Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Is your deodorant safe?

The other day a friend asked me about deodorant, wondering if there is a link between deodorant and breast cancer and if aluminum in the product is still a concern. These are tough questions, mostly because there are no definitive answers.

There is no conclusive evidence that the aluminum in many deodorants contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s. And no study has conclusively linked the chemicals in deodorants to breast cancer. But studies haven’t proven otherwise either and ongoing research continues to raise questions about the safety of one of the most frequently used personal care products.

What we do know is that most deodorants contain chemicals that have been linked to a number of health problems. Here is a rundown on four very common deodorant ingredients: Propyleyne glycol (also known as antifreeze in 100% concentrations) is a chemical you’ll see in many brands, including some “natural” brands. It and related chemicals (like polyethylene glycol) are a concern because they may be contaminated with 1, 4-dioxane which may cause cancer. Parabens are preservatives suspected of interfering with hormone function. The mixture of chemicals in synthetic fragrances has been linked to allergies, cancer and nervous system disorders. And finally, triclosan is an antibacterial that may cause thyroid problems. These chemicals are environmental toxins too.

With so many unanswered questions about the safety of chemicals in deodorant I prefer to err on the side of caution. I figure, if science raises doubts and there are alternatives available, why not switch?

Yesterday I did an interesting test. I put aside my eco-friendly deodorant and used a deodorant crystal that I was given a few years ago. The crystal is an actual chunk of rock salt (alum) that you wet any apply like regular deodorant. After a full day of work, two walks back and forth to the bus stop and an evening out I’d say it worked well.

But since everyone’s body chemistry is different another option is Green Beaver deodorant. This product is made in Canada and carries the Ecocert logo, meaning that the plant ingredients are organic, production and packaging are eco-friendly and it’s free of synthetics, chemicals and aluminum. Green Beaver works well for me and is my everyday brand. (My favourite is their citrus scented deodorant but they offer three other scents and one unscented.)
On my list to try is Olivier deodorant (made in NB) As with all Olivier products, the ingredients are natural and uncomplicated. This is a spray deodorant and is on the pricey side.

A few other brands to consider are Aubrey Organics, Avalon Organics and Alba. Look for these in the natural food section of the grocery store. If you’re wondering how safe your current brand is check out Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I also find the deodorant stone to work well but usually combine it with a dusting of baking soda and cornstarch. Making your own deodorant is also an economical option. Great tutorials can be found here: and here: