Are conventional deodorants really bad for you?
Have you ever wondered why you can´t understand all the ingredients used in your conventional deodorant? Should you care for understanding them? Are conventional deodorants really bad for you? And what exactly is a natural deodorant?
This is an overview on researches done on ingredients
In this article we want to explain to you which are the 6 ingredients used in conventional deodorants that are questionable. We will also give some reasons on why you should avoid them in any of your body care products. Our intention is to provide you with sufficient background and information in order for you to take your own decision.
Also we’d love to encourage your to join the natural movement including natural deodorants and we´re hoping to shine a light on natural body care products. And, lastly we argue why it leaves natural deodorants as preferred choice for you as odor protection, leaving you with a feeling of being light and fresh and clean.
This is post is meant to be a summary of the current studies and result based researches of the cosmetics and body care industry, the FDA and independent research institutes. This article does not claim to be an academical researched piece of writing or let only published in any scientific journal. We try to keep it real and simple after reviewing and gathering results in the topic. And after all we rely on your ability to decide for yourself. So let´s dive in!
Short overview of ingredients to avoid
In case that you don´t want to take the time to read this whole article here are some quick answers for you we´d love you take away as a sneak preview:
- Of course you should care to understand the ingredients in your deodorant, because you apply it under your arms every day of your life (once you start using a deodorant). So please look out for the following ingredients on a label, because it is likely a chemical or additive that is at least questionable, if not dangerous for your health, when daily in contact with your skin. These ingredients are Aluminum, Propylene Glycol, Parabens, Triclosan, Triethanolamine ans Diethanolamine and Steareths
- We would be happy if you could avoid using chemicals and turn towards a natural based deodorant and natural body care products in general. Common sense tells us regardless of having a study proving any correlation between aluminum used in deodorants and breast cancer and/ or Alzheimer that chemicals used on a daily basis on our skin are not good for our bodies. So if you can keep it natural and get the same necessary effect of odor protection and a good smell, it doesn’t take a degree in chemistry or medicine to figure out that switching to a natural deodorant makes sense.
For those who are interested in some deeper analysis and investigation on conventional deodorants’ ingredients and their difference to natural deodorants please keep on reading.
Which are the typical ingredients often used in conventional deodorants, that you should avoid using and why they are used by the industry?
Most commonly these 6 artificially generated ingredients are used to enhance the product function or practicality, to improve its taste or smell, to preserve longer or to attract, for example in color or scent more than its natural characteristics would allow for. In deodorants these ingredients have an explainable functionality and purpose, but come at a cost for our body with possible long term effects. Times have changed and consumers are luckily becoming more aware and educated in their decision making process when it comes to their health, food and body care products.
Aluminum can harm
Aluminum will show up in form of any of the following denominations: Aluminum chloro hydrate, ammonium aluminum sulfate, potassium aluminum sulfate, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly. Aluminum compounds are mainly used in Anti-perspirants, since it keeps your pores from releasing perspiration.
Aluminum will stay in your body, accumulating in the areas under your arms over time. Some studies have shown that aluminum may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease although no definitive relationship has been established. There are further recent studies linking a higher percentage of likelihood of earlier occurrence of breast cancer to women using aluminum-based antiperspirants. 
These studies are very complex and it is difficult to summarize in a clear way the correlation between aluminum used and the probability of Alzheimer and/or breast cancer, but it can be stated without hesitation, that aluminum is not a natural product that our body should get in touch with or even absorb on a daily basis.
Propylene Glycol may lead to skin irritation
Propylene Glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water. Traditionally it has been used by the industry as an antifreeze when leakage might lead to contact with IT is used in antiperspirants and deodorants to absorb extra water and maintain moisture.
Although Propylene glycol breaks down in the body in about 48 hours, studies of people and animals show that if you have repeated eye, skin, nasal, or oral exposures to propylene glycol for a short time, you may develop some irritation. Applying it on a daily basis under your arms is therefore not recommendable. Even as little as 2% are enough to cause irritations. 
We want to point out that any deodorant, that contains propylene glycol is not a natural deodorant!
Parabens might increase risk for breast cancer
Parabens are used as preservatives in a wide range of cosmetic and food products, but are very likely to be one of the most harmful chemical used as additives. They have been shown to mimic estrogen and are suspected to be endocrine system disruptors. 
Studies have found parabens in breast tumor tissue. Fortunately, Parabens are not commonly used anymore since the negative effects on health have been proven thoroughly.
Triclosan can manipulate hormone levels
Triclosan is an ingredient added to many consumer products intended to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It is used in many personal care products including soaps, hand sanitizers, and deodorants.
There are several numbers of ongoing studies on negative effects of the use of triclosan in body care products. According to the FDA “some short-term animal studies have shown that exposure to high doses of triclosan is associated with a decrease in the levels of some thyroid hormones. But we don’t know the significance of those findings to human health.
Other studies have raised the possibility that exposure to triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. At this time, we don’t have enough information available to assess the level of risk that triclosan poses for the development of antibiotic resistance.
There are other ongoing studies that involve the safety of triclosan. One is a study investigating the potential of developing skin cancer after a long-term exposure to triclosan in animals. Another is a study on the potential breakdown of triclosan to other chemicals on human skin after exposure to triclosan to ultraviolet (UV) rays.
At this time, neither study has been completed. “ In our opinion the pure fact that all these studies on negative effects to our bodies of triclosan are ongoing, we recommend avoiding the use of this ingredient.
Triethanolamine (TEA) and diethanolamine (DEA) are found in other organs and are related to cancer
Triethanolamine (TEA) and diethanolamine (DEA) belong to the Ethanolamine compounds and are used as emulsifying agents, fragrances and pH adjusters in soaps, cosmetics, household cleaning products, and personal care products.
In body care products you might find them under the following names: DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, triethanolamine, diethanolamine, cocamide DEA, cocamide MEA, DEA, TEA, lauramide DEA, linoleamide MEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, TEA-lauryl sulfate, or stearamide MEA. 
They can be absorbed into your skin and affect your liver and kidneys. In fact, they’re so harmful that these two chemicals have already been banned from products in Europe because they are known carcinogens.
Health concerns include Cancer, environmental concerns (bioaccumulation) and organ system toxicity. Worst case, you find them on your current conventional deodorant: stop using it and switch to a natural deodorant, no need in arguing more about this. The facts are clear.
Steareths, especially 21, are suspected to promote cancer
Steareths, especially 21, belong to a series of compounds prepared by reacting stearyl alcohol with ethylene oxide to form polyoxyethylene stearyl ethers. Steareths are waxy solids used primarily as emulsifiers in cosmetics at concentrations of up to 25% where they are used as additives. They have been suspected for causing cancer and several studies have been carried out.
A study published by the Journal of Toxicology analyzed these additives for promoting cancer already in 1988. It then concluded that Steareths were safe as cosmetic ingredients in the then present practices of use and concentration. Newer studies by the CIR Expert Panel concluded that the Steareth ingredients were safe as used when formulated to be nonirritating.
We hope that you are still with us after this little chemistry lesson. This brief overview might allow you to understand better the list of ingredients on the back label of your deodorant or other cosmetics or body care products. We tried our best to summarize and keep it simple and to be very transparent with our research and findings without drawing any easy conclusions or manipulating statements.
As you can see some of those chemicals used in conventional deodorants are currently being evaluated and tested by the FDA, others have already been tested and have been found safe or not safe to use. Some have been mainly abandoned by now, such as the parabens. Others are still being tested on animals or test groups to verify that there are no severe long term effects on human health.
Please draw your own conclusions at this point and decide yourself.
What exactly is a natural deodorant?
A natural deodorant only contains natural ingredients. We would even go as far as stating that all ingredients used in a natural deodorant should be edible and, of course, depending on the choice of ingredients, they can also be vegan and gluten-free.
Natural deodorants rely on the pure power of nature and yet are reliable when it comes down to odor protection just as any conventional deodorant or anti-perspirant is. From our own experience though you will need to test several brands to see which one works for you best and which combination of natural ingredients can convince you and your nose.
All natural ingredients and animal friendly
Ingredients are usually coconut oil, shea butter, and some kind of animal- or plant based wax, baking soda/magnesium hydroxide or arrow root powder. Essential oils are the best natural way to create a refreshing scent.
Some natural deodorants use artificial fragrances, which in our opinion makes those products a little less a natural deodorant. There are ongoing studies on negative effects of fragrances used in body care products, but this is something we might have to write about in another article.
Finally, natural deodorants do not need to be tested on animals, since the natural reaction to these all natural products can at worst be a rash using baking soda or an intolerance to any of the essential oil we are using to make our scents refreshing and exciting.
In that case there is always the option to switch to a product that contains magnesium hydroxide rather than baking soda and is preferable unscented without any additional essential oils.
So what should you do?
Summarizing our main findings we hope that you understand better now the difference between a conventional deodorant, an antiperspirant and a natural deodorant, and why it makes so much sense to switch to a natural deodorant.
For future findings of reading labels and ingredients you should now be able to manage to sort out which type of chemicals and questionable ingredients some conventional deodorants are using and distinguish as well between one natural deodorant and the other.
We think that if you can´t eat the ingredients you shouldn’t apply them to your body!
You have already tried or switched to a natural deodorant? We are eager to hear all about your experience. Please also reach out to us if you need help or advice or in case you have some doubts or fall backs with natural body care products.
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We’d love to get in touch with you and exchange ideas.
Sources we used:
 Exley, C., LM Charles, L. Barr, C. Martin, A. Polwart, and PD Darbre. “Aluminium in Human Breast Tissue.” PubMed.gov. J Inorg Biochem., 12 June 2007. Web. 02 Feb. 2012. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17629949>.
 Public Health Statement for Propylene Glycol, https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=1120&tid=240 available on 6/11/2019
 Is that a toxic chemical in my deodorant? By Tracey Black at Don’t Mess With Mama / May 26, 2015 https://saferchemicals.org/2015/05/26/is-that-a-toxic-chemical-in-my-deodorant/ available on 6/11/2019
 Harvey PW, Everett DJ. Significance of the detection of esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid (parabens) in human breast tumours. Journal of Applied Toxicology 2004; 24(1):1–4. [PubMed Abstract] available on 6/11/2019
 https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-triclosan, available on 11/6/2019
 https://www.forceofnatureclean.com/chemical-free-living-ethanolamine-compounds-dea-mea-tea/ available on 6/11/2019
 https://www.forceofnatureclean.com/chemical-free-living-ethanolamine-compounds-dea-mea-tea/ available on 11/6/2019
 http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/ethanolamine-compounds/ available on 11/6/2019