5 Ingredients to Avoid in Deodorants and Antiperspirants


Mama, running around after you kids or chauffeuring them across town is work. And hard work makes you sweat! You probably put on deodorant every morning (except for those motherhood days…you know which ones we’re talking about!). But should you?

Have you ever considered what chemicals you’re applying to your underarms to keep sweat at bay or mask odors? Think again. No one wants a smelly Mama, but no one desires an unhealthy Mama either.

Avoid these 5 ingredients in your deodorants and antiperspirants.

Pause – you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? My deodorant only impacts me, while my lack of deodorant is evident to everyone around me.” Some of these harmful ingredients linger in your body for years and can even be transferred to your children through breast milk. Protect yourself and foster a healthy lineage by making a simple switch away from these ingredients.

1 – Aluminum compounds

First we need to ask: why is aluminum in deodorant? It clogs up sweat glands to prevent you from sweating. Antiperspirants contain aluminum compounds to keep you from perspiring. Sweating is the body’s method to cool down, much like a dog pants when it’s too hot. Clogging those sweat glands is harmful because it makes it more difficult for toxins to exit the body.

Metals like aluminum are also toxic. Increased exposure can cause headaches, fatigue, depression, or skin rashes. It may also impact the brain (Alzheimer’s), kidneys or liver, Lastly, aluminum interferes with estrogen levels; research has shown that miniscule amounts of aluminum, much less than the amount in deodorant, cause cellular changes associated with breast or prostate cancer.

Avoid these aluminum ingredients: Aluminum chloralhydrate, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly

2 – Parabens

Parabens are harmful preservatives found in over 75% of deodorants (and cosmetics in general) that prevent the growth of bacteria. Much like aluminum, parabens pretend to be estrogen in the body and are therefore linked to breast and prostate cancer. One particular study found that 99% of tissues sampled from women who has mastectomies contained at least one paraben; most breast cancer incidents from this study were in the armpit region and rated high for propylparaben.

Parabens have been in deodorants for over 70 years, absorbing into our bodies. Thankfully “paraben free” labels and products are on the rise!

Avoid these parabens: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, benzylparaben and butylparaben.

3 – Propylene Glycol

Why is propylene glycol, a neurotoxin, added to many deodorants? Companies include this in their formula to seal off moisture and to sink the deodorant into the sweat glands of the armpit. Not only do antiperspirants clog pores (see aluminum above), the products also absorb into your skin.

Some deodorants are composed of 50% propylene glycol, which is known to damage the central nervous system, liver, kidneys, heart, and skin.

Avoid propylene glycol, also known as PEG (Polyethylene Glycol) or PG (Propylene Glycol)

4 – Triclosan

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers triclosan to be a pesticide, while the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has this listed as a possible carcinogen, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still reviewing the safety of this ingredient.

Manufacturers include triclosan in their formulas to kill any bacteria involved in the manufacturing process or on your skin at the time of application. Some bacteria is normal and necessary for your body; triclosan doesn’t differentiate – it kills all bacteria. Unfortunately, it can also kill you.

When triclosan mixes with water, it creates chloroform, a carcinogenic gas. This chemical can irritate your skin, disrupt your hormones, and can be stored in your fat for extensive amounts of time. Mamas – beware! Triclosan is even found in human breast milk…do you want to pass that on to your child?

Avoid purchasing an antiperspirant with triclosan listed on the label.

4 – Steareth-n

Although these are derived from vegetables, they aren’t as friendly as you think. It’s added to deodorants during production, which produces both carcinogens and dioxanes.

Avoid any ingredient listed as a steareths, including Steareth-1.

5 – TEA and DEA

If only TEA was as natural to your body as a cup of steaming tea. Triethanolamine (TEA) and diethanolamine (DEA) are vicious chemicals that seep into your skin and negatively impact your liver and kidneys. Actually, these two ingredients are banned in Europe because they are proven carcinogens.

Avoid these acronyms in any of your beauty products.

Other ingredients to avoid

Although those are the most common ingredients to avoid, there are a few more to add to the list.

Also avoid: artificial colors, phthalates (fragrances), talc, or silica

Alternative options

Now what? Live forever without deodorant? No way!

Check out how your current deodorant ranks according to the Environmental Working Group.

Try this homemade deodorant spray that requires only a few ingredients and 5 minutes of your time. Or purchase one of these brands:

You may also like to read about 4 Ingredients to Look for in your Beauty Products or 10 Ingredients to Avoid in Beauty Products.