What’s the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant? What should we look out for?
Deodorants kill the bacteria that cause body odor, while antiperspirants block the pores through which sweat passes, thus preventing sweating and maintaining a dry environment in which bacteria cannot thrive.
Most antiperspirants contain aluminum-based compounds, one such compound is Alum, found in crystal antiperspirant/deodorants. Aluminum compounds form aluminum ions (Al3+) in solution. These ions plug your sweat ducts so that you don’t perspire or remove toxins from perspiration.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies and regulates most deodorants as “cosmetics”, but in contrast, it classifies antiperspirants as “over-the-counter drugs”.
Chem Matters 2014, Teachers Guide:
When it comes to natural deodorants there are a multitude of brands and combinations to choose from. Some choose to try the natural crystal antiperspirant/deodorant with the claims to work not only as a natural deodorant but as an antiperspirant as well! Sound too good to be true? You know the saying, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.
Not all natural deodorants are good for you or safe, more specifically the aforementioned crystal variety. These natural crystal deodorants come in stone and spray form and contain the molecule alum, which as you may have guessed from the name, contains aluminum. We know that aluminum has been proven to be very bad for our health being linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and cancer and should be avoided vehemently.
That being said, some companies claim that the alum molecule is to large to be absorbed by our bodies, which may be true, but this statement is completely misleading as the entire molecule does not need to be absorbed into the skin, only the aluminum ion, which obviously is the same size as an aluminum ion from any of the other “non-natural” aluminum compounds in other antiperspirants, which are absorbed by the skin.
According to many scientists, alum in deodorants/antiperspirants is just as bad as all the other “non-organic” or ”non-natural” aluminum compounds that occur in most commercial antiperspirants.
So in my humble opinion it would be a healthier choice to avoid anything proclaiming to be a natural antiperspirant and go for the natural deodorant (alum free of course) instead.