The use of deodorant and antiperspirant has become a normal part of our self-care and grooming routines. But when you put on deodorant in the morning, do you ever stop to think about how this simple, everyday act could be affecting more than just your perspiration levels? We consider underarm sweat to be a frustrating, embarrassing problem, but our daily deodorant and antiperspirant use could actually be causing much bigger problems for our long-term health – and for the environment. What can we do to combat the environmental and health concerns caused by deodorant while remaining sweat-free?
Deodorant and Your Body
The skin has two primary types of sweat glands. Eccrine glands cover most of the body and release a fluid comprised mainly water and salt, which cools you down when your body temperature rises. Apocrine glands are primarily located in areas such as the underarms and groin, and they produce a milky fluid. The fluids from both types of glands are odourless, but when the apocrine fluid comes into contact with the bacteria on your skin, these bacteria feed on the fats and proteins in your sweat, creating body odour.
Though deodorant and antiperspirant are often used interchangeably in the discussion, they work on the body in different ways. To tackle body odour, deodorant attempts to counteract the bacteria in your underarms that feed on the sweat produced by your apocrine glands. Antiperspirant, on the other hand, actually ‘plugs’ the sweat glands using aluminium-based compounds to stop sweating altogether.
While deodorants do nothing to stop the wetness and discomfort associated with excessive sweating, it is antiperspirants which could pose a health risk, as some scientists have linked their active ingredient, aluminium, to breast cancer. While it is difficult to pinpoint aluminium antiperspirants as the cause of rising breast cancer rates, doctors have drawn a correlation, saying that ‘a disproportionately high number of female breast cancers [originate] in the upper outer quadrant of the breast…the area to which underarm cosmetic products are applied’.
This association is bolstered by the fact that aluminium has a genotoxic profile, meaning that it can cause DNA alterations and epigenetic effects. Studies have produced conflicting results when it comes to determining a directly causative connection between the aluminium in antiperspirant and breast cancer – but when it comes to a disease as damaging as cancer, is applying antiperspirant really worth the risk?
The Environmental Impact of Smelling Good
The possible problems caused by deodorant and antiperspirant are not limited to concerns about effectiveness or human health; the environment is also feeling the effects of our daily deodorizing. In the past, deodorant aerosol sprays were powered by ozone-depleting chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which many countries committed to phasing out in 1987. However, this decrease in CFCs does not mark the end of the environmental damage caused by deodorants and other similar products. Both spray and roll-on deodorant still give off volatile organic compounds which increase ground-level ozone levels, and aerosol sprays are loaded with hydrocarbons that, over time, contribute to global warming.
Don’t Sweat It: Finding an Alternative
Even if you recognize the problems caused by deodorants and antiperspirants, you may still think that you have no other choice but to use them. After all, no one wants to look, feel and smell sweaty. But there is an effective alternative – not another chemical-laden, skin-irritating spray or stick, but a safe, clinically proven and permanent treatment.
This treatment is miraDry, an FDA-approved, non-invasive and non-chemical solution to excessive underarm sweating. It stops perspiration at its source, delivering precisely controlled electromagnetic energy to the armpit to eliminate the sweat glands. According to the doctors at the Harley Street cosmetic clinic Revere Clinics, one session is usually enough to achieve an 82% reduction in underarm sweat and odor. MiraDry treatments typically last between 90 and 120 minutes, and often just one session is needed – though, for more serious cases of hyperhidrosis, two or three sessions may be necessary. People who opt for miraDry experience a significant reduction in sweat right away, so you can get rid of your deodorant and never look back.
The potential health and environmental risks caused by deodorant are simply not worth the minimal relief from sweat and odor that they provide. By turning to effective, non-surgical treatments like miraDry, we can look, feel and smell great – without damaging our health and our planet.