We all know that hanging out with chemicals on our skin probably isn’t a recommended activity, I mean when I was in the seventh grade I saw a safety film about the dangers of household cleaning products and as an adult I’ve had several jobs that forced me to watch OSHA films on the dangers of getting chemicals on your skin and how to guard against it. Yet most of us slather chemicals all over our bodies on a daily basis in the form of lotions, make-up, deodorants and antiperspirants. Many people are so concerned about these chemicals that they have begun to shell out big bucks for more natural products that can lower their exposure to them. But do these products really work and are they worth the extra money you have to spend to get them?
One of the personal hygiene products causing a lot of concern is antiperspirants and deodorant. There are two major chemicals causing most of the angst surrounding these products, they are parabens and aluminum. Parabens are chemicals that have estrogen like properties and many believe that these chemicals may be absorbed through the skin or enter the body trough small nicks in the underarms caused by shaving and lead to breast cancer.
The main concern with aluminum for many people is its association with Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminum is the ingredient in antiperspirants that stops you from sweating, but it is easily absorbed through the skin and is believed to build up in the brain, kidneys and bone marrow. High levels of aluminum have been detected in the brains of people with Alzhiemers. These concerns have lead many to seek out natural products that don’t contain these ingredients.
One of the top natural deodorants on the market is Tom’s of Maine. Long known for their natural product line Tom’s has been a well respected name in the business for many years. Not long ago my mother died of Alzheimer’s disease and there seems to be a history of the disease in my family and to say that this worries me a little is a bit of an understatement, which is why I decided to give this whole natural thing a try. So I went out and bought the Tom’s Long Lasting 24HR odor protection men’s deodorant (mountain spring scent) . In all honesty didn’t have much confidence that this product was going to work for me. I do a lot of exercise (2-4 hours a day) as part of my job and had struggled mightily to find a conventional product that would keep me smelling sweet and fresh. On top of that I had spent 15 years working at various spas around the world and many spa people tend to be the bohemian natural types who used things like deodorant stones and essential oils for personal grooming and I had been “underwhelmed” with their effectiveness.
My experience with Tom’s was mixed. On days when my exercise levels were light to moderate Tom’s fared pretty well. I felt comfortable being in close proximity to clients and the public in general all the way through the workouts. But during intense exercise Tom let me down. Now in all fairness most deodorants had failed this test and many of you may say what the heck do you expect, if you’re sweating like a pig you’re not going to smell great. But when you’re dealing with clients that have to spend an hour with you up close and personal, smelling like a water buffalo in heat is not good for business.
Toms did just fine for most of the day when I was writing or doing non exercise stuff but the 24 hour protection claim was way off base because by morning I was pretty offensive even to myself.
From a woman’s perspective, my wife is now using the Tom’s 24HR deodorant (in the lavender scent), and says it works great for her. She doesn’t do a lot of exercise, but in the office and social environment, she’s happy with it and feels better using the natural-based product over one with parabens and aluminum.
But is spending a little more money for a natural deodorant worth it? The difference in price between the Tom’s and the Mitchum I was using is about $1.80. Watching Alzheimers slowly steal my mother’s life, memories and past was awful and seeing the look in her eyes near the end when I would walk in the room and she recognized my face but couldn’t quite put her finger on who I was, was frightening. I’m not sure there’s a price you could name that I wouldn’t pay to keep from having that experience myself. Now there really is no scientific proof that parabens and aluminum in deodorants and antiperspirants cause cancer or Alzheimers disease but I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. Personally I’ll be using a natural deodorant; will it be Tom’s? We’ll see, after I test a few more products. So stay tuned.