A few years ago, I remember shopping around for some beauty products and needed to restock my current deodorant at the time. I remember seeing an Arm & Hammer deodorant with a label that displayed "aluminum free" on it. Since I had never paid attention to the ingredients in my deodorant before I figured that this particular deodorant must be good. I mean, who wants to apply anything with a metal substance under their arm?? That was my thought process, so in the shopping cart it went and since then Arm & Hammer's Essentials® Solid Deodorant Unscented became my go-to deodorant of choice.
While doing a bit of research about natural deodorants I found out that there are some differences between antiperspirants and deodorants even though the terms are often used interchangeably.
1. Deodorants allow perspiration but kill the bacteria that causes odor from perspiration.
2. Antiperspirants stop perspiration from occurring.
I think most of us know of the first two points but these other two, I was not aware of.
a. Antiperspirants contain aluminum.
b. Deodorants typically do not contain aluminum. “Typically” being the operative word here.
Common sense would tell us to just use deodorants instead of antiperspirants, right? Well, here’s the problem; nowadays deodorants are manufactured to not only kill bacteria but also to stop perspiration. In other words, deodorants are now being manufactured to work just like an antiperspirant; aluminum and all. No bueno. As it turns out, most commercial deodorants and antiperspirants contain a variety of harsh chemicals that can pose a risk to our health. One of those harsh chemicals being aluminum (among other things) that can be toxic and dangerous to our health.
Since finding out that information, I tried to stick to aluminum-free deodorants, like the Arm and Hammer deodorant that I mentioned earlier. But, after using the deodorant for sometime, I happened to look at the ingredient list on the back and saw that there were some other unfavorable and questionable ingredients that I was unhappy about. Although I had always felt fresh, no weird scents, no uncomfortable product residue, or any other negative effect when I used Arm & Hammer; I was annoyed that it still had some other crappy ingredients. So, I resorted to using it until I found something that was either all natural or a better alternative.
I ended up trying TOMS of Maine but it did NOT do the job. My armpits felt slippery and waxy, plus I had those disgusting armpit stains on my shirt. I felt so uncomfortable and self-conscious the first time I used it and didn't use it again. More importantly, one of its main ingredients was propylene glycol, a petro-chemical that can cause skin irritations. No, thank you - I’ll pass.
Anyway, the journey gets better because recently while at Bed Bath and Beyond in their beauty aisles I discovered a reasonably priced “all natural” deodorant, that was hypo-allergenic, with no parabens, no phthalates, and free of aluminum called Crystal Essence. I got the Lavender and Tea Tree. I quickly turned to the back for the ingredient list to inspect:
Purified Water (good)
Natural Mineral Salts - Potassium Alum (um, say what?)
Lavender & White Tea Essential Oils (good)
Just when I thought the coast was clear I saw a four-letter word in the ingredient list. Alum. Potassium alum to be exact. What the heck is this? I thought. Second, why is alum abbreviated? Does that make a difference? I had SO many freaking questions. So, I looked into it and found out that not all aluminum is created equal. Interesting. Yet, quite irritating if you ask me.
Apparently, the most toxic and common aluminums are: aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum chloride, aluminum hydroxybromide or aluminum zirconium. “These types of aluminum are widely used in antiperspirants and deodorants. The aluminum is taken into sweat ducts in the top layer of your skin where they act as a plug, stopping the flow of sweat to your skin’s surface. There is evidence, however, that this aluminum is absorbed into your body where it may cause serious damage”. (source)
In regards to potassium alum, here’s what I found: Potassium Alum are natural mineral salts made up of molecules that are too large to be absorbed by your skin. They form a protective layer on your skin that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. These deodorants are recommended by many cancer treatment centers. (source) This was music to my ears.
So, I’m happy to say that I may have found the best alternative to an all-natural deodorant that I could find locally. It is now part of my rotation even though some dispute it’s all-natural claim because the scientific name of natural mineral salts contains the word alum. So far, Crystal Essence has been a good alternative in my quest to find an all-natural deodorant.
Some things to consider: a product that claims to be all-natural may have preservatives or other
derivatives of the stuff that you're trying to avoid. So if possible, definitely do your own research.
Do you ever find yourself looking for a natural product only to find that it’s really not all natural based on the ingredient list?
Do you compromise and just look for the next best alternative?
Do you pay attention to what you’re putting on your skin?
Let me know in the comments below, I’m curious to hear your thoughts & experiences.