Concerning Chemicals in Deodorants

08.01.12 Concerning Chemicals in Deodorants


There are a number of personal care products that most people use on a daily basis. It's not a stretch to suggest that deodorant falls into this category. It's also easy to guess that a main factor in choosing a deodorant is the effectiveness of the product. Some may disagree, but smelling good or at least not smelling bad is a priority for most folks.


While the uncertain use of aluminum (a sweat-blocking ingredient in anti-perspirant) has been under fire for several years now, what about the various other harmful chemicals that exist in deodorant? Most conventional deodorants contain a list of toxic ingredients, such as aluminum chlorohydrate, parabens, propylene glycol and triclosan, among other questionable ones.


And of course the underarm has a direct route to the lymphatic system, an essential part of our immune system and our skin readily absorbs whatever we put on it.


So what exactly is important to avoid?



Aluminum-based compounds are the active ingredient in antiperspirants. They work to block the body from sweating and research has suggested that these compounds are readily absorbed through the skin and have the capability of causing changes in estrogen receptors. Aluminum exposure has also been linked to other health issues that affect the liver, kidneys and the brain. Although no clear link to breast cancer has been made, aluminum continues to be a possible risk factor while more studies are made.


Preservatives are used in deodorants and antiperspirants to prevent bacterial growth. Parabens have also been shown to mimic the activity of estrogen in the body's cells. Parabens are usually easy to identify by name. The five most common paraben esters: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, benzylparaben and isobutylparaben. These are found in 75-90% of all products on the market.

Researchers from the University of Reading, in the UK, conducted a study collecting 160 samples of breast tissue taken from women who'd had mastectomies and tested them for the presence of five different parabens. At least one form of paraben was present in 99% of the tissue samples, and all five were present in 60% of the samples. 

This was the first study to show that deodorant chemicals accumulate in human tissues. According to the authors, there was a disproportionate incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant nearest the armpit and significantly higher levels of propylparaben were detected in the axilla region, closest to the armpit. According to the researchers, this is an area where a high percentage of tumors are found. The other four parabens were equally distributed across all parts of the breast.


Used as a moisture sealer and as a penetration enhancer. Often listed as PEG (Polyethylene Glycol) on an ingredients list but also PG (Propylene Glycol). Easily absorbed through the skin and at greatest risk when contaminated (includes 1,4 dioxane, lead, nickel and arsenic). Considered a neurotoxin and is known to cause contact dermatitis and liver and kidney damage.


A synthetic antimicrobial agent which also has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Triclosan is a known endocrine disruptor and a suspected carcinogen. This chemical is also lipophilic, which means it can bioaccumulate in your fat for long periods of time, and as reported by Scientific American, triclosan is now detectable in human breast milk, blood, and urine samples. Both the FDA and the EPA are currently reviewing the safety of this chemical.


Listed as DHP, DBP5, DEHP, and dibutyl phthalate in personal care products. They are considered probable carcinogens by the EPA and likely to cause cancer. Phthalates are also known endocrine disruptors (may interfere, mimic or block hormones), development toxicants (can interfere with the normal development of a fetus or child), and a reproductive toxicant (can harm the reproductive system). Phthalates also have the ability to increase the absorbtion of parabens which enter the body and attach themselves to the nearest estrogen receptor. "Estrogen receptors are all over your body, but certainly, breast tissues have lots of them," explains Dr. Phillipa Darbre, lead author of study of University of Reading paraben study.

Solution: It's an understatement that most people are particular when choosing a deodorant and the scent that accompanies their armpit. The following natural deodorants are free of aluminum and other harmful synthetic preservatives and chemicals. They are scented with essential oils and are gentle on the skin. They also provide a safe and effective alternative to conventional deodorants and anti-perspirants and are available here at MightyNest.


For more information on these selected deodorants, click here.

If you use deodorant, what is your favorite? Or do you make your own?

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