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Antiperspirants: Why Should They Be Avoided?

Posted Sep 09 2010 4:23pm

I’m not going to dance around the subject — people stink. I stink. Exercise, stress, heat; whatever the cause, we all sweat on a daily basis, which means that  most  of us use deodorant or antiperspirant every day of our post-adolescent life. So what’s the deal with antiperspirant? Is antiperspirant safe?

Understanding Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant

Most of us use one of two types of products to fight the effects of sweat and its subsequent odor. The first is  deodorant  — classified as a cosmetic by the FDA, it is simply used to mask the smell caused by the bacteria in sweat. The other product is antiperspirant — typically containing the active ingredients  aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly  or  aluminium zirconium trichlorohydrex gly. Through a variety of chemical reactions, the aluminum compounds plug the pores in your underarms (or wherever it’s been applied). Voila! You sweat less…usually. The effectiveness of antiperspirants varies from person to person.

Deodorant gets rid of the smell, antiperspirant gets rid of the sweat. Got it?

So what’s wrong with antiperspirant?

Well, several things. There has been some controversy about whether or not the aluminum compounds in antiperspirants are a cause of Alzheimer’s; some parties say yes, others say  no. No one can say for certain (yet), as research has not yet indicated precisely what causes Alzheimer’s.

This one shocked me:  antiperspirant also causes those all-too-common yellow pit stains on your shirts. Yes, you read that right; the best method of avoiding those yellow stains is to simply stop using antiperspirant (or at least those with aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly  in it, which appears to be most). The chemical reaction between our sweat and this aluminum compound also stiffens the cloth in the armpits of your shirts.

Consider me a new convert to deodorant.

Natural Alternatives

There are several natural (healthier) alternatives to using commercial deodorant or antiperspirant. First, try to  supplement your diet with zinc, which has shown anti-odor properties in its ability to help balance the body’s metabolism. Another makeshift natural deodorant is baking soda, possibly mixed with coconut oil. I haven’t tried this myself, but I intend to (keep an eye out for a review).

In a Nutshell

Deodorant masks odor from sweat, antiperspirant stops sweat. Antiperspirant may or may not cause Alzheimer’s, but most certainly causes yellow armpit stains and stiff armpit cloth.

Action plan:  stop using antiperspirant and switch to a deodorant — preferably a natural one  (see above for details).
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