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Natural Deodorants – The Truth About Deodorants

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    Here’s the truth about deodorants that claim to be all-natural, organic, clean…

    We’ve all used deodorant or antiperspirant since adolescence, wanting to smell fresh and not have underarms stains. I remember commercials on TV or in the pages of magazines, persuading me to buy this splendid overly perfumed scent, claiming that their product ‘lasted longer’ or ‘smelled better.’

    I’m sure, you just like me, always thought it was a necessary part of my beauty and personal hygiene routine until about five years ago when I started reading and hearing things about deodorants. These weren’t good things.

    The truth about deodorants

    The controversy surrounding the use of antiperspirant deodorants is one that has been going on for many years. The main reason why people are against them, aside from their unnatural ingredients and harsh chemicals which can be toxic in high doses over long periods if inhaled or ingested orally as well as having an adverse effect just touching surfaces they’ve touched (which we all know leaves behind stains), there’s also concern about aluminum itself working like a magnet drawing toxins towards your pores where you least expect it – including any applied fragrance!

    When I started reading about the harmful ingredients in antiperspirants, my curiosity took over and so did some research. It turns out that not only are there many more risks for health problems like thyroid disorders or breast cancer but also alternatives with much safer outcomes!

    What’s the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant?

    A Deodorant minimizes body odor. An Antiperspirant prevents sweat by blocking the ducts that release it with aluminum. Does plugging ducts sound like that’s good for your body? Sure doesn’t to me!

    Want to want to know what the strongest factor in me was changing my routine?

    I started reading about the link between aluminum in the antiperspirant and breast cancer and Alzheimers. Yes, I said breast cancer. Since Alzheimer’s runs in my family on my maternal side, and breast cancer on my maternal side, I want to make a conscious decision to minimize my risk. This was a huge red flag for me!

    It’s said that important breast cancer prevention strategies include choosing natural personal care products, being aware of bra risk factors, limiting your fructose and sugar intake, exercising, and optimizing your vitamin D and animal-based omega-3 fat levels.

    Aluminum is usually the first ingredient listed on antiperspirant labels. For anyone who reads labels or wants to start understanding the products they buy, ingredients are listed by the highest percentage to lowest percentage. Over the counter, antiperspirants contain between 10 and 25 percent of their “active ingredient,” which is usually an aluminum-based compound. Aluminum may be absorbed into your breast tissue where it could potentially increase your risk of breast cancer or other health problems. 

    Women with breast cancer have higher aluminum levels in their nipple aspirate fluid (NAF), a fluid present in the breast duct tree. Studies show aluminum from antiperspirants is deposited in breast tissue, and animal studies have also found that aluminum can cause cancer. 

    What are the side effects of aluminum in deodorant?

    Aluminum is the active ingredient in most deodorants. It works by blocking sweat glands to prevent perspiration. While this may sound like a good thing, there is actually some potential downside to using aluminum-based deodorants. For one, aluminum can be absorbed through the skin and build up in the body over time. This can lead to health problems such as kidney and bone damage.

    Possible serious side effects of aluminum hydrochloride include signs and symptoms of allergic reactions such as: Hives. Difficulty breathing. Swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat.

    Additionally, aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. Some research also suggests that it may contribute to hormonal imbalances. As a result, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks before using any deodorant with aluminum as an ingredient. You may want to speak with your doctor or try an alternative product if you’re concerned.

    Aluminum has been associated with a variety of health issues:

    The few other ingredients to be mindful of are fragrance, triclosan, and propylene glycol.

    I want to stress that I am not an expert on these ingredients nor a doctor. I am just someone who believes that our products shouldn’t harm us but instead help us. My rule of thumb is if I cannot pronounce it or do not know the origins of an ingredient–I won’t buy it, eat it or use it. I believe in natural products that are truly natural &, most of all, educating ourselves as consumers.

    So, are you feeling a bit more aware of what’s in this (no longer) ‘essential beauty product’?

    Before you get too freaked out, know that there are alternatives!

    What to look for when buying a safe deodorant?

    • Make sure it’s aluminum-free.

    • Make sure it consists of essential oils and all-natural ingredients.

    • Aluminum-free alone may not be enough. Some aluminum-free deodorants are still a high risk.

    • Make sure they also don’t contain chemicals like triclosan and propylene glycol.\

    What is the most harmful ingredient in deodorant?

    This chemical is used in a lot of products these days as a preservative, but it is possibly one of the most harmful additives of all. Sometimes parabens act as estrogen in your body, which disrupts hormonal balances and has been linked to breast cancer and prostate cancer.

    TEA and DEA
    (TEA) and diethanolamine (DEA) are chemicals that can seep into your skin and affect your liver and kidneys. In fact, they’re so toxic that these two chemicals have already been banned from products in Europe because they are known carcinogens.

    Here are some of I recommend, tested and true


    Taos AER Palo Santo Blood Orange Deodorant

    This deodorant is: an aluminum-free deodorant that neutralizes odor

    Good for: all skin types including dry, mature, sensitive, blemish-prone, combination, and normal

    Why you’ll love it: Taos AER Palo Santo Blood Orange Deodorant is made with naturally-derived ingredients to create an advanced formula that glides onto underarms smoothly and dries quickly. This natural deodorant provides protection with the mystical scent of wood mixed with pure citrus notes for all-day freshness.

    (Taos AER Palo Santo, $19)


    Native Deodorant

    This deodorant is: an aluminum-free deodorant that neutralizes odor

    Good for: all skin types

    Why you’ll love it: The Native natural deodorants have rave reviews online, probably because of how moisturizing and gentle the formulation is. They’re paraben-free, leave no residue, and won’t get clumpy under your underarms (your tops will thank you!)

    (Amazon, $12)


    Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant

    This deodorant is:  Formulated without aluminum, alcohol, or parabens, allowing the body to function naturally.

    Good for: all skin types and suited for skin diseases like eczema, rosacea, and fragrance allergies

    Why you’ll love it: This pick smells like a fresh summer day and will have your armpits smelling clean and odor-free, thanks to the eucalyptus extract and citronellyl, which help neutralize odor. Absorbs residue-free. Natural fragrance and color. One of the brand’s founders, Matthew Malin, suffers from multiple skin diseases, so formulating a non-irritating deodorant was a major priority.

    (Malin + Goetz, $22)



    Weleda Deodorant Spray

    This deodorant is:  Formulated without aluminum, free from synthetic preservatives and fragrances, and colorants.

    Good for: all skin types and suited for skin diseases like eczema, rosacea, and fragrance allergies

    Why you’ll love it: Unlike other natural deodorants, this pick comes in a spray and uses pure essential oils to mask odors. It’s made from raw materials derived from mineral oils, and works! It is also dermatologically tested and skin-kind.

    (Amazon $22)


    The Truth About Deodorants - Corpus California Natural Deodorant

    Corpus California Natural Deodorant

    This Product Is: a natural, baking soda free deodorant with a sunny and clean scent

    Good For: all skin types including dry, mature, sensitive, blemish-prone, combination and normal

    Why We Love It: Corpus California Natural Deodorant is a long-lasting plant and mineral based deodorant that is formulated with naturally derived enzymes and plant extracts that have been clinically proved to help reduce body odor. This deodorant smells of sea salt, bergamot, white musk and jasmine. This natural deodorant comes in a tube, and the easy-glide formula will not stain clothes. 

    (Credo $24)


    With new findings staring us right in the face, it’s tough to ignore the potential dangers of many health and beauty items, especially those that have been greenwashed. As consumers, we can make conscious and intentional choices to actively search for and buy products that are more beneficial to our health.

    The hardest part about making the switch to a natural deodorant is finding the one that’s right for you. Since the world of naturals isn’t federally regulated, you’ll want to make sure to look for formulas that are aluminum-, paraben-, phthalate-, and sulfate-free if you’re trying to go for a cleaner alternative. While baking soda is used in many natural deodorant formulas to help soak up moisture, doctors warn that it can be irritating to some because of its alkaline pH level, so you’ll want to do a patch test to see how your skin reacts.

    Do you use organic or natural personal care products?

    The article was first published in February 2021 and updated by our editors July 2022.

    Hi, I’m Valerie!

    I'm an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), offering guidance to high achievers in aligning their lifestyle with well-being through daily wellness and self-care routines, promoting balance and harmony. Join me at Wellness Bum for tips on living well, and consider subscribing to my newsletter or booking a coaching session.