Proponents of all-natural deodorant have long been making a pretty big stink (pun intended) about the potential health risks associated with conventional deodorants and antiperspirants. Should you do the same?
The short answer: To be on the safe side, yes. When it comes to underarm protection, aluminum has gotten a particularly bad rap. That’s because this synthetic ingredient in antiperspirants mimics true estrogen and leads to excessive amounts of the hormone. Because estrogen has been linked with the growth of cancer cells, some scientists say applying a product containing aluminum near the breast area is just too close for comfort.
Experts also point the finger at parabens, the preservatives used in many deodorants and antiperspirants (as well as other essentials in your beauty cabinet) to prevent bacterial growth and extend shelf life. Similar to aluminum, parabens are considered endocrine disruptors that can drastically throw off hormonal balances in the body.
While there is yet to be a conclusive link between these ingredients and breast cancer, studies have increasingly shown traces of aluminum and parabens in the outer region of breast tissue in cancer patients. It’s not proof, but it’s enough to make experts and consumers sweat—and do something about it.
Take for instance, Amy Cazin, CEO and founder of Primal Pit Paste. When her then-12-year-old daughter came home from school a little stinky, Cazin knew it was time for her to start using deodorant—but she didn't want her to use the potentially toxic kind. Instead, Cazin felt compelled to create an effective, all-natural deodorant. “I was concerned and wanted to be safe—not sorry,” she says.
After tons of research, Cazin concluded that aluminum, in particular, does more potential harm than good. Not only is it an endocrine disputer, she explains, but it's also a hindrance to your system's natural detoxification process.
"It clogs up your glands,” Cazin says, “which prevents your body from sweating out toxins as it’s meant to do.” Clogged glands not only stop detoxification, but also trigger an increased effort by sweat glands, which actually causes you to perspire more. That’s right: The very ingredient used to prevent sweat may actually be causing it in the first place!
Hence the efficacy of aluminum-free deodorants, like Primal Pit Paste. “Thousands of customers have noticed that they sweat less when they’re off aluminum,” says Cazin. “Even those who had hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating!" Instead of aluminum, Cazin's products get their odor- and wetness-fighting power from baking soda and organic arrowroot powder (as well as a blend of heavenly-scented essential oils, coconut oil, and shea butter to boot). And it really works!
For the naysayers out there, Cazin recommends giving all-natural Primal Pit Paste deodorant a go for 30 days. “Get past the first month of no aluminum, and you'll notice the difference,” she promises.
Want to try it for yourself? Below are a few “pit tips” for the most effective protection:>
- Start with the lightest strength (meaning the Regular), so that you acclimate to the pH of the baking soda. Once you see how your body responds, you can upgrade to a stronger strength.
- Apply in the morning. Cazin recommends shaving at night, letting the skin breathe overnight, and then putting it on when you wake up.
- If using the paste version (versus the stick), apply a pea-size amount or less in the middle of your arm pit and massage in with fingers.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho