Your Deodorant May Be the Pits: 5 Chemicals Found in Most Deodorants
Deodorant. Photo via Taylor Stanton.

Your Deodorant May Be the Pits: 5 Chemicals Found in Most Deodorants

Deodorant is something we use every day, sometimes more than once. We don’t want to smell. We don’t want to sweat. Thus, deodorant solves our problems. Good idea, right? Well, maybe not. There may be harmful chemicals in your deodorant.

Deodorants and antiperspirants try to stop one of our bodies’ essential natural functions: sweating. When we sweat, it is our body regulates its temperature, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine. So why do we sweat over it? (The term sweat has even become synonymous with worry; further expressing how we’ve become obsessed with sweat.)

In order to combat the body’s natural functions, deodorants and antiperspirants are made with chemicals that may have adverse effects our our health after long-term use.

Here are five chemicals that are commonly found in deodorants and antiperspirants.

#1 Parabens

Parabens are synthetic compounds found in most health and beauty products. Parabens serve as preservatives for these products. Scientific American identified five common parabens: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.

What’s wrong with them? Parabens may impact how the body produces estrogen. Excesses of estrogen have been found in cancerous tumors. Since so many of the items we use contain parabens, the worry is that we will overexpose our bodies to these chemicals, which may lead to cancer.

However, the National Cancer Institute finds “no scientific evidence” that links the two together. Some researchers have challenged this conclusion, but their findings are inconclusive. A study from 2002 suggests that the use of deodorants and antiperspirants do not increase the risk of breast cancer, while a study conducted the following year found that “underarm shaving with antiperspirant/deodorant use may play a role in breast cancer.”

#2 Aluminum

Aluminum compounds are what make antiperspirants work. Essentially, the aluminium compounds clog your sweat ducts to stop sweat from reaching the surface of your skin. Some researchers, like Dr. Phillipa Dabre, suggest that letting a metal compound, like aluminium, seep into your skin cells may “interfere with oestrogen action” in the body and possibly increase the risk of breast cancer. Again, the National Cancer Institute states that more research will need to be conducted before aluminum compounds can be directly linked to breast cancer.

#3 Phthalates

Phthalates help products stick to your skin. Do your armpits smell powder fresh for hours after you’ve applied your deodorant? You can thank phthalates for helping the scent stay on your skin. According to a Time Magazine interview with Dr. Heather Patisaul, who is a professor at North Carolina State University, this chemical can impact testosterone levels in both men and women, damaging the reproductive abilities of both.

#4 Triclosan

This chemical is added to deodorant, as well as face and acne products, to avoid bacterial contamination and eliminate bacteria on the skin. In a study published by the Journal of Immunology, it states that 75 percent of the U. S. population has discernible amounts of triclosan in their urine. The study suggests that long term use could affect our genes.

#5 Fragrance

When you look at the ingredients list on your deodorant or other health/beauty products, you’ll probably see the ingredient “fragrance.” When products just list the term fragrance as an ingredient, it is impossible for the consumer to tell what chemicals or compounds created that scent. Most of the time consumers have no idea what ingredients are in the fragrance of their products. Fragrances can be skin and respiratory allergens, so beware.


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