At the elemental level, aluminum itself causes no health risks. But its compounds might in high concentrations. Aluminum-based compounds are the active ingredient in antiperspirants. Look out for aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum chloride or aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly in the ingredient listing (and cross your fingers that you never encounter these on a spelling bee). Here’s the dirty on the ingredients that are supposed to keep you smelling clean.
These compounds work to block wetness and odour in our underarms by clogging the apocrine sweat gland from emitting perspiration. Sweat itself doesn’t contain odour but since these glands are often in warm dark places on our body, the sweat reacts with our natural skin flora/bacteria to produce a funky scent. The safety of these compounds is highly debated. Some studies have indicated increased risk of breast cancer, although evidence is inconclusive. A study in the 60’s showed higher amounts of aluminum in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients leading to the suspicion that frequent use of antiperspirants could contribute to the disease. This too was unfounded. What we do know, is there are many known cases of skin irritation and the idea of blocking natural body functions is never a good idea, especially when you think about how much of this stuff you put on your body - once daily for the majority of your lifetime.
Luckily, you can still allow the body to sweat freely and attack odour in other ways. Non-natural deodorants use antibacterial agents like Triclosan to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Do yourself a favour and read up on dangers of triclosan. Our natural deodorant is made using Potassium Alum, a naturally occurring salt. The molecules of Potassium Alum work differently by adjusting the pH in the skin’s surface, making the environment in your pits too salty for the skin bacteria to thrive.