Can aluminium in antiperspirant cause breast cancer?
This question has been circulating for around twenty years or so, but there is currently no definitive link between breast cancer and aluminium in deodorants. Dr Karl once even penned a fiery op-ed about it.
"There’s just no good evidence for it at all," Dr Lauren Arnold, a Senior Breast Physician at Sydney Breast Clinic, tells New Idea. "Even the studies that have been done looking at the effects of aluminium on cells are not very convincing.”
Dr Arnold has been providing breast cancer risk management to her patients for 14 years. She says, "The biggest risk factors for getting breast cancer are things over which you don’t have any control: being female, getting older, and having dense breast tissue."
The Sydney Breast Clinic provides a leaflet on what you can do to reduce risks of breast cancer. “There's a 30 per cent relative risk reduction in making lifestyle choices that reduce breast and other cancers, and that’s enormous," says Dr Arnold.
What are these lifestyle choices? Avoid alcohol, quit smoking, exercise 20 minutes a day, replace processed food with leafy greens, vegetables and fruit, to name a few. "But people are still more likely to hare off and do crazy things, rather than really simple things. And that’s because these simple things are hard to do," she explains.
It's best to be proactive. “The thing that we always emphasise is that if you think there’s something new or changed or different in the way that your breasts look or feel, always see your GP to check it out,” says Dr Arnold.
Is aluminium-free deodorant considered natural?
There's no formally or legally regulated definition of what is considered "natural". It's become a bit of a marketing term. Natural products have been around for years, usually referring to anything that's mostly plant-based and aluminium-free.
Are there natural deodorants that contain aluminium?
It's unlikely. Antiperspirant is different from deodorant, the latter of which is used to mask odours and typically won't involve aluminium. Cathy Galileos, head trainer at Sukin, told the Sydney Morning Herald that these products often involve "powder or starch (for absorption and odour control) and essential oils (for antiseptic and antibacterial properties, and to add a natural scent)."
There’s a growing assumption that all human-altered chemicals are harmful, and all plant-based products are beneficial. “Which is not true. Of course, many really toxic drugs come from plants. You know, our chemotherapy agents are based on plants. You wouldn’t want to go eating those leaves,” says Dr Arnold.
“I think the message to give is that natural products need to be tested too, and this is where Europe is probably ahead of Australia," says Dr Arnold. "There are some companies who make natural products in Switzerland and Germany who put them through the same sorts of rigorous testings that we put medications through. They don’t just say, ‘Oh, it’s natural, so it’s okay.’
"I think the good natural product companies – both medications and cosmetics – put them through the same sorts of testings as synthetic products.”
Does aluminium-free mean you compromise on the performance of the deodorant?
Unfortunately, yes. Natural deodorants won't stop you from sweating.
There's a lot of misleading science out there around the benefits of aluminium-free deodorant, but some people's skin types could find these products a better fit. We read a bunch of user reviews to help find an aluminium-free deodorant that might suit you - but keep in mind to always patch test before use.
10. Kai Deodorant ($37)
Aluminium-free and ideal for sensitive skin, this product combines vitamin e, chamomile, and plant extracts with natural skin-conditioning sugars to control moisture. The only catch is it's pretty expensive.
Review: "I absolutely love this product! It is the only deodorant that can assist with my heavy sport lifestyle as I have a bad odour due to my anxiety at some points. It is pricey but lasts forever!" - Via Mecca website.
Buy it here.
9. Sukin Natural Deodorant ($7)
Aluminium-free, this Sukin Natural Deodorant contains aloe, burdock and nettle with tangerine and mandarin citrus scents, and lavender and vanilla. Note, this product isn't suited to sensitive skin!
Review: "I suffered from itchy armpits for a long time, but since using Sukin deodorant I don't." - K.C, via productreview.com.au.
Buy Sukin Natural Deodorant at any Priceline store, or online at priceline.com.au.
8. Kind.ly 100% Natural Deodorant in Rose & Geranium ($18.95)
Australian made, this aluminium-free deodorant features magnesium and probiotics.
Review: "This deodorant by Kind.ly is hands down the best one I've tried, and I love that it's a roll-on! Even after working outside all day in the sun and sweating from head to toe, I still didn't stink."
Buy it at kind-ly.com.au.
7. No-Pong ($5.95)
This Australian bicarb-based deodorant is aluminium-free and affordable. No-Pong is made with coconut oil, beeswax, and Australian essential oils Orange Sweet, Vanilla, Lemongrass, and Cedarwood Atlas.
Review: "It definitely stops the pong." - Mandy, via productreview.com.au.
Buy it at nopong.com.au/products.
6. 808 Dude ($8.95)
Made by an Australian mum, this aluminium-free product is aimed at teenage boys and uses sandalwood oil to help mask smelly odours.
Review: "Softly scented with vanilla quick-drying, this non-sticky deodorant is the best I've tried, and I've worn many. With daily use, I can hardly detect any BO under my arms or on clothes." - Carolyn, via productreview.com.au.
Buy it at 808dude.com.
5. Noosa Basics ($16.95)
Made by a small family business that operates out of the Sunshine Coast, this aluminium-free product is made with organic fairtrade shea butter, coconut oil, arrowroot powder, baking soda, Australian Kaolin Clay and essential oils.
Review: "Does the job, and smells lovely. Gets quite hard and "dry" to use when cold, so need to warm it up a little." - Jo, via nourishedlife.com.
Buy it at noosabasics.com.
4. Woohoo Wild Paste ($18)
This vegan, cruelty-free, aluminium-free Australia product uses Honey Myrtle as an antibacterial agent, with Cedarwood, Eucalyptus and Peru Balsam to help mask odours.
Review: "After trying way too many natural deodorants that just did not work, I had almost given up. This deodorant works. It took a couple of weeks of feeling only partly dry, but by week 2 I'm dry and smelling sweet." - Ash, via nourishedlife.com.au.
Buy Woohoo's Wild paste at woohoobody.com.au.
3. Biork Crystal Deodorant Stick ($24.95)
Cruelty-free, aluminium-free, and a completely biodegradable product, the Biork crystal stick is a mineral stone from Italy made from potassium. Just run the crystal under cold water and rub it onto your pits!
Review: "I took a risk with this alum stone and am pleased it has worked out. No skin rash despite regular use. No oily patches on clothing. No scents/perfumes. No essential oils. This buy will last me years and is easy to travel with too since it isn't a liquid or cream" - via biome.com.au.
Buy at biome.com.au.
2. Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant Stick ($26.95)
Available in Grapefruit, Rose Geranium and Cedar Spruce, this product uses arrowroot and magnesium to control moisture and is free of aluminium and baking soda.
Review: "I really love this deodorant, especially when comparing it to other natural deodorants. No, it doesn't prevent you from sweating, but it does prevent odour and stickiness. It's moisturising and comfortable. It doesn't leave stains on my clothing. Most importantly, for me, it does not irritate my skin or cause a rash like most natural deodorants do." - Via makeupalley.com.
You can buy Meow Meow Tweet via cleanbeautymarket.com.au.
1. Schmidt's Charcoal + Magnesium Mineral-Enriched Deodorant ($19.95)
Aluminium-free and made with Arrowroot powder, Baking Soda, Magnesium and activated Charcoal, Coconut Oil and Shea Butter, this product has rave reviews.
Review: "The only natural deodorant that works and I have tried them all!" Amanda, via nourishedlife.com.au.
You can buy it at nourishedlife.com.au.
Disclaimer: New Idea did not receive a commission from any of these brands. These products were selected via user review.