As we were chatting over the weekend with one of our “non-vegan” friends, the topic of antiperspirants and deodorants came up (yes, we are close friends who talk about everything!). She mentioned reading an article regarding the toxicity of the main active ingredient in antiperspirants – aluminium. And for this reason, she was looking for a natural, vegan friendly alternative. As an expecting mum, it was a cause of concern for her and her soon-to-be new addition to her family.
It wasn’t the first time we had heard of this, and we always believe that natural ingredients are better for your body and the environment, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to take the time to look into this issue further. Are antiperspirants actually toxic for our body? Is there any truth behind the links between aluminium and diseases such as Alzheimers and cancer? If it is concerning new mums, is it something we should be looking into regardless of whether we are expecting or not?
After a hard workout it’s understanding we’ll be reaching for our trusty antiperspirant or deodorant – no one wants to smell terrible! But should we be looking at alternatives that help with the smell without the added bonus of chemicals?
Antiperspirants and Deodarants
These are two human inventions to help combat body odours and smells.
Deodorants work by containing ingredients which help to break down and kill the bacteria which causes the odours. Antiperspirants work by containing ingredients, usually aluminium salts, to prevent sweating by disturbing the natural actions of sweat glands. Both deodorants and antiperspirants have been around for years, with the first deodorant trademarked in 1888 and the first antiperspirant followed shortly after.
Aluminium is used as the main active ingredient in many antiperspirants as it has properties which reduce sweating. As it reacts with water and skin, the substance swells and closes up the sweat glands therefore reducing the amount of sweat released. Additionally, it also helps with absorbing the sweat if any get through.
Link Between Aluminium and Disease
There have been many mentioned links between the use of aluminium and a number of diseases such as breast cancer, kidney disease and Alzheimers. People have believed that due to the nature of antiperspirants and how they work, i.e. disrupting the natural functionality of sweat glands, that eventually it would result in a build up of toxins within the body.
As with all controversial topics, there are good arguments to both sides of the debate. Some research has shown that these links are entirely fictional and have no scientific basis at all, whereas other research has shown the strength of these links to diseases.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Which side are you on? Do you believe that antiperspirants that contain aluminium are toxic and that people around the world are applying poison to their skin everyday? Or do you have a favourite natural, aluminium-free deodorant?
Featured image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net