In natural deodorants, “All health authorities confirm that aluminum in antiperspirants is not related to cancer. All. There is consensus.” We spoke with experts who deny the rumor.
More than 13 and a half million results are what Google throws up when you ask about the concept “natural deodorant”. According to its trend reports, its searches skyrocketed in mid-2017 and have since grown steadily to become a regular across absolutely every body care brand, as well as every media outlet dealing with the topic aesthetic and health.
The hysteria began with an email, which multiplied in a chain through homes around the world, and which stated such relevant facts as that “substances that make deodorants antiperspirants sneak into the lymph nodes of the armpits until transform into cancer cells. And it happened -of course- especially to women, as they said, “because they are the ones who shave their armpit hair and, thus, by small cuts, they absorb the chemical products of the product”.
It all made a lot of sense, apparently: the belief that ingredients from nature are always better and more respectful of the skin and the environment is widespread and, in many cases, correct. However, it did not happen then, nor does it happen now, the same in the case of deodorants. The truth is that there is currently no scientific evidence that a normal antiperspirant deodorant is harmful to health, as confirmed by the American Cancer Society and all the experts consulted for the preparation of this article.
“Numerous top-level scientific studies have been carried out and all of them have concluded that there is no relationship between cancer and aluminum. All health authorities (WHO, AEMPS, FDA…) confirm that aluminum is not related to cancer. All. There is consensus”, explained the science popularizer Deborah Garcia Bello in one of her popular Twitter threads.
So what are its benefits?
As happens many times in the cosmetic field, when the river sounds, it carries water. The rumors are not true and should not be the reason to choose one type of product or another. But the truth is that natural deodorants do have some benefits over those that are not, which must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Thus, there are two well-founded current trends that explain the interest in natural deodorants.
“The first trend is sustainability : the growing importance for the consumer of the impact generated on the environment by obtaining and eliminating the different substances that make up a cosmetic (active ingredient, vehicle, preservatives, antioxidants…) and in which cosmetics (whose raw materials are at least 90% of natural origin, the amount of chemical or synthetic substances being very low in proportion), provide undoubted value”, explain by Doctor Agustin Viera, a specialist in Dermatology at Canarias Dermatologica, director of communication of the AEDV and member of Top Doctors.
“The second trend is the importance that caring for its microbiota has on the skin of each patient , the set of microorganisms that reside in it and that exert a beneficial effect, favoring its defense capacity and limiting the growth of germs that are harmful to skin health. Caring for and enhancing the skin microbiota is one of the main objectives of natural cosmetics, which makes it possible to reduce the growth of pathogenic microorganisms or the dreaded microbial resistance”, adds Viera.
Cases in which it is recommended to use them
Once it has been clarified that, in no case, a deodorant that is marketed safely and as the most effective cosmetic for its use, could cause cancer or other types of diseases, it is worth reviewing in which cases it could be considered as an optimal option.
“There are two ways to control bad body odour: by regulating the amount of sweating, where antiperspirant deodorants act; or taking care of the microorganisms on the skin that promote decomposition and fermentation on contact with sweat, this is where natural deodorants develop their action .They are indicated in cases in which there is little or no excess sweating, or as a complement to the dermatological treatment of patients with excessive sweating”, explains Dr. Viera.
And it is that it is necessary to take into account that body sweat does not smell: “they smell the substances that are produced when it interacts with the germs of the skin, the products of decomposition and fermentation that are generated”, explains Viera. That is why, often, in those deodorants labeled as “natural” the ingredient that should really worry is the one that gets its aroma, in charge of masking body odor:
“The most problematic ingredient in any type of deodorant or antiperspirant, be it natural or not, it is the fragrance, which can cause irritation or allergic rashes on the skin,” confirmed Dr. Nina Botto, professor of Dermatology at the University of California in San Francisco, to The New York Times. Botto adds, yes, that the recurrent essential oils are included here, of which we have already warned in this magazine on previous occasions.
The 5 commandments of a skin-friendly deodorant
Given the avalanche of options and the false rumors that have been circulating for more than 20 years about deodorants, it is necessary to make clear what their true function is and what they must have, beyond an aroma and a sensation that is pleasant to each one, to become our best option.
Doctor Viera gives the following keys:
1. It must have active ingredients that perform a deodorant function while respecting or enhancing the skin microbiota.
2. Act on pathogenic germs with a disinfectant effect and without creating bacterial resistance.
3. Contain principles that hydrate the skin without drying it out and can have a calming and anti-inflammatory effect.
4. Include elements that absorb sweat.
5. And antiperspirant active ingredients that reduce the amount of sweat.