Top 10 Most Harmful Chemicals In Deodorants

Besides being a multi-billion dollar industry, most people aren’t aware of the detrimental ingredients that it takes to make a bottle of deodorant. Consumers use them every day to help prevent body odor and sweat but fail to comprehend the harmful chemicals in deodorants and their adverse effects on the body.

The demand for deodorants seems to be growing every year. In 2016, the estimated market value for deodorants and antiperspirants was about $18.9 billion (US Dollars). According to statista, the net worth of this business is anticipated to increase drastically by the year 2021 – 2025.

Don’t fall for the false advertising. Our bodies sweat for a reason and yet we continue to mask the odor through deodorants and make those big brands rich without knowing what we are paying for. Learn what chemicals are in deodorants and how harmful they can be to our well-being.

10 Harmful Chemicals In Deodorants To Learn About

  1. Aluminum Compounds
  2. Triclosan
  3. Parabens
  4. Propylene Glycol
  5. DEA & TEA (Diethanolamine & Triethanolamine)
  6. Silica
  7. Talc
  8. FD&C Colors
  9. Alcohol
  10. Phthalates

Using wrong deodorants can have dangerous consequences on health. The ten ingredients mentioned below are commonly used in deodorants, and it is vital to stop using products that contain them.

what chemicals are in deodorant

1 Aluminum Compounds

Compound Names: Aluminum chloride, Aluminum zirconium, and Aluminum chlorohydrate

Health Risks: Breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease

Purpose: Aluminum-based compounds are one of the active ingredients used in deodorants (particularly deodorants that contain antiperspirants). Their primary role is to block the skin pores temporarily from producing sweat. Aluminum is a reported neurotoxin, which can inhibit 200+ biologically vital functions in the body. It can cause adverse effects in humans, plants, and animals.

Research Says: When the skin absorbs the aluminum compounds from deodorants, it can interfere with the way estrogen receptors of breast cells function. Here is a study that confirms this statement. It also promotes the growth of cancerous & non-cancerous cells. According to scientists, consistent use of aluminum-based deodorants might increase the risk of breast cancer.

A few studies also claim that aluminum can cause Alzheimer’s disease. The connection between Alzheimer’s disease and aluminum has been a primary debate among the scientists for decades. But, the intricate characteristics of its bioavailability makes it hard to estimate its toxicity. Hence, the 100% evidence is yet to be established.

2 Triclosan

Health Risks: Dermatitis, Cancer, and Skin Irritation

Purpose: Triclosan is used as a disinfectant, preservative, antiseptic, and antibacterial compound. In deodorants, it kills the bacteria that thrive in the underarms. According to the FDA, triclosan is a harmful pesticide and yet it is used in most branded personal care products.

Research Says: Triclosan is one of the common artificial antimicrobial agents used in deodorants to kill bacteria. Besides deodorants, it is also used in mouthwashes, soaps, toys, plastic kitchenware, toothpaste, and sportswear.

According to the National Center For Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Triclosan is dangerous and can cause skin allergies as well as dermatitis. The problem with triclosan is that it kills both good and bad bacteria from underarms. A few studies also suggest that this hazardous chemical might disrupt the thyroid and other important hormone functions.

3 Parabens

Compound Names: Propyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Methyl, and Benzyl

Health Risks: Breast cancer

Purpose: Parabens are one of the most harmful chemicals in deodorants. They are used as preservatives or additives. Apart from deodorants, parabens are also widely used in makeup and cosmetic products.

Research Says: Parabens have a strong association with breast cancer and this research proves it. They interfere with the body’s estrogen levels and promote the development of cancer cells in the breast. In fact, women who use paraben-based deodorants are 8 times more vulnerable to get breast cancer.

4 Propylene Glycol

Health Risks: Skin Allergies, Eye Irritation, And Chances of kidney & Liver damage

Purpose: Propylene glycol is another common chemical in deodorants that have adverse effects. It helps in keeping the substances from drying out. It was originally introduced as an anti-freeze. However, it is a reported neurotoxin, which causes skin irritation, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Have you noticed people getting headaches after smelling strong deodorants? Well, propylene glycol is the reason.

Research Says: Besides being used in deodorants, propylene glycol is also used in skin care lotions, room deodorizers, electronic cigarettes, and shampoos. According to the International Programme on Chemical Safety, prolonged use of this chemical can damage the central nervous system, liver, kidney, and heart. It also causes skin allergies and eye irritation. Even in its 2% level, it is reported harmful, yet deodorants have as high levels as 50%. So, just imagine the impact.

5 DEA & TEA (Diethanolamine & Triethanolamine)

Health Risks: DEA causes kidney & liver damage. TEA causes skin allergies, miscarriages, and cancer.

Purpose: In deodorants, both DEA & TEA help in adjusting the pH levels. However, both are highly toxic when used for longer periods. They can easily seep into the skin and further, affect the kidneys and livers.

Research Says: Both DEA & TEA are highly harmful and scientists have already proved that. They are reported to have carcinogens. Their toxicity levels are so high that they have already been banned from using it in personal care products in Europe. When used for a long time, DEA causes damage to liver & kidneys while TEA causes severe allergic reactions.

6 Silica

Health Risks: Skin allergies and Cancer

Purpose: Silica is also known as silicone dioxide. A mineral that is used in most deodorants and other personal care products like nail care, hair care, eye makeup, skincare, and oral hygiene. Its primary function is to absorb the skin’s oiliness.

Research Says: It is a slow carcinogen; meaning that, its toxicity might not be that high when compared to other compounds mentioned on this list, but it still can cause cancer and mild skin allergies. The risk of getting cancer increases when it is mixed with crystalline quartz.

7 Talc

Health Risks: Cancer and Respiratory toxicity

Purpose: Talc, chemically known as hydrous magnesium silicate, is a very soft mineral that is widely used as a color additive and as an absorbent in deodorants. It is one of the bad chemicals in deodorants and IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) has already classified it as a potent carcinogen.

Research Says: It contains asbestiform fibers and aluminum silicate, both of which pose the risk of cancer and respiratory toxicity. The main drawback is that the amount of asbestiform fibers used in cosmetic-grade talc cannot be regulated. If you see talc written on the product’s label, you can never know if it has asbestiform fibers or not. According to the National Toxicology Panel, even the products that are free from asbestos already have magnesium silicate, which again is a carcinogenic and a toxic compound for health.

8 FD&C Colors

Health Risks: Cancer and Skin allergies

Purpose: As the term says it, FD&C colors are artificial color pigments added to deodorants and other beauty products to bring a hue. Though the FDA approves them, it is still one of the harmful ingredients in deodorants.

Research Says: The FD&C colors are usually derived from coal tar, which is a proven carcinogen. These artificial color pigments cause severe skin irritation. Even though deodorants and antiperspirants are neutral in color, a few are often contaminated with aluminum. This is the reason color pigments are mentioned as one of the ingredients.

9 Alcohol

Compound Names: Ethanol, Ethyl Hydroxide, and Ethyl Alcohol

Health Risks: Dry skin & Skin allergies

Purpose: Alcohol not only helps in killing all the bacteria that thrive in the underarms but also reduces body odor. Besides these, alcohol quickly dissolves with other active ingredients as well as dries faster when applied. However, they are one of the most detrimental chemicals.

Research Says: Prolonged exposure of alcohol on the skin can cause skin allergies, dry skin, and soreness. Ewg.org claims it to be highly toxic to the health. The outcome might not be immediate, but is guaranteed to affect after a few years.

10 Phthalates

Health Risks: Kidney damage, Endometriosis, Allergies, Infertility, Asthma, Cancer (Prostate, Breast, & Ovarian), and Low sperm count.

Purpose: Phthalates are plasticizing chemicals that help in dissolving other active ingredients in deodorants. However, they have been associated with multiple health issues. They are mostly contained in fragrances.

Research Says: Phthalates are often claimed to be the “endocrine disruptors,” meaning that, once the body absorbs them, they behave like estrogens and interrupt with the way hormones function. They cause various complications like endometriosis, allergies, infertility, cancers, etc.