We may have pined for it while we were shivering our way through winter, but now that the season of sweaty underarms is finally upon us, we’re remembering the cons that comes with summer’s pros. Along with sunblock and sunglasses, deodorant is once again a permanent accessory in our purses and tote bags. But as is evident from simply looking at the sheer (and daunting) variety of deodorant brands and options at your local Walgreens or grocery store – not to mention those we’re seeing in the sea of newly-emerged online beauty shops and DTC brands – deodorant comes in all shapes and sizes. Naturally, that begs the question: How different can they really be from each other, and how do we pick out the ones that are right for us?
Allow us to help you out.
First things first, a bit of clarification: there are two types of deodorizing products out there, one of which is deodorant, the other of which is antiperspirant. While the two are often lumped together, the difference between them, as you might have guessed, is that deodorant is all about neutralizing odors created by sweat, while antiperspirant, on the other hand, stops you from sweating altogether. Of course, the latter sounds optimal (especially as we think of sporting our cotton tees without worrying about pit stains…), but there’s a catch: antiperspirants contain aluminum, which makes us feel a little bit uneasy.
Basically, to stop you from producing sweat, antiperspirants work their magic by plugging the sweat ducts in your underarms with the help of aluminum salts. And sure, the prospect of getting through summer sans sweat might sound like a sweet deal at first, but the reality is that perspiration is an essential bodily function that has many health benefits, including helping rid your body of toxins from your system. When they’re clogged up by aluminum, the apocrine glands (one of two types of sweat glands) in your armpits are unable to purge the toxins in your body, and the result is that toxic waste gets trapped in your tissues and could travel elsewhere in your body, such as the lymph nodes. Research even suggests a link between aluminum and diseases like breast cancer or Alzheimer’s, both of which can be triggered by accumulated toxins. (This research has not yet been validated, but it doesn’t hurt to be a little bit cautious, right?)
Now, you might be thinking, “There are other bodily functions – like going to the bathroom – that help my body flush out toxins, so what’s the big deal if I’m not sweating as much if there’s still an outlet?” And, sure, releasing urine can accomplish similar detoxification effects to sweating out toxins in your body, but studies have shown that there are certain toxins that can only be discharged through sweat.
Long story short: There’s no getting around it, really. Sweating, no matter how inconvenient, is an important process of the body. Rather than trying to defy nature’s intentions for your underarms with aluminum-packed antiperspirants, it might be time to switch to a natural, aluminum-free deodorant that keeps you smelling and feeling fresh all summer without worrying about those clogged up sweat glands.