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Aluminum in deodorant- Is it dangerous?

Reviewed by Marta June 18, 2013 24 Comments

Yesterday evening over a glass of wine, the conversation turned (as well it might on a humid New York day) to sweat and the need for any self-respecting woman in a designer blouse to protect her underarms at all costs. But could the cost be too high? As my friend pointed out, deodorant commonly contains aluminum. "Everyone I know is scared of aluminum", she said.

Europeans don't like aluminum much. Aluminum cookware is considered toxic. But is it the same kind of aluminum in deodorant? My bathroom cabinet revealed a roll-on made by Clinique ($8 for 2oz). It contains a 20% concentration of the active ingredient aluminum chlorohydrate.

What Is Aluminum in Deodorant? Is Aluminum in Deodorant Harmful?

Aluminum chlorohydrate is a group of salts that is made by reacting aluminum with hydrochloric acid. Its most common use is in deodorants and antiperspirants because it alters the pH balance of the skin and the production of sweat. There was a scare a few years ago that aluminum chlorohydrate caused breast cancer. In 2002, the National Cancer Institute said there was no link.

Since then, deodorant makers have used aluminum with impunity. The thing is that while aluminum in deodorant  may not cause cancer, it is well proven that aluminum is a neurotoxin that can alter the function of the blood-brain barrier. There was a study on this as long ago as 1989 and many more since (although no one seems to know what the basis for it being a toxin is).

Auminum is poorly absorbed and efficiently eliminated. If, however, it is absorbed then it gets to the lungs, liver and kidneys. The Risk Assessment Information System, sponsored by the US Dept of Energy, says that it "may be involved" in Alzheimer's and Parkinsons.

Is Aluminum in Deodorant Worth the Risks?

So is using a deodorant with aluminum in it worth whatever health risk there might be? Probably not. According to one German study on 97 adults, it doesn't even work that well at preventing perspiration (and if applied whilst perspiring doesn't work at all). Another study showed an aluminum-based deodorant to be 38% effective — at best. This was a lotion. The stick form didn't work at all.

Alternatives to Deodorants with Aluminum

On balance, I have decided to trash my Clinique roll-on. But what to replace it with? Weleda does a nice natural one with lemon. However, it really just keeps odor at bay; it doesn't keep you dry. In fact, that appears to be true for most "natural" and/or aluminum-free products. They even proclaim proudly that you will sweat, that sweating is normal and even good for you (expels toxins). Forget that. I want to be dry. More research is needed but I have seen a good review of Alvera Aloe Based Roll-on.

UPDATE 6/22: I've just put Alvera Aloe Based Roll-on to the test (27-minute workout on the rowing machine). It is good at neutralizing pongs but absolutely hopeless at keeping armpits dry.

  • December 5, 2016

    by Twin Chemical

    The Aluminium chlorohydrate is short for ACH,it has two grades: daily-chem grade and water treatment grade.The Daily-chem grade for antiperspirant in cosmetic and the water treatment grade for flocculant.
    So i think Aluminum Chlorohydrate is not dangerous.

  • October 31, 2016

    by sigh

    Do you know that they use aluminum chlorohydrate in water purification? Wait? I thought it was bad? Seriously, the libshits freak out over ever thing when they see big words like aluminum chlorohydrate, like OMG it must be bad, I'm gonna die! Instead of learning gender studies or philosophy, maybe you should of studied chemistry. Ever hear of sodium chloride? AKA salt..

  • August 9, 2016

    by Margie

    I seem to be alblergic to the aluminum chloride in Certain DRI. By the time it builds up to the point that I don't sweat, I have itchy bumps. I am obese and skin hangs down over the skin at the top of my thighs and I sweat gallons, which causes...itchy bumps. I am working on the obesity but even if I succeed, it takes years before the doctors will operate on the loose skin.
    By then I will be dead. Do any of you "sweaters" have any suggestions?Margie

  • June 11, 2016

    by FACM

    Deodorants are not antiperspirants. Most people use the word incorrectly. Many, I think, erroneously believe deodorants prevent sweating (wetness) but they don't; by definition they just deodorize. Deodorants do not contain aluminum unless it is not labeled correctly or is fraudulently marked. The Clinique "deodorant" shown is actually a combination antiperspirant/deodorant; it states that on the label.

  • June 9, 2016

    by Bronwyn

    I live in Germany and have just been home to South Africa on holiday. I came back with loads of Garnier anti perspirant because it still has aluminum in and I am loving not sweating!!!! I was sldo naughty and didn't bath yesterday, but after 48 hours I smelt like a flower in spring snd no sign of sweat - and here in the Rhine valley, it's very, very humid. I have to say, I love aluminum in deo!!!

  • December 29, 2015

    by Gail

    Baking soda is what I use. Wonderful for stopping order, but not sweating. Stopping the sweating is not a healthy thing to do. Sweating through the skin is one of the ways our bodies purges it toxins.

  • July 19, 2015

    by Robin

    After posting my last comment I proceeded to send the makers of Alvera a note of my displeasure with their deception only to find it gets even more weird. Here is the website that's on the bottle of deodorant
    http://texasbestunlimited.com/?&query=Aluminum%20Free%20Deodorant&afdToken=CpoCChMI5b60_e7nxgIV5GMwCh3WmA7OEAcYASABUO3PoAFQ79CgAVCtnJUIUIbJ9w1Qtd6gDlDI8oIPUJOu9g9QlcbDEFDK5e0VUIGjqBxQpaOoHFCmo6gcUMzimh1QjIWcH1CNhZwfUMLzpyJQ4qvpKFDks4EuUMDPuy5Qwc_rLlDHvco1UJjkt1BQ9KT-YlDUzoRpUPfY8m9Qso_adVD9mvl3UJeopn9Qy4CZjwFQxPHtlwFQmZHulwFQ77-qpwFQypOVtQFQpby51ANQ9qPR1QNQ9vLswAdo7c-gAWjv0KABcUPo8lyVtuEgggETCMy3uf3u58YCFS1hMAod0ysJ6I0Bq-OyYpEBFN3kLtDqZNORAbyjd0D7gwX5EhkAbTqKkGxwgGa0aXQmObBVJWCYWsIxKjoL
    Once you get there notice that the deodorant in question is not listed with the aluminum free deodorants. It is important to remember that unless it says "aluminum free" it probably isn't!! There is no link for a customer service and it appears that Texas Best Unlimited might be for sale.

  • July 18, 2015

    by Rachel

    I noticed you mentioned the brand Alvera as an alternative...but Alvera has aluminum in it too...it's listed as Alcloxa which is a compound of aluminum salts.

  • June 6, 2015

    by Frank

    Hi There! I just need to ask a potentially embarrassing question. Your line "..If, however, it is absorbed then it gets to the lungs, liver and kidneys. The Risk Assessment Information System, sponsored by the US Dept of Energy, says that it "may be involved" in Alzheimer's and Parkinsons."

    This actually makes no sense. Your liver and kidney function as scrubbers removing toxins from and excretes them from your system. The only problem I see is if your system gets overloaded and cannot remove the toxins from your system fast enough.

    But I agree on one thing though. Stop worrying so much and munch on that aluminum bar you have in your pocket ;). Ours lives are short enough as t is without running around like chicken little.

  • January 3, 2015

    by Dominic Jack

    Hi Marta,
    Thanks for a nice review.
    What I don't quite get is that you expect to put a chemical on your skin that will prevent you from perspiring while exercising....? Don't you think you're pushing it a little?
    Jack

  • November 5, 2014

    by Lily

    Hi Marta! Thanks for the great information on deodorant! I noticed on an Amazon review someone pointed out that this deodorant contains the ingredient “alcloxa - http://onlinepharmacyreviews.org/ingredients/alcloxa ” which they said is an aluminum salt. I don’t know if there are good kinds of aluminum out there but I wanted to check with you. Also, in the comments above they mentioned that there is TEA in this deodorant so you wouldn’t use it…is there another brand you use/recommend now? Thanks in advance for your time!! Really appreciate your wisdom and your posts!

  • August 3, 2014

    by Lance

    I can not comment on whether or not Aluminum is toxic or not but just so you have the facts. Clay is hydrous aluminium phyllosilicates, all your pots and cups are ceramics made from clay. Any time you breath in dust your lungs fill with aluminum. Aluminium is the third most abundant element (after oxygen and silicon), and the most abundant metal in the Earth's crust. If you want to avoid Aluminum, stop eating and breathing. Bottom line is that your body is setup to eliminate toxins like (possible) Aluminum, Chrome (from stainless steel, and plant toxins (from spices). We should try to not react and perpetuate myths without applying common sense. Finally just because something comes from a tree like "Tea Tree Oil" does not mean it is good for you. I can point out a lot of tree oils that will kill you dead. "Natural products" just mean that there is no FDA information and no one knows their actual effect because they have never been scientifically studied.

  • May 10, 2014

    by mario losberg

    everybody talk's about aluminum's in deodorant's..what about propylene glycol,BHT,eugenol,benzyl alcohol,triclosan.... in deodorant's and cosmetic's.. they are also potencial cancerogenic chemical's...

  • November 28, 2013

    by Tracey

    I've just rung Unilever and they said they use aluminium in their Simple deodarant and the lady (Australia accent) said there has not been any literature to show proof that is is harmful. I said but it is aluminium in your deodarant and she said yes. I said that says it all. She also said 'cos they have to put so much information on their products now - that's why they have to put another sticker underneath the barcode sticker.

    Usually I use Tea Tree Oil deodarant (no aluminium) but wanted to try Simple range as I'd always used their soap. Had to peel an additional sticker off when I got home to see what was under. Assumed I'd bought another type without aluminium but my 13year old daughter pointed out it that its an anti-perspirant so has aluminium in it. So disappointed as I've taught my daughter my ways of not using aluminium ones so that when she started using deodarant about a year ago she would be well on her way with knowledge of what moisturisers to use as well, etc. It says anti-perspirant on the front - so should have had my goggles on. Never mind. I had ultimately assumed that "Simple" brant doesn't contain any harmful crap - not the case.

    Anyone found anything apart from the tea tree oil deodarant.

    Aluminium and enamel pots were what was used to cook in when I was a kid in the 60s and 70s - and I found out years later that they are bad for cooking and always tell people when I'm at the opshops and they are looking at buying these.
    Got to teach your kids so they can pass on information.

    That's my long story for the day. Now its the weekend - yay !!!

  • November 3, 2013

    by notsofast

    Regarding Alvera:
    http://www.afrocentriconline.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=27249&sid=1ebfa62c7d5c4dfcc401ebbba7d7f17b

    The deoderant, Aloe and Almonds, made by Alvera is sold in health food stores and states is contains no animal ingredients, alcohol, dyes, artificial preservatives or bactericides. What it does not state is that it does not contain Aluminum.

    There is an ingredient on the list called Alcloxa. I had noticed that it seemed to work much too effectively and also caused some irritation and itching. Alcloxa was the only ingredient that I did not recognize. I called the company 5 to 6 times and left a message but did not get an answer until after I had found the information on the internet. It was not readily available as most of the english speaking sites simply gave the name alcloxa, a derivative of allantoin, and no chemical name. I finally tried a french site and found the chemical name: allantoinate de clorhydroxyaluminium. The actual formula is

    tetrahydroxychloro(hydroxy-2 oxo-5delta2-imidazolinyl-4ureido)dialuminum.

    Searching a little more, I also found an Australian site, a Russian(?) site, a vegan site (allantoin can be derived from animal products as well as the herb comfrey) and finally on a site called The Cosmetics Cop (www.cosmeticcop.com/dictionary/dictinex.htm). All of them had the same chemical name that clearly indicated the inclusion of al = clearly a compound of Aluminum.

    When I called one last time I left a message stating that I had found the ingredients on the web and I was going to talk to the health food store about it. This time I got an answer.

    I repeated my question, what was Alcloxa, and was told it was just a drying agent. When I asked yes but what was it she said it was a trade name for allantoin. When I persisted that it was a compound she agreed yes it did have aluminum in it but just a little bit and also that they did not state on the label that it did not contain aluminum.

    I complained that this was very misleading as most people would assume that it would not contain aluminum along with the other objectionable substances they did list. She then suggested that if it had bothered me that I should not use it. The pattern seems to be one of very conscious deception and misleading information on their part and by the company that manufactures alcloxa.

    Most of the Web sites just listed alcloxa as a form of allantoin with no chemical name. However it is not a form of allantoin but a new chemical compound derived from allantoin and aluminum. This is quite different as only the slightest knowledge of chemistry makes clear. I would like to ask readers of this message to call the company, Texas Best Unlimited, distributers of Alvera products, at their toll free number, 830 257-6020, and let them know that is a misleading and dishonest label.

  • July 24, 2013

    by Jeanine

    Good post. Aluminum is incredibly dangerous and is believed to inflict significant damage on the brain and other internal organs. I cannot believe people still use anti-perspirants. An excellent alternative, as Emily mentioned, is Lavilin, an all-natural deodorant that is SAFE.

  • June 28, 2013

    by Emily

    Lavilin would be my suggestion.
    Although keep in mind – Lavilin doesn’t inhibit sweating since it’s not an anti-perspirant. Lavilin is an all-natural deodorant that eliminates bacteria, which creates body odor. Just keep that in mind in case you sweat a lot

  • April 15, 2013

    by Matthew Gustke

    Doesn’t ammonium alum (Crystal Deodorants) contain Aluminum? Isn’t aluminum bad? Yes and no. Gasoline, Sugar, Water and Hydrochloric acid all contain Hydrogen and/or Oxygen–some will kill us and some are necessary for life. There are two main differences between Ammonium Alum and Aluminium Chloride/Chlorohydrate/Zirconium (the toxic aluminums). These latter toxic aluminum compounds react with the chemistry in the skin to form a gel which blocks your sweat ducts and glands and keeps you nice and dry. They also have a small molecular mass (typically 250-350 Daltons) meaning that they can readily cross right through the skin/blood barrier and enter your body (not good). Ammonium Alum (in the crystal deodorant) has a much larger molecule (around 650 Daltons) which is too large to be absorbed through the skin (less than 500 Daltons can be absorbed). Instead of forming a pore-blocking gel, Ammonium Alum stays on the surface of the skin where it prevents the bacteria (responsible for causing B.O.) from multiplying.

    Do your research folks. More info here: http://matthewgustke.com/2013/04/14/simplifying-deodorant/

  • April 14, 2013

    by DeLaney

    Well I use a natural roll on deodorant called kiss my face. I like the lavender scent because it keeps me smelling good all day! I feel like I sweat more than the normal woman but like the article stated, sweating is NATURAL. If you want unnatural and the unappealing side effects associated with anti antiperspirants by all means cake your armpits with it. I take a supplement too to help keep BO at bay, chlorophyll. I searched for months for the right 'natural' way to eliminate stink and found sweat is a part of life. But it doesn't mean when you sweat you automatically stink.

  • April 4, 2013

    by CuteStar Ziya

    does it causes cancer??

  • January 23, 2011

    by Ran

    I use Toms of Maine. Works well for me but i must apply twice a day. If you are worried about BO...vinegar is actually REALLY good and if you dont want to be wet just apply some powder under your pitts. It really works! Im more concerned about my health than wetness. The vinegar or deodarant controls smell just fine.

  • October 1, 2009

    by Sherry

    Well all i know is i have tried every anti- perspirant and deodorant out there because my arm pits get sweaty- none of them work!!!

  • September 4, 2008

    by Cyn

    <p>So the idea of natural deoderant is really nice, and I for one wish that the stuff worked. But I sweat alot. I don't have to be working out; I sweat when nervous, when too warm, when in a hurry, when upset. With the natural products, I end up smelling like a men's locker room AND my clothes suffer due to staining and the need for more frequent washes. Does my desire to not ruin all my clothes and to not stink to high heaven make me a snob? I don't think so. I am a professional and I can't go around reeking up people's offices. I personally don't mind a mild body smell on a person, but once it crosses a stronger odor line, it's not acceptable. No one wants to eat lunch sitting next to someone with horrid BO. Try not to make a blanket judgement about someone based on one opinion.</p>

  • August 26, 2008

    by real women sweat

    <p>Women like you were unfortunately raised to put vanity over your own health. </p>

    <p>Seriously, are you doing manual labor or ANYTHING besides running on a treadmill to break a sweat any day of your life? If you were, you would not be the type that cared about it. </p>

    <p>Do you really need to apply toxic chemicals to your skin so you don't perspire when your lunch "friends" ask you an embarrassing question over mimosas and cob salads?</p>

    <p>While still unproven, I am convinced that environmental factors, especially the chemicals that people subject their bodies to (mostly unknowingly) have caused Alzheimer's disease to now be the sixth leading cause of death in America.</p>

    <p>I am sick to death by people of your generation (or offspring the boomer generation, who also drank the kool-ade) perpetuating disgusting beauty myths. </p>

    <p>Wake up!!!!</p>

    <p>No one really cares if you have sweat spots on your blouse...at least not anyone who isn't a complete snob, and truly does not give a crap about you in the first place. </p>

    <p>By the way, you ARE supposed to sweat when you exercise. That's the whole point. </p>

    <p>Use aluminum-free, Toms of Main is good, just re-apply when needed, like before meeting your girlfriends for drinks. Ugh!!!!<br />
    </p>

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