Deodorant: To stink or not to stink. Five things you should know about deodorant as a woman.

Deodorant is a regular use item, or at least it should be (in my opinion.)

If you are natural, that’s great, but natural smell is often synonymous with straight up funk! So we learn as we approach puberty, or maybe even before, that every shower should be accompanied by a deodorant or antiperspirant of some sort. If not, you can pretty much count on sitting alone in the lunch room after PE.

In recent years there has been a concern with the use of aluminum containing antiperspirants when it comes to breast cancer risk. In fact, as I type in aluminum deodorant in my search engine, one of the first thinks that comes up is “aluminum deodorant risk.”

Dr. Google Strikes Again

But, the question has value and the results are interesting. The first thing I want share is that there is a difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. Sidebar: I am actually going to include five points in this post, unlike the vague five of my last post. It was still a great post though…

  1. Antiperspirants contain ingredients like aluminum salts that block the sweat ducts and prevent perspiration. Deodorants absorb wetness and neutralize odors. If you choose a deodorant over an antiperspirant, you should be prepared to “pit out” in stressful situations because you WILL sweat.

If you prefer an antiperspirant I would like to share some concerns about aluminum antiperspirant use that have been challenged.

What concerns have been disproven:

2. Aluminum does not cause breast cancer. The initial concerns were not founded or replicated in research on the subject.

3. Aluminum does not cause Alzheimer’s disease. The research in that space was also not reproduced in enough data to demonstrate a correlation between aluminum and Alzheimer’s.

4. Aluminum salts in antiperspirants are not absorbed into the skin or blood stream to any significant degree. These salts form a chemical reaction with water in the duct and block the actual sweat duct where applied. For those who think that we humans should sweat, feel free to sweat in other areas of your body. Under the arms where odor is likely to form? I’ll pass.

But there are concerns with any commercial skin care product that you should look out for.

Parabens have some estrogenic qualities, though not conclusively linked to breast cancer. I try to avoid skin products containing parabens for myself and especially for my children. Few antiperspirants contain parabens but it is worth checking the label, especially in adolescents.

5. Natural deodorants exist as well. The Environmental Working Group is an organization that has closely scrutinized thousands of products and rated them based on ingredients and manufacturing practices. They have a whole section on deodorants here. 

Since becoming a mother of three, I find that what I put on my skin and under my arm pits gets a higher level of scrutiny. There is nothing like motherhood to level up a baseline level of paranoia. (No shade to the ladies without kids. You have the right to be just as paranoid as I am.) I appreciate the results of this investigation giving me license to be de-funkdafied (#dabrat) in peace. I don’t want to put my kids or my co-workers at risk of a nasal offense if I don’t have to.

My sons still have aluminum and paraben free deodorant. Somethings may never change.

Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald is a board certified OBGYN. She began practicing medicine in 2007 and now uses her extensive knowledge and growing following to increase health awareness in a fun and viral way. She is the founder of The Gyneco-blogic and an author of numerous books for adult and childhood health education and social growth. For more, check me, I mean her out at


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