Welcome to DECODED, a series to help you make sense of what’s actually in your beauty products.
As a veteran product developer from the beauty industry, I understand the harmful ingredients that are formulated in many products, and while they may work, there are effective natural alternatives. This week we are decoding a controversial ingredient used in antiperspirant
WHAT IS ALUMINUM CHLORIDE?
Aluminum is a metal that most of us come in contact with on a daily basis. It is a naturally occurring element from the earth and is used in the manufacturing of cars, paint, propellant, fuel additives, over the counter medications (like antacids), soda cans and aluminum foil. YES, it is also the same one used it in antiperspirants — a consumer product that is applied 360 days a year.
TYPES OF ALUMINUM YOU WILL FIND IN CONVENTIONAL ANTIPERSPIRANTS
- Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY (found in solid antiperspirant formulation)
- Aluminum Chlorohydrates (found in roll-on and aerosol antiperspirant formulations)
- Aluminum Chloride (found in roll-on and aerosol antiperspirant formulations)
Aluminum used in antiperspirants block your sweat glands to prevent you from sweating. While this may sound like a good thing, sweating is the body’s natural way to expel toxins on a daily basis. Thankfully, there are aluminum-free alternatives that you can turn to.
SO WHAT REALLY HAPPENS?
When applied to the underarms, aluminum migrates into your sweat glands, causing an obstruction in the sweat gland so sweat can’t reach the surface of your skin. This is what keeps your underarms dry. Unfortunately, it can also migrate into your bloodstream, as confirmed by blood tests.
You wouldn’t knowingly ingest a spoonful of toxic cosmetic ingredients, yet so many people are fine with applying them to their skin every single day. In some ways, smearing toxins under your arms in the form of deodorant or antiperspirant may be worse than if you were to eat it.
“When you eat something, it’s broken down by your liver and digestive system,” says Heather Patisaul, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at North Carolina State University. “But when you put something on your skin, there are times when it can enter your bloodstream without being metabolized.
Patisaul studies endocrine disruptors — both suspected, as well as known chemicals — that may disrupt your body’s reproductive and developmental hormones. She says rubbing something on your skin doesn’t mean all—or even any—of it will make its way into your bloodstream; it depends on the chemical. Blood tests have the ability to show that many of the substances commonly included in deodorant products can, in fact, worm their way past the epidermis and into the body.
WHY IS ALUMINUM IN ANTIPERSPIRANT SO CONTROVERSIAL?
The topic of aluminum in cosmetic products is a controversial one. While there is no hard evidence that aluminum causes breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, there are studies that have shown possible links. In my opinion, why run the risk? It is always better to practice PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE.
Keep in mind, the underarm area houses fatty tissue that can be susceptible to storing substances — especially if you shave and apply antiperspirant chemicals on the broken skin. The scientific community still does not support the possibility that antiperspirants are a possible danger to your health (that is why they are still on the shelves). It is up to you as a consumer to make the decision if this is a risk to your health.
-Mary, founder of kaia naturals