The way you present yourself to the world is important. You brush your teeth every morning, both to preserve your dental health and to prevent bad breath and unsightly food residue. If you wear makeup, it may help you feel more confident. Other personal hygiene practices like showering can work both to keep your body clean and to help you feel more comfortable that you aren’t exhibiting an off-putting body odor. Whether you spend significant time getting ready each day or have a few simple steps in your routine, presenting the best version of yourself can also help you feel better.
While presenting your best self through consistent personal hygiene is important for your self-esteem, protecting your body and your health is even more important because it can help you avoid getting sick. In addition to hygiene, this may involve eating a balanced diet so you get the nutrients your body needs or moving your body to obtain the many benefits of a personal exercise routine. These things are all important for your overall wellness, but it’s crucial to consider the way the products you use during your personal hygiene routines can impact your health.
One of the most common personal hygiene products you use may be one of the most concerning. Learn more about how antiperspirants could be affecting your health and why you should rethink their use.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Antiperspirant and deodorant products are probably a key part of your routine because you want to smell good and avoid embarrassing sweat stains. While smelling good can help you feel less self-conscious when you’re around others, the societal expectation of using these products regularly can keep people from looking into how they actually work.
In fact, although it is easy to assume that because antiperspirant and deodorant products are so widely used and seem to work well, they come with no worrisome side effects. This is not always the case, but understanding how products like deodorant and antiperspirant work can help you make healthy and informed decisions about what you put on your body.
The product you use under your arms every day is likely an antiperspirant deodorant, whether you prefer the familiarity of a deodorant stick or the ease of aerosol. While they may be together in a single product, antiperspirants and deodorants serve two different purposes. Alcohol is the most common base of a deodorant-only product because the alcohol will cause your skin to be more acidic in nature.
Bacteria cannot grow as well in acidic conditions, so the bacteria that cause odor by breaking down an enzyme in our sweat will not be present, and you will have less body odor. Scented oils like sandalwood, lavender, and coconut are also often added to deodorant as a way to cover any existing scents.
Antiperspirant products are designed to prevent the body from sweating. For some people, the extra moisture on the skin excess sweat can create, especially under your arms, can be uncomfortable. For this reason, many deodorant products also contain antiperspirant ingredients. While the key ingredient in deodorant is alcohol, ingredients like aluminum are used to create antiperspirants because they create a barrier on top of the pores on your skin to prevent sweat from reaching the surface. Unfortunately, while avoiding sweat stains and sweat odors is ideal, it can also create problems because sweating is a necessary function of your body.
You Need to Sweat
It can be easy to overlook the importance of allowing your body to sweat. The production of sweat plays a key role in your skin health, for example. It is also an important component of your overall wellness because sweating is a primary way your body completes detoxification.
For example, according to the Journal of Environmental Public Health, dangerous chemicals like lead and arsenic pose no biological purpose and can build up in the body over time. Children exposed to these chemicals may experience a lower IQ or problems with behavior, while adults can experience cognitive impairment, memory issues, or neuronal damage.
The process of sweating is a natural way to purge those chemicals because they are held in your sweat molecules and leave your system when they reach your skin. In fact, sweat contains a significantly higher concentration of toxins than urine, the other primary way the body detoxifies itself.1
Sweating for detoxification is also beneficial for other systems in your body, like your skin and kidneys. For women who exercise and sweat regularly, the body releases extra calcium and salt it is retaining, which can reduce the risk of kidney stones and impart more calcium into the bones.2 If you are looking for a way to keep your face clear of acne, sweating is an effective way to accomplish that goal because it prevents breakouts by opening your pores and clearing out toxins.
Despite the benefits of allowing your body to sweat, there is still a social stigma surrounding body sweat. Some people may fear they look unkempt or unhygienic if they sweat too much, while others may be self-conscious about body odor. Still, before you reach for an antiperspirant to put a halt to your sweating, it’s critical to consider the common ingredients in antiperspirants and how they may be impacting your health.
Effects of Antiperspirant
When you put on your antiperspirant as you are getting ready for the day, chances are, you are slathering your underarms with known chemical toxins. In some cases, introducing these chemicals into your system can cause a mild reaction like a rash or bumps under your arms. While annoying, these are usually not too serious and can be treated with a rash cream or by making sure you keep your armpits clean. However, other effects can be much more serious.
If your antiperspirant includes ethyl- and methyl-parabens, which are used as a preservative to help the product last longer, they could put you at risk of organ toxicity. Parabens are included because they combat bacterial and fungal growth on your deodorant and antiperspirant stick. However, they can also disrupt protein function, affect cell membranes, cause oxidative damage to your cells, affect absorption and adsorption, and can affect neurotransmitters in your body.3
Even the pleasant scent of your deodorant or antiperspirant product could present problems, particularly if it is a synthetic fragrance. These additives can be used to mask other chemicals, such as phthalates, which can cause birth defects or infertility issues in high concentrations. Other common antiperspirant ingredients, like the pesticide triclosan and propylene glycol (found in antifreeze), can lead to heart arrhythmia or irritation to your skin, especially since these are common toxins found in the water supply as well as in personal hygiene products.4
Aluminum, which is present in nearly every major antiperspirant brand, blocks the pores that produce sweat and can lead to a buildup of toxins in your body since your body cannot detoxify itself. Aluminum can also be a toxin itself if you are exposed to high levels of the metal. In some cases, excess levels of aluminum can impact your bones, increase your risk of dementia, and may even increase your risk of breast and other cancers.
If you have kidney disease or reduced kidney function, a build-up of aluminum in your system can be even more dangerous because the kidneys act as a filter in your body to get rid of toxins. When your kidneys are not functioning at their full capacity, toxins can build up in your body to an even greater extent.5
The dangers of exposure to potentially toxic ingredients, including problems conceiving and issues with your thyroid, could make you reconsider using antiperspirants. Being aware of how antiperspirants can impact your health can ensure you make informed decisions about the products you use.
Benefits of Not Using Antiperspirants
Many people wanting to protect their bodies so they can live long and healthy lives are considering getting rid of products that deposit chemicals into the system. This includes antiperspirants. If the societal expectation of reducing sweat and odor is keeping you from taking the plunge, here are four reasons to get rid of your antiperspirant and take a more natural approach.
You’ll Allow Your Body to Detox
You do everything you can to avoid harmful toxins, from using a glass water bottle to avoid BPA and phthalates to eating organic produce from the farmer’s market to avoid pesticides, but you cannot avoid them all. Lead may be in the water supply of your home or restaurants you frequent. The fish you eat, like sushi or salmon, could lead to high levels of mercury in your body.
When you choose not to use an antiperspirant, you are removing one source of toxins, most notably aluminum, from your system. In addition, when the sweat pores in your body are no longer blocked, allowing you to sweat regularly, your body can perform its most effective method of natural detoxification. Many of the chemicals that build up in your system will be removed from your body naturally through your sweat.
You Could Reduce Your Risk of Health Concerns
Kidney stones are created when minerals that naturally occur, like calcium and salt, build up in your body because they are not removed in your sweat. These materials are transported to the kidneys, where they are filtered out in your urine. When your sweat pores are blocked by antiperspirant, calcium can build up in your kidneys and form stones, which are extremely painful and can cause severe back pain and vomiting.
In addition to the other health concerns presented by the ingredients in antiperspirants, high levels of aluminum may increase your cancer risk. In particular, since breast tissue is so close to the underarm area, your risk for breast cancer may be impacted by antiperspirant use. While this is still under close research, environmental toxins like aluminum frequently increase cancer risk, so researchers caution people to avoid antiperspirants containing aluminum.6
You’ll Keep Cool
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it is crucial that it works effectively to protect you. Avoiding the chemicals in antiperspirants can be beneficial because sweating helps you keep your temperature regulated. When your body is allowed to sweat naturally, the sweat will gather on your skin and then evaporate in the heat, cooling the body. Whether you are outside on a hot day or engaging in exercise, sweat can help you from overheating so that you do not get dizzy or faint. The sweat gathering and evaporating on your skin can also help you avoid painful or itchy rashes from overheating.
You May Have Clearer Skin
When you are getting ready to leave the house, the last thing you want to experience is acne or other skin inflammation. Since antiperspirants block your pores and keep your body from creating sweat, you risk increasing the bacteria, dirt, and toxins that can lead to acne. When you stop using antiperspirants, your body’s natural sweat cycles will be renewed, which will open up your pores and get rid of the impurities that may cause acne.
Alternatives to Antiperspirant
When it is time to get rid of your antiperspirant, there are several alternatives that you can try. Fortunately, ditching antiperspirant doesn’t need to mean resigning yourself to the smell of stale sweat. In fact, the aluminum and parabens are likely causing you more trouble than the benefits are worth, and you will likely find that a natural deodorant product will be more effective for preventing body odor.
There are several types of deodorant products that do not use chemical antiperspirants:
Deodorant products made from mineral salts, like Crystal’s line of sprays, sticks, roll-ons, and stones, create a thin, salty film that kills bacteria and the odors they create. These deodorants smell great and are effective without aluminum, parabens, or other toxins.
Essential oil sticks and sprays, including Erbaviva and JK Naturals, often contain alcohol to help fight bacteria and improve your scent.
Activated charcoal deodorants can help absorb sweat as well as eliminate bacteria and other toxins you excrete, eliminating odors, as well.
Other deodorant products include natural ingredients like baking soda, cornstarch, shea butter, coconut butter, beeswax, arrowroot powder, and more to absorb moisture. They often contain essential oils for a fresh scent, and products like Native are often vegan, cruelty-free, and plastic-free.
Learn More From Holistic Detoxification
If you have been fighting sweat stains and body odors for most of your life, it can seem like an impossible task to stop using an antiperspirant. In reality, an antiperspirant only blocks sweat from developing, and it does not address the bacteria that causes body odor. In fact, higher concentrations of chemicals or bacteria that are created when your body does not detox through sweat could make your body odor worse.
Switching to a natural deodorant product can treat the cause of body odor while also allowing your body’s natural sweat production to continue. This helps to balance out the chemicals and toxins in your system so, over time, the amount that you sweat may be reduced naturally.
Addressing the personal hygiene products you use is a critical way to reduce the toxins allowed to build up in your body. Still, there are many other sources of environmental toxins, and remaining vigilant about your exposure is key to maintaining overall health and wellness. Learn more about holistic detoxification.
1. Sears, M. E., Kerr, K. J., & Bray, R. I. (2012). Arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in sweat: a systematic review. Journal of environmental and public health, 2012, 184745. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/184745
2. Wallace, R. B., Wactawski-Wende, J., O’Sullivan, M. J., Larson, J. C., Cochrane, B., Gass, M., & Masaki, K. (2011). Urinary tract stone occurrence in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) randomized clinical trial of calcium and vitamin D supplements. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 94(1), 270–277. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.110.003350
3. Bolujoko, N. B., Unuabonah, E. I., Alfred, M. O., Ogunlaja, A., Ogunlaja, O. O., Omorogie, M. O., & Olukanni, O. D. (2021). Toxicity and removal of parabens from water: A critical review. Science of The Total Environment, 792, 148092. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.148092
4. Rozaini, M. N. H., Kiatkittipong, W., Saad, B., Yahaya, N., Shaharun, M. S., Sangu, S. S., Mohamed Saheed, M. S., Wong, Y. F., Mohamad, M., Sambudi, N. S., & Lim, J. W. (2021). Green adsorption–desorption of mixed triclosan, triclocarban, 2-phenylphenol, bisphenol A and 4-tert-octylphenol using MXene encapsulated polypropylene membrane protected micro-solid-phase extraction device in amplifying the HPLC analysis. Microchemical Journal, 170, 106695. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.microc.2021.106695
6. Moussaron, A., Alexandre, J., Chenard, M., Mathelin, C., & Reix, N. (2023). Correlation between daily life aluminum exposure and breast cancer risk: A systematic review. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, 79, 127247. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtemb.2023.127247
This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.
Dr. Samuel Lee
Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente. He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
Lyle Murphy is the founder of the Alternative to Meds Center, a licensed residential program that helps people overcome dependence on psychiatric medication and addiction issues using holistic and psychotherapeutic methods.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.
Contact Us Today!
Fill out the form below to connect with us today!
We Accept Most PPO Insurance Plans for Partial Coverage of Fees