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Avoiding Toxins: The Science of Antiperspirants and Deodorants

Deodorants are generally considered cosmetic products because they simply control odor. Antiperspirants, on the other hand, are considered drugs because they affect the body’s physiology.  While deodorants are considered cosmetic products because they do not change the function of the skin, antiperspirants are classified as drugs and are therefore subject to rules and regulations set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Commercially available antiperspirants containing metals of aluminum, titanium, magnesium, and/or zirconium to combat body odor. However, today, in a growing toxin-conscious populace, people are concerned about the application of these on the skin because absorption of compounds containing these metallic elements through the skin into the body might contribute to heavy metal toxicity. Standard antiperspirants only attempt to absorb odiferous compounds with the metallic elements and/or mask the odor with added perfumes but they do not address the problem of body odor at its cause.

They work by forming a chemical reaction with the water in the sweat to form a physical plug… which is deposited in the sweat duct, producing a blockage in the areas that it’s applied,” says David Pariser, MD, professor of dermatology at Eastern Virginia Medical School and past president of the American Academy of Dermatology. If you have sensitive skin or are easily irritated by chemicals, you might experience problems with antiperspirants.

crystalThere are two main differences between Ammonium Alum and Potassium Alum, and Aluminum Chloride/Chlorohydrate/Zirconium (the toxic aluminums). These latter toxic aluminum compounds react with the chemistry in the skin to form a gel which blocks your sweat ducts and glands. Instead of forming a pore-blocking gel, Ammonium Alum and Potassium Alum are large molecules of natural minerals that stay on the surface of the skin where it prevents body odor from occurring in the first place.

Naturally occurring zeolite minerals, in the form of potassium alum or ammonium alum crystals, have been marketed as all-natural alternatives to deodorants and antiperspirants.  Potassium Alum
is natural mineral salt that creates a protective barrier and does not inhibit sweat gland function. A single application of a CRYSTAL deodorant should prevent body odor for up to 24 hours. The Crystal Stone deodorant also makes a smaller and cheaper travel size, so you can test the product before committing to one of the larger sizes.

Deodorant may include probiotics. For example, the probiotics in the deodorant may include live or dormant healthful bacteria that when present in internal body cavities of the body (e.g., intestinal tract, oral cavity, and/or vagina) have been proven to overcome the growth of less healthful bacteria (e.g., anaerobic bacteria). Since the type of bacteria that metabolize sweat gland secretions into odiferous aromatic compounds are the same or similar types of less healthful bacteria, the application of a probiotic deodorant may inhibit odor by allowing one of more of the bacteria of the probiotic bacteria to overcome the growth of the less healthful bacteria.  Application of a probiotic deodorant may encourage probiotic growth and inhibit (e.g., by overcoming) stinky yeast growth.

Natural botanicals like grapefruit extracts provide effective, long-lasting deodorant protection while leaving a fresh scent. Baking Soda (naturally aluminum-free) is also includes in many organic type deodorants.

zatik deodorant

Alternative products include powders that use a blend of beneficial organic herbal extracts, clays & salts.

You can try A talc free body powder. The essential oils in Ora’s Amazing Herbal
All Natural Body Powder
formula provide the added benefit of antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties which we find helps with preventing and treating intertrigo (rashes in folds ) or any rashes due to excess moisture on the skin as well as fighting any body odor. Absorbs excess moisture, as well as functioning as a gentle deodorant, and soothing any irritation.
Ora Herbal Natural Talc Free Body Powder, Travel Sizes, Try All Three!

One common antiperspirant component – chemicals called parabens — has been linked to breast cancer. Parabens can be absorbed through the skin. Parabens have estrogen-like properties. Estrogens (or those taken as hormone replacement) are much more likely to play a role in breast cancer development.

It would be wise to do a patch text in the crook of the arm to test for any allergic reactions prior to applying to the armpit area.

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Sources: NIH, Chemical & Engineering News,WebMD, Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology & Google patents


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