Physical activity is part of your lifestyle, and a visit to the gym is a blood pumping, body building good time. Your kitchen is a disaster because every pot and pan are used. Your diet is wholesome and your body feels better for the effort. Hard work causes sweat and sweat stinks, but you are still covering it up with same ‘ole product. It’s time for a wakeup call to discover… what’s in your deodorant?

The Gillette Company launched a series of commercials in 1984 for its antiperspirant and deodorant. The slogan became one of the most famous advertising campaigns of all time and leached over into common speech,

“Never let them see you sweat.”   

Here is one of the 30 second commercials.

But, the Dry Idea was the wrong idea.

Sweat is actually a good thing. Sweating at the gym, or even a brisk walk around the block releases endorphins. Exercising increases the level of feel good hormones naturally released during physical activity.  

Remember Grandma’s advice that sweating during a fever is a sign of good things? Sweating after a fever means the tissues causing the infection are healing.

Ancient Greek and Romans were so rank after temple building they used wax and perfumes to cover the stench. They were known to bathe their bodies in oil and perfume. Their clothes bathed in it too.

“Mum” was the first trademarked deodorant came out in 1888. It was a paste rubbed into the underarms. Everdry quickly followed. It was an aluminum chloride solution that stung the user, ate through clothes, and took a long time to dry. At least you weren’t sweating. In the 1950’s roll on deodorants were released. A decade later aerosols came to store shelves.

And they all reek.

Pee-yew! Smelling a body’s hot mess after working is not desirable. If the smell is too much to bear you may be covering it up with deodorant, which may be even worse. Let’s see which stinks worse; sweat, or the chemicals that mask it.

  • Parabens
  • Aluminum Compounds
  • Silica
  • Triclosan
  • Talc
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Steareth(s)

Parabens in deodorant cause breast cancer. When applied under the arm the chemicals seep into the breast tissue, causing tumors. Parabens are present in deodorant and many personal care products. Deodorant is not the only source, but it is closest to the site for absorption. The FDA isn’t concerned, but Dr. Darbre is in this Time interview.

Aluminum Compounds act as a plug and temporarily stop the flow of sweat. They interfere with the body’s ability to produce estrogen. Many believe that deodorant is an increased link to Alzheimer’s Disease, but there is no scientific evidence to support this. Aluminum, not sweat, is widely found in cookware. It is also the cause of the yellow stains on your clothes.

Silica, often referred to as quartz, is a very common mineral. It is found in materials at construction sites, including soil, sand, concrete, masonry, rock, granite, and landscaping materials.  In deodorant it is a skin irritant. It also helps prevent the spray nozzle from being clogged.

Triclosan is going to read natural on the label, but don’t let that fool you. It is an antibacterial anti-fungal agent. The EPA classifies it is a pesticide. It disrupts the endocrine process and has shown up in the human blood supply and breast milk.

Talc is resistant to moisture and can absorb oils in the formula, making it feel dry and less greasy. It also has a smooth slippery feel to help the product glide on easily. That’s great for deodorant, but not so much for you and me. There is confusion about whether or not it can cause cancer. Some talc contains asbestos. It is okay to rub it on my skin, as long as I don’t inhale it. Confusing.

Propylene Glycol if used every day, can cause damage to your central nervous system, heart and liver. It is also known to irritate skin. It is known to be harmful at 2%, but deodorants generally have 50% propylene glycol. One Chemist says,

Do not be alarmed by the term antifreeze or by the chemical, propylene glycol. It is safe at the low concentrations when used in personal care products.”

Your health is in your hands. You decide if it is safe for use.

Steareth(s)  are the mixer that helps all the other ingredients get along. Without them deodorants would be a runny paste, so the manufacturers say. See number 1. for a list of harmful emulsifiers and number 2. for a list of natural emulsifiers. On the ingredient list they will appear as Steareth n, or have a number like Steareth 20.

When it comes to deodorant the best defense is no offense, as in don’t use anything. Many people are accustomed to using a product they don’t really need. If you need deodorant Tom’s is a suggested natural commercial brand.

Want to make it yourself? Go here, here, or here for recipes.

As you go down the supermarket aisle which deodorant will you put in your cart?

FullSizeRender 11

Other articles in the series:

What’s In Your Toothpaste

What’s In Your Shampoo

What’s In Your Lip Balm?

What’s In Your Cup of Joe?

Please comment about your experience with deodorant. Have you ever made your own? There’s no way I’d go without it; are you nuts? Something is going to kill me anyway so I may as well live in convenience. If you have read this far you may as well comment below. Thanks for your time.