Let’s talk about deodorants! 95% of the US population uses them on their bodies for 80% of their lives. But do we know what is in them? Listen to Martin chat with Ted Tobey, the creator of KLR Deodorant!
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Podcast #362: KLR Deodorant with Ted Tobey
Martin: Hello, everybody! This is Martin Pytela for the Life Enthusiast radio and TV network! Today, I have Dr. Ted Tobey with me. Doctor Tobey is coming to us with a very interesting product – we will introduce it shortly – it has to do with personal hygiene. But he’s not just your ordinary doctor! He is an inventor, and he is coming to us with the knowledge of chemistry and body physiology. So, he’s an interesting fellow! Doctor Tobey, good afternoon!
Ted: Good afternoon, Martin!
Martin: Let’s talk about deodorants. It’s such a simple, silly thing, you wouldn’t really think much of it. And yet… right?
Ted: Absolutely true! When I talk to people about deodorants, it turns out to be very interesting in terms of a conversation. Most people don’t think about their deodorants, yet in fact, what kind of chemical preparation can you think of that 95% of the US adult population uses for 80% of their entire lives, every day? These types of chemicals that we apply to our bodies have the potential to cause various kinds of issues. We use them for good reason, but most people don’t really think very much about these products, and perhaps they should.
Martin: Yeah, indeed! I think that the FDA has done a terrible job of not really making clear to people that transdermal delivery is an important pathway, and they seem to pretend that cosmetics are somehow not going to get inside of the body, or that the things that we apply to the body will not be just as inside of us as anything we eat.
Ted: Well, that’s true! The FDA does regulate some of these products, but there’s a whole classification of products that they actually don’t even look at. So, if we are talking about cosmetics and we are talking about deodorants, which are considered cosmetics, personal care products, the FDA actually pays little or no attention to these products.
If we are talking about antiperspirants, these are considered over-the-counter drugs, and they are indeed regulated by FDA. But there is a clear distinction between those two categories of products, and there is an important issue in terms of how the FDA looks at them.
Martin: Although, I wonder if the general public is making a clear enough distinction between the two. I oftentimes don’t hear people be clear that antiperspirant is actually making a significant change to their physiology, where the deodorant does not.
Ted: Right. So to clarify: deodorants are products that are put on the skin to reduce body odor. They do that typically by a mechanism that is either suppressing or killing skin bacteria. The common forms of skin bacteria live on the skin, and they can metabolize proteins, dead skin cells, hair cells, and they produce by-products, which create odor – a rather unpleasant body odor that most people experience if they don’t use these kinds of products. So deodorants are meant to suppress that bacterial growth and the production of these acids by killing or controlling bacteria.
Antiperspirants, on the other hand, have a totally different mechanism of action. They’re really meant to reduce perspiration. They’re meant to reduce sweating. So if you actually look at the FDA approved antiperspirants on the market, these are all aluminum-containing compounds, either aluminum chloride, or aluminum zirconium, but these products release free aluminum onto the skin’s surface. That aluminum will combine with sweat and body salts to produce gel-like plugs. And these plugs block sweat gland pores, and that’s the mechanism of action for these antiperspirant products.
They also can, and sometimes do, suppress the bacterial growth, so they can sometimes have a deodorant effect. But the FDA regulated drug is the aluminum product that’s in these antiperspirants.
Martin: I’m personally no fan of getting aluminum into the human body. The track record is not terribly good if it gets into your brain…
Ted: Well, aluminum is the most common metal element on the Earth’s crust. Aluminum is really ubiquitous. Aluminum is in a lot of food sources. Certainly, aluminum is used very widely in cookware. Acids in foods like tomatoes, vinegar, lemon juice, and other acidic products will all help to dissolve some of that aluminum and release it into the food, so you don’t want to leave acidic food in that cookware, because it increases the aluminum content. We all have aluminum in our diet, we consume it, that is known. But the recommendations are that you don’t use excessive amounts of aluminum in these kinds of products, because there is some data to suggest that aluminum excess – aluminum accumulation in the body – can cause problems. It can accumulate in the liver, kidneys, brain, muscles, it can appear in the bloodstream as well. So there are some concerns that have been voiced about aluminum, perhaps we can talk about that a bit later, if you’re interested.
Martin: I don’t know how good the data is on this, but I’ve heard that breast problems are oftentimes linked to lifetime use of deodorants. I’m not sure if that data is solid, but I certainly have heard enough anecdotal evidence on that.
Ted: Well, the data that I think you’re referring to has to do with concerns about aluminum absorption through the skin from antiperspirant products, not deodorants, but antiperspirants. It accumulates in body tissues. If it accumulates the brain, that might be a link to Alzheimer’s disease. There were concerns that perhaps this was appearing in breast tissue in women, and there was a thought that maybe this had something to do with breast cancer development. Those were issues that were discussed as long as twenty years ago. There have been multiple large studies looking at both questions because of the concerns and the recognition that we all are exposed to these kinds of aluminum compounds that we all have in our diet. And the data seems to be that they can’t replicate any specific pathology, they can’t point to this and say: “this is a definite cause, this is the definite issue for the compounds.” But nonetheless, those concerns still exist. It is certainly possible that we’ll see under certain circumstances that they could be problematic.
There was one issue that was talked about, I think quite extensively in the early 2000s, about a mill worker in London who was grinding aluminum and milling aluminum for twenty years. And he developed a peculiar kind of Alzheimer’s-like illness and dementia. When he died, an autopsy was done, which demonstrated high levels of aluminum throughout many tissues of his body, including his brain. So there was a concern that the aluminum deposits may have contributed to his memory impairment. We haven’t seen other kinds of cases like that. It was peculiar because he was working in a factory with high levels of aluminum that they could measure coming out of the air. So, he was actually breathing in aluminum, and he was absorbing it, probably through his lungs. It’s a warning that we have to be cautious so we don’t expose ourselves to high levels of these potentially toxic metals.
Martin: Well, fortunately, we’re not going to be talking about aluminum because your product contains none of it!
Ted: The deodorant that I’m using in my product actually is a deodorant product that has been around for about 2000 years. It was actually originally described in ancient Rome, in 79 A.D. This material called Alum that was obtained from hard rock mineral, salts that were dissolved in water and then dried and used on the skin as a deodorant product. It was well recognized that it was an effective deodorant back then. It’s also interesting to know that Alum in this form was mined in Thailand, in South East Asia, for the last four to five hundred years, and has been used as a deodorant there. If you go to India, you will find out that potassium alum is used commonly as an aftershave, because it’s an antiseptic and astringent mineral, it contracts blood vessels and coagulates blood, so it works well as an aftershave. Its antibacterial properties help to control the potential for infection after shaving as well. So this is a product that has been around a long time!
Martin: Although, your application is quite novel! It is important to point out that this Alum mineral has nothing to do with aluminum, it is just a coincidence of words, Alum is not aluminum, it just sounds similar. And we even have a similar product on our website, the Thai deodorant stone, so it is not a new thing. But I’m quite enthused about offering your product, because of its novel applications and applicator!
Ted: Yeah, well, let me give you a little story about how I got involved with this product. I didn’t begin thinking that I was going to become an inventor, but I was sort of cornered into it. When I was young, I had tried several different kinds of products, including some antiperspirants, and I had some skin issues with it. The local irritation, redness, and some potential allergic reaction. In fact, it got so bad that I eventually just had to stop using products altogether for a couple weeks to allow the skin to heal, because it was just red and inflamed, and over the course of that time, I started looking around to see what my options were.
I tried a number of different products, and eventually, I landed on a solid crystal called Crystal Stick deodorant, that actually is the forerunner, I think, of one of the products that you may be selling on your website, but it was simply a crystal of alum. It was milled into a cylinder, you would open up the container, you put the crystal stick underneath the water, so a little bit of water would dissolve some of that crystal, and you rub it on your skin. And so that’s how the product worked. It was actually a good product in the sense that, first of all, it worked and performed well. Secondly, that it was water based. So you didn’t have any stickiness, it didn’t cause any irritation, so it didn’t cause any problems for myself, but it wasn’t perfect. The applicator system is a little bit funky, you’re going to get your hands wet when you use it, it kinda grips a bit here and there, and over time, even though the crystal stick is supposed to last a number of months, it does start to dissolve under water, and when it does that, it gets loose in that applicator system and it will fall out of the applicator and crash.
So I was using this product for about forty years, and I was quite satisfied with it, until one day when I was getting ready for work. I took my handy crystal stick deodorant out of the cabinet and put it under the water, and as I was rubbing in on, I turned to look at something, it slipped, fell out of the holder and fell to the floor, shattering into hundreds of pieces. I was trying to get to work, I didn’t have anything else in the house, I didn’t know what to do, so I took some of these larger pieces down to the kitchen, I took a rolling pin and beat them up a bit and put them in a cup of lukewarm water, stir them around and let it sit for a couple of minutes, then I got a couple of cotton balls, I soaked them in this liquid and applied it, and I used it this way for the next week or so, until I was able to get back to the store and buy a new one.
That whole process got me thinking: I really like this product, but this was just crazy. I just couldn’t believe that they had such problems with their applicator system, that it will eventually fall apart. And over the next year, I thought about ways that this might be improved, and this led me to develop a new applicator system and to try to improve on this product to create a new product that I could really stand behind. And I think I’ve done that. The applicator system is simple, it’s ergonomic, it’s really intuitive, and it’s probably something that the deodorant and antiperspirant industry should have done about thirty years ago. The issue with that is that although the idea is simple, the technology to actually make it, to machine it, to mold it, that was really not that sophisticated back then, to be able to actually do it, so with proper engineering and right materials, I was able, to go ahead and construct this.
I have two patents on the applicator system, and I’ve used it to apply this product. I’ve got the same Alum compound that is used in the Crystal stick deodorant, but if you think about it, when you use the crystal stick under the water, you’re probably dissolving some of the mineral stick into that water, and what you are applying to your skin is actually a pretty weak solution that works pretty well for a lot of people. The solution I am using is 7% of Potassium Alum, so it’s about thirty times more potent than what you might expect to get used in the Crystal Stick products. So this is a high potency formulation.
Martin: Do you happen to have one of those applicators handy?
Ted: (showing the applicator on camera) I do! So, this the product, and let me just take the cap off, and this is the applicator system. So let me show you what that looks like. It’s a hemisphere, it’s got a handle built into the back. It’s got a pad on this hemisphere made of a flexible nylon fabric that gets stretched over the pad, and then it’s anchored around the side. The deodorant product comes with a liner to prevent leakage during shipping, so just take that out and then you can put the applicator back in. This is just a water based product, so I’m just going to turn it upside down and soak the applicator to get that sponge wet. So once I do that, I am ready to apply. This actually goes on very quickly, one or two swipes and you’re done, and it gives just the right amount. Doesn’t drip, doesn’t leak and keep your hands clean.
And let me tell you a little bit about the product. The product is the potassium alum, it’s a high concentration of it. I’m using food grade preservatives in it. All products like this are going to have some type of preservative. It’s not something that you need to worry about in terms of absorbing chemicals. This is a very user-friendly product. It’s high potency, it’s a natural product, and we have a great applicator system. So that’s why I’m bringing it to the market.
Martin: Fantastic! And the good thing about it is that it’s actually affordable! It’s priced completely comparable to the stick deodorant, and this will probably last a lot longer because you can expect utilization of every last drop of this.
Ted: You’re right. The product is very efficient. You don’t have an extra product you’re putting on your skin. So you’re not wasting it. One jar is 100ml, that will last about four months with daily use. So it is pretty economical in that sense.
Martin: Okay! I heard you mention that you’re actually the inventor of this applicator, that you have patented it.
Ted: Indeed, the applicator system is patented. I actually do plan on taking it to the industry. Selling this product really is an entry for me to help demonstrate that this universal skin applicator has great efficacy, and I am sure that people are going to like it. The feedback I’ve gotten so far is uniformly positive. The applicator system can be used for other products – people have asked me about whether I’m planning on selling an insect repellent, or whether I should be selling a sunscreen or suntan oil or sunblocks. In fact, the applicator could be reduced in size and used for a facial foundation for women, because they typically apply it with their fingers or a sponge, and it is kind of a messy process, and it’s difficult to create even coverage, so an applicator like this would give a much more even application. My point is that I wanted to bring a good, natural product to market that was very potent, safe, could be used on sensitive skin, and was just a good product overall. And I am happy to say, I think I achieved that.
Martin: I believe so! So, here we are able to recommend an ecological, easy to use, healthy, safe product, that I will recommend to anyone who has any issues with body odor control. And I think that’s about 95% of the population.
Ted: Yeah, I think you’re right. These products are used every day, there have been concerns about not only aluminum but about petrochemicals that are used in these products. There are a lot of natural deodorant products on the market that are using various kinds of fragrances that they add to the products, and about 20% of the fragrances that are on the market have actually not been tested, not only they are not tested, they have some potential toxicity. Very few of the fragrances on the market have actually been tested for skin sensitivity or allergies. This product does not have any fragrance, and I don’t think you need to worry about having a fragrance when you’ve got such an effective deodorant.
Martin: Okay, well, Dr. Ted Toby! Thank you very much for introducing your product to our audience! If any of our listeners want to find out more, you can visit our website, www.life-enthusiast.com, or you can call us at (866) 543-3388. This is Martin Pytela, health coach for Life Enthusiast, helping to restore vitality to you and the planet. That’s our mission. Thank you very much, Dr. Ted Tobey!
Ted: Thank you, Martin. You have a good afternoon!