It's widely known that conventional deodorant is unhealthy but many women continue to use it for lack of a better alternative. 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 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 ingredients used to make your body stop sweating.
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. (synthetic fragrances are the number one thing that the Environmental Working Group says to avoid)
Top 5 Ingredients to Avoid
- 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 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.
Baking Soda-Free Natural Deodorants
While baking soda is a non-toxic ingredient to use in deodorant, it is irritating to the skin for many people. I personally tested a long list of baking-soda free natural deodorants a few years ago and these are still my top four favorites today:
These are linked to Amazon but another good place to get healthy personal care items is Thrive Market.
If you have a favorite natural deodorant, please share in the comments!