In continuation from my last post about the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants and which is the healthier option, I want to share with you key ingredients to avoid when choosing a deodorant and an inside look at a very popular deodorant that may have more to the story than we thought.
Here are some key ingredients commonly found in antiperspirants and some deodorants that you want to stay away from:
Aluminum-based compounds are used as the active ingredients in antiperspirants and in many deodorants. They temporarily plug our sweat ducts to stop the flow of sweat to the skin’s surface. Aluminum can account for 25% of the ingredients in some antiperspirants.
Research suggests that these aluminum compounds are absorbed by the skin and cause estrogen-like effects. Because estrogen can promote the growth of breast cancer cells, some scientists believe that aluminum-based compounds may contribute to the development of breast cancer.
If breast cancer wasn’t enough, “many researchers are beginning to accept that aluminum has some sort of role to play in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s”, according to neuroscientist Christopher Shaw.(1)
Fragrance can mean thousands of different chemicals some of which may be toxic. While I like a scent in my deodorant, it has to be made with essential oils by mother nature not it a petri dish in a lab. It’s always best to stay away from synthetic fragrances.
Parabens are preservatives often used in cosmetics and personal-care products. They mimic the activity of estrogen in the body which can lead to birth defects, early puberty in children and an increased risk of cancer including breast cancer.
Most major brands of antiperspirants and deodorants on the market don’t contain parabens anymore but it’s always a key ingredient to look for and avoid. Look at labels with ingredients ending in -paraben like methylparaben or propylparaben.
4) Propylene Glycol
Propylene glycol is a humectant, keeping products from drying out. Originally developed as an antifreeze, it’s a neurotoxin known to cause kidney damage and liver damage. (2)
5) TEA & DEA
Triethanolamine (TEA) and diethanolamine (DEA) adjust pH. DEA can cause liver and kidney damage, while TEA can cause allergic reactions. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to their known carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects. (2)
This substance is an artificial antimicrobial chemical used to kill bacteria. Triclosan is a skin irritant which may cause contact dermatitis. Recent studies suggest that triclosan may disrupt thyroid function and other hormone systems. The American Medical Association recommends that you do not use triclosan and other “antibacterial” products in the home because they can encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics that can allow resistant strains to flourish. (2)
Talc is a mineral used in personal-care products as an absorbent. It absorbs moisture and oil, protecting the skin by reducing underarm friction and chaffing.
Talc, itself isn’t necessarily dangerous. The real problem with talc is that it can be contaminated with asbestos fibers called asbestiform fibers, which are classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the European Union, among other agencies.
If talc is listed on a label, there is no way of knowing whether or not it contains asbestiform fibers because the quantity of asbestos fibers in cosmetic-grade talc is not regulated. So, play it safe and stay away from products that contain talc. (2, 3)
The Crystal Deodorants: Are They Aluminum Free?
Deodorant stones like Crystal Deodorants are popular with health-conscious shoppers who are looking to avoid aluminum and other chemicals commonly found in antiperspirants and deodorants but are they a healthy choice?
While many deodorants claim to be aluminum-free, they typically refer to the most commonly used aluminum compounds like aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum chloride, aluminum hydroxybromide, or aluminum zirconium. (4)
The aluminum found in Crystal Deodorant Stones, for example, is a different type of aluminum compound called alum. Potassium alum or ammonium alum are natural mineral salts made up of molecules too large to be absorbed by your skin. They coat the skin with a protective layer that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
While this may be a “better alternative to most antiperspirants and deodorants on the market, it is not completely aluminum-free”, says Dr. Mercola. (4)
But according to the EWH Skin Deep database, potassium alum and ammonium alum score a 1 which is very good. The group’s concern with these two alums is that they can cause organ toxicity. However, they are both classified as expected to be toxic or harmful by the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List. The next question would be in what amount.
I bring this up because it’s the compound effect that can be quite dangerous. Because when you use numerous products every day, the ingredients in those products start accumulating and overtime, can cause problems if they have harmful ingredients.
Snow that we know which ingredients we want to stay away from, let’s explore a few ingredients that we like to see in deodorants.
Here are some ingredients that work extremely well in natural deodorants.
- Baking soda – Neutralizes body odor.
- Witch Hazel – It has antibacterial properties and is an astringent.
- Essential Oils – I love essential oils because they add a lovely scent to any product without the potentially harmful side effects that synthetic fragrances can cause.
In the next blog, I am going to share with you different deodorants I have tested and my thoughts on them. In the final part of the series, I am going to talk about tips on how to transition to a natural deodorant. There are things that I learned which really helped me because it does take some patience and some getting used to. But your health is worth it!
What kind of deodorant do you use? I’d love to hear from you.