Deodorant Dangers And Your Healthiest Options

You hop in the shower and lather your hair with organic olive oil shampoo. Once you’re finished, you nourish your skin with home-made coconut oil lotion. You brush your teeth with all-natural baking soda toothpaste; and polish your face with top-of-the-line, safe and natural makeup. This routine, filled with products that you probably put hours of research into, is all part of your quest to live a healthier, non-toxic life. But there’s something you probably didn’t even think of – something you apply to your body every day that is loaded with toxic chemicals and metals: your deodorant and antiperspirant.

As a mom, you search for the safest and healthiest products for not only your children, but yourself. Since your babies spend an abundant amount of time wrapped in your arms, snuggled up next to your skin, you want to make sure they are being exposed to only the purest ingredients in your cosmetics, hair and beauty products. Your deodorant or antiperspirant should be no exception. This is especially important for breastfeeding moms, since your baby is nursing so close to your underarm area.

The first thing you need to understand is the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant.

Deodorant: is often made with antibacterial ingredients (like Triclosan) and fragrances. The main purpose of deodorant is to kill or mask odor.

Antiperspirant: is often made with water solvent ingredients (like Aluminum). The main purpose of antiperspirant is to build a barrier and prevent sweat from reaching your skin’s surface.

Often, you will find products that are a combination of both deodorant and antiperspirant to provide ultimate results.

Many companies use questionable ingredients in their deodorant and antiperspirant formulas due to their effective results.

Toxic ingredients to avoid in deodorant and antiperspirant:

  • Aluminum:

What it does: This metal is the active ingredient in almost all antiperspirants. When it comes in contact with water (sweat), Aluminum acts as a solvent; and creates a temporary plug in the sweat glands. Sweat is then unable to reach the skin’s surface, leaving your underarms dry.

Why it’s questionable:  When exposed to sweat, Aluminum mimics estrogen’s hormonal effects. Some scientists believe that, because of this, it might have the ability to promote cancer growth – particularly in the breasts. A 2003 study that examined 437 breast cancer survivors found that breast cancer diagnosis was found significantly earlier in those who used deodorant and antiperspirant and shaved their arms more frequently than others. (They theorized that nicks from shaving created easier access for these chemicals to make their way into the bloodstream.) While both the National Cancer Institute and the FDA haven’t found conclusive evidence that Aluminum in deodorant and antiperspirants causes breast cancer or poses as a health risk, they do agree that more research needs to be conducted.

  • Triclosan:

What it does: Triclosan is a chemical compound that acts as an antibacterial.

Why it’s questionable: While the FDA has considered Triclosan to be safe up until this point, recent scientific studies of the effects of Triclosan on animals has encouraged the FDA to reevaluate it. Studies have shown that Triclosan can alter hormone regulation. And while the FDA has found no evidence that Triclosan is even an effective antibacterial agent in products such as deodorant and antiperspirant, there is concern that it can be contributing to bacterial resistance. The EPA currently lists Triclosan as a pesticide.

  • Parabens:

What they do: While most deodorant and antiperspirant companies in the U.S. have stopped using parabens in their products, they are still found in some as a type of preservative.

Why they’re questionable: Parabens have the same estrogen-mimicking ability as Aluminum; therefore, some scientists believe that they have the ability to cause cancer as well.

  • Propylene glycol (AKA Propanediol):

What it does: Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid used to absorb water (sweat) and maintain moisture.

Why it’s questionable: While the FDA states that Propylene glycol is “generally labeled as safe” for use in foods, the Agency For Toxic Substances And Disease Registry lists it as a potential effector for dermal, renal and respiratory organ systems.

  • Phthalates:

What they do: Phthalates are often used to maintain fragrance and color in products.

Why they’re questionable: Studies have shown phthalates to alter hormonal systems. Phthalates have been proven to cause low sperm count and reproductive issues in men, as well as genital reproductive abnormalities in male fetuses and babies. This is thought to be caused by phthalates reducing the level of sex hormones in the body, which is crucial in the development and functionality of sex organs. Because of this, some researchers are also linking phthalates to breast cancer. The phthalate loophole is that phthalates and numerous other chemicals can be combined to create a “fragrance,” and are not required to be listed in the ingredients. The International Fragrance Association published a list of all of the ingredients that could potentially go into a manufactured fragrance for a product. Of the 3,163 ingredients on that list (none of which have to be listed individually on a product’s label, since they all fall under the generic term “fragrance”), the Environmental Working Group found 1 in every 20 to be highly hazardous.

While there is no perfect commercial deodorant, we searched high and low for the healthiest options on the market, containing as many of the purest ingredients we could find.

Good:

  • Tom’s Of Maine
    (variety of styles for men and women)
    Ingredients for Tom’s Natural Deodorant Stick, Unscented: Propylene Glycol, Water, Sodium Stearate, Organic Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Witch Hazel Water, Zinc Ricinoleate, Glyceryl Laurate, Chamomile, Aqueous Extract, Hops Extract [Co2] and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ascorbic Acid, Organic Lemongrass Oil. (Note: Tom’s Of Main Antiperspirants do contain Aluminum; Ingredients may vary based on styles.)
  • Nature’s Gate Organics (variety of styles for men and women) Ingredients for Nature’s Gate Organics Mandarin Orange And Patchouli: Propanediol (Corn Derived), Water, Glycerin, Sodium Stearate, Saccharomyces Ferment (vegetable enzymes), Glyceryl Laurate, Lemon Balm Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Mandarin Oil, Pomegranate Extract, Patchouli Leaf Extract, Sodium Bicarbonate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Pineapple Fruit Extract, Orange Peel Extract, Elderberry Fruit Extract, Sunflower Seed Extract, Alcohol Denat., Natural Fragrance (Note: Ingredients may vary based on styles.)
  • Jason (variety of styles for men and women) Ingredients for Jason Fragrance Free Pure Natural Deodorant Stick: Propanediol, Water, Glycerin, Sodium Stearate, Zinc Ricinoleate, Polyglyceryl-3 Caprate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Allantoin, Behenyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Silica, Sodium Bicarbonate, Sucrose Cocoate, Tocopheryl Corn Starch (Note: some styles contain unnaturally derived fragrances; Ingredients may vary based on styles.)

Best (in terms of ingredients):

  • Lavanila (variety of styles) Ingredients for Lavanilla’s The Healthy Deodorant in Pure Vanilla: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Propanediol (Corn Derived), Corn Starch, Sodium Stearate (Coconut Derived), Silica, Carrageenan (Seaweed Derived), Stearyl Behenate (Coconut Derived), Lemon Peel Oil, Inulin (Artichoke Derived), Saccharomyces Ferment, Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide (Sugar Derived), Yeast Beta Glucan, Honeysuckle Flower Extract, Lichen Extract, Valeriana Officinalis Root Extract, Hydrastis Goldenseal Extract, Tea Tree Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Goji Berry Fruit Extract , Botanical fragrance blend. (Note: ingredients may vary based on styles.) This is a Daily Mom favorite. Check out our Lavanilla feature for more information!
  • Primal Pit Paste (variety of styles for men and women) Ingredients: Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Raw Shea Butter, Non-Aluminum Baking Soda, Organic Arrowroot Powder, Organic Essential Oils. 
  • Jungleman (Unisex) Ingredients: Baking Soda, Corn Starch, Sustainable Palm Oil from Non-Peatlands, and Tea Tree Oil.
  • For Pits Sake (variety of styles for men and women) Ingredients: virgin coconut oil, aluminum free sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), beeswax, natural source zinc oxide, proprietary essential oil blend.

Unconventional Options:

A Rock Crystal

The Crystal Body Deodorant “Rock Crystal” originated in the 1980s, and has been acclaimed ever since. It is a solid rock, formed of natural mineral salts that act as a deodorant. The Crystal Rock does not act as an antiperspirant; however, it has proven to be an effective natural deodorant alternative. Since its conception, the Crystal company has produced an entire line of mineral salt-based deodorants for both men and women in a variety of styles including sticks, roll-ons and sprays; some with added essential oils.

A Homemade All-Natural Deodorant Recipe:

The following is a simple 3-ingredient recipe for an all-natural deodorant that you can make yourself:

What You’ll Need:

{Photo credit: With A Red Bird On My Shoulder}

  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of corn starch
  • 6 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • a glass container with a lid

Mix all three ingredients in the container, blending well until you have a nice, creamy consistency. That’s it! You can add essential oils if you want a particular scent. You can apply with your fingers. (Note: This will not act as an antiperspirant, so you might still notice sweat; however, it is an excellent deodorant!

{Photo credit: With A Red Bird On My Shoulder}

For more information on common ingredients in your cosmetics and beauty products, check out 10 Common Cosmetic Ingredients Deciphered in SHINE.

Sources:
www.cancer.gov
www.fda.gov
www.cdc.gov
www.safecosmetics.org
www.ewg.org. “3,163 ingredients hide behind the word ‘fragrance'”

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Danielle

Danielle is a Pittsburgh native who has been warming her “black and gold” blood in sunny Northern California for the past 6 years. On any given day, you can find her arranging ridiculous photo shoots of her one-year-old son Graeme and cat Gizmo, or working on any one of her 27,000 writing projects. She enjoys daydreaming about becoming a famous actress and starting a handful of different businesses with her husband over glasses of wine in the evenings. Someday, she hopes to travel the country in an RV with her family… but she needs to sell that novel first. You can follow her journeys through her blog With A Red Bird On My Shoulder

Comments (30)

  • Avatar

    Kay

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    Tom’s of Maine deodorant is not worth it at all. I’ve been using this deodorant for my 8 and 4 yr old children, they complain a lot that they are having headache , nausea , ligh heady, dizzy, tried,and always hungry when finished eating.. I never understood why and what was going on… Until June 4,2016…. I decided that I wanted to start wearing TOM’s deodorant to work…. When I got off I had a symptom like I had the “Flu” …. I am horrify that I’ve been putting my children through this…. I am shaky,dizzy, fatigue, I’m extremely hungry….I fell sick to my stomach , today is 6/11/16 and I’m still starving…I do not recomand anyone buy this deodorant …. Don’t believe me try it. ( the ASCORBIC ACID is not good)

    Reply

    • Avatar

      jacque

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      I have to ask, why are your 4 and 8 yr olds using deodorants? Has the symptoms stopped since then?

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Jburns

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      1. Why are you putting deodorant on your young children?! Their bodies haven’t yet started producing the hormones that cause body oder..

      2. Ascorbic acid may sound like a scary name but as ascorbic acid= vitamin c. It is actually the opposite of “not good.” It is an antioxidant.

      Reply

      • Avatar

        Lauren McMullen

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        Unless they’re allergic to corn. Most ascorbic acid is corn-derived (yay). I can’t understand why anyone would put deodorant on a 4 year old but I’m pretty sure if the children truly *need* deodorant they’d be the prime candidates for the homemade batch.

        Reply

  • Avatar

    Branka

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    The hops ingredient is what makes me sick and nauseous. I was wondering what was that that smelt like poo emanating from my underarms and realized that it was the hops from the deodorant. It takes a few hours till it goes away. Can’t they make deodorant without the hops?

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Branka

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    I used to use the Rock Crystal which worked quite well till I found out that those contained Alum which is what we have to avoid in the first place. Anyway I found one natural deodorant that works amazingly well and it’s a solid from Roc called Keops.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Heather

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    The first ingredient in Toms of Maine is Propelyne Glycol so I don’t know why it would be considerd a good deodorant. I wrote the company and asked why they used it and they stated that it was the only thing that they could get to hold the deodorant ingredients together. For that reason I will not buy anything they make. If they compromise on one of their “natural” products I don’t trust them with any of their products.

    Reply

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