Clean eating and adequate exercise are both essential cornerstones for optimal health but equally important is the use of natural health and beauty products that are free of toxins and harsh drying agents. Because the personal care industry in the United States is largely unregulated — beauty companies do not have to adhere to many of the regulations under the Food and Drug Administration and are not required to disclose proprietary ingredients — many harmful chemicals, carcinogens, and drying agents are found in conventional soaps, lotions, shampoos, cosmetics, and deodorants.
Although our skin works hard to provide a protective barrier, topical skin products can be absorbed through our skin and into the bloodstream, which makes it all the more important to use chemical-free personal care products, including natural deodorant. Here’s a breakdown of deodorants and antiperspirants and why it’s best to avoid the conventional ones:
Deodorants kill bacteria on the skin and cover up offending odors. Conventional deodorants contain parabens, triclosan, phthalates, and aluminum to accomplish this. The product’s scent, or fragrance, is also designed and added to conceal our body odor.
The problem with conventional deodorants:
- Parabens, triclosan, and phthalates are all synthetic chemicals that can disrupt natural hormones produced by the body. Aluminum, a heavy metal, is also a chronic toxin and has been linked to a number of health conditions such as breast cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, to name a few.
- As for the fragrance, it isn’t made up of just one chemical. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), there are over 3,100 stock chemicals in the fragrance industry, many of which pose long-term health risks, such as organ system toxicity and allergic reactions, and still need additional testing for safety.
Antiperspirants block sweat. Most use aluminum-based compounds to stop the pores from producing sweat and propylene glycol as a drying agent.
The problem with conventional antiperspirants:
- Sweating is beneficial to our health because it helps release toxins. Daily use of aluminum and aluminum derivatives prevent the body’s natural detoxification process. And because the body does not naturally produce aluminum, overexposure to this metal can be harmful. Propylene glycol is a neurotoxin and can cause skin irritation.
WFP’s Take-Home Advice
Natural deodorants avoid the harsh chemicals and use safer ingredients for the body to absorb and thus are less toxic to your body over time. However, not all natural deodorants are made the same. Though many claim to be chemical-free, some of the crystal stone deodorants contain alum, which means they are not completely aluminum-free.
Great strides have been made, though, by the green beauty industry to provide safe and effective natural deodorants. Healthy alternatives can be found at conventional grocery stores, local health food stores such as Wholefoods, Natural Grocers, and Trader Joe’s, and on Amazon. No matter what you choose the most important rules are to avoid antiperspirants in general and avoid all deodorants with the word aluminum or alum in their ingredients. Look for natural ingredients such as baking soda (neutralizes odor); arrowroot powder (absorbs moisture); lavender and vanilla (scent); soothing aloe for sensitive skin; and charcoal (purifying agent).
Here are a few brands that we have personally tried and can vouch for. Remember, you may have to experiment with a few natural brands to find the one that works best for you! Mercola Organic Deodorant, Pretty Frank, Lavanila Laboratories, Weleda, Miessence roll-on, and Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant. A few other brands to consider are Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant, EO, Lāfe’s, and Soapwalla Deodorant Cream. You can also use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database as a resource for selecting the healthiest and safest natural deodorants on the market, in addition to other personal care products.
Check our Preventive 10 for a list of other safe skin products for you and your family!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 20, 2015 and has since been updated.
Sources and References:
- Mercola, J. (2013, November 27) Is Your Perfume Poison?. Articles.Mercola.com. Retrieved February 24, 2015
- Environmental Working Group. (2010, May 12) Not So Sexy: Hidden Chemicals in Perfume and Cologne. Retrieved February 24, 2015
- Mercola, J. (2010, February 16) Stop Using “Natural” Deodorants Until You Read This. Articles.Mercola.com. Retrieved February 24, 2015
- Sappino, AP., et al. (March 2012) Aluminum chloride promotes anchorage-independent growth in human mammary epithelial cells. ncbi.nim.nih.gov. Retrieved April 9, 2019 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22223356
- Katzenelson, A., and Faber, S. (2019, March 20) On Cosmetics Safety, U.S. Trails More Than 40 Nations. ewg.org. Retrieved April 9, 2019 https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2019/03/cosmetics-safety-us-trails-more-40-nations