Most women think of antiperspirant as a gym bag essential–something right up there with sneakers and a sports bra. Because really, who wants to be “the smelly one” at the gym? And the idea of ruining a Lululemon shirt with sweat stains? No thank you!
Believe it or not, however, there are some people who are actually against the idea of wearing antiperspirant to the gym. Not only do they suggest it’s actually beneficial to the body to sweat since that’s how our bodies keep cool, but also that sweating is the body’s way of eliminating toxins. Add to this the horror stories about how the aluminum in antiperspirant may be linked to breast cancer and you’re probably wondering whether you really should leave antiperspirant out of your gym bag.
“Sweating is a mechanism to keep the body cool and it’s a natural part of working out,” says Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, an assistant Clinical Professor in the department of dermatology at the George Washington University. When we get hot, our bodies release moisture in the form of sweat to cool us down. Armpits alone have over 25,000 pores each, so you can imagine they produce a lot of sweat. Fortunately, we have thousands more sweat glands across our bodies, so it’s definitely okay to use an antiperspirant while exercising.
“Your underarms are a small area and there are plenty of other sweat glands available to release heat,” says Dove dermatologist Dr. Alice Barba. “Our bodies can easily cool us through sweat on the neck, back and head, so blocking the pores under your arms doesn’t have much consequence.” What’s more is that underarm moisture can lead to odor-causing bacteria, so it’s actually wise to use antiperspirant to help fight the bacteria buildup that can cause odor.
The other arguments against wearing antiperspirant–that it blocks the body from releasing toxins and may be linked to breast cancer–also don’t hold much weight. Both the Food and Drug Administration and the National Cancer Institute agree that there isn’t any evidence that breast cancer can be caused by the ingredients in antiperspirant. And since it turns out that you can’t actually sweat toxins out of your body, there’s no reason to worry about that either.
So rest assured: your antiperspirant should stay right at the top of your gym bag.