Many people know that conventional deodorant is unhealthy but they continue to use it anyway. I totally get it, no one wants to stink, but is it worth the risk? Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it soaks up anything you put on it. The underarm area is especially concerning because of its proximity to lymph nodes and glands. There are many harsh ingredients used in conventional deodorant and antiperspirant and I always avoid all of them.
First, let's talk about antiperspirant. There are no true non-toxic replacements for antiperspirant. Here's why that's not such a bad thing – your body sweats for a reason. Sweating is the body's cooling system and using an antiperspirant to stop this from happening is going against what you body is made to do (doesn't sound too natural).
The other reason why antiperspirant should be avoided is because of the harsh ingredients used to make your body stop sweating – more on this in a moment.
Conventional deodorant (without antiperspirant) still contains questionable ingredients. Deodorants work a bit differently, they kill off the bacteria on the skin that mixes with sweat to cause the stink in the first place. They also help to cover up leftover smells with synthetic fragrances. (FYI, synthetic fragrances are the number one thing that the Environmental Working Group says to avoid!)
Top 5 Ingredients to Avoid
Here are my top five ingredients to avoid in deodorant products (well, in any personal care products really). The ingredients on this list are part of the reason why I started my own line of herbal cosmetics, it's hard to find effective products without unhealthy ingredients. There are more ingredients that I avoid in deodorants (and other products), but here's where to start.
Aluminum chlorohydrate is a salt that prevents sweating. This may sound harmless but it's not. First off, it adds to the number of chemicals your body must eliminate which causes added stress on your body. Years ago there was a claim that aluminum had a link to cancer (breast cancer specifically). Although in 2002, the the National Cancer Institute said there was no link. It is well proven that aluminum is a neuro-toxin that can alter the function of the blood-brain barrier but we don't know if using it in antiperspirant is a risk for this (surely applies to cookware).
Parabens are used as preservatives with anti-microbial properties. Parabens have a clear link to cancer, they mimic estrogen in the body, and have been found inside breast cancer tumors. These preservatives are widely used in conventional products (you may have seem be write about them before) which makes them all the more dangerous. The more products you use that contain them, the higher your risk.
Phthalates are used in plastics and personal care products to create the desired texture. They have been found to be endocrine disruptors which means that these chemicals that can affect your hormones.
Fragrances are used just as you would think, as fragrance. There are over 3,100 chemicals that are considered “fragrances.” Companies do not have to disclose everything in their fragrances because they are considered trade secrets (which is super scary!). According to the Environmental Working Group: “The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products.”
Talc acts as an absorbent in deodorants. The problem is talc is a known carcinogen so it's an absolute must to avoid it. Read more in this blog post about the dangers of talcum powder (also known as baby powder).
Alternatives to Conventional Deodorant
To be honest with you, I'm still searching for the BEST natural deodorant. Very soon I'll be sharing a post about natural deodorant brands that I've personally tested and ones that my community loves best. In the meantime, these are the top three natural deodorants sitting on top of my dresser now. FYI – I do not use any natural deodorants that contain baking soda, while it is a safe ingredient, it irritates my skin badly!