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Antiperspirants & Deodorants

Q: I know from reading some of your articles and other information that it is important to avoid using products that contain aluminum. All of the antiperspirants that I have looked at contain aluminum. Do you have any recommendations of what to use?

 A: Yes, but first I want to clarify something. An antiperspirant is a product that has the purpose of  stopping sweating as well as odor. A deodorant does not have ingredients to stop sweating, but is formulated to stop odor.

Every product that I know that stops sweating contains some form of aluminum. In most traditional antiperspirant products this is listed on the label as aluminum chlorhydrate. In the last few years there have been armpit products that are named “crystal” or “rock” or “liquid crystal.” I have tested at least 10 - 12 different types of these products and every one tested positive for containing aluminum. There were no exceptions. Some of these products overtly said on the label, “contains no aluminum chlorhydrate.” That doesn’t mean that they don’t contain some other form of aluminum! Some of the ingredients list alum, which if you look in a dictionary is a combination of aluminum and other elements. That is why these so called “natural” products work so well - they contain aluminum!

Many of the people who I encourage to switch to deodorant are concerned about a problem with sweating. The funny thing is for almost all of them, they find that their armpits don’t really sweat any more. My thought is that after years of using the products containing aluminum the sweat glands get wiped out or go into apathy and don’t work anymore.

The problem we’re left with then is to find a product that is successful in stopping armpit odor. There are many products developed to do this – sprays, roll-ons, creams and powders. Some of these are unscented and others smell strongly of the oils and fragrances they contain. When I realized the need to stop using antiperspirants, I discovered that many of the 12 – 15 deodorants I tried weren’t very successful in stopping odor. I spent some days smelling of B.O. and other days wafting scents of cloves or honeysuckle from my armpits. Neither was workable for me or the people with whom I spend my days.

There are two deodorants which I personally know are successful in preventing odor for a high percentage of people. One is called Alvera. This is a roll-on that is applied daily and is available at my office and through some other health food stores. The other product is a zinc oxide cream called Lavilin. Locally, it can be purchased at Nature’s Food Patch. This cream has an unusual characteristic of not needing to be applied daily. It is best to apply after a shower before bedtime, and may not need to be reapplied for 3 – 14 days.

The trick is in knowing when, in order to prevent a major armpit disaster. Other zinc oxide creams that can be used (and I believe are less expensive) are Weleda’s Diaper-Care or Desitin. If you can ignore the names, the ingredients are similar to Lavilin. They do, however, have a bit more fragrance than Lavilin.

One tip that I have found that helps is to thoroughly scrub the armpits with either a natural bristle brush or a nylon scrubby thing and rinse them very well. This really helps to cut down on the odor-causing bacteria.

Another suggestion is to apply silver water (colloidal silver) to the armpits after showering. As one of silver water’s properties is antibacterial and armpit odor is caused by bacteria, this made sense to me. Since we have silver water in our home “medicine” chest I tried it. I used the silver water alone, dabbing it on with a cotton ball. By the end of the day I could still easily function in close proximity with people without a problem, but if I did an armpit sniff test there was a slight odor. Another possibity is to allow the silver water to dry, and then apply the Alvera.

If any of your clothing get “pitted out,” try soaking the item in a vinegar and water solution before washing (if it is a material that can tolerate this). This can make a big difference.

If anyone else has successfully and naturally resolved the armpit odor problem, I’d sincerely love to hear about it. I am always on the lookout for products that work and ideally have little to no fragrance as well as no propylene glycol. The more options that are available to people, the more likely they are to find something successful for themselves and make this healthy lifestyle change.

Although it may take some trial and error, the health benefits from eliminating this common source of aluminum are well worth the trouble and expense of trying something different.