This is a topic that I have been asked to write about several times after I announced my new mission to detoxify my beauty regime and my 2014 goals for my blog. Deodorant is one of the beauty products that men and women use daily. Most of the average drugstore deodorants include a lot of chemicals and not so natural ingredients. Can they be harmful to you?
All around internet and social media you might have seen posts or articles about how some celebrities have stopped using deodorants since some people consider them one of the reasons for breast cancer. There has also been claims antiperspirants would cause Alzheimer’s disease (especially the aluminum in them) including the book I recently read, called “No more dirty looks.” At the same time, some websites that you would think that are legit are claiming “there is nothing bad about deodorants and antiperspirants, just keep using them”. While I feel that some of these articles might be little bit too anxious and maybe scandal-seeking at the same time, claims that there is nothing wrong about the products don’t exactly apply either. This is why I decided to make my own little research.
Ever since the 1800s, people have used deodorants in order to help prevent the smell of sweat. In the beginning of the 1900s, people came up with antiperspirants. Aluminum-based compounds are used as the active ingredient in antiperspirants and they actually prevent you from sweating. The smell of sweat is caused by the sweat reacting with the bacteria on the skin. Because of this a lot of deodorants also contain antibacterial substances that kill the bacteria on the skin and this way prevent the smell of sweat.
According to Finnish Allergy and asthma association, every other Finn suffers from allergy at some point of their lives. Approximately 10% of the Finns have cosmetic allergies. Most common allergies are caused by fragrances and formaldehydes. Both of these you can find in most of the deodorants sold at the stores.
Deodorants/antiperspirants usually also contain aluminum chlorohydrate, alcohol, parabens (such as methyl, ethyl, butyl, isobutyl, propyl paraben, variations including those prefixes or hydroxybenzoate and hydroxybenzoic), propylene glycol, phthalates (in Europe these are banned since they research has shown they affect your hormonal balance and can affect your reproductive organs), triclosan, So you really need to read the labels carefully.
Aluminum Chlorohydrate and triclosan usage are restricted in cosmetics and it is classified, as expected, to be toxic or harmful. Triclosan also can cause irritation, allergies and it is classified to be high hazard ingredient. Alcohol dries your skin. Propylene glycol has been associated with irritant and allergic contact dermatitis as well as contact urticaria in humans; these effects can be manifested at propylene glycol concentrations as low as 2%. Fragrance is listed as a single ingredient on the labels and because of trade secret laws that one word represents several hundred chemicals that do not need to be listed on the labels separately. Formaldehydes are classified as carsinogens to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It can cause immune system toxity, liver problems added to the fact that it causes allergies. Parabens can migrate body tissue and mimic estrogen. Parabens have also been found in breast tumour tissue, more testing is needed again in this topic though.
The National Cancer Institute states that “research studies of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and breast cancer have been completed and provide conflicting results.”
Not only are some of the ingredients harmful for your body but they are also harmful for the environment. According to “Skin Deep” – Cosmetic Data Base for example Aluminum Chlorohydrate and Triclosan are both suspected to be environmental toxins, to be persistent and bio-accumulative.
So what to buy? My conclusions.
This seems to be a tricky topic. The research on this matter does not seem to be 100% conclusive and it really feels like some sources are sugar-coating the risks of cosmetic products. Where, for example, in Web MD they mostly gave the impression that “no worries these products are 100% safe, aluminum does not cause cancer” I found it really odd that they did not address at all issues that are related to allergies, irritations, or how toxic other ingredients than aluminum might be. It doesn’t really sooth me if the aluminum in the deodorant doesn’t cause cancer but parabens and formaldehydes will.
Now, I’m no doctor or a scientist but the fact is that even though aluminum would not be a carsinogen there are still a load of other harmful ingridients included in both deodorants and antiperspirants. If you consider that a lot of these ingredients also show up in other cosmetics that you use daily, you are able to build quite a massive amount of harmful chemicals in your body daily-bases.
Since there is no clear evidence saying the products are absolutely safe I have decided to find safer options for my body and for the environment.
I have to agree with the “no more dirty looks” -ladies that antiperspirants by its nature are bad. Anything that is able to block the sweat glands has to be small enough to really get into pores. At least for me it makes me think I do not want to stuff in my armpits anything that causes allergies, irritation, or possibly breast cancer.
Not a cosmetic related fact what people might not always think is that sweating is one of the body’s natural cooling and detoxification methods. So there is a purpose for the sweat to come out. If you are sweating excessively you might want to see a doctor to make sure there is nothing wrong with your thyroid, liver, anxiety issues or other factors that lead to serious sweating. It’s always better to go to the root causes rather than just packing up with bandaids.
Often a product label will read “with certified organic ingredients” or even “with 100% certified organic ingredients,” sometimes with an official-looking seal. Although this leads the consumer to assume that the entire product is certified organic, there is often just a small amount of truly organic material in the product, but technically the “made with” claim is true, if misleading. (The “100%” claim may refer to a single ingredient, which is in itself “100% organic,” even if other ingredients are non-organic or synthetic.)
So finding a clean and good product is defienetly not easy. If you are interested in looking into some options for the average deodorants/antiperspirants out there I have gathered some options here.
1 For the suspicious and people thinking organic is bullshit
I would just look for options in the markets/drug stores that do not include the most harmful ingredients. Also if you don’t feel comfortable using an antiperspirants, simply use an aluminum-free deodorant.
2 For the ones interested in natural cosmetics
You could grab whatever deodorant you find from an organic store or one that is labeled with some eco certificate. A lot of these might contain other ingredients that might cause allergies or otherwise not be good for you such as mentioned in the link…. unfortunately I have noticed the same thing as RMS founder has said at her webpage ” Certified Organic is an assurance of safety not quality. USDA stands more for “minimum standard” than anything else”. I feel this is the case with all the certificates. Remember also that organic and natural are not the same thing.
1) Weleda Wildrosen Deodorant
2) Lavera Body SPA Fresh Deo Spray Lavender Secrets
3) Farfalla pure sensitive Deo Roll-on, 50 ml
3 For the ones looking for the actually clean products
There ae not too many options out there. When I was searching for these my criteria was to find products that are nearly 100% organic. These products should not include ANY harmful, questionable or unnecessary ingredients that appear even some organic/natural options such as sodium benzoate, zinc oxide, sodium pca, alchohol, potassium sorbate, sodium cocoyl sulfoacetate, xanthan gum or glycerol. Neither they should include any harmful ingredients I mentioned earlier. I also looked for products not including Citronellol or Linalool. These are ingredients that are normally not added separately, instead are part of essential oils but these need to be mentioned in the INCI list if the amount exceeds a certain amount. These ingredients might also cause allergies or irritations so I decided to find products that do not have these in them either.
1) Green Love Deo Cream Wild Strawberry & Vanilla
2) Green Love Deo-Stick Unparfumiert
4 For the real hippies, DIY options
I have heard that some people use simply organic cold pressed coconut oil and it seems to work! If you are adventurous enough I would try this, organic coconut oil seems to be quite a wonder product and I’m thinking about writing a whole post about it in the future :)
Also some people claim baking soda helps to neutralize the odor in your arm pit :) I have not tried this but one DIY deodorant option is to mix an oil and the baking soda and apply it with a firm brush.
Everybody has very different needs for deodorants. I have even met people that hardly sweat at all from the armpits. This is why you are best off trying out different options and see what suits your needs the best. I do believe though that it is good for everybody to check the content of their beauty products.
“We only get one body, and we only get one planet. Why not treat them both with the utmost care?”