Nowadays, it seems everyone is opting for clean routines, whether that’s reaching for sulfate-free hair care alternatives or switching to paraben-free skin care products. The latest on our clean beauty radars? Natural deodorant! Lately, it seems the only thing we’ve been coming across on our social media feeds is our favorite beauty influencers talking about their love for all-natural, aluminum-free deodorant. Wondering what all the hype is about? Rather than scouring Google to answer questions like, “Is natural deodorant better?” and “Does deodorant without aluminum really work?” we’ve done the hard work for you. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about natural deodorant, what the deal is with aluminum in deodorant, and everything in-between!
WHAT IS NATURAL DEODORANT?
Natural deodorant, as you can probably guess, is deodorant formulated without the use of chemicals or aluminum. Antiperspirants, the traditional form of deodorant you likely have in your bathroom cabinet as you’re reading this, are usually formulated with aluminum-based compounds, according to the National Cancer Institute, which work to temporarily “plug” the sweat duct, stopping the flow of sweat to the skin's surface. Natural deodorant is formulated with natural ingredients, such as herbal extracts, that possess antibacterial effects against staphylococci and aerobic coryneforms. Per the National Center of Biotechnological Information (NCBI), these are two types of bacteria that result in armpit odor.
IS ALUMINUM DANGEROUS IN DEODORANT?
Let’s cut to the chase—chances are you’ve read somewhere that aluminum in deodorant is unsafe and can increase the risk of breast cancer. However, there is no reason to believe this is true. According to the National Cancer Institute, this theory came about because some research suggests aluminum-containing underarm antiperspirants can have estrogen-like effects, which was thought to contribute to the development of breast cancer. In actuality though, the National Cancer Institute states that no studies to-date have confirmed any significant negative effects of aluminum contributing to increased breast cancer risks. Now that we have that myth out of the way…
CAN YOU USE ALUMINUM DEODORANT IF YOU SHAVE YOUR UNDERARMS?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, it is a common worry that there is a potential link between using aluminum-based deodorants and a higher risk of breast cancer if you shave your underarms due to the potential for more aluminum to be absorbed by your bare skin. However, the Cleveland Clinic states that a study with more than 1,600 participants found no link between breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, deodorant use, or shaving the underarms.
DOES NATURAL DEODORANT REALLY WORK?
We bet you’re wondering if natural deodorant is actually effective. Like we mentioned earlier, formulas containing ingredients that have antibacterial effects against staphylococci and aerobic coryneforms, like sage extract, have the ability to reduce armpit odor. That being said, the study goes on to say that there are few clinical trials on natural deodorants to support their efficacy. It’s also important to keep in mind that some people report it taking time for natural deodorants to start working, but there hasn’t been research done on the matter as of yet.
IS NATURAL DEODORANT SAFE?
Yes! All deodorants, natural or otherwise, are considered cosmetics and regulated by the FDA. Additionally, antiperspirants (including deodorants that are also antiperspirants) are drugs that must be FDA-approved.
IS NATURAL DEODORANT BETTER?
So, which is better: natural deodorant or its aluminum-based alternative? When it comes down to it, it’s all about personal preference. With the right formula, both natural deodorants and aluminum-based deodorants can be effective in keeping that unwanted B.O. at bay. However, if you still have concerns about aluminum in deodorant, the Mayo Clinic advises choosing products that don't contain chemicals that worry you.
Phew! That’s a lot of info. Now that we’ve busted some of the myths regarding aluminum in deodorant and spilled the details on natural deodorants and their effectiveness, perhaps you’ll find yourself hopping on the bandwagon to participate in this clean beauty trend. In the meantime, consider cleaning up another area of your routine. Here’s How to Make Your Beauty Routine More Sustainable.