Deodorants. The smell of bull

“I’ve had a wonderful day today explaining to the fluffy bunnies about the joys of Crystal Deodorants.

I’ll admit they look quite cool in a rustic tree huggy sort of way. The trouble is that tree huggy products come along with tree huggy vendors who don’t always understand the nasty technical details. A prime example is here, but it is echoed across the web. I’m a chemist. I like things to be basically right Warning BS Alert

If you can’t bear to give them hits, I’m doing a step by step below

It is a pure, natural crystal of potassium alum, (nothing to do with aluminium) formed from non toxic minerals in mother earth. It is hypoallergenic and has been used for centuries

Hmmm lets see. Google for a MSDS (Health and safety data sheet) for potassium Alum This was the first one found Courtesy of JT Baker a chemical supply house in New Jersey Well its Potassium ALUMINIUM Sulphate. That says to me thats a lot to do with Element 13. Also hypoallergenic may be a bit strong considering the pH of a 0.2M solution in water is 3.3, and it is described as an irritant, though to be fair most roll on Anti perspirants based on Aluminium Chlorohydrate are much the same.
If they’ve done the testing and it comes out hypoallergenic I’ll let that lie


1) A natural anti-bacterial action within the crystal eliminates the bacteria that causes odour.

Well its acidic and sits on the skins surface …..(Just like proper FDA approved Anti-perspirants that give you cancer)

2) On application a little of the crystal dissolves and sits on your skin’s surface as an invisible microscopic protective film, eliminating odour for 24 hours or until you next wash.”
(Just like proper FDA approved Anti-perspirants that give you cancer)

3) The crystal’s molecular structure is too big to pass into the body. This means your pores are not blocked as with anti-perspirants. Instead your body’s natural processes continue to operate but without the associated odour.
(Just like proper FDA approved Anti-perspirants that give you cancer, but with a twist).

Alum is not approved on the FDA monograph, as it really isn’t quite up to snuff, performance wise

Next two sections I shall ignore as they are hints for use. Thats up to the consumer to be honest

Now lets see

What is NOT in it (and often found in other deodorants):

1) Perfume (Bit difficult as you would have problems dissolving fragrance oils into a solid block) Unfragranced is a relevant market strategy
2) Preservatives (An effective deodorant inhibits bacteria on the skin. they rarely require preserving)
3) Emulsifiers or oils (As contained in the finest Creams and moisturisers)
4) Aluminium chlorohydrate – linked to Alzheimer’s & breast cancer (I’m not going to justify this)
. The FDA mandate that the warning “Ask a doctor before use if you have kidney disease” is put on pack, but this is to do with concerns about putting Aluminium anywhere near anyone with renal Failure. Google the phrase “Dialysis Encephalopathy” for information. Basically people with kidney problems are likely to suffer buildup of Aluminium in the system. It can cause problems
5) Parabens (linked to breast cancer) See the previous post on this blog for that
6) Anything that may stain your clothes (If you’ve done the stain tests….)

Time to take a stand. The ASA has hit 3 cosmetic companies this week. Prehaps that should be four


5 responses to “Deodorants. The smell of bull

  1. Not to put too fine a point on it, I don’t believe that I have ever used an anti-perspirant or deodorant that did not blister my skin (for some of them, to be fair, it did take some consecutive days of use to do this but others, it was a single application of 20 minutes or so); I have always used hypoallergenic but it has never worked out.

    I’m sure that there is a grup of people who can not tolerate strong astringents/ingredients etc. that are used to dry something on the skin or to act as a carrier for a scent. If find that this means that anti-perspirants, hair-gel, hair-spray, lipsticks, perfume etc. are on the list of things to be avoided for personal use and it doesn’t matter how ‘natural’ they are because they all contain something that dries and therefore blisters.

    My pet peeve is the number of pharmacists/assistants etc. who give me the standard talk on avoidance when I’m purchasing a cortisone cream and advise me on purchasing hypoallergenic products. Too many people have the odd belief that hypoallergenic means that “it’s impossible for you to be allergic to it”; ditto, too many people believe that when recommending that you should try something from a range formulated for babies. I know, from blistered experience, that hypoallergenic doesn’t mean that and that several ‘hypoallergenic baby wipes/natural bath oils’ can produce a spectacular wheal and flare before moving into the acute stage.

    Natural – pah. Sometimes, it’s the mechanistic/chemical impact of what it does on your skin that is the problem, the actual chemical (whatever its source0 it almost irrelevant if it is the astringency/drying that is what troubles you.

  2. valueaddedwater

    Unfortunately there is a public perception that Hypoallergenic means reaction free. It just means that it elicits low levels of irritation on 96 hour patch test, and does not sensitise which is confirmed by another patch test a few weeks later. Just because it illicits low or zero irritation on test, does not mean that someone, somewhere won’t react to it. It just means that it will (Generally) illicit less reactions in the general population than a “Regular” product.
    I for instance many moons ago developed a range that tested perfectly on irritation and hypoallergenic, but once it hit shelves started to cause loads of complaints. In the end the one product that was worst went back to an older formulation which was tested as more irritant, and the complaints dribbled down to practically zero. Go figure
    As always I can’t recommend products, but in cases like this fragrance free products are a starting point. You then patch test and hope, and if it gives you reaction you don’t use it again

  3. “…formed from non toxic minerals in mother earth…” Anyone who uses the phrases ‘non-toxic minerals’ and/or ‘mother earth’ needs taking down valueadded – do it.

  4. I appreciate why you wrote your article, though I think the two chemicals are different (potassium alum vs Potassium aluminium sulphate).

    Alum isn’t shorthand for anything, Alum is a distinct chemical in its own right.

    Yes, it may be toxic, though it doesn’t say to eat the deodorant, just to wet it and rub it onto your arm pit. The chemicals themselves are (on a molecular level) too big to fit through the skin.

  5. valueaddedwater

    Thanks for the Comment ADH.
    Would you like to check the wikipedia page you referenced, and recomment on why you feel that alum is diffent from aluminium sulfate.

    (Hint: top right hand side of the wiki page)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s