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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!!!

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