The Truth Is Under Your Arms
Ah yes. This guy from a few years back. The male equivalent of female fashion magazine ads.
As a commercial, it was hilarious at the time. A dreamy, ripped actor, eloquently speaking as he woos and dazzles the audience with his amazing-ness. His message was clear, you can smell better.
It’s a great example of how advertisers try to convince us that we can be a “better” version of ourselves, if only we bought their products…
Alas, if only they sold good products. Allow us to explain.
Intro to Human Biology
Before we get into how antiperspirants and deodorants work, a little intro to the human body.
Lesson one: We all need to perspire (aka sweat.) It’s a fundamental physiological phenomenon that allows our bodies to cool down, and to cleanse our body of toxins.
Lesson two: In addition to a fraction of a fraction of minerals and organic matter, sweat is almost entirely water. Also, sweat doesn’t smell. Repeat, sweat doesn’t smell.
Lesson three: The smelly part about sweat is actually the bacteria all over your body reacting with your perspiration. (We’ll link out to how to detox your underarms below.)
Alright, class dismissed!
Jokes. Back to those troublemakers: antiperspirants and deodorants.
The objective of antiperspirants is to stop us from perspiring by sealing the pores located under our arms and by blocking our sweat glands. How exactly? Most conventional antiperspirants use a form of aluminium (ex: aluminium chlorydrate, aluminium zirconium) to block sweat. Sounds fantastic, right?
The hygienic thinking behind “staying dry” is misleading, and possibly quite dangerous.
Over the last few years, there has been much debate around the suggestion that ingredients in antiperspirants (such as aluminium) are absorbed by the human body and, consequently, have been linked to an increase in the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer.
Cancer institutes quite openly deny any link between antiperspirants and cancer — usually citing old studies. This recent study from the University of Geneva this past Fall 2016, however, seems to indicate otherwise. Their findings conclude that certain concentrations of aluminium in the human body can encourage the growth and spread of tumors in the mammary cells of the breast. So ya, aluminium salts may very well be carcinogenic. Hmmmm…
Let’s be clear here. We’re not about to claim that we just debunked an entire industry myth. It’s a real he-said, she-said topic and the waters of the internet on these subjects are too muddy to know what’s really up.
We read so much in search of the truth behind the products we apply to our underarms daily that our conclusion (for now) is best summarized by the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Toxicology, Dr. Philip Harvey, a 30-year vet in the regulatory toxicology space: “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” 🎤👋
So where does this leave us?
Get informed and use your judgment. Sweating is as natural as breathing is. It’s absurd to think we can prevent it.
Or just wear black.
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