When I made the switch to organic living years ago, my (mostly toxic) personal care products were the last thing to go. Once I figured out what toxic industrial chemicals in food were doing to my body – I knew I had to get rid of them from every part of my life. I think this progression is how most people figure out how to detox their life too. First I cleaned out my fridge and pantry, then it was figuring out a natural way to clean my house, and then I went on to look at what I was putting on my body. The very first personal care product I switched out was what I rubbed under my underarms every day – right where some of my lymph nodes are, glands that plays a huge roll in the immune system.
The reason I started there was because as soon as I flipped my “Secret” anti-perspirant over to read the ingredients I noticed it had contained “Aluminum zirconium.” Right then, a memory I had when I was a child smacked me in the face. There was this neighbor of mine growing up who always had sweaty armpits. I mean her pits were so wet, that you could see it through her clothes ALL THE TIME. I didn’t quite understand why she had such sweaty armpits and others I knew did not. Because I was young and crazy inquisitive, while playing in the yard one day, I just straight up asked her- why do you sweat so much? She told me that she didn’t like using aluminum under her armpits. This information at the time totally didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t know what aluminum was or why I should care but I realized right then, she wasn’t wearing the anti-perspirants my brother or my parents were wearing for an obviously good reason. A good enough reason that she wasn’t concerned about the public embarrassment of sweaty pits.
Well, after my memory flashback, I researched the ingredient Aluminum, and found out it is linked to all sorts of diseases, including 2 that I sadly personally have witnessed in close friends and family members – Breast Cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. The link of aluminum to these diseases is hotly debated, some studies find a low risk factor (probably those funded by the chemical companies) and some find horrible results, like those studies that find aluminum accumulating in breast tissue or breaking the blood brain barrier leading to Alzheimer’s.
The reason chemical companies put aluminum in anti-perspirants is to “dry out sweat by injecting aluminum ions in the cells that line the sweat ducts. When the aluminum ions are drawn into the cells, water flows in; the cells begin to swell, squeezing the ducts closed so sweat cannot get out,” according to the Julie Gabriel, The Green Beauty Guide. I don’t know about you but this reaction is really unnatural. Preventing sweat from exiting my body doesn’t seem like a good idea, considering humans sweat for a reason. Sweating actually has a lot of benefits – clearer skin, lowers body temperature and fights off sickness – so why would I want to prevent my body doing what it needs to do to stay healthy?
Just to give you a sense of how much aluminum is used in typical products – the FDA requires that all anti-perspirants decrease the average person’s sweat by 20 percent – so manufacturers usually use anywhere between a 10-25 percent concentration of aluminum in products. That is just crazy, isn’t it? Especially for an ingredient that is a potent neurotoxin.
So this is the ingredient that caused me to make the switch and should hopefully get you too (if you already haven’t) to run out and buy deodorant without Aluminum. (FYI – Some of the most toxic brands according to the Environmental Working Group include English Leather, Mitchum, Suave, Secret, Gillette, Right Guard, Soft & Dry, Tussy)
Let’s be honest though, knowing which personal care products to choose without toxins is tough and getting access can be even tougher. You can’t exactly just pop into an everyday drug store and always find a safe brand without aluminum and other harmful chemicals.
Here’s my opinion on deodorants I’ve personally tried –
1. Vermont Soap Organics ($13) – This “sage lime” scented stuff is awesome. One of my personal favorites and the scent is neutral enough for all genders.
2. Naturally Fresh ($6) – This one works the best to keep me actually dry out of all the ones I tried, and other family members agree!
3. Primal Pit Paste ($11) – It works great for some people like my husband, but didn’t work for me because it made my underarms red – which wasn’t pretty! Many people love it, but it’s hit or miss.
4. Nourish ($5- $8) – They have the best scents, but you need to re-apply! The Almond Vanilla and Lavender Mint smell so good!
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