Body odour is natural but no one wants to smell like a fish market! It’s not just embarrassing but goes on to say a lot about your overall health. As a result, we resort to quick solutions with deodorants being the most common and easy one because showering isn’t practical every time we need to freshen up.
However, the doubt remains: are deodorants and antiperspirants gentle on the skin or do they pose any threat to skin health? To simplify it, when buying deodorants and antiperspirants, you must pay attention to the ingredient label, especially the one that mentions aluminium. You might have seen product labels claiming it to be ‘aluminium-free’ or ‘natural deodorant.’ Even some of the most popular brands have aluminium-free product ranges, making deodorant shopping a bit overwhelming with so many options. But why aluminium-free? Is it something to worry about? We found out all you need to know about aluminium in your deodorant, so you can make the right choice.
Deodorant Vs Antiperspirants
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We tend to use the word deodorant for anything we use to smell good, but there is a difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. “Deodorant is designed to avoid body odour, while antiperspirant is meant to reduce the amount of sweat or perspiration,” says Dr Chytra Anand, celebrity cosmetic dermatologist, founder of Kosmoderma clinics & SkinQ. Antiperspirants contain aluminium salts that help plug the pores, so you don’t sweat as much. “Deodorants are considered cosmetic, but antiperspirants are considered drugs,” adds Dr Chytra. Some deodorants do not contain aluminium and don’t stop you from sweating. “They only reduce body odour by using fragrance or antibacterial compounds,” explains Dr. Poorva Shah (MBBS, MD Skin), Consultant Medical & Aesthetic Dermatologist. The confusing part is that many products are combinations like deodorant and an antiperspirant rolled into one. So if you want to know whether there is aluminium in the product, take a look at the ingredient list and keep an eye out for aluminium chlorohydrate or aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly.
What Are The Concerns Around Aluminium?
During the 1960s, aluminium was identified as a possible suspect in Alzheimer’s – the most common type of dementia This made people concerned about exposure to aluminium through daily use items such that included antiperspirants. The issue got escalated in 1985 when researchers found that Alzheimer’s patients had high levels of aluminium in their brains in a new study. Additionally, there were also concerns about the risk of breast cancer. This primarily had to do with the proximity of the underarms to the breasts. Few studies showed that many breast cancers develop in the upper outer part of the breast because that is closest to the underarms, where antiperspirants are applied. It gets absorbed by the skin or can enter through cuts like razor cuts and scratches. The logic that was given was that aluminium gets into the lymph nodes that reach the breasts. “There is currently no hard scientific evidence to establish an association or a link between both antiperspirants/deodorants and Alzheimer’s and breast cancer,” says Dr Poorva.
How To Choose The Right Deodorant Or Antiperspirant?
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Based on the evidence available in the beauty world, using deodorants or antiperspirants with aluminium as an ingredient might not be an issue. However, there could be allergy concerns for a few people. “When purchasing a new product, it is safest to conduct a small patch test on the skin of your forearm and wait for 24 hours. If there’s no redness or irritation, you’re most likely not going to react to it on your underarms,” says Dr Poorva. Choosing a product based on your concern is the right way to go. Dr Chytra adds, “If body odour is the problem area, then using a deodorant is sufficient, but if excessive sweating and sweat stains are a concern, then using a stronger antiperspirant is recommended”. Ingredients like coconut oil and alcohol help stop bacteria from growing.