photo ~John Foxx/Getty DCL
by Megan Winkler
With ingredients that have been linked to breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, hormonal imbalance and neurological issues, I think it’s time we start looking a little more closely at what’s going into our deodorant. I’m pretty horrified at the information I dredged up on the topic. I know this isn’t a glamorous topic, but it’s an important one. So important, in fact, that I’m going to try a natural deodorant recipe out this week. But before I get to the recipe, let’s talk about what we’re applying to our armpits on a daily basis.
THE ALUMINUM-ALZHEIMER’S CONNECTION
Yeah, we’ll start off with a big one. Aluminum—as in the metal—is used to block pores from releasing sweat. The problem is, aluminum has been linked to breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men and an increased chance of Alzheimer’s. Now to be fair, the Food and Drug Administration has never said it’s a carcinogen, but there is definitely a case for drawing a correlation between the two. It might be something to look out for.
Parabens are synthetic preservatives that are sometimes present in health and beauty products. There are two interesting bits of information that I’d like for us to consider with regards to this ingredient. The first is that the Centers for Disease Control conducted a study to see how many of us have parabens in our system. Of 100 subjects tested, 100 percent—each and every one of them—showed paraben presence in their urine. This research told scientists a lot about how easily chemicals enter our body via the skin. The other bit of information is that parabens have been linked to hormonal imbalance in early puberty. Food for thought.
OH GEEZ, PROPYLENE GLYCOL
The petroleum-based ingredient propylene glycol is present in many antiperspirants and deodorants. It’s the ingredient that gives deodorant a slick consistency so we can slather it on our skin. Bad news is that in large quantities it can do damage to the central nervous system, the heart and the liver. To be fair, this is like saying that broccoli in large doses is lethal, but no one would ever eat that much anyway, so it’s a moot point. The amount of propylene glycol used in the average stick of deodorant is probably completely safe, but it’s worth mentioning.
Phthalates help ingredients to dissolve, and because of this they are sometimes found in deodorant. Unfortunately, phthalates are also linked to birth defects and the disruption of hormone receptors in the body. Yuck!
After finding out that triclosan was classified as a pesticide by the FDA and as a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency, most companies that produce deodorants and antiperspirants have removed this ingredient from their formulas. It’s still a good idea to read the product label just to make sure triclosan isn’t hiding inside.
A DIY NATURAL ALTERNATIVE
I did some research to see if I could talk about some great mainstream companies that have eliminated these ingredients from their products, but with the exception of Old Spice, none of the companies I investigated even go so far as to display the ingredients for their deodorants online.
There are a few all-natural deodorants on the market, but I found a couple of homemade recipes via Wellness Mama that are supposed to be amazing, assuming the above information doesn’t sit well with you either. Using coconut oil, baking soda, shea butter, and some optional arrowroot and essential oils, you can make your own quite easily. Simply melt the coconut oil and shea butter in a double boiler and add the other ingredients to create an all-natural alternative that really works. Another option is to combine coconut oil, baking soda and cornstarch in a small glass jar. Neither recipe requires refrigeration, which is nice.