A lot of people use deodorant or antiperspirant every day. These two products are both effective ways to manage sweating, but they work differently:
- Deodorants deodorize, or make sweat smell “better.”
- Antiperspirants make you sweat, or perspire, less.
Aluminum isn’t normally found in deodorants. Most antiperspirants, on the other hand, do contain aluminum.
Two-in-one products — meaning they’re both a deodorant and an antiperspirant — will also include aluminum.
Antiperspirants help you sweat less by blocking your pores, the tiny openings in your skin that sweat comes out of. These antisweating products contain many ingredients, including aluminum salts.
Aluminum salts are also called aluminum chlorohydrate. The salts dissolve on your skin and “melt” into your pores. This helps plug up your pores and stop some of your sweat.
Doctors and dermatologists use prescription antiperspirants to treat health conditions, like hyperhidrosis, that cause too much sweating. This medicated antiperspirant has about
The most common concern about aluminum in antiperspirants and other skin care products is that it’s linked to breast cancers.
The American Cancer Society notes that there’s no scientific evidence that using antiperspirants causes or worsens breast cancers. What is known, however, is that aluminum salts from antiperspirants may be absorbed through your skin and collect in breast tissue.
Another medical study from 2017 asked 209 women with breast cancer and 209 women without breast cancer how often they used antiperspirants and for how long. The group with breast cancer self-reported that they used antiperspirants several times a day, beginning before age 30.
The control group of women without breast cancer self-reported that they used antiperspirants less. Both groups had aluminum salts in their breast tissue; however, women who said they used antiperspirants often had a higher concentration of aluminum salts.
Medical research on whether aluminum causes cancer isn’t clear.
Aluminum from antiperspirants may build up in breast tissue after years of use. Aluminum does have the ability to disrupt your endocrine system, but there’s no scientific evidence to show that aluminum from antiperspirants causes breast cancer. More research is needed.
Your kidneys help get rid of aluminum and other waste products in your body. The National Kidney Foundation advises that it’s not possible to absorb enough aluminum through your skin to damage your kidneys.
precautions if you have chronic kidney disease
The National Kidney Foundation advises avoiding skin care products with aluminum if you already have chronic stage 4 kidney disease. Kidneys that are working at a level of only 30 percent can’t clear out aluminum fast enough. This may allow it to build up in your body and trigger health problems.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, scientists noticed that some people with chronic kidney disease and high levels of aluminum in their bodies also developed dementia, an age-related memory condition. But most of these patients had high aluminum from medications, not from antiperspirants.
A 2018 meta-analysis found that adults with Alzheimer’s disease had higher levels of metals like aluminum, mercury, and cadmium in their blood. These metals were thought to be from their environment, however, not from antiperspirant.
More research is needed to find out whether aluminum or other metals in the body are linked to these memory conditions.
While groups with memory conditions have been shown in scientific research to also have higher levels of aluminum in their system, the sources impacting those levels are more likely to relate to medication and diet.
No — but if you’re looking to reduce body odor, you can do so without using an antiperspirant. Avoid aluminum by trying these options instead:
- deodorants (most are aluminum-free)
- perfume-free or fragrance-free deodorant
- hypoallergenic deodorants
- crystal deodorant
- low-concentration alpha hydroxy acids and other skin care acids (may cause skin irritation)
- DIY baking soda deodorant
- arrowroot powder
- cornstarch powder
How to read labels for aluminum
Check deodorant and skin care product labels for aluminum. You may see it under any of these names:
- aluminum salts
- aluminum compounds
- aluminum chlorohydrate
- aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY
Antiperspirants contain aluminum to help you sweat less. Deodorants, for the most part, don’t use aluminum as an ingredient.
Medical research shows that aluminum from antiperspirants can build up in your body. There’s no scientific evidence that directly links aluminum to cancers and other health conditions, though. Plus, you’re more likely to get aluminum from other sources.
Still, this medical evidence leads experts to advise that antiperspirant use isn’t a good idea for everyone, especially those with severe chronic kidney disease.
Be sure to always check the ingredients on your skin care products before buying or using them.