Chemical Free Deodorants
In the middle of the current heatwave it’s a good time to take a look at modern deodorants and what the do for us. Most people use a daily deodorant to keep themselves fresh and pleasant to be around, but many people have no real idea how they work- or what they contain. To take a look at the ingredients of your average conventional deodorant is to discover a real cauldron of chemicals, but what are they, and what do they do?
Aluminum, or aluminium depending on which side of the pond you live, is a major component of those deodorants that have an antiperspirant element. It creates a base which when sprayed on blocks up the sweat ducts so that perspiration can’t escape. There have been some serious concerns expressed about the safety of this, with some arguing for a link between aluminum and breast cancer. While there has been no firm evidence of this, the element of doubt has made many uncomfortable. Early studies also seemed to show a link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease, and those with kidney disease are advised not to use antiperspirants due to their reduced ability to eliminate aluminum from the body.
Parabens are added to deodorants to kill the bacteria which create odour. As may be expected from such a powerful chemical, a variety of issues have arisen about the effects. Evidence of estrogenic activity- where the parabens mimic natural female hormones, has caused some concern, as has evidence that parabens cause DNA damage in skin.
Polyethylene Glycol compounds(PEGs) are used in antiperspirant deodorants to dissolve oil and grease- which is why they are also commonly found in spray-on oven cleaners. There are concerns about PEGs increasing the absorption of other chemicals, due to their action of opening the pores.
Mineral Oil derivatives such as paraffin
Mineral oils coat the skin and prevent excretion through the skin which will aid in keeping perspiration levels down. As a side effect it slows down the skin’s natural rate of turnover, causing premature aging.
Triclosan may be the most concerning of the ingredients contained in the average high street antiperspirant or deodorant. It is used to kill bacteria which create odour but is classified as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency and has been the subject of a great deal of concern. Studies have found evidence linking Triclosan to immune system damage and hormonal disruption, and further suggestions of a potential link to liver and other cancers were discovered in animal trials. Chemically similar to Agent Orange, the infamous herbicide since linked to a variety of diseases.
So, with a clearer view of exactly what we are spraying on to our skin and what the effects could be it may be worth taking a little more time and care over what we choose to use. While everyone wants to keep feeling fresh and dry it may be worth seeking out products that are free from harsh and worrying chemicals.
In order to find chemical free deodorants you need to study the INCI list on the packaging.
A safe bet is to use all-natural deodorants that are ideally certified. These products use official seals like
USDA Organic from the National Organic Program in the US or
NATRUE, BDIH or ecocert in Europe.
Popular all-natural brands include Aubrey Organics, Burt’s Bee’s, Coconut Snow, Every Man Jack, Herban Cowboys, Malin+Goetz, Nature’s Gate, Schmidt’s or Tom’s of Maine
You can find more products in our List of aluminum-free deodorant brands in the section “All-natural and organic Cosmetics”.