Using deodorant or antiperspirant is a daily staple for the majority of us. But did you know that there are toxic chemicals in deodorant and antiperspirant that would make you think twice before applying?
What's more, once you understand the cause of body odour, it becomes apparent that aluminium and chemicals are a misguided approach. There are better ways to control stinky armpits, using natural deodorant such as Arluka or Native deodorant.
Here's a rundown of the most common chemicals to look out for, so you can make informed decisions around whether you would like to use them on your body.
The ingredients within fragrances are considered ‘trade secrets’, so their exact chemical content is largely unknown. However a 2018 study by the Women’s Voices for the Earth foundation found there were 1200 fragrance chemicals identified as a known or potential “chemical of concern”. Worryingly many of these chemicals have been identified as carcinogenic, chemicals of concern for children, reproductive toxicants, or endocrine disruptors.
"A total of 1,242 fragrance ingredients (roughly one-third of all fragrance chemicals currently in use) are included on one or more authoritative lists of chemicals of concern"
Pronounced thal-ates, are common toxic chemicals used in deodorants and antiperspirants. The main concern with phthalates is their ability to disrupt the endocrine system. Phthalates are used to make other ingredients more flexible and also in fragrances to extend the life of the fragrance.
Studies have linked phthalates to asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, obesity, type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism, and male fertility issues.
Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine
These chemicals are absorbed into your skin and affect your liver and kidneys. They are known carcinogens. Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine are so harmful they have already been banned from products in Europe. They can be identified on the label of your deodorant as DEA and TEA.
Parabens are commonly used as preservatives within personal care products. Parabens can be readily absorbed into the skin and are hormone impersonators, mimicking estrogen in the body. Studies have shown that parabens affect the mechanism of normal breast cells. This may increase the risk of breast cancer. According to one review:
"Parabens can enable hallmarks and characteristics of cancer in human breast epithelial cells"
The FDA has classified triclosan as a pesticide, yet it can still be found in many brand-name deodorants. It’s used to kill bacteria in the manufacturing process, as well as when it comes into contact with your skin. Recent studies have found that Triclosan interferes with the body’s thyroid hormone metabolism and may be a potential endocrine disruptor. Whilst the impact of Triclosan remains understudied recent work shows that Triclosan promotes liver cancer cell development in mice through pathways shared with humans.
Aluminum compounds are used in antiperspirants to block your pores to stop you from sweating. The jury is out on these compounds and their impact on human health. A possible link with Alzheimer's disease and breast cancer has been suggested and further studies are required.
According to one PubMed article:
"Aluminium is known to have a genotoxic profile, capable of causing both DNA alterations and epigenetic effects, and this would be consistent with a potential role in breast cancer"
How to avoid toxins in deodorant
So now you know about these toxic chemicals in deodorants and antiperspirants, how do you avoid them?
- Always read the label before buying!
- Avoid anything with ‘fragrance’ listed in the ingredients. When you see this term or other terms like “eau de toilette” or “parfum,” it means the product contains undisclosed ingredients – sometimes more than a hundred of them. Without full transparency, it’s impossible to know what you’re being exposed to.
- Skip the antiperspirant. Antiperspirants contain aluminium to stop you sweating. Sweating is a necessary function for a healthy body.
- Switch to an all natural deodorant or anti-odorant. A good natural deodorant will still allow your body to sweat, however your sweat simply won't smell. Make sure you choose a deodorant which is 100% natural and as always check the label to make sure it contains no sneaky chemicals. Learn about Magnesium Hydroxide in deodorant for help choosing the right deodorant.