By Natural Solutions
Why most deodorants stink—and six alternatives that work. Of all our daily grooming habits, swiping a deodorant stick or squirting antiperspirant under our arms may be the one we dare not neglect. Hot yoga classes and subway etiquette practically demand it. But when it comes to choosing a BO buster, we should care just as much about how it affects us as it does others—and that means avoiding the harmful ingredients many deodorants contain.
Why? Unlike soaps or shampoos, “these cosmetics are not rinsed off,” says Philippa Darbre, breast cancer researcher at the University of Reading in England. “The entire application is left on the skin each time, allowing for the accumulation of chemicals in the underarm and upper breast area.”
The sensitive skin in these areas eventually absorbs this chemical overload—some of which is toxic—into the underlying tissue, where it can wreak havoc in the body.
Beware of these primary offenders:
Found only in antiperspirants, aluminum zirconium and aluminum chlorohydrate work by blocking pores that release sweat. Aluminum, like other heavy metals, may interfere with the ability of estrogen receptors to correctly process the hormone.
Because this ingredient functions as a penetration enhancer, it can be more harmful when paired with other chemical additives. The ingredient—even in concentrations as low as 2 percent—provokes skin irritation in some people, yet manufacturers can create a product with 50 percent propylene glycol content. Believe it or not, you’re likely to find this in many “natural” deodorants.
Used as an antibacterial agent and preservative, triclosan reacts with tap water to create chloroform gas, a potential carcinogen. Triclosan also exhibits endocrine-disrupting properties in marine animals—which should concern everyone because it also has shown up in human breast milk and blood.
Usually listed with a number (like steareth-15), these additives come from a cheap process that makes harsh ingredients more mild. The process (known as ethoxylation) produces carcinogenic 1,4-dioxanes during manufacturing.
Next: Safer Alternatives