She did note that the link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s is challenging to study because aluminum is the third most common element in the Earth’s crust, which means that everyone is exposed to it in small quantities.
“We believe it’s important for people to have choices to find the everyday products that are right for them,” said Justin Boudrow, a spokesman for Tom’s of Maine, which makes a variety of natural personal care products including toothpastes, mouthwashes, soaps and underarm products. “This is why we offer natural deodorants without aluminum that provide odor protection, as well as antiperspirants that do contain aluminum for wetness protection.”
Are natural deodorants good for your microbiome?
There isn’t enough evidence to show that they are. There have been claims that regular deodorants and antiperspirants can disrupt or kill off the “good” bacteria living in your armpits, leading to skin irritation, redness, bumps and overall poor skin health. Some natural deodorant brands have marketed their products as “microbiome friendly,” claiming that they’re not only good for the health of your skin, but also minimize odor by promoting the growth of “good” bacteria.
But Jack Gilbert, a skin microbiology expert at the University of California, San Diego, said that he wasn’t aware of any rigorous studies that have borne this out. “There’s a lot of associative work, but nothing that definitively links deodorant or antiperspirant disruption of the skin microbiome to skin health.”
Are the ingredients in natural deodorants better than those in traditional ones?
No. Just because a deodorant is labeled “natural” doesn’t mean it won’t contain any problematic ingredients itself. In fact, the term “natural” has no regulatory definition, so its labeling on personal care products is essentially meaningless.
“You can get irritation or allergic rashes, and that’s far and away the more common health issue seen with deodorants — all deodorants, whether traditional or natural,” said Dr. Jennifer Chen, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at Stanford Medicine. The most common issue with deodorant is irritant contact dermatitis, or skin irritation, Dr. Chen said, which “usually can’t be pinned down to a specific ingredient, even though some ingredients are more irritating than others.”
The most troublesome ingredient in any kind of deodorant or antiperspirant, whether it’s “natural” or not, is fragrance, said Dr. Nina Botto, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco. This includes essential oils, which many natural deodorant brands play up in their marketing. “Botanicals, plant extracts and essential oils are often touted as having health benefits,” Dr. Botto said. “But those natural components actually cause a lot of health problems and trouble for the skin.”