Doctor’s Orders: The 411 on Deodorant


Remember Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Well, after our deodorant roundtable, we were left with some pressing deodorizing queries. So, we ‘phoned a friend' and reached out to a medical professional for some armpit expertise. Thankfully, one of our fave dermatologists, Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas (who received her B.A. in Biology, her M.D., and her Ph.D in Molecular Genetics from Harvard U.), took the call.

ITG: Can a deodorant ‘stop working,' or become less effective over time?

Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas: For aluminum chloride, which seals the sweat ducts, I have not observed this in my patients. What does happen is that, as we age and approach peri-menopausal years, the sweating becomes much more prominent so that the old deodorants are incapable of keeping up with the need for control.

ITG: Does the aluminum found in some antiperspirants pose a health threat?

Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas: There is some data to suggest a potential link of aluminum to Alzheimer's Disease. Therefore, use in moderation. I recommend using Certain Dri wipes for a few nights in a row prior to an important event so you are dry for the day or days.  Then take a break; do not use every day to minimize toxicity. Any link to breast cancer is theoretical at this point.

ITG: If you get Botox injections in your armpits to prevent sweating, is it likely that you would start sweating excessively in other places on your body?

Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas: This is not likely, however it does occur. Patients may experience increased sweating of the palms or even the crux of the elbows. But, this is by far the most effective treatment and, in my hands, lasts for nine months to a year in my patients.

Well, thank goodness for professionals is all we have to say. (Also: we may be chucking our aluminum-based products once and for all...)

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  • ClosetCravings

    I actually try not to wear deodorant most of the time because of the aluminum in it. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a natural deodorant that I like.
    Satisfy Your Cravings For Celebrity Style and All Things Stylish and Sweet

  • Nomadic D.

    Whoa, ask and yea shall receive, huh? Interesting that the doc says that it's not true that they lose effectiveness with time, I woulda sworn they did! And from your roundtable I think you agree, no? Glad to hear the vote for Certain Dri though, just like I said on the other article!

  • Messamet serdane

    Sweating is a very living hell for some people. I think it really depends of the body. Thanks for the report !

  • Petya K. Grady

    People get botox injections to stop sweating?! Whoa.

  • Melissa

    You should probably make a post of antiperspirants/deodorants that don't have aluminum that work really well, especially for people who sweat a lot and can end up smelling if they don't use anything. I would go without most of the time if I could get away with it, but I'm not that lucky.

  • Cate

    Thank you SO much for interviewing a dermatologist! While I think exploring the personal artistic aspect of beauty is what gives ITG its allure, it is also nice to have an objective scientific viewpoint (especially on skincare) from time to time. As a medical student, I enjoy when both the right and left brain of beauty are discussed. Would love to see more posts of this nature when appropriate.

  • chantelle c

    Yes I second Melissa! Please accrue a list of non-aluminum deodorants so we can purchase. I have a problem with the organic ones because they DON'T LAST and they make all my dark shirts white. Not a happy camper.

  • Mike

    You should try Nasanta deodorant. It's aluminum free, and is Magnesium based. Magnesium is an essential element of the body and half the population is deficient in it. I've used it for 6 months now, highly recommend it. Best I've ever used with no toxic chemicals.

  • Guest

    Give Soapwall and Weleda rose deo a go!

  • Florencewatson

    I don't think having botox in your armpit to avoid sweating can lead to an excessive sweating in other places. I had botox for excessive sweating in Toronto and it worked great for me.
    Since that moment, before the summer starts I go for botox because in winter I don't sweat as much as I do when it's hot outside.
    I also think this is one of the most effective uses of botox together with the one that removes wrinkles.

  • Kelly

    Nothing natural worked for me and I was determined to find something because my mother had breast cancer. Everything natural and I was still smelly. Until I started using Bob's Red Mill Aluminum Free Baking Soda. I just keep it in a grated cheese shaker jar (put tape on the inside over half the holes).

    I either just use some body lotion all over after showering and make sure to get some under my arms and the baking soda adheres to that. OR I use magnesium oil (which isn't oil) for a double whammy of all the benefits of magnesium (many) and that becomes the baking soda base.

    Sometimes I just put it on dry skin - that works too although there's less of it - not for workout days. By far the easiest, cheapest and most effective thing I've tried and I've done EVERY product - natural high end department store, low end health food store - you name it. This is the one that works for me.

  • Haven Bezoski

    Deodorants just mask scent with scent, they do not stop sweating, because they do not contain any aluminum. The only reason that sweat 'smell' is because bacteria in the sweat is oxidizing, and you can get rid of the bacteria by washing your underarms.