Exercise is important, but it can be tough to stay on the treadmill when you start to sweat and stink up the gym. Then, sometimes you need to go straight from a morning workout to the office, but you don’t want your B.O. to be the topic of today’s water cooler gossip.
Deodorant is the solution, of course. But these days, more and more people are choosing to use aluminum-free deodorant instead of the traditional, synthetics-laden deodorants most of us have used for years.
What gives? Is this just a random trend toward all-natural and organic products, or are there real and practical reasons why you should pick an aluminum-free deodorant over the traditional stick?
In this guide, we’ll break down exactly why aluminum is harmful to your skin and why you should only use an aluminum-free deodorant in the future.
How Does Deodorant Work?
To understand why you should avoid aluminum in your deodorant products, you first need to understand how deodorant really works in the first place.
In a nutshell, deodorant products use special formulas that come in gel, solid, or spray forms that cover up the scent from your armpits. Everyone sweats, and as sweat leaves your skin and pools on the surface, the bacteria on your skin starts to multiply rapidly thanks to the organic components found in your sweat--it’s like fuel for them.
But while it’s a great time for bacteria, it makes us humans start to stink up a storm. The smell you get when you start to sweat is, therefore, not related to your sweat at all (which would really only smell like saltwater). Instead, it’s the smell of the bacteria.
Deodorants are simply gels or similar compounds with fragrances that cover up the stinky scent. Most deodorants are also designed to be partially absorbed or sit on your skin for a while to prevent you from smelling for a certain number of hours.
So, why is aluminum needed in deodorant at all? Aluminum isn’t used for the deodorizing part of any deodorant product. Instead, aluminum is used for anti-perspiration.
Aluminum and Antiperspirants
An antiperspirant is a separate kind of product from a deodorant, even though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably and you’ll often see antiperspirants as a part of a deodorant’s overall formula.
In short, an antiperspirant is a product that stops you from sweating as much. Aluminum is the chief ingredient in most antiperspirant products since the molecule, in very small amounts, plugs up your sweat ducts once it’s exposed to sweat. Aluminum literally blocks your body’s ability to produce sweat.
This is, as you might imagine, bad for several reasons.
- People who use antiperspirants that actually plug their sweat ducts usually feel hotter. That’s because those antiperspirants interfere with the body’s natural sweating process, which is designed to cool you off.
- Aluminum antiperspirants can also cause underarm irritation, which can lead to rashes, small pimples, and even changes to the color of your skin.
- Stains are another frequent side effect of aluminum antiperspirants. That’s because aluminum, when it combines with sweat, creates a yellow tint or liquid that can then stain your shirt.
- Aluminum deodorants can actually make you sweat more if your body doesn't sense you cooling down as you should be. Even worse, aluminum can upset the balance of your skin, intensifying body odor, and even negatively affecting your immune system.
- There is even some evidence to suggest that some of the ingredients in antiperspirants can lead to skin cancer and other issues.
There are some alternative antiperspirant products that use natural ingredients that don’t have these side effects, but any antiperspirant (or deodorant that has aluminum for antiperspirant properties) is bad news overall.
Is Any Antiperspirant a Good Idea?
Not usually. Your body is designed to sweat for a reason: keeping you cool. If you interfere with this natural process, you could accidentally cause side effects in the long run. While it’s true that sweat isn’t particularly attractive, especially when it stains your clothes, it’s much better than clogging your own pores and stopping your body’s natural processes from taking place.
Unless a dermatologist specifically tells you that you sweat too much and you should take medication to counteract that effect, our advice is to stay away from antiperspirants as much as you can. Especially stay away from antiperspirants containing aluminum!
Is Aluminum Really Necessary in Deodorant, Then?
As you can see, aluminum is not necessary at all in any deodorant product. It’s only “necessary” if you want to stop your body from sweating, which, we can’t stress enough, is inadvisable for most people in the first place.
You should always try to find deodorant products that don’t include aluminum since the ingredient doesn’t help with the product’s primary purpose in helping you smell good. Remember, your sweat isn’t what smells bad – it’s the bacteria. Staying healthy and eating healthily will do more for your body odor than stopping your body from trying to cool off!
So Why Do Regular Deodorants Come with Aluminum?
Many people pick up deodorant with aluminum and its antiperspirant properties because they don’t fully understand why they smell when they start to sweat. They incorrectly associate the sweat itself with the negative smell, when sweat is actually a beneficial process and wouldn’t smell nasty if it weren’t for the bacteria on the skin.
But since you can’t get rid of bacteria altogether (nor should you want to since lots of the bacteria on your skin is actually good bacteria that helps to crowd out harmful bacteria), good deodorant can try to cover up the smell.
Does Aluminum-Free Deodorant Still Work?
Absolutely! A good deodorant just has to provide a strong enough fragrance to overcome the bad smell the bacteria on your skin creates when it mixes with sweat. There are dozens of botanical alternatives to these often harmful ingredients that can work wonders for neutralizing the bacterial smell or covering it up with a positive fragrance.
Furthermore, aluminum-free deodorants can help balance the natural oils in your skin, they don’t halt the sweating process, and can minimize unpleasant body odor at the same time.
Aluminum-Free Deodorant Alternatives
Luckily, there are several great options if you want to pick up an aluminum-free deodorant as soon as possible.
Green Goo’s collection of solid deodorants are all-natural and super effective. Rather than using harsh or abrasive ingredients like baking soda, we use magnesium hydroxide. Plus, our deodorants don’t just cover the smell -- because we use plant-based ingredients like arrowroot, calendula, and shea butter, your skin will also benefit from nourishing vitamins and minerals that can soothe, moisturize, calm, and even your skin, too.
Additionally, our solid deodorant products are perfect for those with sensitive skin. We never include phthalates, parabens, or other potentially harmful ingredients, and our deodorants come in a wide variety of scents, including lavender thyme, lemongrass sage, and rose geranium.
We also offer an unscented solid deodorant, though this still has a hint of natural herbs due to the nature of its plant-based ingredients.
Solid deodorants are usually better choices for those who sweat a lot.
Our gel deodorants are also great alternatives to deodorants with aluminum. These deodorants, like their solid counterparts, use plant-based ingredients and are supremely soothing to the skin. They’re also very easy to apply, gliding over your skin to moisturize and nourish your skin at the same time they fight odor.
The gel is cool to the touch and spreads around without much pressure. Many of these deodorants use the same ingredients, including:
- Aloe vera leaf juice
- Calendula flower extract
- Sunflower seed oil
- Lemongrass oil
- Ascorbic acid, which provides vitamin C
- And more
Plus, none of these gel deodorants contain petroleum, baking soda, gluten, parabens, mineral oils, or any other harsh or potentially risky ingredients. They’re safe, effective, and there are tons of scents depending on your preferences, ranging from juniper mint to pure spice to wild rose to lavender. An unscented version is available as well.
Keep in mind that gel deodorants are usually better for folks that have dry skin since the gels can add additional moisturization. But if you sweat a lot or have oily skin, the gel might spread around a little too much and cause staining.
In our eyes, the differences between regular and aluminum-free deodorant are night and day. There’s no reason to use deodorant with aluminum in its ingredient list, especially since you shouldn’t try to stop sweating entirely in the first place. Aluminum doesn’t assist with reducing body odor, and can actually cause harm to your body in the long run, especially if you have a weakened immune system that can’t filter out the aluminum properly.
So, come check out Green Goo’s extensive collection of all-natural, aluminum-free deodorants if you want a great formula that battles odor, nourishes skin, and smells really good too!