No matter what your grooming regimen is, there is one thing most of us do once, if not multiple times each day … we apply something under our arms so we don’t stink and scare our friends/family/co-workers away. While health and wellness world is often focused on eliminating toxins and contaminants from your food, have you ever stopped to think about just what you are putting on a very delicate, porous, and important part of your skin every day?
The first thing to know is that your armpits aren’t just a place on your body that tends to get a little stinky and sweaty. Your underarms actually house both blood vessels that are absolutely crucial for delivering nutrients to the cells of your arms along with over 20 lymph nodes, which are essential for your entire body’s immune system. Compromising your underarms with toxic substances may be compromising your ability to fight off infection and disease!
Aside from the unsightly yellow stains that might be showing up on your light-colored shirts, using commercial deodorants results in your armpits absorbing a whole host of toxins that are a cause for serious concern. Let’s go over some of the most common ingredients in commercial deodorants/antiperspirants and find out why some people are deciding that it is time to detoxify their underarms… and why you might want to as well.
- Aluminum is a controversial topic to say the least, bearing many thin and alarmingly strong connections between breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. Some studies show minimal risk, but other studies such as this one published in 2011 show that aluminum is absorbed by your body and deposited in at least part of your breast tissue. Raised levels of aluminum are used as a biomarker for women who are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer.
- Parabens, while usually used in very small amounts, have been shown to act as hormone disruptors and while no studies have shown a connection between parabens in cancer, they have been found in biopsied cancerous breast tissue. To be on the look out for these, they will typically have names such as propylparaben, benzylparaben, methylparaben, or butylparaben.
- Propylene glycol – If this chemical sounds like something you would put in your car, it’s because you are right. The common name for propylene glycol is antifreeze. While it has so far been classified by the Environmental Working Group as something of relatively low concern, it has been shown to occasionally be a skin irritant, an allergen, and is at least somewhat related to organ system toxicity.
- Phthalates, of which there are about 25 different types, are a range of chemicals designed to make plastics more flexible, but they have permeated our lives far beyond plastics. They have found ways into many household products and even into our food, leaching into processed foods from the pipes and plastics used in the processing machinery. Phthalates have been linked to problems with brain development and fertility problems, particularly in men.
- Formaldehyde has long been classified as a cancer-causing agent. But hey, why not put it in deodorant, lotions, nail polish, soaps and makeup if it makes the products work better, right?
So what are we supposed to do? First things first, toss any commercial deodorant, antiperspirant, or any so-called “natural” deodorant with any of the ingredients above in the trash right away. Got that done? Great! Now you can replace your deodorant with a high-quality, 100% natural option that not only helps to keep your underarms fresh and dry, but will nourish and detoxify your body as well. On top of that, realize that whatever you put inside your body reflects on what’s going on outside your body. So eating a nutrient-rich diet of plant-based whole foods while minimizing or eliminating processed foods and animal products can help you smell better, and feel better, all the time.