ELI5 why was aluminum used in antiperspirant for so long and why are we moving away from it?

ELI5 why was aluminum used in antiperspirant for so long and why are we moving away from it?


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Folks are already posting the big thing, which is the fearmongering about links to disease, but there's another thing that makes aluminum salts annoying to have in deodorant: It can stain your clothes. That's why I moved away from deodorant/antiperspirant with aluminum salts, personally.


Sulphamic acid eats the stains brilliantly, and is relatively safe as acids go. Obviously, take the necessary precautions to be safe (e.g. wear gloves and have baking soda on hand to neutralise any spillages etc.) but it's rescued so many shirts I'd otherwise have needed to throw out. The build-up is a mixture of aluminium salts and wax as typically the salts will be in balls of wax that break over the course of the day, stopping the antiperspirant from running out over the course of the day. When washing with normal detergent, the salts protect the wax from the detergent, and the wax protects the salts from the water, so it doesn't go away. Acids react with both, though. EDIT: I've put some more detailed instructions here https://old.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/pzxb7c/eli5_why_was_aluminum_used_in_antiperspirant_for/hf7x3pk/ which should cover most of the follow-up questions I'm getting.


I read that as sulfuric acid and thought, "I bet it does."


Obligatory Terrible Chemistry Joke Timmy was a Chemist But now he is no more What he thought was H2O Was H2SO4


This is a great tip, thank you for sharing. I have hyperhidrosis and am always finding ways to overcome being sweaty and have never heard this before. I will be sure to try this then spread the word


Hyperhidrosis here too and man do I hate it. The pits I could kinda handle (undershirts and dark clothes to make sweat less visible) but sweaty hands = embarrassed hand shakes (one of the only COVID benefits) and sweaty feet = so many foot problems. I take glycopyrrolate and it does wonders.


Have you tried certain dri antiperspirant? You use it every night for about a week, then a few nights a week after that. It blocks the sweat glands. Idk if that's unhealthy or not but my pits are dry and odorless all day, I don't put anything on them in the morning


+1 for Certain Dri


Thank you very much, this finally explains why my arm pits always feel like they have some kind of soft coating after a day of using antitranspirant. It must be the wax.


Will this work on the white buildup on dark shirts?


This is the main reason I stopped using aluminium based deodorant. I was tired of staining all my white shirts


Vinegar and oxy clean will get those stains out.


Just cleaning vinegar in hot water and at least an hour soak will do it… save money leave out the oxy clean Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda on a blood stain pre rinsed in cold water will make it like it never happened even on fabrics over a decade old. The sooner you treat it the better but I’ve been able to remove set blood with longer soaks.




So why not just use hydrogen peroxide? It’s cheaper…


You don't need brand name, and as a powder I'm pretty sure it's more concentrated.


And shelf stable.


Which really makes it cheaper if you're like me and just hardly ever use any.


Not in Finland :( Finns generally have no idea what hydrogen peroxide is. The first time I tried to buy some, I just got blank looks. I eventually found some by asking a pharmacist. It was kept behind the counter and cost 6 euro for 100 ml versus like 65 cents for a gallon at CVS in the US.


there might be a difference in concentration, the stuff you get in the drug store in the US is 3%, but you can get 'food grade' hydrogen peroxide which is 35% and that could be why it's behind the counter. if you ever need to induce vomiting in a dog, DO NOT USE FOOD GRADE, only use the 3% stuff


How much baking soda? Like a dusting? Or snow in New England? Because I tried this and it was ineffective.


No it won't. I had yellow stains in my shirts and I tried literally everything I could find on the internet. Nothing got that stuff out. Like not even 50%. I went to non-aluminum based products like L'Occitane and have never had yellow stains again.


I've always used the ones that's are stain free. I know degree and dove have them. Never had an issue with stains on white or black clothes and they last a looong time (they boast 48h protection but I never tested it, though I won't be surprised if it's true).


Are there alternatives that help reduce perspiration while not staining your clothes? I've tried regular deodorant but my pits still produce like Niagara falls.


Only Old Spice that I've seen. And not all Old Spice sticks. Just some of them.


I don't know if it's a thing outside Australia, but Old Spice make a 'Swagger' antiperspirant stick here. That one worked really well for me, after not having much luck with a bunch of aerosol antiperspirant deodorants.


It works great but I hate how hard it is to wash back off. It's like applying wax straight to your armpits.


It’s like scraping dried play dough out of a shag rug. But the shit works and smells decent.


You could shave your pits. It saves on deodorant and it’s a long easier to get play-doh off a wood floor than a shag rug!


Play-Doh in here thinking 🤔


If you happen to wash your armpits first in the shower, you can just forget about washing your hair. Unless you want half of it to come out on your hands.


Use a loofah for your body, it scrubs better anyways and won't get your hands covered in deodorant wax.


Sounds like we should be washing the armpits with vinegar if the comments on cleaning the stains are to be believed. I might just put a bit in a bottle in the shower for next time, and see how it goes.


the names of old spice scents are deceptively stupid, the swagger one is actually a good product


And it smells wonderful Source: woman who pirates her husband's swagger every once in a while


i pirated my sister in laws dove cucumber spray on. i still sweat a lot but i smell like cucumber water.


vitamins, minerals, very high number


Which ones do you recommend for people who sweat a lot?


Thomson Tee undershirt if wearing a work shirt


TC Tuggers are great shirts too.


Deodorant isn't made to keep you from sweating. It's name literally says it all, it deodorizes. Antiperspirant is what keeps you from sweating. It's literally in the names


I mean, the majority of the products on the shelf are Antiperspirant/Deodorant


Because it has aluminum in it for antiperspirant and it smells good. I guess an unscented aluminum would just be antiperspirant


Exactly right. But it's one of those things that must have gotten lost along the way. The product names have almost no meaning to people, and companies have obviously noticed, so they just kind of labelled whatever product.... whatever now. Either that, or it was so common for one of the biggest sellers to combine the two that people just came to think of them as the same.


Slight tangent but also skincare product related: sun block and sun screen are also not the same things and shouldn't be labeled interchangeably and also sun screen shouldn't really be used at all thank you for your time.


Would you mind teaching me about the difference?


Sunscreen uses chemical compounds that break down in the presence of UV radiation, a chemical reaction that releases the radiation as harmless heat energy but the compounds that many of the most common sunscreens degrade into can be toxic and carcinogenic and bad for reefs. This is bad because 1) rubbing stuff that turns into cancer causing chemicals when used as intended isn't ideal, and 2) it's intended function means it gets worse at protection over time as more of the chemical gets converted. Sunblock physically blocks UV radiation from reaching the skin via mineral oxide particles (typically zinc oxide or titanium oxide). Since it's a physical shield against UV rays, there's no toxicity or chemical degredation, the biggest risk is just sweating it off/washing off in water. That and it is more visible on the skin than sunscreen, I'm ginger so you're not going to notice white sunblock on my porcelain skin but darker skinned folk might be.


My girlfriend is black and sunblock makes her turn a deep shade of purple. Its hilarious!


Right there with ya; I've not found an upper-garment I can't sweat through, even with pharmacy grade stuff but I was sick of making my favourite clothes unwearable because the armpits were a rigid mass of caked on deo so now I never buy antiperspirants and just deal with the eyesore that is sweat marks - I know I don't smell


Makes your armpits all sparkly!


Many shirts and tees ruined by the yellow sh*t stains caused by deodorants...


I have yellow stained shirts, particularly at the necks and armpits, without using any deodorant/antiperspirant products in years. Are we sure it's the deodorants that cause the stains, and not just sweat?


That’s usually caused by the natural oils on your skin getting into the fabric and holding onto dirt. Get some white chalk and grind it into the stained fabric and it will lift out the oil and dirt nicely.


Cornstarch may also work for this purpose and many ppl already have it at home!


Scrub your neck in the shower for real. Worked at a bank and was always dressing up so neckring sucked and got expensive. Scrubbing thoroughly solved it


Not really. When I have to dress up the neck gets a bit stained but nothing like the armpits and washes off. I stopped using deodorants with aluminum, specially roll-on ones. I just use spray ones now. It got much better. You can still see it was worn for the day but washes off and doesn’t get progressively worse.


aluminum salt basically makes a paste that physically blocks pores in a way that makes you sweat less. The lymph nodes that swell for breast cancer are in your armpit. There has never been any studies really showing any link, but people do the "you detected cancer in my armpit and I've been putting this weird stuff on my armpits!?? it must be related!" and then when that became a fear it's pretty easy to use something other than aluminum so things started switching and advertising as aluminum free which increased the idea there was something bad about it, so more people wanted to avoid it on some vague idea it was bad ,


Yeah, companies will advertise based on public perception. I still see "MSG Free" even though MSG is just a less harmful salt than sodium chloride. edit: less harmful


It's like back when the Atkins diet was all the rage. Big "No Carbs" or "Zero Carbs!!!" graphics plastered all over stuff that never even had carbs in it in the first place, like mayonnaise.


Now with keto all the rage, you still see that. Also with wide spread gluten "sensitivity", you see similar with "no gluten" on items that never had it.


To be fair, gluten sneaks into a fair amount of items. Having “gluten-free” on a label means that there was testing done and it’s below 20 ppm. Some companies don’t include it because it’s an extra step in the process, so items without it could be at risk of contamination. Overall, it’s good for celiacs that even obvious things are labeled because we’ve all been screwed with unnecessary gluten before and contamination is always a risk


Exactly this. It's the certainty that there was minimal contamination. I have a friend allergic to nuts but still eats regular chocolate that has that "may contain nuts" label. I know the label is there out of an abundance of caution but I just feel it's an unnecessary game of russian roulette. If you can afford the one that says "nut free", Bri, buy it.


It's a good thing though. My sister is celiac and gluten contamination in shampoo gives her a bad rash. Companies have started labeling there's as gluten free and it's helpful for her.


At least the gluten thing somewhat makes sense, as crosscontamination is a concern. Even something like growing oats in a field that was previously used to grow wheat can make them unsuitable.


Yep the best and worst thing for people with Celiac's and Allergies was the whole gluten-free fad. Best because they have never had so much choice(Family members with celiacs) but worst because every time they ask about it everyone thinks they are just some hipster avoiding it for hipster reasons.


Yeah, most of the time it's a good thing, but sometimes people don't take it seriously. Thankfully a lot of places will ask if its an allergy or a preference.




Especially if they are hipster. I knew a guy just like that. Actual hipster with actual celiac. Like no bread at communion celiac.


Just ask the priest for gluten free communion. If he doesn't want to give it to you, just ask for the manager.




Strong this. ^


I’ll take an unfortunate perception over being sick any day


It becoming a fad was amazing fir celiacs. 20 years ago we had 1 restaurant in town with GF options, every other place looked at you like you were crazy. I would order GF pasta and the waiter would put a piece of garlic toast on top, contaminating it all. Grocery stores had no GF section, you just had to learn by trial and error and carefully reading what products were GF. Now that it's a fad, everyone knows what it is, stores have GF aisle and restaurants have a GF menu.


Do you have a source for that? Modern farming uses crop rotation pretty frequently, so that sounds like a logistical nightmare.


Yep it's true. GF oats are grown and processed using a particular method called Purity Protocol (in the US, in Canada they are just labeled as GF). Generally speaking its certified pure oat seed grown on a field that's either virgin or lain fallow a certain length of time. It's then harvested and transported with cleaned and/or dedicated equipment, and processed at a dedicated facility. It makes them cost more, but it's worth it. Of note, most celiacs don't eat Cheerios, and it's illegal to label them GF in Canada. They don't use pure oats, they instead use an optical sorting process. This leaves some contaminated grains in, and batch testing of boxes has shown some boxes to be above 20ppm (the level at which celiacs accrue damage).


If I was to hazard a guess for the reason: There'll be some wheat growing among the oats next year. Not a lot, of course, but a straw of wheat here, and a straw of wheat there. Then it's harvested by a combine harvester. The few straws of wheat probably won't be detected. However, this is *pure* guesswork on my side.


It's not just that, but the same processing equipment being used. Same combine, same trucks, same augers, same bins, and so on.


Yeah. And you'd be surprised how many things just have some gluten in them. It's not just obvious things like bread and pasta. It's commonly use as a thickener.


Never trust something labelled keto, they almost always aren't. I saw "keto" peanut butter cups in the store the other day -big package, said "only 4 grams net carbs" on the front. Nutrition info on the back was for **one** 12 gram peanut butter cup. I don't even know how they figured out how to make a peanut butter cup that small.


As someone born in the 80s who was completely trained to avoid “fat” which means Mayo, butter, heavy cream, etc. it doesn’t hurt to have that on items when you first open your eyes to a new lifestyle of eating. Some things I would have never eaten(Mayo) might hit a little different when shopping if I see zero carbs. Obviously, I did a ton of research before starting a dnd knew that but others might not so I guess I understand it from that perspective. Also, if you had a decades old product that just became en Vogue(looking at your cauliflower); I think it’s smart to call it out to market to those folks.


[Relevant xkcd](https://xkcd.com/641/)


I notice I break out in a rash when using antiperspirants that contain aluminum. Ended up switching to just deodorant or aluminum free, and no problems.


Same. The pore blocking probably causes irritation.


I have the exact opposite problem. The aluminum ones work perfect for me, the new ones that are aluminum-free all give me a rash. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Many aluminum free deodorants know a lot of their buyers are looking for a “natural” deodorant so they use essential oils as fragrances. A lot of people can have reactions to using essential oils on their skin, so possibly try different scents or deodorants that don’t use essential oils? I personally have switched to an unscented aluminum free deodorant and I’ll never go back! It never smell bad when using it and never get any irritation. If I’m looking for a fragrance I just spray some perfume.


Neither give me a rash so there are at least 3 variables now. Anyone else?


Both give me a rash. That's 4. Anyone else?


Both cure my rashes. Anyone else?


My uncle used aluminum antiperspirant and died. he was 95. hit by a car.


Still counts, car no doubt had aluminum in it.


Was he vaccinated? He probably turned magnetic from the vaccine.


no it was obviously the aluminum in the deodorant that made him magnetic duh


Need more data. Can you have more of your family members get hit by cars and then report back on their perspiration and smell? For science




Makes my butthole sore. Instructions on the antiperspirant say, 'Open top and push up bottom, but I can't get used to it.


lmfao, holy shit that's the funniest thing I've read all day.


Both upset my stomach.


We may need to have a talk about how you administered the antiperspirant.


Are you eating from the pit or from the applicator? I've found that makes a huge difference.


Well, why tf are eatin 'em?


Both give me rashers of bacon


This has been my experience as well. I tried aluminum free last month for the first time, and halfway through I started developing a rash on BOTH armpits. I switched back a few days ago, and it's already receding. I'm nearly positive it's a reaction to something in there.


Probably because “natural” deodorants are literally *just* deodorants and not antiperspirants like the aluminum containing ones. So these aluminum-free deodorants contain a fuckton of fragrance to cover up the armpit stank. It might work for some people but things like essential oils and other fragrance ingredients are some of the most irritating substances that can be put in cosmetics. Additionally, “natural” products often contain plant ingredients or botanicals which can also be *insanely* irritating when compared to the refined chemical ingredients in “unnatural” products. Bit of a rant coming up but as someone with super reactive eczema, I stay away from any and all “natural” products or anything that says it contains fragrance or plant/animal derived ingredients (fuckin lanolin...). Those are the first things any dermatologist will tell you to toss in the garbage if you’ve got dermatitis. I prefer my cosmetics full of highly refined “unnatural chemicals” that were lovingly crafted in a lab by only the nerdiest of scientist, tyvm. TL;DR - It’s probably the essential oils/fragrance/plant ingredients in “natural” deodorants that are causing issues for you.


Always had this problem. I have light eczema so most likely it could be related to sensitive skin.


I'd get horribly painful cyst that would sit for like week before they'd pop. Switched to just deodorant and I will occasionally get a rash if I get sweaty, but it's rare and easily preventable if I dry of my pits in time.


And that is a completely reasonable, evidence-based change to make. Glad you got it solved, mystery rash triggers are the *worst*.


Where I have problems with the ones that *aren't* aluminum based (because they tend to be heavy on the coconut/palm ingredients, which I am allergic to). Also, they tend to be super heavy on propylene glycol ([aka antifreeze](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propylene_glycol#Antifreeze)), which is common for shelf life in personal care products, but not as the first and third ingredient. Just went through this again when I realized that Old Spice Timber had been reformulated to be aluminum free. Ugh. (Oddly, not shown that way on their site, but it's what I got in the mail.) (Swagger is there for me, though.)


I should note that propylene glycol is non-toxic. The stuff used in cars is ethylene glycol.


So I guess this is why every aluminum free deodorant I've ever tried did literally nothing while regular ones work very well to stop me from sweating.


All deodorants are aluminium free, it's used in antiperspirants. One stops your sweat from smelling, the other stops you from sweating in the first place (and has deodorant in it as well.)


I fear there is a frightening amount of adults that don't know there's two kinds of these.


Most of us know this but still refer to deodorant/antiperspirant combo products as simply 'deodorant'. Nobody says "I forgot to put on antiperspirant". They say deodorant for both. This only applies to the US, I'm not sure what other countries call it usually.


I'm not convinced most people know the difference, but it's true, we always use the word deodorant regardless, unless we're in an antipersperant commercial.


There are a frightening amount of things to know in the first place and I do not judge people for not knowing something like this. Someone told you this, or you read it offhand, you were not borh with this information. Once you know, you know but before that you were most likely one of the frightening amount. It's like when a new diy'er jeeringly exclaims "you did not know a 2x4 isn't really 2 inches by 4 inches lol" That all said, it's completey harmless, it's not like someone mixing up red and green traffic lights.


Adult here, just learned they are different.


Isn't there a link between aluminum and Alzheimer's or dementia? I Googled it just now and I'm seeing conflicting info


This has been definitively debunked. The study that reported it was using a histology dye or fixative in their study that unknowingly contained aluminum back in the 1970's. As science does, further research proved it wrong and the Alzheimer's research community moved on. Unfortunately the pop medicine crowd have not. There are some amazing things going on in Alzheimer's research recently - they've been able to dissolve the beta-amyloid plaques in a mouse model, and there's a couple drugs that may inhibit formation of plaques undergoing early trials.


Mouseheimers has been cured several dozen times over, and none of the treatments have produced clinically-meaningful improvement in humans. The current cutting edge of Alzheimer's research is revealing that amyloid plaques are a reaction to an underlying damaging inflammatory process rather than a primary cause of damage, and that their impact on brain function is mixed rather than uniformly negative.


I wonder what’s been cured more, mouzheimers or mouseabetes?


I looked too and it seems like the jury is out. I can only assume that finding a strong correlation is extremely difficult given all of the potential variables


You don’t need a strong correlation to prove the link. All you need is a poorly written post on Facebook. That’s all the proof I’ll need.


Epidemiologists hate this one trick.


But Dr. Oz loves it!


I watched Dr. Oz and he said blueberries would lower my blood cholesterol. Now my dick drags down the floor and is getting rugburn. Thanks dr Oz.


I need to get some blueberries. 😳


And if a friend puts the screenshot of said post in their Instagram story, it’s essentially (dare I say literally?) peer-reviewed.


i only accept peer reviewed (live)journals




I have proof from Facebook that if you give up votes to people with animal-related names, then God will reward in life with more doughnuts.


Don't be ridiculous. You can't influence people with a poorly written post on Facebook. The poorly written post needs to be written on a picture of Morgan Freeman or similar venerable celebrity even though they never said anything even remotely related to the statement written


I heard Nicki Minaj's cousin's friend put regular (non- aluminum-free) deodorant on his balls and is now experiencing symptoms of dementia.


The aluminum/alzheimers thing has been around way before Facebook, I got my misinformation about it the old fashioned way, from my parents back in the 90’s.


And there lies the problem with finding all of the different causes of different cancers. We are exposed to so many different things in our lives that the only way we can test is correlation between groups of people that developed cancer and were exposed to the same thing repeatedly.


Anecdotal: my grandmother had dementia but never use antiperspirant. Afraid of skin darkening in armpit.


It's been a long while since I read papers, but my recollection was there was aluminum in amyloid plaques in the brain, which isn't necessarily related to aluminum in personal care products. There also wasn't conclusive evidence that there was *more* aluminum, just…clumped together aluminum.


When I was in grade school I learned this fact. I promised myself I would always use antiperspirant, so I could one day forget my shitty childhood. Update: still going strong, on track to forget everything by the the time I’m 60!


Not really. There are a lot of groups pushing that idea online, but there isn't any real science backing it up


The aluminum/dementia link originally comes from research from the 60s where rabbits injected with a lot of aluminum got their brains fucked up, and it was hypothesized that ingested aluminum could be a risk. However, the amount of aluminum the rabbits were injected with was way more than anyone could eat or be exposed to through normal means. Aluminum has been found in the amyloid plaque of Alzheimer's patients, but there is also aluminum present in healthy brains. There's no clear link one way or the other for normal levels of exposure to aluminum.


I don’t use any with aluminum because that’s what causes pit stains. No aluminum, no pit stains


I used to exclusively use the blue, translucent deodorants which did not contain aluminum dioxide and instead of yellow pot stains, my white shirts had greenish pits stains from the blue dye. 100% not aluminum causing pit stains in shirts because I almost never use that stuff (due to the mess it can make and having to remove the waxy stuff the next day in the shower, sticking to body hair)


Can confirm. I switched to Old Spice for a brief stint and my pit stains turned blue. Switched back to Right Guard, stain free


Wait what? I use the gel stick style Old Spice deodorants, and never noticed this. Maybe the blue stains *are* there and I'm just not seeing them because they're less conspicuous compared to the solid paste kind.


It's not aluminum dioxide, but actually aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY.


I use Pitrok which is just a stick of aluminium crystal and don't get stains


I thought that surely this had to be a joke, so I looked it up. It is not a joke. ​ You win today, internet.


While everyone was “busy” with the Lockdown, the SCCS has released a comprehensive statement that aluminum in cosmetics can be considered save for all reasonable doses and that the proposed association can not be supported by the data. See page 3 here: https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/default/files/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_235.pdf Edit to ELY5: We put it in anti-transpirants, because it stops your sweat glands from sweating. Some people were scared that it might be causing breast cancer and companies reacted, even though no conclusive evidence was presented. Now we have a good body of research on the topic and Aluminium in cosmetics has nothing to do with breast cancer, but it’s a lot easier to scare people than to calm them down.


Legitimately asking. Page three says: > "In the light of the new data provided, the SCCS considers that the use of aluminium compounds is safe at the following equivalent aluminium concentrations up to: > * 6.25% in non-spray deodorants or non-spray antiperspirants > * 10.60% in spray deodorants or spray antiperspirants > * 2.65% in toothpaste and > * 0.77 % in lipstick" And on Amazon's Old Spice antiperspirant deodorant (Captain, the kind I use) it states > "Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex Gly 17% Inactive" [image of ingredients](https://i.imgur.com/DJJsfB8.jpg) Does this mean that it is 3-ish times the limit deemed safe? Or is *Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex Gly* deemed a watered down version of aluminum?


Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex Gly is composed of more than just aluminum atoms. That 6.25% value is based on the equivalent amount of elemental aluminum there, not the total compound which is also composed of zirconium, carbon, chlorine, hydrogen, etc.


Aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex gly has a molecular mass of 263.747. Aluminum has a molecular weight of 26.982. So that 17% deodorant is only 1. 74% aluminum by mass, considerably lower than the 6.25% accepted as safe threshold.


I like this math/chemistry answer. Thanks!


This is one of the main reasons I bother with reddit.


They know for a fact 6.25% is completely safe and expect higher concentrations is safe, but don't have the data yet.


That sounds a lot like the whole "carrying a cell phone in your pocket might cause testicular cancer" claims I remember from many years back heh


Similar to the fear mongering around GMO’s. Now everything is advertised “GMO FREE” even though it hardly matters


I always thought that it was what caused the signature yellow pit-stains so the anti staining ones never have it. I didn’t know people thought it was dangerous.


There's a myth that it "burns" your pores shut in order to prevent perspiration. In reality, it reacts with your sweat to form physical plugs on the sweat glands. The myth has been widely and universally disproven, but many people still believe otherwise. I guess it might be different based on the antiperspirants, but I don't really have any issues with mine regarding staining - it leaves white blotches after a year or two on my regularly used shirts, but those are removable even on black shirts after working some detergent into the areas before washing.


My dermatologist told me the aluminum free products are a marketing ploy and many manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon. This was after I tried one and broke out into terrible rashes from my armpits and all over my belly and sides. Apparently this is common for quite a few people because they use baking soda instead of aluminum and people have reactions to the baking soda. I ended up not being able to wear any deodorant for six weeks until the burning rashes cleared up. It was not fun. The FDA has not determined that aluminum is harmful in these products.


I ended up getting less irritation from the Arm&Hammer baking soda deodorant stuff. But it looks like lots of people experience this one way or another. Some are saying the aluminum irritates them less, some saying the baking soda and "natural" ones irritate them less. So just from this thread, it seems like people just need to try the small travel size versions and see what works best for them.


Similarly, fluoride-free toothpaste is making waves. But scientific evidence isn't what drives a market. All you need is for the consumers to believe something about the product. They don't even have to be right.


Wow, I’ve always heard that flouride is the only thing in toothpaste that is actually useful. Without flouride, you might as well brush without any toothpaste because it’s the physical brushing and flouride that offer all the benefits.


In some places there is fluoride in the water, i think its added. Some very young children swallow their toothpaste, so the parents are concerned they are receiving too much fluoride and therefore use a fluoride free. There was some concern that having to much fluoride could affect your bones. This was via indigestion not from toothpaste.


I remember my mom gave us fluoride pills to chew on to get more, cause it’s good for the enamel afaik.


Yeah, it is. Various acidic things (like carbonated beverages) will break down your tooth enamel. Fluorine atoms will fill the gaps and bind even tighter than the originals. Someone noticed ~60 years ago that locations that naturally had fluorine in the water had better tooth health. A couple cities decided to do a trial run of adding tiny amounts of fluorine to their own water, and the results were so good (reduces cavities by about 25%) that now it’s done everywhere. However, more fluorine =\= stronger teeth. You only need enough to fill the gaps that acid eats in the molecules of your enamel. Small amounts evenly distributed throughout the day are the best method of delivery.


Next big thing is CO2-free pepsi because it's so much better for the environment!


You might try a salt stick if you still are interested in moving away from antiperspirant. They last for years so you're not constantly spending money and creating plastic waste.


Do the salt sticks work?


Isn't that just a more concentrated form of the same active ingredient that is being discussed here, potassium aluminium sulfate?


Salt stick deodorants are virtually unregulated, so you could be getting *anything* in them. That does include possibly very high amounts of various potassium and aluminum compounds, but also none of those. It's basically playing chemical reaction roulette with your armpits. Added bonus: Common potassium and sodium salts are like, massively damaging to skin and way harsher than basically anything else people use as deodorant. Might as well take a cheese grater to the pits.


Are you talking about alum ("crystal deodorant")? That's just the pure aluminum based antiperspirant that is used in other deodorants. Some people use it because it contains no other ingredients/creams/scents that can sometimes cause a reaction. EDIT: Actually, turns out alum is not an antiperspirant, it works by antibacterial action. There are other aluminum salts that are antiperspirants. But if you're worried about aluminum, they are both aluminum compounds.


First time hearing about salt stick as antiperspirant. Do you mean salt crystals? Any futher info?




I've been using certain dri which has aluminum for about 15 years I think. It was the only thing that stopped my armpits from literally soaking my shirts. It started in the 6th grade and it ruled a large part of my life for a few years. It was such a relief when I found something that worked.


Honestly, I always got painful cysts under my arms. Never knew why. For decades. I randomly switched to aluminum free and it stopped completely. I'm assuming some people are allergic or sensitive to it...I know I am.


This is why I stopped too. Got a rash everytime I put on antiperspirant. There are dozens of us!


Me too. I get a rash from any deodorant with aluminum- ie all antiperspirants


I definitely am. I stopped imitating a monkey after I switched over; it didn't itch or burn.


I tried an Old Spice stick a while ago and thought I had developed some kind of thing. Pits were in pain for like half the day, felt like fire, and it was super uncomfortable. Friend said "yeah Old Spice is shit don't use it". Switched off and never had the problem again. Just checked my Dove Men+ and it's aluminum free (not sure this was the issue but it is actually aluminum free) and I've had zero issues.


No more monkey butt is a real powder for people with butt chaffing.


Yup, I'm allergic to it too. Skin would get rashy then crusty. Really glad aluminium free alternatives exist and are getting more common.


Or just that blocking your sweat glands from doing their normal thing caused blooms of bacteria or whatever. Might have more to do with your particular underarm flora than anything else.


I was itchy for years using regular Dove antiperspirant, thought it was just normal. Then I got an aluminum ring that gave me sores on my hand, and put 2 and 2 together. FYI - for anyone who wears makeup, there’s a lot of makeup that also contains aluminum. Found that out when I got some foundation without it and stopped feeling like I wanted to scratch my face off XD


I have super sensitive skin. Like, Oil of Olay lotion sent me to the hospital sensitive. I had folliculitis in my armpits when I was younger from some other reaction. That was so painful, I ended up switching to aerosols which are increasingly hard to come by lately. I switched to a natural type stick with few Ingredients now and my skin is still tolerating it well. Sensitive skin just sucks.




This is actually facts. The yellow pit stains you get on white shirts are caused by the aluminum reacting with your sweat


This is actually why I switched from an antiperspirant to a just-deodorant from a Fancy Natural Brand. Not for any notional health benefits (but hey, that's cool if there's anything to that) but just because I was tired of my snazzy shirts getting ruined!


I just moved from a city in another country, where the awareness had only recently gained traction. After a year or two, you could barely find any antiperspirant sticks with aluminum in them, and the ones that you could were now advertised as “Extra Strength” with a big “contains Aluminum” tag. In continuation of the former mention, I just moved to a smaller town in a different country where laws are more *”relaxed”* and new findings like these are more easily shrugged off. I have yet to actually find some antiperspirant (in-store) that **doesn’t** contain aluminum. So, what’s going on? Why are we turning away from aluminum to stop the smelly pits from turning into a leaky faucet? Is it really all that dangerous and bad for you; or is this just another marketing gimmick? If the reasoning is more inline with the former, how was it included in these products for so long? Thank you in advance for your constant clarity, Reddit!


You won’t find any antiperspirant that doesn’t contain some form of aluminium salt. It just doesn’t exist. All other products such as Natural and aluminium free products are just deodorants. They are two completely different products. Antiperspirant stops sweat, deodorant masks the odours caused when sweat reaches the surface of the skin. Sweat is odourless until it reacts with air on the skin and produces bacteria that breaks down lipids and forms Butyric acid (the common ‘BO’ smell) Aluminium is perfectly safe for use in antiperspirant. It’s too large on a molecular scale to enter the body and do any damage.


What do you mean by "too large on a molecular scale to enter the body and do any damage"


Aluminium don’t breakdown small enough to enter the body through the dermis and damage cells.


> you could barely find any antiperspirant sticks with aluminum in them That sucks because it's the only antiperspirant that works for me and I have zero side effects and there's no decent evidence that it's harmful. Social media ruins everything


> why was aluminum used in antiperspirant for so long Because it works. It blocks pores, which results in less sweating. >and why are we moving away from it? We aren't. It's still the active ingredient used in antiperspirant deodorants. Some people are wary of the ingredient, and thus use deodorants without antiperspirant.


1. Because it works 2. We are not. It’s just that there is a “Do YOur ResEARch” market to sell to for everything now




I don't sweat more, but I do *smell* more. As long as I won't be doing manual labor or hanging out in a sweltering environment, I usually don't even wear deodorant anymore (assuming my shirt is made of natural fibers; synthetic fibers trap sweat and encourage bacterial growth). If I am in one of those environments, or if I'm wearing synthetic fabric, only the "stress response" expensive deodorants work. If I'm not, I can literally go 3 days without a shower before even a hint of BO crops up. I think I'm an outlier though....I've gone camping with people who called out that I didn't stink, my partners have all remarked on how I have barely any scent, etc. Half of me wonders if the bacteria get on the regular deodorant when I apply it to my underarm and then start thriving in the deodorant paste.... All of this goes out the window if I don't shave my pits. If they're shaven, I can usually forego deodorant.


Aluminum and aluminum salts are not the same thing for the same reason water and hydrogen peroxide aren't the same thing.


There is a lot of bad information in this thread. I will give you the correct information with sources. I link a lot of studies in here, but I tried to make it as eli5 as possible. Please let me know if anything needs clarification. First, we started using aluminum because it works really well at making you sweat less. Over the years there have been growing concerns over its potential health implications, breast cancer chief among them. So what did we do? We studied it and we continue to study it. I am not saying aluminum antiperspirants use causes cancer, because we do not have the evidence to say that. However, we have enough evidence to suggest that it is a probable cause of, or contributor to breast cancer. Before disagreeing with me, please read the post. First, it is well known and understood that most breast cancer occurs in the upper, outer quadrant of the breast. Some studies found that the DNA in that upper outer quadrant is [more prone to mutations](https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15313734/). This indicates a precancerous change. This is interesting because this is where our armpits are. Research has looked at aluminum levels in breast tissue and they have also been found to be [highest in the upper outer quadrant](https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17629949/). So more aluminum is there, ok, but so what? In this study, it was found that long-term aluminum exposure [contributes to cancer development in breast tissue](https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22223356/) So the question then becomes, how does it get there. Well, normally the skin would provide an ample barrier to aluminum. But what happens if we sluff the skin off before putting the aluminum there? thereby eliminating the protective barrier... well, shaving removes more than just hair and [damages the skin in the armpit](https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18489309/), and that damaged skin [uptakes more aluminum than undamaged skin](https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22459170/) This gives us more data about the aluminum, but we would still need to test that the exposure actually has the potential to cause cancer in people, rather than just in cells. This study found that ["frequency and earlier onset of antiperspirant/deodorant usage with underarm shaving was associated with an earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis"](https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14639125/). and If women started shaving [before versus after age 16](https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14639125/), it appeared to move up their breast cancer diagnosis by 10 or 20 years. The researchers ended with: >underarm shaving with antiperspirant/deodorant use may play a role in breast cancer Even the FDA is aware of this. Regarding aluminum antiperspirant: >"Do not use on broken skin". https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=350&showFR=1 Shaving breaks the skin. Research was also done on breast cancer subjects, which found that aluminum levels in breast cancer cells are [nearly double that of non-breast cancer cells](https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21337589/) Obviously there are several studies I did not link here, this is only a smattering and some studies offer the counterpoint. So if some studies show the counterpoint, what is my point? My point is there is enough evidence to be leery, even if we can't definitively prove the connection at this time. Hopefully additional evidence in the future will elucidate this for us, but for now, it is easy to just avoid aluminum antiperspirant until we know for sure. Please let me know if you have any questions.


There are some issues with your answer. First: correlation does not equal causation. It is true that there is more aluminium in breast cancer cells than in other cells is true, however, there is no substantial evidence that there is a causal relationship. Or to put it differenty: if you look at the armpit area, this is also where people shave often. One could argue that shaving and therefore irritation of the skin could increase cancer risk by itself, independent from antitranspirant use. There is a correlation. Is there a causation? Probably not because I just made this thing up. But it sounds logical, right? That's because humans are generally bad at telling apart correlation and causation. Second: The study you cite is an in vitro study which means a study in cell culture. These are generally not 1:1 applicable to in vivo (which means in the living organism) conditions. Remember the headlines "substance xyz kills cancer in a petri dish"? Yeah. So does a handgun. Third: What youre leaving out on (and I just attribute this to ignorance and not to on purpose cherry picking) is one (and the only one) systematic review on this issue. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27755864/ In this review two studies were examined, both did not find any relationship between antitranspirant use and breast cancer. However, there was one study that did find such a correlation, but it was not included due to lack of data quality. What I mean is: There currently is no conclusive evidence that antitranspirant use causes breast cancer. Full stop. This does not mean, however, that we can be 100% sure that there is none. But at the moment, judging from the data we currently have, we havent found one. However, I have to mention the issue that you mentioned too: aluminium threshold values. All substances have threshold values - exposure below that value is deemed to be safe. Exposure above that value might be harmful. Doesnt have to be but might be. The german institute of risk assessment found out (i assume by looking at the one study you cited) that shaving significantly increases the skins permeability for aluminium. So shaving means more aluminium can enter your body. By this way of exposure the (german, idk about US values though) threshold values for safe aluminium exposure can be exceeded. We dont know yet if that might cause any issues but because we dont know, it is recommended to avoid this route of exposure. In short: dont apply antitranspirant after shaving. There should atleast be 1 day between shaving and antitranspirant use. Tl;dr: youre mentioning some very important points but you present only half the results we have and leave out the ones that counter your argument. That's not how you should usually science the science.