Since increased exposure to aluminum can cause neurological damage, it is better to use deodorants and antiperspirants, that contain aluminum chlorohydrate in moderation. This BeautiSecrets article explains the possible long term effects of chronic aluminum exposure.
Did You Know?
Aluminum was discovered in 1825 and for decades, it was considered far more valuable than gold. Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, the first president of the French Second Republic, proudly used aluminum plates and cutlery to serve his most honored guests!
Aluminum Chlorohydrate (Al2Cl(OH)5), a group of specific aluminum salts, is widely used in deodorants and antiperspirants, because it temporarily blocks sweat ducts. Its presence leads to swelling of the cells in the outer layer of skin. Squeezing and closing of the ducts makes it difficult for sweat to reach the skin’s surface. Aluminum salts have a mild astringent effect on the skin pores; causing them to contract. This also helps prevent the transfer of sweat to the skin surface. Moreover, interaction of aluminum-based compounds with the keratin fibrils in the sweat ducts leads to formation of ‘physical plugs’ that obstruct the path of the sweat. The plugs so formed are removed over time, by the natural sloughing of the skin (shedding of the outermost layer). The effect of antiperspirants may vary from person to person.
(Al2Cl(OH)5) is also used in water and waste management processes wherein it acts as a coagulant. It becomes easier to remove the particle impurities present in the water, as aluminum chlorohydrate brings them together.
Antiperspirants are typically applied to underarms. Deodorants are used on underarms as well as on other areas of the body, as they come in the form of body sprays. Aerosol antiperspirants are also available in the market. Solid-form antiperspirants are usually used along the hairline or bra line. Most deodorants and antiperspirants contain (Al2Cl(OH)5).
Side Effects of Aluminum Chlorohydrate
In the U.S., most deodorants are classified as cosmetics ,while antiperspirants are classified as over-the-counter drugs, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Deodorants combined with antiperspirant agents are classified as drugs by the FDA.
✦ Aluminum can be ingested orally and it can be absorbed through skin. In fact, absorption through skin can be more dangerous than oral ingestion. Study results show that aluminum can stay in your blood for 15 days, after only one application of aluminum to the armpit. Thus, topical application of aluminum promotes its entry into your system, including brain.
✦ Difficulty learning, irritability, short-term memory loss, anxiety, loss of coordination, disorientation, depression, mental confusion, gastrointestinal upsets (heartburn, abdominal pain, flatulence, etc.), and headaches are some of the short term symptoms of aluminum toxicity.
✦ It is suspected that excessive exposure to aluminum can affect the lungs and can cause asthma. Researchers say that it can cause respiratory toxicity.
✦ Aluminum toxicity may lead to nerve damage, kidney damage, and osteomalacia (softening of bones due to vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus deficiency).
✦ Some study results have indicated that exposure to aluminum compounds can cause Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological problems. Even postmortem analysis of the brains of people who had Alzheimer’s disease has shown increased levels of aluminum compared to that found in the brains of people who did not die from the disease. Several studies were conducted to watch the effects of deodorants and antiperspirants. However, researchers did not notice any adverse effects of aluminum from the deodorants on the nervous system. It is suspected that excessive exposure to aluminum can cause neurological damage. Alzheimer’s is believed to be one of the possible long term effects of chronic aluminum exposure. It is equally true that as of today, findings are inconclusive.
✦ A few years before, health risks associated with aluminum chlorohydrate included breast cancer, as a study report stated so. But various studies that were conducted by several authoritative organizations have shown that use of aluminum-based antiperspirants does not increase the incidence of breast cancer. Both the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute have stated that they have found no relationship between breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, deodorant use, or underarm shaving.
✦ Aluminum allergy is not as common as other allergies. It is noticed rarely. Those who are allergic to aluminum may experience contact dermatitis (itchy skin, rashes, etc.), when exposed to aluminum in deodorants and antiperspirants.
✦ People with kidney dysfunction can’t effectively rid themselves of the excess aluminum in the body. Regular use of deodorants and antiperspirants may lead to increased chances of suffering from aluminum toxicity. The FDA advises people with renal dysfunction to consult a doctor before using antiperspirants containing aluminum.
✦ Most antiperspirants and deodorants do not contain parabens, a type of preservative found in many cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. Usually, the antiperspirants and deodorants are self-preserving. It is suspected that parabens can cause breast cancer. So buying a high-quality deodorant and checking the labels while buying a product are the only options for consumers.
✦ People who sweat excessively usually prefer concentrated (specially-designed) products, regular use of which can result in overexposure to aluminum ions and compounds. As aluminum can be toxic in high doses, excessive use of such products should be avoided.
Is Aluminum Chlorohydrate Safe ?
Various studies show that aluminum toxicity can lead to life-threatening conditions. Aluminum is carcinogenic and neurotoxic at high exposure levels. Still, we are continuously exposed to aluminum through food and drinking water, and this type of exposure is higher than any exposure from the normal use of antiperspirants. So, comparatively, the risk from antiperspirants seems to be insignificant.
At the same time, it should be noted that when the FDA offers ‘Generally Recognized As Safe’ (GRAS) status to antiperspirants, it means that the ingredients in the products do not have severe short term side effects. The GRAS status does not confirm that the product is safe for long-term use. So, it is better to use deodorants and antiperspirants in moderation. You may use the products that do not contain aluminum chlorohydrate and other aluminum compounds, although they can be slightly more expensive, and may not be as effective as those which contain aluminum compounds.
Combining coconut oil, sweet almond, or jojoba oil with fragrant essential oils like Roman chamomile, sage, lavender, cypress, sandalwood, lemon, citronella, oregano, myrtle, jasmine, tea tree oil, etc., which have antibacterial properties, you can make your own natural deodorant at home. It can easily mask the odor of perspiration.
Whether aluminum chlorohydrate has adverse effects on human health is debatable, but reduced use of aluminum can help prevent accumulation of aluminum in blood. Knowing which products contain aluminum can thus help prevent aluminum induced toxicity.