Many people following a healthy lifestyle look to avoid aluminum in their deodorant/antiperspirant , and therefore  use a  crystal stick (solid) deodorant instead believing this is aluminum free and a safer choice for their health.

While many crystal products claim to be aluminum-free, they are referring to aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum chloride, aluminum hydroxybromide or aluminum zirconium.  These types of aluminum are the ones widely used in antiperspirants and deodorants. The aluminum is taken into sweat ducts in the top layer of your skin where they act as a plug, stopping the flow of sweat to your skin’s surface.

Scientific Evidence:

A potential link between aluminum  and breast cancer was found in the study by Chris Exley, at Keele University. (Keele University (2007, September 2). Aluminum In Breast Tissue: A Possible Factor In The Cause Of Breast Cancer. ScienceDaily)

However, for balance I must state that there are conflicting scientific studies.

Crystal stick (solid) deodorant:

The aluminum in crystal deodorant sticks is a different type of compound known as an alum, the most common form being potassium alum, also known as potassium aluminum sulfate.   Potassium Alum is the liquid portion and Ammonium Alum is the solids, these are mineral salts made up of molecules that are reportedly too large to be absorbed by your skin. They form a protective layer on your skin that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria.   While these salts do occur in nature the manufacturers generally use “nature identical” salts, ie man-made ones.

A 2007 Daily Mail article has Dr Exley suggesting caution with natural deodorants:

Although these are sold as deodorants rather than anti-perspirants – the ammonium alum is supposed to control the growth of bacteria rather than block the pores – “aluminium found in breast tissue is as likely to come from these aluminium-based natural products as it is from conventional anti-perspirants.”

The article also contains some tips provided by Dr Phillipa Darbe, the scientist responsible for the first real study into the link between parabens and breast cancer, and has a shopper’s guide to deodorants, so it’s well worth the read.

In summary:

(1) crystal stick deodorants/antiperspirants are not actually “aluminum free” as claimed.

(2) while the manufacturers argue that larger molecule size equals a safer product – Dr Exley believes there is still risk of aluminum absorption from crystal stick products.

(3) It is the false representation that annoys me.  If the companies who manufactured crystal stick products explained that they are using aluminum but in a different form to conventional products and in a different molecular size – ie informed the consumer – then I would feel far more comfortable about the situation.  But as it stands, it’s all a little bit too greenwashy for my liking.

Volunteers Required:

If you are left thinking, “now what do I use for a deodorant!”, please don’t despair.  I have been working on a certified organic deodorant formulation for the last 12 months (based on countless requests from our customers!), and I am happy to announce that we are now in trial phase and looking for some product testers.

If you would like to be part of our trial, please email UPDATE: trial is now closed.

And don’t worry successful applicants will be provided with a list of ingredients and an explanation of how the product works, for that is your right as a consumer.  Definitely no aluminum of any kind or size!

All I ask in return is that you test the product for me (simply by using it daily) and complete a survey via email giving me your feedback and results based on your personal use.  I am collecting names now, trial should commence in about 4 weeks.  Limited to Australian and New Zealand residents only.

Thanks very much.

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1 Comment on Aluminum & deodorants/antiperspirants

  1. Melanie Kuziemko says:

    Wow such good info, I tried the crystal stick and was so unimpressed, even more so now that I know it is not what it claims to be. Very disappointing 🙁 It has really bruised my opinion of natural deodorants, will have to be encouraged to try again I guess, but I think I have reservations because I don’t know what to expect and don’t want another bad experience!