The antiperspirant vs deodorant debate is one that I have been grappling with for over a decade. Why? Well, for starters, I sweat. There’s no lady-like glistening or glowing for me. When it’s hot outside, like now, I drip. It can be kind of gross. In my youth, I used a men’s anti-perspirant because, frankly, that was my only option. Then, when I hit my late 20’s, there started to be a lot of talk about a possible connection between anti-perspirant use and breast cancer. So, I switched out my Mitchum’s for this natural tea tree deodorant by Dessert Essence.
And for years, it worked great… until I hit peri-menopause. All of a sudden, I got stinky. Like shock myself stinky. Looking back, this was really the first sign that I was in peri-menopause. So, at 49, I switched back to an anti-perspirant. After trying quite a few options specifically designed for women, I settled on this one from Secret. It’s an invisible solid so it doesn’t get white stains all over your clothes (It’s easy to remove white stains, however. Just rub them with an old stocking).
But I still worried about whether or not this anti-perspirant was harming my health…
Is Anti-perspirant Use Dangerous?
According to both the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, the answer is a resounding “no”. There is no proof that using an anti-perspirant increases your risk for breast cancer. The health scuttlebutt on anti-perspirant use really centers on one ingredient: aluminum.
Aluminum is what differentiates a deodorant from an anti-perspirant. While both address odor, it is the aluminum in anti-perspirant that temporarily plugs your sweat ducts so that you don’t perspire. The worry is that the aluminum can enter your blood stream through a nick in the skin and increase your risk for breast cancer, alzheimer’s disease and kidney disease. Thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be any scientific evidence that anti-perspirant use can cause any disease. However, I don’t like them because…
Anti-Perspirant Stains Your Clothes
They ruin my clothes. Back in the day, I noticed that my light colored clothes (especially my white t-shirts or shirts) would turn a weird yellow-grey color under the armpits that no amount of laundry soap would remove. I would basically have to throw them out after one season. It was annoying and expensive. Then, after my switch to deodorant, these stains disappeared. Sadly, with my renewed anti-perspirant use, the stains are back. It turns out that the same aluminum that blocks your sweat also stains your clothes. It’s inevitable. So, what’s a girl to do?
My Anti-Perspirant Compromise
Now that I’m four years into peri-menopause and my stinkyness has mellowed a bit, this is my anti-perspirant vs. deodorant compromise. Most days, I wear just a deodorant. My favorite is still the Dessert Essence. It works the best of anything that I’ve tried and I have tried quite a few. But on really hot days, long days when I’m on the go or events where I just don’t want to worry, I use the Secret. The only exception is if I am wearing white. Anti-perspirant use kills your white clothes. While this may not be such a big deal with a $20 t-shirt, it kind of sucks with a $200 dress…