We’re all familiar with the gut-sinking realization that your deodorant is wearing off. Trying to figure out how to inconspicuously sneak to the bathroom to wash out your pits and apply a second–or third–coat. Keeping your arms pinned to your sides in an attempt to limit how far the smell wafts. It’s not a pleasant situation. Many companies proudly proclaim how long their deodorant lasts in an attempt to bring in buyers–people desperately trying to avoid that gut-sinking moment. What they don’t exactly proclaim from the rooftops, however, are the ingredients in that deodorant. Many conventional deodorants are hiding sneaky toxins and ingredients with hard-to-pronounce names. What are some of those toxins and ingredients you want to stay away from?
Penn Medicine says this about aluminum in deodorants and antiperspirants:
Aluminum compounds are used extensively in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. In antiperspirants, aluminum salts are the ingredients that prevent sweating. The salts need to dissolve to block sweat from forming on the surface of your pores. … Recent research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that frequent use of antiperspirants can cause aluminum to accumulate in breast tissue … ‘Aluminum might be of greater concern if you have kidney problems, especially if your kidney function is about 30 percent or less.’ says Benjamin Chan, DO, a physician at Penn Family Medicine Phoenixville. Dr. Chan explained, “Too much aluminum in your body can cause bone diseases or dementia. Usually, excess aluminum is filtered out of your body by your kidneys. So, people with weakened kidney function can’t filter aluminum fast enough. However, if you have normal kidney function, your kidneys can usually process the amount of aluminum from antiperspirants and cosmetics that is absorbed through your skin.’
This is why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires antiperspirant manufacturers to include warnings specifically for people with kidney disease.
Aluminum is a heavy metal
When humans take in too much it has been shown to have toxicity symptoms. The NIH says the following about aluminum toxicity:
Aluminum (Al) is frequently accessible to animal and human populations to the extent that intoxications may occur. Intake of Al is by inhalation of aerosols or particles, ingestion of food, water and medicaments, skin contact, vaccination, dialysis and infusions. Toxic actions of Al induce oxidative stress, immunologic alterations, genotoxicity, pro-inflammatory effect, peptide denaturation or transformation, enzymatic dysfunction, metabolic derangement, amyloidogenesis, membrane perturbation, iron dyshomeostasis, apoptosis, necrosis and dysplasia. The pathological conditions associated with Al toxicosis are desquamative interstitial pneumonia, pulmonary alveolar proteinosis, granulomas, granulomatosis and fibrosis, toxic myocarditis, thrombosis and ischemic stroke, granulomatous enteritis, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, anemia, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, sclerosis, autism, macrophagic myofasciitis, osteomalacia, oligospermia and infertility, hepatorenal disease, breast cancer and cyst, pancreatitis, pancreatic necrosis and diabetes mellitus.
While just having deodorant that has aluminum in it may not be a lot, the average American takes in aluminum through multiple ways as the NIH points out above. Ladies, check your makeup, too. How many of them have aluminum in their ingredients list?
Aluminum and Sweat
As mentioned above, the aluminum salts used in deodorant and antiperspirants (and makeup) clog your pores and keep you from sweating. The important thing to remember, though, is that you sweat for a reason–it’s an important pathway for your body to detoxify. When you don’t sweat, that detox isn’t able to finish–it just gets stuck under the surface.
Aluminum is a Metalloestrogen
Metalloestrogens are a class of endocrine disruptors that is known to mimic estrogens and can accumulate in the blood and muscle tissue. They have also been found to have a possible connection to breast cancer. Lower amounts than what is in deodorants have been, too.
The NIH describes parabens as follows:
Preservatives (ingredients which inhibit growth of microorganisms) are used to prolong shelf life of various foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products. Parabens are one of the most popular preservatives used in the aforementioned products and is currently being used worldwide. Parabens are easily absorbed by the human body. Thus, it is important to discuss about their safety with respect to human physiology. In view of the current literature, which classifies parabens as a group of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), it seems that the precise assessment of their influence on the human endocrine system is particularly important. Disruption of the endocrine homoeostasis might lead to multidirectional implications causing disruption of fitness and functions of the body.
If parabens are endocrine disruptors and can cause problems, why are they in deodorant? Penn Medicine explains it as follows:
Parabens are used to prevent fungi, bacteria, and yeast from growing on deodorant.
It makes sense–you’ve got the same bar of gel swiping over your arm pits on a regular basis–somewhere that clearly deals a lot in detoxification, if the smell is any indicator.
Real Nutritious Living explains phthalates as follows:
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. They are used to make plastics flexible and as lubricants in cosmetics.
The NIH adds:
In the USA, more than 340 million pounds of phthalates are consumed every year and cause potential health and environmental risks.
The EPA also voices its concern by saying:
Adverse effects on the development of the reproductive system in male laboratory animals are the most sensitive health outcomes from phthalate exposure. Several studies have shown associations between phthalate exposures and human health, although no causal link has been established.
The tricky thing with phthalates is that, even if they’re in your deodorant, you may not see it on the label. Why is that?
The term ‘fragrance’ can be a catch-all in the cosmetic arena. The secrets of the ingredients that give that perfume or deodorant its specific scent. The FDA explains it as follows:
In most cases, each ingredient must be listed individually. But under U.S. regulations, fragrance and flavor ingredients can be listed simply as “Fragrance” or “Flavor.”
Here’s why: FDA requires the list of ingredients under the Fair Packaging and Labeling ActExternal Link Disclaimer (FPLA). This law is not allowed to be used to force a company to tell “trade secrets.” Fragrance and flavor formulas are complex mixtures of many different natural and synthetic chemical ingredients, and they are the kinds of cosmetic components that are most likely to be ‘trade secrets.’
The EWG reports that over 3,000 ingredients fall under this umbrella term. Furthermore,
But an analysis of these 3,163 chemicals in EWG’s Cosmetics Database shows that there is reason for concern.
In fact, 1 in 20 earned a “high” hazard score (7-10 of 10), and a full 1 in 6 rated at least a “moderate” hazard score (3-10 of 10). 25 of them scored a 10, the highest score:
25 chemicals scored a “10” in Skin Deep Aniline BHA Cyclohexanone Dibutyl phthalate Diethylhexyl phthalate Hydroquinone MIBK Nano titanium dioxide Nano zinc oxide (20-60nm) Octoxynol-6 Octoxynol-7 Octoxynol-11 Octoxynol-12 Octoxynol-13 Octoxynol-16 Octoxynol-20 Octoxynol-25 Octoxynol-30 Octoxynol-33 Octoxynol-40 Octoxynol-70 PEG-3 Sorbitan oleate PEG-6 Sorbitan oleate Resorcinol Styrene
Some chemicals on the list are very troubling Of the 3,163 chemicals listed, several stand out as particularly toxic: phthalates, octoxynols and nonoxynols. Phthalates are potent hormone disruptors linked to reproductive system birth defects in baby boys. Octoxynols and nonoxynols break down into persistent hormone disruptors, as well.
Alternate Deodorant Options
It’s all well and good to know what to stay away from, but what do you replace your old deodorant with? Try our recipe for a good, aluminum-, phthalate-, and fragrance-free deodorant
Switching from dirty deodorant to a more healthy variety can sometimes have a rough start–especially if your body is detoxing all the bad stuff out through sweat that makes it seem like the deodorant isn’t working. Allow your healthy deodorant a few weeks to show that it does work when it’s not still fighting the detox.
Here are an additional few ways to help your body to make the most of your deodorant.
Apply some silver gel beforehand to kill the bacteria already in your pits.
If you notice a rash, check your deodorant for baking soda–it can be an irritant for some people. Find a baking soda-free option–they’re out there.
Worried about stains? Give the deodorant a little while to soak in before you put your shirt on over top. Do a little dance or take the time to put on your bottoms or do your hair or makeup.
No one likes the smell of a deodorant wearing off, and everyone prefers the end results of their body not being drowned in toxins. For more information on how and what to detox, or ways to upgrade to a healthier way of living, contact a Wellness Way clinic, today!
- Is Deodorant Harmful for Your Health?: Penn Medicine
- Aluminium toxicosis: a review of toxic actions and effects: NIH
- Nanotoxicology and Metalloestrogens: Possible Involvement in Breast Cancer: NIH
- Aluminium chloride promotes anchorage-independent growth in human mammary epithelial cells: PubMed
- Parabens and their effects on the endocrine system: NIH
- Is Deodorant Harmful for Your Health?: Penn Medicine
- Why Are Phthalates SO Dangerous?: Real Nutritious Living
- Phthalates and Their Impacts on Human Health: NIH
- Risk Management for Phthalates: EPA
- Fragrances in Cosmetics: FDA
- 3,163 ingredients hide behind the word “fragrance”: EWG