Are Antiperspirants Harmful? The Sweat-Free Truth

Do you remember the emails that circulated years ago, stating that you should never use antiperspirants because studies had found how dangerous antiperspirants were and the long-term negative impact they had on your health? 

So, are antiperspirants harmful and what is behind those emails?  In this article, I will share the truth about antiperspirants with you.

I remember very well when I got an email with a PowerPoint presentation, which I should even have saved in one of my email addresses.  It was in the years when the Internet was very new in my community and I gathered a few email addresses from friends living abroad and they would send me those emails.

This email stated that studies had found that many deodorants and antiperspirants should never be used again because they would cause breast cancer and other types of terrible diseases. 

When I received that email, I did not know how to make sense of it.  At that time I was sweating excessively already and I thought that it was the only remedy I had for unpleasant odors because of my sweating problem.  I just kind of did as if I had never received that email, nor did I share that information with anybody.

Everybody in my family was using deodorants/antiperspirants.  When I got married, I learned that my wife had heard about that too, but regardless of that, we just continued to use them as if it was nothing serious.

We thought of it as a necessary evil, that could someday cause health problems, but we were like “we’ll have to find out”.

It was not long ago that I learned, after I was finally ready to do my research on the topic, that I found out very interesting studies, which I am going to share with you.

What Are Deodorants/Antiperspirants?

First of all, I want to clarify these two concepts, because they are very often misused and misunderstood. 

Deodorants contain bacteria-eliminating ingredients, as well (in most cases) fresh scents.  Deodorants never do anything with our sweating; they are in charge of reducing bacteria that live in our armpits and provide you with a fresh smell throughout the day. 

Bacteria living in our armpits multiply very quickly, in fact, it thrives because of the hot environment.  And since almost everybody produces sweat, the breakdown process of sweat produces unpleasant odors.

So, deodorants reduce bacteria as much as possible to avoid the breakdown of sweat.  And in most cases, it contains a freshener that helps protect from any bacteria that is left and could produce unpleasant odors.

Contrary to deodorants, antiperspirants are only for sweat reduction.  Antiperspirants are mainly made of minerals that block the ducts to the sweat glands, so no sweat can come out.

The minerals, which make up antiperspirants, transform in a gel-ish substance that creeps into the pores and blocks the sweat glands, thus preventing sweat from coming out.  The sweat glands are actually not stopped from sweating, as it is often thought.

Since the concepts of deodorants and antiperspirants are often mixed up, I want you to understand that most of the claims that antiperspirants are harmful are about antiperspirants and deodorants. 

Because many people use deodorants/antiperspirants in a single product, they naturally tend to think that deodorants must be harmful as well.

Are Antiperspirants Harmful? Where Does The Theory Come From?

During WWII, the first antiperspirant was patented, and not long after it, this market gained traction and it became a product that was used daily by all those individuals that wanted to reduce their sweating.

Not long after that, studies were made on animals, to test the effect of aluminum chloride, which is the most common and effective mineral to treat sweating successfully. 

These studies found a trace of aluminum in the bodies of these animals, which was then linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. 

For many years it was believed that aluminum chloride was absorbed through the pores of our skin in our armpits, and since breast cancer was on the rise for many decades, it was believed that aluminum chloride was the cause.

Also, it was believed that aluminum chloride contributed to brain cell damage, which eventually leads to Alzheimer’s diseases.

Has the Theory that Antiperspirants are Harmful Been Proven?

As said before, out of the middle of seemingly nowhere we had emails being forwarded that warned people from using antiperspirants.  To date, it is not sure where these emails originated from.

What came out in those early years when antiperspirants were on the rise was indeed only a theory, although it was made a fact by many people. 

In recent years, studies were made to prove the theory that dated back almost half a century.  These studies were inconclusive, but they state that there is not enough evidence to prove that aluminum chloride causes cancer and Alzheimer’s.

These studies have shown that our skin does not absorb as many chemicals and toxins as it was believed.  In fact, our skin is there to protect the vital organs, such as the brain, the heart, and lungs from dangers.  And why would our skin not protect us from antiperspirants? 

It was found that most of the aluminum in our body comes in through food.  Only a very very small percent of what is put on our skin actually is absorbed into our body.  Studies suggest that we should be more careful with what we eat and not so much about what we put on. 

Am I saying that our skin will repel anything?  Of course not.  Should we overuse antiperspirants and let our skin do the rest?  Not at all.  I do not put on an excess amount of aluminum, but I use them when necessary because I know that they are not as harmful as once believed. 

As said, all the studies that were conducted concluded that there was just not enough evidence to say that antiperspirants cause breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Watch the video below to know more about why antiperspirants aren’t harmful at all.

If Antiperspirants Are Not Harmful, Then What?

By no means do I want to encourage you to use antiperspirants just for the sake of using them. Also, I do want to mention that I do not suggest using too much of them, because there can be other side effects of using antiperspirants than cancer and Alzheimer’s.

The worst thing I could say about some antiperspirant/deodorants is that they can leave marks on your clothes. These marks become stains that are so hard to remove. But aside from that, I can’t see why antiperspirants can be harmful.

I have suffered from hyperhidrosis for more than half of my life and I was always reluctant to use aluminum, one of the main components of antiperspirants.

However, I tried it and it helped me with my sweating problem, which was embarrassing all the time. Now, that I know more about antiperspirants, I am not afraid to use them anymore.

In the next section, I will share with you the different types of antiperspirants that you can find on the market.

Types of Antiperspirants

Due to my problem of excessive sweating, I have searched the internet for a solution other than Botox or surgery. I then learned to use products like antiperspirants, which help reduce or eliminate sweating where you apply it.

Antiperspirants often come in roll-on bottles, which help spread the liquid evenly on your armpits. The downside of using a roll-on is that it takes the antiperspirant a lot of time before fully drying off.

After reading a lot of articles and reviews, I discovered that there are different types of antiperspirants:

Aerosol Spray

These antiperspirants are usually sprayed on and have a smooth or even a powdery finish. The product may feel cold when applied. Aerosol antiperspirants are ideal for the gym as it is easier to use and it also covers the area faster than a roll-on or a stick.

It is also cleaner to use an aerosol antiperspirant as the applicator never touches the skin preventing the spread of any bacteria.

Roll-on

This is what I usually got when I was still buying over-the-counter antiperspirants. These bottles make the product so easy to apply, but because it is liquid, it may take a bit more time to dry.

Gel

These antiperspirants are applied a bit thickly compared to other types because you use your hand. Compared to other types that may leave stains, gel-type products are usually clear when it’s dry.

Wipes

These antiperspirants are individually wrapped and are easy to apply because you just wipe it on your armpits. The only issue some people have on this type of antiperspirant is the waste as most wipes cannot be recycled.

Crystal

These are antiperspirants made out mineral salts and are perfect for people who want to use all-natural products. Sadly, these antiperspirants don’t work for excessive sweating/hyperhidrosis.

What Are Clinical Strength Antiperspirants?

I used antiperspirants for many years, and I noticed that they did not stop my embarrassing sweat problem. They did help a little, but only for a few hours. Regular antiperspirants work for people who sweat a little, but not for a person like me who has hyperhidrosis.

I did some reading and I discovered that there are stronger versions of what I buy that can stop sweat for a few days after application.

Clinical antiperspirants are formulated to stop sweating longer than usual. This is important to me as hyperhidrosis has caused me to have a lot of embarrassing situations in the past.

Part of that was dealing with the odor among other things. I needed a stronger antiperspirant to avoid these problems.

So far, the best clinical antiperspirant I have used is SweatBlock. This is a brand that has never failed me when it comes to reducing or even stopping my sweating. It is fairly simple to apply as it comes in the form of wipes.

After applying this, it takes 4- 10 days before a person starts excessively sweating again. For me, the longest was about 7 days of dryness. Isn’t it amazing?

Check the price for SweatBlock here or read my full product review here.

Can Clinical Antiperspirants be used in other parts of the body?

Hyperhidrosis doesn’t solely affect the armpits. Some people have had excessive sweating problems on their feet, their crotch, and even their palms.

You can definitely apply a clinical antiperspirant in other parts of your body. SweatBlock can be very tricky to apply to the hard-to-reach areas like the groin or the back.

Odaban is great alternative, as it is also a clinical antiperspirant spray that is easier to use compared to wipes. It is less messy and is the only brand to have good reviews on its effectiveness on different parts of the body.

For this brand, you also don’t have to spray it every day as you can get 2-10 days of dryness after each application. A lot of people have been using Odaban for years and they haven’t switched to other brands due to the effectiveness of the product and the convenience of it being a spray-on.

Although it is convenient to have your antiperspirant in spray form, you would have to be careful to avoid spraying it near your eyes. Most sprays can hurt or even burn your eyes when accidentally sprayed on your eyes.

Check the price of Odaban here or read my full product review here.

How to Properly Apply Antiperspirant?

Now that we know more about antiperspirants, let me share more about my journey in finding the solution to excessive sweating. Before, I used to wonder why some of the best brands non-clinical strength antiperspirants didn’t work as well compared to what the reviews said. I noticed that the effects didn’t last as long as I wanted it to.

I then discovered that it was because I was applying the product on my armpits the wrong way.

How should one properly apply antiperspirant?

For the best results, it is best to apply the product at night after a bath. Antiperspirants are more effective when the affected area is completely dry and stays dry for a few hours.

If they are applied in the morning, you are off to work and start to sweat, and that makes them ineffective, as the components of antiperspirants are washed away.

So, apply them always before bedtime. And put on your favorite deodorant in the morning.

Clinical strength antiperspirants are similar. However, since they have significantly higher amounts of aluminum, you need to make sure that your armpits are 100% dry and that you will not sweat for at least 4 hours.

Also, you can only dab or spray the product into your armpits or the affected area because aluminum can burn your skin if you rub it into the affected area.

Conclusion

Antiperspirants pose no threat to our health or our bodies. You have learned that these products contain non- toxic ingredients that help reduce or eliminate sweat for a certain period of time.

As a person who found a solution to his excessive sweating, I make it a point to share my knowledge with everyone. People who may be experiencing similar or even the same condition as I did can discover that there are solutions that would not have to lead to surgery or even Botox.

That said, I would love to hear more from you about this topic. For questions and discussions please leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to help you to the best of my ability.

If you know of a family member or friends that could benefit from reading this, please share via social media by clicking the buttons below.

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Author: Oscar

Oscar has suffered from excessive underarm sweating for more than half of his life. He struggled for many years with social anxiety because of the embarrassing sweat marks that he always had on his shirts. Nothing helped. He thought he would have to live with this condition for the rest of his life. After years of struggling and even giving up on searching for solutions, he found a solution to his problem. Now he wants to help people around the world who suffer from hyperhidrosis by informing his readers about their condition and showing them what to do about their problem.

8 thoughts on “Are Antiperspirants Harmful? The Sweat-Free Truth”

  1. So, all along I have been living with the thought that anti-perspirants are harmful and very dangerous to our health. This is just coming more like a shock. I still have the email saved on the list of important on my email. Wow! this could not come more than a surprise to me. Though getting back to antiperspirants might not be so easy but then, I will try to make a purchase for one soon. Thank you so much for breaking this down and making it more easier to understand. Thumbs up to you for sharing

    1. Hi there,

      wow, you were actually very shocked by the email that you received, as you saved it.  I am not even sure I did back then, but I sure tried hard not to think about it all the time, as I did not know how to ditch these products.

      And yeah, in another article about aluminum chloride, I share the percent of toxins that your body takes in through your armpits.  The number is so low that it makes you understand why it cannot pose any danger.  We take so much poison into our bodies through the food we eat every day and the polluted air we breathe.  That is much more of a concern than antiperspirants.

      I hope you find peace of mind in buying an antiperspirant again and using it to be sweat-free.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your “aha” moment.  I love to hear all the different perspectives from my readers.

      Oscar

  2. Whoa, I had no idea about antiperspirants being possibly harmful. I have struggled with lots of sweat for years and it often makes my shirt damp which is very uncomfortable and even more annoying. It’s a shame that something so irritating is so vitally important to our bodies health and it’s ability to regulate our internal body temperature. I also struggle to find an antiperspirant deodorant that doesn’t cause me to have irritated and angry skin. Very interesting and helpful article you wrote, thank you.

    1. Hi there,

      thanks for stopping by and reading this article.  And welcome to the club of excessive sweaters.  I have had the same problem for almost 2 decades and it took me years to understand the problem and to finally solve it.  As described in the article, if you sweat excessively, you do need a clinical strength antiperspirants like Sweatblock.  That is the only way to stop your sweating.  I also like to use sweat proof undershirts like the Thompson Tee so my sweating is not visible.  That is just a matter of preference.

      I hope you find relief from your sweating problem.  If you have any questions regarding that, you can always ask.

      Oscar

  3. Very good news. I, too, heard the news that antiperspirants were bad for you and that aluminum could cause dementia or Alzheimer’s. In fact, I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma about 7 years ago and since it affected a lymph node, I wondered if it was caused by antiperspirants. I asked my oncologist about it and he said that, no, it’s not from antiperspirants. Very interesting article. I’m glad to hear you’ve confirmed that deodorants and antiperspirants are not harmful. To be honest, I’ve still wondered to this day. Thanks for clearing it up. 

    1. Hi Paula,

      wow, that is so good to hear that your doctor already assured you that your lymphoma was not from antiperspirants.  However, I understand what you say that it is unbelievable since we were taught that for so many years.  I believed that for many years, but I did not know how to stop using them with my excessive sweating problem.  

      I am glad that this article cleared some things up for you.  

      Oscar

  4. Hello,

    I have heard rumors about how antiperspirants contain harmful chemicals and how they could be linked to cancer. I got really scared after hearing few rumors like these and I avoided using deodorants and antiperspirants as much as I can. So thank you very much for writing this article and clearing out those rumors. I have used roll-on and aerosol spray deodorants on the occasions I really wanted to use them. I really didn’t know much about the other types of antiperspirants. But I think SweatBlock wipes are good alternative since I tend to sweat on my feet. 🙂

    1. Hi Anjali,

      thank you so much for reading this article about antiperspirants.  I had also wanted to stop using antiperspirants and deodorants when I found out about the dangers they pose.  However, I know for sure that they don’t cause that much harm.  You get more poison through food intake into your body than through antiperspirants.

      I have used Sweatblock for years, and I really like it.  I suffer from severe hyperhidrosis and Sweatblock has helped me gain back my freedom.  

      Personally, I have not used Sweatblock on other body parts, but there are people who refer having had success with it.  You can go for it.

      Oscar

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