5 Ingredients to Avoid in Deodorants & Antiperspirants

5 Ingredients to Avoid in Deodorants & Antiperspirants

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Should you use aluminum based deodorants or not, that’s the question! Parabens or not? It gets confusing I know, at least it was for me and I know this isn’t a glamorous topic, but it’s an important one.

Most people don’t know the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant, which each serve different purposes.


Commercial deodorants are formulated to eliminate armpit odor but not perspiration. They’re typically alcohol-based. When applied, they turn your skin acidic, which makes it less attractive to bacteria.

Deodorants also commonly contain perfume to mask the odor. Yes, some do have fragrance, and if you have read my blog posts you know how much I despise the F-word (I mean Fragrance) in my products!

You can read about it here: Why I stopped Using Popular Brand Skincare

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers deodorants to be cosmetic: a product intended to cleanse or beautify. It considers antiperspirants to be a drug: a product intended to treat or prevent disease or affect the structure or function of the body.


The active ingredients in antiperspirants usually include aluminum-based compounds that temporarily block sweat pores. 

Blocking sweat pores reduces the amount of perspiration that reaches your skin.

If over-the-counter (OTC) antiperspirants are unable to control your sweating, prescription antiperspirants are available. 

HOWEVER, Antiperspirants, which are classified as over-the-counter drugs, inhibit a normal bodily function, the formation of sweat, using their active ingredient, aluminum salts.

On the other hand, natural deodorants are typically made without aluminum. They’re designed to keep you smelling fresh for hours. 

So, yes, you may still sweat a bit after using your favorite aluminum-free formula but you shouldn’t smell after going green.

5 Ingredients to Avoid

Conventional antiperspirants and deodorants contain a variety of ingredients that current research is showing may be harmful to your health. I like to present the studies I have found and let you decide for yourself. The following ingredients and studies highlight the most concerning issues:

  • Aluminum

Aluminum compounds are used to keep your pores from releasing perspiration.  Aluminum stays in the body and consequently will accumulate over time.  Recent evidence has linked breast cancer with aluminum-based antiperspirants.  

The study showed a link between earlier and more frequent use of antiperspirants to an earlier occurrence of breast cancer.

NOW there are some studies that suggest there are NO links between aluminum and breast cancer but based on my own research, I do not use aluminum-based deodorants and I wouldn’t want my own daughter to use it either – there are SO MANY natural, clean, and non-toxic products on the market that can be used instead and will get the job done – for me until there is CLEAR unbiased studies that clearly shows there are zero dangers, aluminum-free deodorant it is.

  • Talc

You might be familiar with talc from baby powder. But, did you know, some deodorants also contain talc? Some talc contains asbestiform fibers, which are a carcinogen and can lead to cancer. 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists talc containing asbestos as carcinogenic to humans. Inhaling talc containing asbestos adversely affects lungs, and applying talcum powders perennially may be linked to ovarian cancer.

Some talc is contaminated with asbestos, a mineral substance linked to cancer as a result of its close proximity in the earth. Talc is restricted in the European Union! 

Also, note that Talc-containing feminine hygiene products are widely distributed and commonly used in the United States.

However, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the ingredient. If cancer-causing ingredients in deodorant are a concern to you, consider avoiding the ingredient altogether. 

Here is the ingredients listing talc in my old favorite deodorant I used religiously, Secret Clinical Strength Invisible Solid:

secret clinical strength invisible solid women's antiperspirant and deodorant


Usage and Health Impacts:

secret clinical strength invisible solid women's antiperspirant and deodorant 

Until more information is available, I like to avoid using deodorant or other beauty products containing talc and I hope you do too. With my asthma, respiratory irritation is exactly why I like to avoid talc until further notice!

You can read more about talc and the recall from Johnson & Johnson baby powder in my blog post.

  • Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol was originally developed as an anti-freeze. In antiperspirants and deodorants it is used to increase absorption. It has been shown to be a skin irritant and to cause allergic reactions.  

In some deodorants, even natural ones, propylene glycol is present. Due to its property as penetration enhancer, it aids harmful chemicals to enter into your skin faster, causing irritation. It is derived from petroleum and tends to sit on the surface of skin after you rinse it, dissolving the fats and oils your skin needs to stay nourished.

  • Parabens

Parabens are used as preservatives in a wide range of cosmetic and food products. They are also used as antimicrobial preservatives in underarm deodorants and antiperspirants They have been shown to mimic estrogen and are suspected to be endocrine system disruptors.  Studies have also found parabens in breast tumor tissue. Parabens also have inherent estrogenic and other hormone related activity.

I also found a study in the U.S. National Library of Medicine that talks about parabens and their relation to obesity:

“In accordance with other experimental studies we observed important associations of methylparaben and hormones affecting energy balance and metabolic health, indicating its obesogenic potential.”


Infertility in Males – Researchers examined lab tests done on 315 male patients of a fertility clinic in Poland to pinpoint issues they were having with reproduction. 

All of the men provided samples of urine, saliva, blood and semen for analysis. Compared to men who had low concentrations of parabens in their urine, men with high concentrations of the chemicals also had a larger proportion of sperm with what’s known as abnormal morphology, or unusual size or shape, that’s associated with infertility, the study found.

Higher levels of parabens in the urine were also associated with DNA damage in the sperm and what’s known as decreased motility, or slower-moving sperm that may contribute to infertility by being unable to travel far enough to reach an egg. Read the full report



Remember that studies regarding the health effects of parabens are conflicting. You may find information that suggests otherwise, I personally would like to avoid them until further investigation and more in-depth studies.

Read more about The 3 P’s: Parfum, Paraben and Phthalates

  • Triclosan

Triclosan is an anti-fungal and antibacterial chemical used in many personal care products including soaps, hand sanitizers, and deodorants. Triclosan has been shown to be an endocrine disrupter in animals, specifically affecting thyroid hormone function. 

Even low levels of Triclosan may disrupt thyroid function and it has also been linked with increased hay fever and allergy development.  

In addition, Triclosan can react with chlorine in tap water to form chloroform, and therefore is considered a probable carcinogen.

Triclosan is restricted in cosmetics in Canada and Japan; It is restricted in cosmetics use in the European Union and is classified to be toxic or harmful by the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List.  See the EWG’s guide to Triclosan.

Still, MAYBE it’s improper to say that Triclosan causes cancer – BUT it creates very suitable conditions for cancer development. 

Triclosan has been associated with a higher risk of food allergy; this may be because exposure to bacteria reduces allergies, as predicted by the hygiene hypothesis and not toxicology of the chemical itself.

Here is the article regarding Triclosan and sensitization to peanuts

“We tested the impact of triclosan on epicutaneous sensitization to peanut, as well as the milk allergen α-lactalbumin (ALA). We observed that topical Triclosan promoted epicutaneous sensitization to both peanut and ALA, and promoted anaphylaxis to peanut. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that the mouse model of epicutaneous sensitization to foods is effective for demonstrating the clinically significant impact of environmental factors such as Triclosan on food allergy.”

I have asthma and Allergic Fungal Sinusitis and my daughter has nut allergies including peanut and finding these studies related to Triclosan and peanut allergy blew my mind.

As an informed mom, I would like to avoid it as much as I can.

Beauty requires sacrifices, but none of them should be your health. There are plenty of deodorants out there that get the job done naturally without all the toxic chemicals that perhaps you are not so sure if it’s good for you or not. 

If you need help in finding healthy alternatives or have any suggestions on which deodorants are safe, share them with me.

As always,

Read labels

Know your ingredients

AND stay safe!


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