man applying a roll on deodorant or antiperspirant to his underarm

Were you surprised and somewhat dismayed to learn that people absorb the ingredients in sunscreens into their bodies? We were not truly surprised, but we were certainly disappointed. Sunscreens have been used for decades. The manufacturers had no motivation to test for absorption. We only learned that ingredients in sunscreen get under your skin after FDA researchers did their own testing (JAMA, May 6, 2019).  What about aluminum antiperspirants? Does aluminum get under your skin? There is surprisingly little research. That’s why we are offering a 25% sale on all our aluminum-free MoM (milk of magnesia) deodorants. The discount code is HOT25. However, it is only good for one more week, until June 14, 2019.

Aluminum Antiperspirants?

Did you know that all antiperspirants must contain aluminum? The FDA requires aluminum salts in any product that claims to be an antiperspirant. Otherwise it is designated a deodorant.

Go ahead and check your antiperspirant. Typical ingredients include aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex, aluminum zirconium oxtachlorohydrex and aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex.

It has always puzzled us why the FDA seems oblivious to questions about aluminum absorption and/or toxicity. Then again, if the agency could wait decades to determine whether ingredients in sunscreens could be absorbed under the skin, it’s not so surprising that the FDA hasn’t required a lot of testing around aluminum antiperspirants.

Is There Concern About Aluminum Antiperspirants?

We would be the first to admit that research into aluminum absorption from aluminum antiperspirants is paltry at best. That said, we think there is reason to be concerned. Women often shave their underarms. Not infrequently they apply an antiperspirant. Shaving likely alters the barrier function of the delicate tissue in the underarm.

One woman experienced toxicity after using aluminum antiperspirants for four years (American Journal of Medicine, Dec. 15, 2004).  Scientists writing in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry (May, 2012) commented on this case:  

“Aluminum salts such as aluminum chlorohydrate (ACH) are known for use as an active antiperspirant agent that blocks the secretion of sweat. A local case report of hyperaluminemia in a woman using an aluminum-containing antiperspirant for 4 years raises the problem of transdermal absorption of aluminum (Al). Only a very limited number of studies have shown that the skin is an effective barrier to transdermal uptake of Al.”

Is Aluminum a Neurotoxin?

Many scientists have dubbed aluminum a neurotoxin. We interpret that to mean aluminum is not good for the brain. Here are just a few quotes from the medical literature.

Immunological Research (July, 2013)

“We have examined the neurotoxicity of aluminum in humans and animals under various conditions, following different routes of administration, and provide an overview of the various associated disease states. The literature demonstrates clearly negative impacts of aluminum on the nervous system across the age span. In adults, aluminum exposure can lead to apparently age-related neurological deficits resembling Alzheimer’s and has been linked to this disease and to the Guamanian variant, ALS-PDC. Similar outcomes have been found in animal models.”

The journal Toxicology (January 6, 2014) offered this assessment:

“Epidemiological studies suggest that aluminum may not be as innocuous as was previously thought and that aluminum may actively promote the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Epidemiological data is strengthened by experimental evidence of aluminum exposure leading to excess inflammatory activity within the brain…Evidence is outlined supporting the concept of aluminum’s involvement in hastening brain aging. This acceleration would then inevitably lead to increased incidence of specific age-related neurological diseases.”

This comes from Japan (Nihon Rinsho: Japanese Journal of Clinical Medicine, July, 2016): 

“Aluminum is an old element that has been known for a long time, but some of its properties are only now being discovered. Although environmentally abundant, aluminum is not essential for life; in fact, because of its specific chemical properties, aluminum inhibits more than 200 biologically important functions and exerts various adverse effects in plants, animals, and humans. Aluminum is a widely recognized neurotoxin.”

Aluminum Antiperspirants vs Magnesium:

Aluminum is not necessary for human biology. Magnesium, on the other hand, is essential for good health. Without magnesium you would be in terrible trouble.

Several years ago we developed a line of aluminum-free MoM (milk of magnesia, aka magnesium hydroxide) deodorants. We would like to share what people say about these products:

Kym in Dallas says “nothing else worked after I turned 43”:

“The older I got my armpit started to get smelly. I couldn’t even dance and hold my arms in the air. NOTHING WORKED! I found this over a year ago and can’t imagine life without it!”

Darshana in Menlo Park, California offers this testimonial:

“I had given up deodorants, because I didn’t want the chemicals and couldn’t stand the fragrances. My chiropractor recommended against the alum crystal kind, so I just washed a lot, like in the middle of the day too. 

“As life got more stressful, caring for my elderly parents, I had to use something, or I would stink, so I gave MOM to try. At first I didn’t like that it rolled on wet, and I had to learn not to put too much on. But as I got used to using a roll-on, I have come to LOVE this product! I never smell bad when I use it, you don’t need a lot, and really it dries pretty quickly.”

Lisa in Chicago prefers the aluminum-free MoM deodorant scented for men. A lot of people love this fragrance:

“I have been using this for years now, and it really is the only thing I have used that is a healthier alternative to antiperspirants and works! Thank you.”

Why not give MoM a try, especially since the hot weather is back and we are offering a 25% sale on all our MoM deodorants? It runs from Memorial Day until Flag Day (June 14, 2019). The special discount code is HOT25. Be sure to put it into the discount code box to get your savings.

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  1. Pat

    I’ve been using MoM for years. Very effective. Love it!

  2. Mary

    After reading that aluminum is a neurotoxin, what about the Carafate the Dr. prescribes to coat my throat. It is straight aluminum isn`t it? He prefers that to a PPI, says fewer side effects. It you have a foggy brain guess you would not notice the side effects?

    • Terry Graedon

      Carafate does contain aluminum, but the manufacturer says very little is absorbed. We doubt this has been looked at closely.

  3. steve

    No problem. Get a spray bottle of ethyl alcohol and keep it with you. Use it twice a day and keep the underarm hair cut reasonable or shaved and no odor – but watch the garlic!

  4. Penelope

    I also use baking soda or vinegar & water instead of the commercial products. Smell comes from bacteria, so why not vinegar?

  5. Nancy
    Wilmington DE

    Is there a European equivalent of the FDA that we can consult, when our own taxpayer-funded agency does not seem to have the best interests of US citizens in mind? Similarly, are there European studies that we can consult when so many US studies have conflict-of-interest challenges?

  6. Victor

    Five years ago I heard an inner voice tell me that I was losing my memory. Reserch showed aluminum as a possible culprit. I immediately quit (after 40 years) using a commercial brand. For two weeks my underarm odour was atrocious. Then it went away. My memory has improved a lot, and at 75 I feel much younger. Now I don’t use anything. Change tee shirts often. Big airports used to intimidate me. Felt lost, Not any more

  7. mary

    Since the 80s have been preaching: no aluminum in deodorants. So many thought me foolish.
    I just read ”Are Natural Crystal Deodorants Safe”. Commented there after reading that article–about being duped all this time. Not only using the crystal rock but the liquid spray , using it as stocking stuffers for the entire family—for YEARS. I am sickened to learn this, but very grateful.
    Years! Horrors. Time to get serious about a detox?
    Thank you

  8. Lewis R.

    It is very disturbing to see the data that aluminum is a neurotoxin. It is found in many vaccines, including children’s, leading the vaccine lobby to claim that aluminum is safe for children to be exposed to. Of course, mercury, one of the most powerful neurotoxins known, is still used in the seasonal flu vaccination shots. Maybe someone could actually do a study of how this affects kids, fetuses, and nursing infants.

  9. Neil

    Do you have any info regarding the health/safety of mineral salt based deodorants that contain (Ammonium) Alum?

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