Your body produces sweat as part of its natural process to keep cool when it’s hot, and to flush out toxins from the lymph nodes located just under your armpits. But the sweat itself is naturally odorless.

Bacteria living on the skin is what can cause odor. The bacteria feast on proteins contained in your sweat and as they break down those compounds, things can get stinky - a process the experts call “bromhidrosis”.

How Antiperspirants Work

All commercial antiperspirants use the same strategy of stopping the sweat from even coming out of the sweat glands!

 Check the back label of any commercial antiperspirant, and you’ll find an unpronounceable active ingredient like “aluminium chlorohydrate” or “aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly.” These chemicals interact with sweat to form a physical plug in the duct of the sweat gland. The aluminum salts also act to constrict the sweat ducts.

There’s one big problem with this: our bodies need to sweat in order to maintain proper health. Also, remember that one of the reasons you sweat in the first place is to flush out toxins. So when your body detects multiple blockages in your sweat ducts, what will it do? Sweat. Even. More.

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Excessive Sweat, Yellow Shirt Stains and Health Risks: The Negative Costs of Aluminum-based Antiperspirants

It’s a negative cycle. You don’t want to smell bad, so you buy an antiperspirant. That kicks your body into high gear, sending the message that it has to work harder to sweat than before, so maybe you apply the antiperspirant twice a day.

Even if the antiperspirant stops you from sweating under your arms, you might find that you’re excessively sweating in other places, like your arms or your back. That’s an actual condition known as compensatory hyperhidrosis (where your body compensates for sweat blockage in certain areas by sweating more elsewhere), but most people just assume that they’re naturally heavy sweaters.

But that’s not the only problematic thing about aluminum-based antiperspirants. There are a ton of other issues, from cosmetic to health risks.

 For example, did you ever wonder why your shirts end up turning white or yellow around the armpits? It’s not your sweat doing that—it’s actually urea crystals from the combination of your sweat and the aluminum compounds in the antiperspirant you’re using.

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That’s right—urea. That shirt stain is yellow because it contains the same waste substance found in urine (sorry!).

But the biggest issue with using antiperspirant is the potential health risk. Recall that antiperspirants work by plugging up the ducts of your sweat glands with aluminum compounds. Some of that aluminum gets absorbed into your body. But since your body can’t process aluminum, it stores it up in tissue deposits.

Several studies have found a statistically higher incidence of cancer, as well as higher measurement of aluminum in skin tissue than in the blood stream. There is an even stronger correlation between aluminum deposits in brain tissue and Alzheimer’s disease.

Using a Natural Deodorant That Works
There’s another way to control odor that doesn’t involve messing around with aluminum. Rather than stopping the sweat, you can neutralize the bacteria that causes body odor.

That’s how natural deodorants work. Natural ingredients like magnesium, activated charcoal, probiotics or zinc oxide create an environment where the odor-causing bacteria cannot thrive. Supporting natural materials help to wick away wetness while still allowing your body to sweat in a healthy way.

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About that sweat. Here’s the deal: your body needs to sweat, and the only thing that can really stop that from happening is an aluminum salt—with all the issues we just talked about above. But you don’t have to resign yourself to a life of sweat-stained shirts. Not only do the ingredients in quality natural deodorants help to dry wetness as you sweat, you may also find that you don’t feel as sweaty after you make the switch.

If you’re making the transition from antiperspirant to a healthy deodorant, it’s true that you may feel a little sweatier while your body is flushing out the remaining aluminum salts from your sweat glands. Once you make it past the transition period, however, your body will find a new equilibrium as it produces sweat at the appropriate level it needs to maintain in order to cool you down when it’s hot.

If you’ve never made the change to natural deodorants before, you don’t have to be too worried about the transition. Every day, more and more people are ditching antiperspirant for a healthier alternative. In fact, many people you already know may be using a natural deodorant right now...and you wouldn’t even know it unless you asked them!