Deodorant. It's a necessity for most of us, but have you looked at the label of your favorite brand lately? You may be giving yourself a mighty dose of toxic chemicals every single day. We can help you avoid the common pitfalls and choose a truly natural deodorant, so read on and green your armpit routine.
The Problem with Conventional Deodorant
Conventional deodorant and antiperspirant contains a variety of components that keep us dry and odor-free, but the ingredients can be downright dangerous. Deodorant includes several compounds that carry at least a slight carcinogenic risk, along with endocrine disruptors and immune system toxicants that when applied to the sensitive underarm area can promote skin irritation, allergies, and breast cancer, so it's critical to examine your deodorant and change it to something safer if necessary.
The Most Important Ingredients to Avoid
- Fragrance (this includes “natural” fragrance too…)
- Petroleum ingredients like propylene glycol
- Triethanolamine and Diethanolamine (TEA and DEA)
- Formaldehyde-releasers like DMDM hydantoin and all quaternium ingredients
One of the biggest concerns is the use of ingredients that cause the sweat glands in the armpit to stop sweating. How on earth can this be healthy? Not only do our sweat glands work to regulate temperature, but they're also an important route to removing waste products from the body. For example, should the body not be able to secrete nitrogenous waste, it can eventually build up in the blood and cause serious negative health effects including loss of consciousness, low urine production, dry mouth, fatigue, weakness, pale skin or pallor, bleeding problems, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), edema (swelling), pain and excessive thirst. We NEED functioning sweat glands even if they don't smell pretty.
Aluminum is the ingredient most often used for the antiperspirant effect. It's not suspected to be bioaccumulative, but according to the CDC's toxicological profile,
Since aluminum is ubiquitous in the environment, the general population will be exposed to aluminum by the inhalation of ambient air and the ingestion of food and water. The consumption of foods containing aluminum-containing food additives are a major sources of aluminum in the diet. The use of other consumer items such as antiperspirants, cosmetics, internal analgesics (buffered aspirins), anti-ulcerative medications, antidiarrheals, and antacids that also contain aluminum compounds will result in exposure to aluminum.
This naturally leads us to the conclusion that the sheer daily exposure to aluminum, while it may not bioaccumulate, could easily be detrimental to our long-term health with potentially serious neurological outcomes. This study about familial Alzheimer's found extremely high concentrations of aluminium in almost 50% of the brains of diagnosed individuals.
Conventional deodorant also contains endocrine disrupting chemicals that interfere with the glands in the armpit. This interference can mimic or block the secretion of hormones and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Altering normal hormone levels, stopping or stimulating the production of hormones, or changing the way hormones travel through the body adversely affects the functions that these hormones control.
How to Find a Truly Natural Deodorant
There are actually quite a few less toxic deodorants made without most of the chemicals we've discussed so far on the market now. The trouble is that many natural brands still use fragrance. In looking at Native (see example below), Schmidt's Naturals, Lavanila, Tom's of Maine, and Weleda, you'll see that their product labels list “natural fragrance” or “fragrance oils.” This sounds less ominous, but it still falls into the undisclosed fragrance abyss that could contain up to 3,000 undisclosed chemicals. Some of these same brands also make deodorants using only essential oils (like this one from Schmidt's) which would be a great choice, but you need to read those labels very carefully before buying. Unless the scents they use are clearly listed as an essential oil or an extract (like vanilla), we recommend you stay away from it.
TIP: If you're new to using natural deodorant, be sure to wash your pits each day before applying. It doesn't work the same way conventional deodorant does, so don't expect a miracle unless you start with the right foundation 🙂
P.S. We've been hearing a lot about people having reactions to baking soda in natural deodorants. While this may be the case, also keep in mind that hidden fragrance chemicals are well-known to cause skin allergies and contact dermatitis. It just might not the baking soda after all, so do a little test on your own to see.
Top Natural Deodorant Brands
Certified organic deodorants will always be our top choice because organic certification offers peace of mind that the ingredients are grown without toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or GMOs. It also holds manufacturers accountable by verifying that what's *on* the label matches what's actually *in* the product (learn more about how to tell if a product is really organic).
Next Best Natural Deodorant Brands
We're impressed with these natural deodorant brands and their non-toxic ingredient lists.
We still make our own naturally antibacterial deodorant from time to time too 🙂