Can I make my own aluminum free deodorant?

Floraesthetics asks…After reading your blog post about scare tactics, I decided to try my hand at homemade deodorant. I looked at all kinds of recipes, and I created one based on the available ingredients I had in my kitchen. The result was amazing! I was so excited to have created a natural, “aluminum-free” deodorant that worked. Then, I researched a little more and realized that the clays I was using have aluminum content. I went back online and noticed that many natural deodorants contain clays that have aluminum. Can you help me figure out if it can be called aluminum-free if it contains bentonite clay, for example? Also, how does this type of aluminum fit into the neurotoxicity issue?

The Beauty Brains respond

First a little background about the different kinds of aluminum in Antiperspirant/Deodorant products.

How is Aluminum used in APDs?

Ingredient: Aluminum zirconium tetrachorohydrex glycine

Function: These ingredients are designed to interact with the pores of your body, creating tiny gelatinous plugs that reduce sweating. Best research shows no connection to Alzheimer’s disease.

Ingredient: Bentonite, Kaolinite

Function: These are naturally occurring clays that are used as thickeners because of their ability to gel the solvents typically used in deodorants. We have not been able to find any reference linking these to the Alzheimer’s controversy.

Can you legally claim aluminum-free?

Unfortunately we’re not lawyers (although we do like to watch them on TV) so we can’t really advise you of the legality of making such a claim. You’re certainly free to make such a product for your personal use, but if you plan on selling your own deodorants we recommend consulting an attorney. Regardless of what legal council tells you, would this claim really pass the “red faced test” for you? In other words, if you really don’t believe the scientific consensus that says aluminum salts in APs are safe, then can you in good conscience add aluminum containing ingredients to your deodorant? If science says they’re safe, they should be safe in both cases.