Aluminum Free Deodorant or Antiperspirants: Which Product is Right for You

By Rob Robinson in Natural Products

Shopping for an underarm product can be a confusing experience. For most of us, our needs are very simple – we want a product that protects against odor and keeps us dry. But with all the choices available on the shelf – including aluminum free deodorant, mineral deodorants, or antiperspirants, it can be easy to get confused. How do you pick the product that is right for you?

Let's Talk About Sweat

First, a little biology lesson. Our bodies are covered with two types of sweat glands - eccrine and apocrine glands. You have eccrine glands all over your body, and they open up directly on the skin. Apocrine glands are more concentrated in areas of the body where there are a lot of hair follicle – like your armpits. Both of these glands produce sweat. But did you know sweat is virtually odorless? On its own, sweat really isn't the cause of underam odor. So what stinks? The primary function of sweating is to help keep our bodies cool. But have you ever noticed that things other than heat or exertion can trigger sweating and underarm odor? Why do we sweat (and maybe stink) when feeling nervous or excited? In other animals, the apocrine glands appear to function like scent glands, sending off odors that might attract or serve as a warning. The way this works – the sweat the aprocrine glands is high in protein, and bacteria present on the animal's body feeds on that bacteria and breaks it down. And it's the breaking down of these proteins that causes the odor.

Odor protection vs. Wetness Protection

The first important question depends a lot on your individual body chemistry. Are you looking for protection from body odor, a product that will keep you dry, or both? When it comes to underarm products, one size definitely does not fit all. Deodorants are typically formulated to protect against body odor. Some might contain ingredients that are designed to kill bacteria, or inhibit their growth. Others rely more on fragrances that help to mask body odor. Tom's of Maine has a line of natural deodorant that is free from artificial fragrances and preservatives, and are clinically proven to provide 24 hour odor protections. But these products are not formulated for wetness protection. Antiperspirants are designed to provide wetness protection, and they do this by temporarily blocking the sweat ducts. Antiperspirants are regulated by the FDA as over the counter drugs, and are required to contain one of the approved aluminum salts as the active ingredient. Aluminum chlorohydrate is one of the aluminum salts commonly used in many antiperspirants.

Are all deodorants Aluminum Free?

Is there aluminum in deodorant? The most accurate answer is, sometimes! Some deodorants do contain aluminum, so if you are looking to avoid this ingredient altogether, it's important to read the label. In addition, mineral deodorants that contain alum (such as potassium alum) as an ingredient will also contain at least trace amounts of aluminum.

So What Product is Right For Me?

Determining what product is right for you really boils down to three questions. First, are you looking for wetness protection, odor control, or both? Second, are there any ingredients you are looking to avoid? If, for example, you are looking to avoid aluminum, than an antiperspirant will not be an appropriate choice for you. And you should carefully read the product label to ensure the product really is an aluminum free deodorant. And finally, does the product work for me? Finding a fragrance you like and a product that delivers the performance you are looking for can be a bit of trial and error. Some companies, like Tom's of Maine, have a product satisfaction guarantee.

Why It’s Good

You want to find the products that are right for you and your family, and we want to help! This guide provides some information to help when choosing an underarm product, and some differences between antiperspirants and aluminum free deodorants.

  • Deodorant

    Wild Lavender

    Long Lasting Deodorant
    Learn about each ingredient in Tom's of Maine long-lasting natural deodorant in wild lavender. Get benefits, ratings and reviews of our deodorant.
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  • Antiperspirant

    Coconut Lavender

    Antiperspirant
    Tom's of Maine antiperspirant sticks provide clinically proven 24-hour wetness and odor protection made entirely from ingredients derived from plants and minerals that meet our stewardship model for safe, effective and natural.
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