It's socially acceptable to wear deodorant and antiperspirant daily to counteract the natural scents produced by people who are past puberty. This is so pervasive in our culture that many people wouldn't even consider not applying their daily dose of deodorant.
Unfortunately, there can be some negative health consequences associated with regular antiperspirant use.
Why Do People Sweat and Stink?
Sweating, or the production of fluid by various glands over your body's surface, helps cool you down, keeping your internal body temperature consistent.
Your armpits not only produce sweat in response to increased body temperature, but they also have glands that make fluid when you feel stressed. That sweat, when it sits in the warm, dark atmosphere of your armpits, allows odor-producing bacteria to flourish.
What Do Deodorants and Antiperspirants Do?
Deodorants kill bacteria in your armpits. Antiperspirants kill bacteria and plug your sweat glands to decrease the fluid that makes it out onto your skin.
But, do you want to know something extremely interesting? Studies show that people who use deodorant or antiperspirant develop more diverse bacteria loads in their armpits, including bacteria that produce stronger odors (Boon, 2014).
That's right: using underarm anti-odor products increases odor-producing bacteria loads on your skin.
What Are Some Health Dangers From Antiperspirants and Deodorants?
There are several chemicals with known or suspected health dangers in many deodorant and antiperspirant products. These include:
- Aluminum. More research is needed in this area, but many scientists believe that the aluminum in antiperspirants, used to keep sweat from exiting the body, can be linked to the development of breast cancer.
- Parabens. Estrogen function in the body may be affected if multiple body care products containing parabens are used at once.
- Phthalates. These chemicals help the products they are in stick to the skin. They may interfere with reproductive health in men and women.
- Triclosan. This chemical kills bacteria, and it's used in many products. Research is increasingly showing that triclosan can interfere with hormone activity and gut bacteria health. In fact, the FDA has recently banned triclosan in soaps and hand washes. The ban does not extend to other products like deodorant.
But I Don't Want to Stink: What Can I Do?
Well, firstly, eliminating the use of antiperspirants and deodorants will eventually lead to an overall decrease in your underarm odor. So you could just wait it out.
Keeping your stress levels as low as possible will decrease your underarm sweating and odors, as well.
You can make homemade deodorant with health-friendly ingredients.
- Boon, C. C. (2014, Oct.). Deodorants and antiperspirants affect the axillary bacterial community. Retrieved from Springer Link: DOI: 10.1007/s00403-014-1487-1.