Deodorant – a simple, straight forward, everyday product…right? WRONG! When I learned how many harmful chemicals are in commercial deodorants I was shocked, and frankly, very upset. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and susceptible to absorbing chemicals. The underarm area, especially, is such a sensitive location on the body, and spreading poisonous chemicals directly to the lymph node area just seems very wrong and dangerous to me. I did some research to learn exactly what these chemicals are, and how they effect the human body.
Aluminum is added to commercial deodorant to suppress sweat from exiting the pores, however, the aluminum compounds – like all heavy metals – can enter the pores and bloodstream. Studies have shown significant links to elevated aluminum levels in the body and the presence of cancer. This is alarming considering that this chemical is applied directly to the lymph nodes under the arms which extends directly to the breast tissue. Other studies have suggested a strong link between aluminum compounds present in the body and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Unfortunately, aluminum is not the only harmful ingredient hiding in your everyday deodorant. Parabens, often referred to as preservatives, are present in many personal care products including soaps, shampoos, lotions, toothpastes, shaving cream, cosmetics, deodorant and even food products. These chemical compounds mimic estrogen and disrupt hormonal balance. These parabens are routinely absorbed into skin through the use of common products. Overtime, the accumulation of parabens becomes significant, and has been linked to early onset puberty and hormone-related cancers (such as breast cancer) in several studies.
It seems hard to imagine that the story on commercially available deodorants could get any more bleak. However, we haven’t mentioned two more horrible ingredients found in deodorant that wreak havoc on the human body. Propylene glycol, a form of mineral oil and common deodorant ingredient has been shown to damage the central nervous system, liver and heart, even in small concentrations of 2% or less, and many deodorants include much higher levels than that.
And perhaps the most disturbing ingredient is Triclosan. Triclosan is classified as a pesticide according to the FDA, although it is not regulated under the pesticide law. Triclosan is used as an antibacterial agent and preservative in deodorant, and can be found in a disturbingly large array of products from antibacterial soaps, toothpastes, cosmetics, and even clothing, kitchenware, furniture, and toys. When interacting with tap water, Triclosan creates a carcinogenic chloroform gas.
Triclosan has been linked to antibiotic resistance, and the American Medical Association has advised consumers to avoid using such products. And worst of all, this horrible ingredient acts as an endocrine disruptor that has shown to alter male and female sex hormones causing early onset puberty, reduced fertility and cancer.
After all of my research, I was floored by the horrible chemical concoction that I have been voluntarily spreading on my skin since middle school. I decided that we had to make our own natural version. I never thought that the commercial deodorants were especially effective for my body anyway, so making my own seemed like an obvious solution after all that we had learned.
We already regularly use coconut oil as a moisturizer and know of its many health benefits, so I thought this would be an ideal base for my homemade deodorant. The process was so easy and it only took about 10 minutes from start to finish.
Homestead All Natural Deodorant Recipe:
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch (this will add an antiperspirant effect to the deodorant)
- (Optional) essential oils– I used peppermint
The final step is to pour the mixture into containers and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. We used new empty deodorant containers, but I know other people have reused old containers or small glass jars – you can use any container you feel comfortable with.
Exley, Christopher and Thomas Vickers. Elevated brain aluminum and early onset Alzheimer’s disease in an individual occupationally exposed to aluminium: a case report. Journal of Medical Case Reports 2014, 8:41. http://www.jmedicalcasereports.com/content/8/1/41/abstract
FDA. Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know. 2015. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm205999.htm
** Grossman, Elizabeth. Chemical Exposure Linked to Billions in Health Care Costs: Researchers conclude they are 99 percent certain that hormone-altering chemicals are linked to attention problems, diabetes, other health problem. National Geographic. 05 March 2015. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/03/150305-chemicals-endocrine-disruptors-diabetes-toxic-environment-ngfood/
Lau, Karen, Brant S. Swiney, Nick Reeves, Kevin K. Nogochi, and Nuri B. Farber. Propylene Glycol produces excessive apoptosis in the developing mouse brain, alone and in combination with Phenobarbital. 1 Jul 2012. Pediatr Res. 2012 Jan; 71(1): 54–62. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3366500/
Organic Facts. Health Benefits of Coconut Oil. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/oils/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html
Raut SA, Angus RA. Triclosan has endocrine-disrupting effects in male western mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis. Environ Toxicol Chem. 2010 Jun;29(6):1287-91. doi: 10.1002/etc.150. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20821571
Rule KL1, Ebbett VR, Vikesland PJ. Formation of chloroform and chlorinated organics by free-chlorine-mediated oxidation of triclosan. Environ Sci Technol. 2005 May 1;39(9):3176-85. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15926568.
Triclosan (Endocrine Disruptor). http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/triclosan/