumors. Now, the study was not able to prove causation, nonetheless, it was sufficiently concerning that it was present in the cancerous tissue.




Phthalates are plasticizers found in a wide range of products, from toys to nail polish and shampoo. They are also found in anti-perspirants and deodorants. These chemicals are linked to a wide variety of issues, most notable of which are alterations in the development of the reproductive system. Again, the studies were inconsistent and no final ruling was made.


The consumer product safety commission and the FDA deemed that daily exposure levels were safe, nonetheless, California decided to ban phthalates. In addition, the European Union has also banned phthalates. Europe tends to be way ahead of the game when it comes to banning potentially unsafe substances, so I tend to follow their leads on many of these decisions.




Another study showed that people who use anti-perspirant had less bacteria in their underarm area while they used the antiperspirant. Once they stopped using it, the quantity of bacteria increased again. However, the diversity of bacteria present was much lower when compared to their non-anti-perspirant using counterparts.


While we can’t be sure what this means for our overall health, as previously discussed in another post, greater diversity of our microbiome is associated with stronger immunity. It would be interesting to investigate the implications this may have for our health in future studies.


Putting it all together


According to the national cancer institute, studies thus far have provided conflicting results and additional research would be needed to establish whether there is a relationship between anti-perspirant deodorants and cancer.


Now, I don’t know about you guys, but if the data is not clear and there is a possibility of an association with cancer, I certainly don’t want to put it on my skin.


And in the end..


So, what is a person to do? Sweat and knock people down as they get a whiff of you when you walk on by? Ha! Nope, luckily, we have options. I had been using one of those natural rock deodorants for a few years now and, much to my surprise, it works pretty well. It won’t stop sweating, but it does control the odor for most of the day.


Natural deodorant


Recently, I discovered something that works even better! Created by a doctor, this natural deodorant you can even wear on your privates! Yep, you heard right. It is called Lume deodorant. Even more, it is aluminum free, fragrance, paraben and phthalate free. It is truly amazing. I can’t recommend it enough, it has been awesome in controlling body odor. I suggest you check out their website here because they have tons of good info.


Lastly if you are in tropical weather, and have an event where you really don’t want to sweat, then use anti-perspirant sparingly. Once in a blue moon is not the end of the world, just be cautious of using it on a daily basis.


All right guys, that’s all I have! Have a great week! Remember to subscribe so you can stay updated with our posts! ❤



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