Q. I’ve relied on natural crystal deodorants for years with the understanding that they were safer than the usual antiperspirants. I was under the impression that they were free of aluminum. When I checked the label it said potassium alum. Does that mean aluminum?
A. Yes; potassium alum is hydrated potassium aluminum sulfate. It is used in the purification of drinking water to get particles to precipitate out. Styptic pencils contain alum to stop bleeding from minor cuts. Alum is also used in most crystal deodorants.
The question of aluminum toxicity has been controversial for decades. A review of the evidence in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (March, 2011) concluded: “The hypothesis that Al [aluminum] significantly contributes to AD [Alzheimer’s disease] is built upon very solid experimental evidence and should not be dismissed. Immediate steps should be taken to lessen human exposure to Al, which may be the single most aggravating and avoidable factor related to AD.”
It is possible to use milk of magnesia as a deodorant. Because it does not contain aluminum, there is no concern about an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or cancer. Neither of these dreaded conditions are definitively linked to aluminum-containing antiperspirants, but the links have not been ruled out by rigorous studies either.
Here are some testimonials from visitors to this website:
“I love People’s Pharmacy Milk of Magnesia deodorant! And it doesn’t take much to be effective. I just roll on a small amount and rub it around my armpits with my finger (it rinses off easily), so I never have any “damp feeling” to contend with. Works like a charm, and protects me for at least two days.” M.R.
“Traditional deodorants irritated my underarms, so I switched to crystal deodorant over 10 years ago. Last winter, I developed an irritation in my armpits and tried not using deodorant at all. The irritation went away but now there were other obvious issues.
“I read about milk of magnesia on your website and tried it. It’s wonderful! I bought a bottle at the store and dabbed it on each morning. When I finished the bottle, I ordered the roll-on from People’s Pharmacy and love that. So much easier to get ready in the morning! Thank you for that great product – and for all your helpful information!!” N.R.
“A friend of mine in high school, said her grandmother has NEVER used deodorant. She sprinkles a little baking soda in her hand and applies it to her armpits after her shower. After reading this article, I think I might start doing that. I already use baking soda instead of toothpaste, and in the laundry, also to clean my sinks. Why not?” E.H.C.
“For the person who had recommended milk of magnesia, thank you sooooo much. You’ve saved me from embarrassment.
I never had a problem with sweat and body odor before, but lately I noticed that I sweat a lot and that my underarm smells sour. Deodorant that I usually used, don’t work anymore.
I tried milk of magnesia, and the sour scent was GONE. I’ve been using it for a week now. Thank you. :-)” E.D.L.
“I dealt with underarm odor more and more as I aged. I tried many of the suggestions online and tried different products but what finally worked for me was to wipe my underarms with hydrogen peroxide after showering. That’s it…no more problem. After it dries, I use a bit of body spray by Secret.” Renae
“About a year ago, someone on Facebook said lime juice was a great underarm deodorant. I thought that was crazy, but I tried it because I was alarmed by the breast cancer link with deodorants. and the dementia link.
“So now I know for sure, lime juice works. you just cut open a lime and squeeze and rub the juice under your arms. It has a nice citrusy smell. It’s not at all sticky. It not only prevents any sweaty smell, it seems to actually reduce sweating and works for 24 hours.
“Lemon doesn’t work, neither does orange. lime does it.” Frenagd
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:
Quite a few people have said that lemon juice controls their body odor. The problem with limes is that some people are highly sensitive to it. There is also a known phototoxic dermatitis to lime juice when ultraviolet rays from the sun come in contact with the skin. The last thing we would want is for someone to slather on the lime juice and end up with red, swollen and painful underarms. This might be one remedy to skip!
“My underarms itch whenever I apply deodorant. I tried every brand known to man with no luck. Then one day I tried rubbing alcohol 99% potency. Viola! No odor. I have been using it ever since. No odor, no itch, no dryness, nothing negative. Often I will apply it twice a day if I am especially active. I just pour some on a piece of paper towel and rub for about 20 seconds or so under each armpit. Sometimes, I have to apply twice but mostly once will do the trick.
“Oh, yes there is one small negative; the smell of the rubbing alcohol is rather strong when applying so I just turn my head and look in the opposite direction when applying it. Don’t worry about any lingering alcohol smells. The alcohol smell is gone within 10-20 seconds as the alcohol evaporates very quickly leaving your underarms the cleanest in town!” Steve
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:
We have heard from others that vodka serves much the same purpose. Bottom line, there are lots of strategies for dealing with underarm odor.
In about three weeks we will be introducing two brand new aluminum-free MoM (milk of magnesia) roll on products. One is unscented and the other has a lovely essential oil woman’s fragrance. Men tell us they like it too. Stay tuned for future announcements!
Share your own solutions to body odor below in the comment section.