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Why Do Antiperspirants Have Aluminum?

Q. What I really want is an antiperspirant without aluminum. It would be great if you could develop such a product. It’s just not fun or nice to be wet in the hot and sticky summer!

I look forward to receiving your aluminum-free MoM deodorant. I can use that nine months of the year, but it sure would be nice to have an aluminum-free antiperspirant for the other three months.

A. Unless the FDA changes the rules, it will be impossible to buy an aluminum-free antiperspirant. That’s because the Food and Drug Administration classifies antiperspirants as drugs. They modify the physiology of the cells in the armpit. In short, they plug sweat glands.

The ONLY approved ingredient in antiperspirants IS aluminum. Therefore you will never find anything (in the pharmacy OR the health food store) that is labeled an antiperspirant without aluminum. If someone tried to create a non-aluminum antiperspirant, they would be in immediate trouble with the FDA. Don’t believe us; check the label on your antiperspirant and look for these ingredients.


  • Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex

  •  Aluminum Zirconium Oxtachlorohydrex
 Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex

Most people don’t seem to care that their antiperspirants are very high in aluminum. But if you think about it, that is very delicate tissue. Your armpit is likely to absorb any chemicals you put there. In fact there’s a new drug on the market that actually delivers its ingredients via the armpit. Just check out Axiron. The message from the Lilly drug company:

“To treat my low testosterone, my doctor and I went with Axiron, the only underarm low T treatment.”

We’ve never quite understood why the FDA doesn’t seem concerned about aluminum absorption from antiperspirants. Women may be especially vulnerable to absorption of such chemicals because they shave their underarms. That may create portals for entry. But men may also absorb such chemicals through delicate underarm tissue.

There is growing evidence that aluminum is a neurotoxin. That means it is not good for the brain. This is just in from the journal 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 [Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s Dementia Complex]. Similar outcomes have been found in animal models.

“In addition, injection of aluminum adjuvants in an attempt to model Gulf War syndrome and associated neurological deficits leads to an ALS phenotype in young male mice.

“In young children, a highly significant correlation exists between the number of pediatric aluminum-adjuvanted vaccines administered and the rate of autism spectrum disorders. Many of the features of aluminum-induced neurotoxicity may arise, in part, from autoimmune reactions, as part of the ASIA syndrome [Autoimmune/inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants].”

Until the controversy has been resolved regarding aluminum, we think alternatives make sense. A few years ago someone told us that milk of magnesia (the familiar laxative) kills odor when applied to underarms. We were skeptical but we tried it ourselves. To our amazement milk of magnesia (MoM) worked great against odor. But sloshing the runny white liquid on our underarms was a headache. That’s why we developed a convenient roll-on product. Since magnesium is actually an essential element for good health, we believe that it makes sense as a deodorant. We can never call it an antiperspirant, but so what? If it works to control odor, that’s good enough for us. Here is what some folks have to say about MoM:

“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.”


“MoM is all I’ve used for over a year now. I have a landscape management business. My work would challenge any deodorant. As long as I start out with fresh clothing, the MoM never fails. Spraying my clothing with white vinegar before I put it in the washer helps kill lingering bacteria that can quickly compromise sweated-in garments.”


We just launched two new People’s Pharmacy products:

MoM (Milk of Magnesia) Aluminum-Free Deodorant (unscented)


MoM Aluminum-Free Deodorant Scented for women.

Learn more about how the milk of magnesia deodorant came to be at this link:

And please provide feedback about how you like the new products. Would you be interested in a MoM roll-on deodorant product scented for men? We look forward to hearing from you.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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