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The Pits | The Anti In Antiperspirants

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and with the controversy around deodorants, antiperspirants, and their links to breast cancer, we want to give you all the details.

We’re running a two part campaign to promote sweating, that it’s good for you and nothing to be ashamed of! The stigma around sweating was started as a way to market antiperspirants, not because of legitimate health concerns!



WHAT IS DEODORANT?

Deodorant works by adjusting our body’s pH levels to create an environment where bacteria (the cause of odors) can’t survive. It’s a natural process that allows us to keep doing our thing without dealing with odor.

WHAT IS ANTIPERSPIRANT?

An antiperspirant contains aluminum compounds that block our sweat glands with the intention of reducing how much we sweat. When you’re trying to keep your cool on that first date or job interview, sweating can be embarrassing. We get it. The thing is, sweating is really good for us!

Sweat. It’s our body’s way of cooling us down and preventing us from overheating. It helps our bodies detox. Studies have shown that sweating in a sauna is a “healthy way to lower blood pressure” and can relieve medical issues like joint pain and muscle spasms (3).

I know that my skin glows after a good sweat session, but I haven’t found any scientific evidence of that just yet.



WHY WE DON'T MAKE / USE / SELL ANTIPERSPIRANTS

There’s a couple reasons to be cautious about using antiperspirants.

First things first - when the aluminum compounds in antiperspirants block our sweat glands, the compounds are absorbed by our skin. And when they’re absorbed, they can change the estrogen receptors in our breast cells, impacting the amount of estrogen that’s produced. This not only changes how our cells work, but it changes our hormone levels. Out-of-control estrogen levels prompted by antiperspirants can contribute to breast cancer (4).

Antiperspirants can also change the bacteria on our skin. While I know it's weird to think about, there's a lot of beneficial bacteria on our skin. Our deodorants work by adjusting the pH of our skin so bacteria isn’t able to thrive, but it doesn’t totally change the bacteria and how they work. Antiperspirants can.

A really interesting study showed that “antiperspirant use strikingly alters armpit bacterial communities, making them more species rich” (5). The researchers compared the use of antiperspirants and armpits with antibiotics and gut health. While it’s only one study, it’s something to consider.

When it comes to antiperspirants, there’s no absolute right or wrong, but it’s always a good idea to look at the research out there and make a decision that’s best for you. And it’s important to keep sweating because as much as we may not like it, it’s a natural process that’s good for us!

Sarah Price is a green beauty and self care writer with an obsession with holistic skincare. She writes about natural beauty, DIY recipes, self care tips, and more on her self titled blog.

Sources

  1. How Advertisers Convinced Americans They Smelled Bad
  2. DIY Deodorant Workshop with Tara
  3. Sauna-Induced Sweating Offers Many Health Benefits
  4. Aluminium, Antiperspirants and Breast Cancer
  5. The Effect of Habitual and Experimental Antiperspirant and Deodorant Product Use on the Armpit Microbiome