• Why Should I Switch To A Natural Deodorant?

    I could write an endless list of ways to know you’re no longer a teenager. Which admittedly seems strange coming from someone who spent an entire island vacation binge-watching Austin and Ally. Despite my youthful heart (or horrific taste in television), the signs of unavoidable adult responsibility are really starting to pile up. Researching every single item and candidate on the ballot and getting ridiculously excited about a super capacity washing machine certainly don’t correlate with the teen years. But even more concerning: low cost of ownership takes the number 1 spot on my list of must-haves in a car. And also, I get super excited about an aluminum free deodorant that really works. #TimeMarchesOn

    But really everyone should get excited about an effective, aluminum free deodorant. It allows you to maintain friendships *and* avoid accelerating certain forms of mental decline. Don’t believe me? I wrote an insanely long post about the link between aluminum exposure and cognitive decline a while back, but let’s review quickly for new readers.

    Aluminum Is Everywhere, Including Antiperspirant / Deodorant

    We encounter aluminum in a variety of ways daily, because apparently it serves a myriad of purposes. Like duct tape, but way worse for your brain. Cereal, pots, pans, aluminum foil, and aluminum cans expose us to a small amount of aluminum daily. But the most aggressive aluminum exposures come from antacids, allergy shots, dialysis, and industrial air.

    Aluminum salts are the active ingredient in any antiperspirant, though many people don’t count them as an exposure risk. Why? Because, and please hold your laughter, everyone knows your skin acts as a barrier. That’s its whole purpose in life. So clearly nothing gets through, because everything in this world does what it’s supposed to. Public school provides a dependable education to all. The DARE program kept kids from doing drugs. Standardized testing elevated educational standards nationwide. And nothing gets through the impenetrable barrier of your skin.

    Except drugs delivered through skin patches. Anti-histamine creams. Poison ivy. Icy Hot. And every topical skincare product on the market. In fact, this scientific publication spends an entire paragraph listing the ways skin fails as a barrier and allows topical skincare products to exert effects. So when you apply stuff to your skin, it *can* get through to your body.

    Aluminum Is Linked to Brain Malfunction

    Studies have repeatedly shown links between aluminum exposure and various brain issues. People exposed to high levels of aluminum experienced memory problems and trouble concentrating. And exposure to aluminum correlates with a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. For a deep dive on this topic, you can find the big, detailed list of scary reasons we should all avoid aluminum in my other post.

    Deodorant Is The Way To Go

    You can limit your exposure to aluminum in a variety of ways, including avoiding the points of exposure I listed earlier. But today we’re focusing on antiperspirant/deodorant. Because most of us wear it every day and often slather it on multiple times a day. And no, I can’t tell you that metric tons of antiperspirant-derived aluminum pass through your skin and run rampant in your body. But for me anyway, I’d rather be cautious when it comes to things that might make my brain turn to mush faster than binge-ing Netflix. And we know that things hundreds of times bigger than the aluminum in antiperspirant routinely make it past your skin.

    So I only use aluminum free deodorant, and it has been a struggle, y’all. I’ve definitely thrown out a few workout shirts since making the switch, because the washing machine was no match for their… history of cardio abuse. But, I’d rather throw away a few t-shirts than mistake my brother for Jesus and start confessing all my sins. He doesn’t need to know how often I broke curfew to stay out late working on Calculus homework. Or about that time in 5th grade when I had to take a Spanish quiz on the first day at a new school and cheated off of my neighbor. Who did. NOT. know. Spanish, y’all. #RookieMistake #IFailedThatQuiz

    It Doesn’t Have To Be A Natural Deodorant

    But most of the good ones are. The most important thing is to make sure whatever you use to control your neandrathal perfume has zero aluminum in it so you can avoid increasing your risk of brain malfunction. Now, I gave some suggestions in my previous post, but I’ve since discovered some new deodorants that basically changed my life. In a tiny tiny way, but still. And they saved a bunch of my favorite workout shirts by being wildly effective. So, check out this list of my favorite aluminum free deodorants with scores for efficacy, skin friendliness, and scent:

    1. MagSol Magnesium Deodorant | Rose
      Efficacy: 9.5
      Skin Friendliness: 9.5
      Scent: 10
      Y’all, I first tested this with a two hour cardio session, and I literally came out smelling like roses. This stuff is amazing. The only way antiperspirant outperforms it is in actually preventing sweat. Otherwise, this stuff performs identically to antiperspirant, so much so that I quadruple checked to make sure it was aluminum free. Plus, it doesn’t irritate my skin at all. Probably because it uses magnesium for its base instead of baking soda, which also provides the added benefit of helping you get to sleep every night. This is now the only deodorant I use, and it comes in a bunch of different scents. If you haven’t tried it, do.
    2. Kopari | Regular Scent
      Efficacy: 7
      Skin Friendliness: 9
      Scent: 7
      I haven’t personally tried this one, but my best friend has. She said it’s the easiest natural deodorant to put on, doesn’t irritate her skin, and maintains a pleasant scent all day long.
    3. Primal Pit Paste | Jasmine
      Efficacy: 6.5
      Skin Friendliness: 4
      Scent: 10
    4. Schmidt’s Deodorant Stick | Rose + Vanilla
      Efficacy: 7
      Skin Friendliness: 6
      Scent: 10
      Formerly my favorite deodorant but has been displaced by MagSol.
    5. Tom’s of Maine | Unscented
      Efficacy: 3
      Skin Friendliness: 10
      Scent: Neutral

    Use Aluminum Free Deodorant To Keep Your Brain Working

    as long as possible anyway. And just as a reminder, no research has yet shown a direct cause and effect relationship between aluminum exposure and Alzheimer’s. But I personally see a crap ton (yes, that’s the scientific term) of correlation, and that’s enough to keep me on the aluminum minimizing bandwagon for the foreseeable future.

    Have you tried aluminum free deodorants? Want to rant about them? Do that in the comments – that’s why they’re there! Or drop a line directly in my inbox!

    Photo by morgan sarkissian on Unsplash

  • Is Your Antiperspirant Poisoning You?

    “I stopped using antiperspirant yesterday, y’all.”


    Yes, that is one of the many terrible things I’ve inflicted on my family over the years. I explained that my motive was not ice cold revenge for that time (27 years ago) I paid my brother $20 of hard-earned chore money for the GodMode cheat code in Duke Nukem only to have him erase the game two days later. Nope. As heartbreaking as it was, I had recently learned that the active ingredient in antiperspirant, the magic bullet I credit with getting me through some of my most aggressive social anxiety as a teenager, was linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

    As a perpetually anxious perspirer (spellcheck says that’s not a word, but I’m making it a word #IDoWhatIWant), I was beyond reluctant to give up my antiperspirant. It was almost as vital to my survival as coffee. And I am a coffee before people person. Still, the specter of early onset Alzheimer’s weighed more heavily in my (sort of) still functioning brain.

    So I did what I always do and turned to PubMed to investigate. After all, one study doesn’t make it science. Sometimes one study just makes it an accident, or a data analysis error. I hoped.

    Know what I found in PubMed, and what you would find? This terrifying statement:

    … aluminum is a widely recognized neurotoxin that inhibits more than 200 biologically important functions and causes various adverse effects in plants, animals, and humans

    and also this one:

    Aluminum, the most abundant metallic neurotoxin in the biosphere, is an extremely pro-inflammatory, pathological and genotoxic element that is particularly deleterious to the normal homeostatic operation of brain cells.

    These are just the tip of the iceberg. And, they’re from peer reviewed scientific publications. These aren’t my mom’s favorite crunchy granola blog telling you to wear a magnet headband to banish stress dreams. They are scores of scientists talking about aluminum, the thing that snaps your sweat glands shut, as an incredibly powerful, cell killing substance with a special attraction for your brain cells.

    I know what you’re thinking. Is this something I really need to worry about? Wouldn’t there be some kind of warning from the FDA or the CDC by now? No, no there would not. In order for the FDA or CDC to make a pronouncement about the negative health effects of something in widespread use with far-reaching financial implications for stakeholders who make millions of dollars of political contributions, you need to have a smoking gun, four eye-witnesses, DNA evidence, and a time-stamped, live broadcasted video of the substance in question murdering a bunch of people.

    So how can we know whether or not to embrace the nauseating musk of our ancestors who never lived without the possibility of spontaneous pit stains?

    We investigate the science.

    Aluminum Is Elevated In Alzheimer’s Brains… ?

    No, the ellipsis question mark is not a mistake due to my own personal aluminum exposure. It’s a punctuationary embodiment of the disagreement within the scientific community over the years. In 1996, this group of scientists called their paper, “Content of brain aluminum is not elevated in Alzheimer’s disease.” For scientists, that’s the equivalent of, “Obviously aluminum is not involved in Alzheimer’s, you idiots.” But it contrasts starkly with recent findings in the field, likely due to the development of advanced aluminum measurement tools.

    And y’all, that’s something about science that we all have to kind of accept. Sometimes our initial findings are WRONG. They’re wrong, because we had terrible tools or didn’t understand that our results were contaminated. We are always learning new things, and those new things often invalidate older findings. That’s the nature of science. #ItsScienceYall


    In the publication I initially stumbled across, a group of scientists in England found that, in 60 human brains (an admittedly small sample size) with 700+ tissue samples, the median aluminum content was about 1 microgram of aluminum per gram of brain tissue. In another study of Alzheimer’s only brains, the same research group found what they termed extremely high levels of aluminum – some more than ten times the “normal person” median discovered in their earlier study.

    The sample sizes in both studies were relatively small in light of the almost 7.5 billion people in this world. But, they still begin to demonstrate a correlation between aluminum in the brain and Alzheimer’s. Of course, correlation is not causation. But these aren’t the only data points we have. Let’s take a quick tour of a few others:

    With all that information, it’s not surprising to discover the quote below while scanning the literature:

    However, recent reports concerning sporadic AD and environmental and occupational exposure to aluminium have allowed the conclusion to be drawn that, under certain conditions, it is inevitable that aluminium will contribute towards Alzheimer’s disease.

    As a scientist, I’m going to admit that the above statement, though pulled directly from this publication, is an opinion. There is no evidence as yet to indicate a direct causal link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease.


    Is there enough evidence, combined with the widely accepted fact that aluminum is a neurotoxin, to make this scientist limit aluminum exposure?

    Absolutely yes.

    Limit Your Aluminum Exposure – All The Cool Kids Are Doing It!

    Before I jump in here, let me say it one more time: there is no definitive data indicating that aluminum causes Alzheimer’s disease. There is just a lot of correlation between the two. Because of that correlation, I personally made a choice to limit my aluminum exposure. I want to continue annoying the crap out of my brothers for as long as possible, and that means I need to stay at the top of my game.

    So how can we minimize aluminum exposure?

    According to various  sources, including the European Food Safety Agency, the largest exposure risks come through food, specifically breakfast cereals, pots, pans, aluminum foil, and aluminum cans. I have a bit of a hard time with that due to the fact that aluminum testing of canned drinks reveals a content of between 0.1 and 74 ppm. So… 74/1,000,000 of a canned drink is aluminum. Besides, most aluminum cans are lined with something else we apparently need to worry about. But we’ll talk about that in a later post.

    By my estimation, as well as this publication, the things we really need to avoid are antacids, allergy shots, dialysis, and industrial air, but I also choose to avoid antiperspirants. They carry 25x more aluminum than water and 50% more than a vaccination, and most people use them daily if not multiple times daily.

    If you Google this topic, you’ll probably stumble upon a few articles, some from reputable places, that will tell you there’s nothing to worry about with your antiperspirant. Carry on as usual. None of that aluminum can get through  your skin anyway, silly!

    Spoiler Alert: that’s not true!

    Antiperspirant Can Get Through Your Skin

    The argument against antiperspirant as an aluminum exposure risk hinges on the concept of your skin as a physical barrier. So putting something on your skin couldn’t possibly expose the interior of your body to it, right?

    Have you ever used topical anesthetic or Icy Hot? Do you think that stuff is making your skin numb (or psychotically alternating between hot and cold) through psychokinesis and good intentions? It’s not, I assure you. It is being applied to your skin, passing through it, and getting right down to your nerves, where it prevents them from sending information to your brain. Passing materials through your skin is actually a really common mode of drug delivery. Think about those old school birth control patches, nicotine patches, anti-nausea patches.

    Usually when a scientist or physician is trying to pass a therapeutic substance through the skin, it needs to meet certain criteria (smaller than 500 kD). Not everything will pass through, that’s true. But, it’s actually a well-accepted phenomenon in the dermatology world that many of the substances we believe should not get through the skin do sneak in somehow. Even some that are 100 times larger (or 1000!)  than the aluminum salt found in antiperspirant are known to ninja their way through and exert effects on cells several layers beyond the external skin barrier.

    So, should we trust someone who makes the blanket proclamation that something applied topically can’t possibly get through to your skin simply because skin is a barrier?

    No, y’all, we should not.

    Because that’s kind of like saying, “My kids won’t throw a party while I’m gone this weekend, because they’re supposed to be studying and doing the dishes.”

    I have cleaned up after that party.

    So if you put aluminum on your skin, it is likely that you are putting at least some aluminum in your body. Is it more than the safe level? That’s hard to say. But wouldn’t you rather err on the side of not Alzheimer’s?

    Me too.

    You Don’t Have To Embrace The Musk

    Don’t despair just yet though. Abandoning antiperspirant doesn’t mean you have to embrace agoraphobia. There are options. You just have to (1) ensure you are grabbing something that DOES NOT say ANTIPERSPIRANT. Because if it does, it has aluminum in it. For sure. And then (2) pick something that smells good enough to make you believe it’ll survive your day.

    I’ve tried a lot of different things, and this is what I know. None of these work as well as antiperspirant. That’s just the truth. But, there are a couple that work almost as well and don’t contain ingredients that I think will contribute to any cognitive decline or an inexplicable desire to listen to Nickelback non-stop.

    1. Primal Pit Paste | Jasmine
      This stuff smells nice, and works pretty well. The essential oils can irritate your skin if applied directly after shaving though.
    2. Schmidt’s Deodorant Stick | Rose + Vanilla
      I can’t smell the vanilla in this at all, which is great, because I wouldn’t be a fan of smelling baked goods all day. But, it is hands down my favorite for scent, efficacy, and low tendency to irritate skin. And that’s saying a lot for someone who sweats as much as me (from all the cardio, y’all).
    3. Tom’s of Maine | Unscented
      I have a love hate relationship with Tom’s deodorant. I love it because it’s super kind to skin. I hate it because it always ends up smelling weirdly like lemongrass, no matter which flavor I buy. Still, I keep some on the shelf for days when my skin is feeling extra stabby.

    One last thing – if you absolutely can’t survive without antiperspirant, and it’s so life altering that even a causal relationship with Alzheimer’s wouldn’t sway you, that’s cool. You do you. But maybe try to alternate. Don’t wear antiperspirant every day. Do what you can to limit the amount of high aluminum content you’re slathering all over your skin.

    And I know this post isn’t about antacids, but y’all, don’t eat them like candy. It seems like that’s a terrible idea. OR, know what makes a great antacid? Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.

    That’s not science though. Unless we do a study on it…

    Aight – that’s it for me today. If you’ve tried life without antiperspirants or have a great zero aluminum deodorant, please share that awesome info in the comments!

    Photo by Becca Matimba on Unsplash