What is in deodorant?

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Sweat is unavoidable. Regardless of what you’re doing, when sweat occurs you’re most likely to roll-on or spray deodorant to prevent any ‘spicy’ bodily odors. Deodorant is a predominant staple in most personal hygiene routines: it’s small and portable, and its usage is inevitable in stressful situations. Although sweat is inevitable, conventional deodorants contain some ingredients that you might sweat over.

Ingesting chemicals are one thing but recent studies have shown that smearing toxic chemicals under your arms in the form of deodorant may have the same effects. What we often forget is that when you put something on to your skin, it can enter your bloodstream. Blood tests often show many substances commonly used in deodorant products bypass the epidermis and go straight into your body. Research also found that some of the compounds frequently used in deodorants are absorbed and stored in fat cells which are prevalent in the underarm area where most of the hormone receptors are found. In most commonly bought deodorants most ingredients include some sort of hormone disruptor. These hormone disruptors can seriously affect the endocrine and reproductive systems.

The FDA regulates deodorants as both a cosmetic and a drug. Since deodorant regulated as both it has to meet the regulation standards for both drugs and cosmetics. Typically anything regulated as a drug needs to go through a premarket approval by the FDA but since it’s a nonprescription drug, it needs to conform to special regulations known as “monographs”. But since deodorant is part of the grey area of being regulated as both a drug and cosmetic the FDA gives full liability to the manufacturer of the deodorant to make sure it’s safe for use and labeled correctly.

Here are some common deodorant ingredients to be aware of:

Triclosan: Triclosan is commonly known as an antibacterial chemical and is used to kill odor-causing germs on the skin. Triclosan is also a known endocrine disruptor, meaning it can mimic hormones or interfere with hormonal signaling. The chemical’s endocrine-disrupting abilities are supported by numerous scientific studies. The chemical is also associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. The abundance of health concerns associated with triclosan led the FDA to ban its use in hand soaps. However, the chemical is still permitted for use in other products, like deodorant.

Fragrance: Fragrance formulations, which are often considered “trade secret” information, can contain hundreds of ingredients. Because they are proprietary information, the identity of ingredients is often unknown, making it impossible to identify all the ways in which fragrance ingredients might impact health. Despite the lack of ingredient disclosure, numerous common fragrance ingredients have been identified. Due to current laws, legally companies are not required to disclose anything under their trade secret.

Diethanolamine (DEA): Diethanolamine is an ingredient commonly used in deodorants, as well as other personal care products. Many studies have shown a link between Diethanolamine and cancer. Diethanolamine can be spotted on labels with the term “diethanolamine” or as the abbreviation DEA.

Aluminum: Aluminum is a metal, is a common ingredient in antiperspirants. Aluminum “plugs” sweat ducts to stop sweating. Aluminum can cause genomic instability on the cell level, meaning it can increase our cells’ to mutate. Mutations can more than likely increase the chance of tumor growth. Aluminum chlorohydrate is one of the most commonly found compounds used in antiperspirants.

The best way to ease the stress sweat that comes with knowing the reality of your deodorant is to consider some things when picking them out. Avoid choosing deodorants with ‘fragrance’, ‘eau de toilette’, or ‘parfum’ on the label. When the deodorant has that as an ingredient, its uncertain what ingredients are actually included. If it’s labeled as ‘anti-bacterial’ or ‘germ-fighting’ it more than likely will include the ingredient triclosan. Skip out on antiperspirant, nine times out of ten it will include aluminum.

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