Yesterday I explained the simple differences between deodorants and anti-perspirants. Today we’ll explore the safety of commercial deodorants and anti-perspirants. To put your mind at ease, the products are a lot like shampoos and toothpastes: There are some hazardous ingredients to avoid, but many safe and affordable products to choose from.
I checked the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Database, and like past searches I’ve been fairly surprised by their rankings. For starters, Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Glycine, a common ingredient in anti-perspirants, is ranked as a 2/low hazard. For years I’ve heard that aluminum in anti-perspirants is a potential danger. But, as yesterday’s post states, health organizations have not found substantial evidence proving any danger.
Other ingredients are listed as moderate to high hazards. If at all possible, avoid buying deodorants or anti-perspirants that include:
- Retinyl Palmitate (also known as Vitamin A Palmitate): Used in sunscreens, mouthwashes, and hair styling products, the ingredient is classified as a known human reproductive toxicant by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, the FDA also states it is “designated as safe for general or specific, limited use in food.” It’s restricted in Canadian cosmetics, however the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List classifies Retinyl Palmitate as an ingredient that’s “not expected to be potentially toxic or harmful.” Currently, there’s limited evidence of the ingredient’s toxicity.
- Triclosan: As a known irritant to skin, lungs and eyes, lungs, Triclosan builds as a body burden, disrupts the endocrine system, and may create antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Once dumped in water, Triclosan attaches to surfaces and has the potential to bioaccumulate and harm aquatic life.
- Parabens: Known to mimic estrogens, parabens (also known as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and benzylparaben) are included in some deodorants and anti-perspirants. They disrupt endocrine systems and are human immune toxicants. Avoid parabens in all personal care products.
“Fragrance” is one ingredient that is listed as a high hazard in many underarm products. Due to secret fragrance formulas, it’s impossible to know exactly what ingredients make a product smell a certain way.
If you’d like to see how your deodorants or anti-perspirants rank, check out EWG’s Cosmetics Database.
A simple solution
One do-it-yourself remedy is to make your own deodorant. Although I’ve never tried this, you can sprinkle baking soda on your armpits. Or, make a deodorant powder with ¼ cup baking soda and ¼ cup cornstarch. For a pleasant smell, add a couple drops of essential oil.
How about you? Does thinking about the safety of deodorants and anti-perspirants make you sweat?
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