Thursday, October 19, 2017

Should You Switch to Natural Deodorants?

When I learned that I had breast cancer, my thoughts went to the cause. Genetics? Possibly. Due to the tumor's location, I wondered, Was it the spray deodorant I tried? After all, it caused a mild asthma attack, so what else could it do? Through the years I’ve read negative reports about aluminum in antiperspirants, but that didn’t stop me from using them. I would wonder about all the chemicals in my personal care products. I would be scared for a few days and then go back to them. 

This time it was different. I read up on deodorants and antiperspirants again and noticed there were concerns with conditions that could increase body exposure to estrogen. Excess estrogen has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Aluminum-Based Concerns

Antiperspirants contain aluminum-based compounds such as aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly, which are used to block sweat glands to keep sweat from getting to the skin’s surface. Some researchers believe that it can be absorbed by the skin and cause changes in estrogen receptors of breast cells and therefore may be a risk factor in the development of breast cancer. Others say that only a tiny fraction of aluminum is absorbed. Researchers haven’t found a definite link between breast cancer and antiperspirant use and there’s little scientific evidence to support this claim.

The Paraben Problem

Then there is the issue of parabens. Parabens, which are used as preservatives in several products, can be absorbed into the skin. Studies have shown that parabens have weak estrogen-like properties. This hormone is known to cause breast cells (normal and cancerous) to grow and divide. However, the CDC reports that parabens that enter the body are quickly excreted. It’s also believed that natural estrogens made in the body or those taken as hormone replacements are more likely to play a role in breast cancer.

So what should you believe?

After being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer last year, I figured, why not at least pare down products that have ingredients that might be unhealthy for my body. I started using Crystal Essence, which I remembered from a BCA event years ago. My cancer treatment began last year in October, just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it just so happened that I was contacted to test out some of the Crystal Essence roll-ons for possible review. 

My problem with deodorants are that they usually just mask odor and don’t keep you dry. With the Crystal Essence scents there was no odor when sweating (due to a chemical-free odor-killing barrier that blocks the formation of bacteria that causes odor). The roll-ons, available in Lavender & White Tea, Vanilla Jasmine, Chamomile & Green Tea, Pomegranate versions, are lightly scented and infused with essential oils and extracts. And fortunately, I noticed that my t-shirts and tops aren’t permeated with a strong fragrance after yoga or working out, which has happened with other scented deodorants.

I also tested the Crystal Body Deodorant stone, which I took with me while traveling and it worked well, even in hot temperatures — and didn’t stain my clothing.

Is Alum Safe?

Please note that the Crystal Essence roll-ons and the Crystal Body Deodorant stone are not completely aluminum-free. Crystal Essence contains potassium alum and the Crystal stone contains ammonium alum. These are a different kind of aluminum made from mineral salts that, as I mentioned before, form a protective layer on the skin to inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria.The molecules are considered to be too large to be absorbed by the skin. These type of deodorants are often recommended by cancer treatment centers and organizations because they are safer than the aluminum in antiperspirants. Some individuals don't even trust alum-based natural deodorants. To reduce exposure, I only use the deodorant when I'm going out, working out or doing something that will cause me to sweat. 

The Crystal Essence Roll-on is $4.75 and the Crystal Body Deodorant Rock is $6.99 online at

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