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Harmful ingredients found in deodorants and antiperspirants

Can chemical deodorants and antiperspirants harm your health?

Harmful ingredients found in deodorants and antiperspirants | Natural, eco-friendly and safe alternatives

Since the early 1900s (thanks to clever marketing tactics which exploit women's insecurities), deodorants and antiperspirants have been regarded as an essential product to have in every household. For almost everyone, applying a deodorant or antiperspirant is now a regular part of their morning routine. While perspiring is a natural and crucial bodily function, many people go to great lengths to combat perspiration with the use of deodorants, antiperspirants, perfumes and even Botox!

People are becoming more and more aware of the intricate role that bacteria and other microbes play in our overall health. We know that there are 'good' bacteria and 'bad' bacteria, and that the frequent use of deodorants and antiperspirants can affect the sensitive balance of microbes in our armpits. Another issue surrounding deodorants and antiperspirants is the harmful chemicals founds in these products, that not only affect the localised area of application, but our entire body and overall well-being!

Did you know? The main function of perspiration is to regulate our body temperature. As the body's temperature rises, sweat is excreted out of the skin. As the sweat evaporates, the body's temperature is lowered!

Let's take a look at what deodorants and antiperspirants do, and how the chemicals found in them can be harmful to our health.

Difference between deodorants and antiperspirants

In case you didn't know, there is a difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. They're made for different purposes and function differently when applied to the skin. The next time you're at the store, take a look at the labels and you'll see that they're either a deodorant or an antiperspirant, and sometimes they're both! Before we break down the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant, it's important to know that sweat itself does not have an odour. The odour only occurs once the sweat excretions come into contact with the bacteria present on the skin.


Antiperspirants work by temporarily plugging your sweat glands with ingredients like aluminum, thereby reducing the amount of perspiration that reaches the skin's surface. Antiperspirants maintain dry underarms and prevent the interaction between sweat and bacteria.


Deodorants work in a different way to antiperspirants. Many people think that deodorants just mask the smell of underarm sweat but they actually do a lot more than that! Deodorants contain chemicals that kill or inhibit bacteria found in the armpits. This stops the production of smelly chemical byproducts that occurs when sweat interacts with bacteria.

The dangers of antiperspirants

Because most of what we put on our skin ends up in our bloodstream, it's important to be aware of the potentially harmful toxins in the products that we buy. Antiperspirants are known to contain various harmful ingredients, including but not limited to parabens, triclosan, phthalates, propylene glycol and aluminum. Researchers have linked these toxic ingredients found in antiperspirants to various medical conditions such as cancer, however many doctors and scientists argue against these findings.

Let's take a look at each ingredient in further detail, after which you can make up your own mind about the safety/danger of antiperspirants:

  • Parabens: Commonly found in cosmetics, parabens are one of the most widely used preservatives in personal care products. They're used to inhibit and kill off microbes, thus extending the shelf life of products. Parabens are known to disrupt hormone functioning and increase the risk of developing breast cancer or other fertility issues.
  • Triclosan: Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent used in cosmetics, detergents, soaps, toys and surgical cleaning products. In 2017, the FDA made a ruling that soaps and other antiseptic wash products made with triclosan can no longer be marketed in the United States. One of the biggest issues with triclosan is that it doesn’t dissolve or break down easily, causing concern from doctors, environmentalists and consumers. Triclosan causes hormonal disturbances, weakens the immune system and increases the risk of developing allergies.
  • Phthalates: Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. They're often used in adhesives and sealants, electrical wires, seat covers, waterproof materials and hospital flooring. Exposure to phthalates can result in damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system.
  • Propylene Glycol: This is a a liquid alcohol and used as a solvent. Propylene glycol is a common ingredient in products such as antifreeze, plastics, pharmaceutical medicines, paint, aircraft de-icers and detergents.
  • Aluminium: Aluminium is a metal and chemical element. It's used for various purposes such as in kitchen foil, electrical goods, rail systems and building constructions. Aluminium exposure has been linked to various cancers, delay of brain cell growth and Alzheimer's.

The dangers of deodorant

As mentioned previously, deodorants are designed to kill off the bacteria that inhabit the surface of your underarms. The issue surrounding the safety of deodorants lies in how the microbes under your armpits are affected. Underarm bacteria are there for a reason and interfering with their balance has been proven to have negative side effects. Another issue is the chemical ingredients used to kill off the bacteria! Deodorants contain harmful ingredients such as triclosan, pthalates, parabens, artificial fragrance, isobutane and butane.

Remember, the skin absorbs whatever is applied on to it, and those ingredients then enter into the blood stream. If you're putting toxic chemicals on your skin, you're basically inviting those toxic chemicals to travel through your system.

Natural, safe solutions

It can be challenging to find a completely natural and safe deodorant or antiperspirant. As always, Feelgood Health is here with some lovely, natural alternatives to keep you smelling fresh and lovely! 

This 100% natural and certified organic roll-on deodorant contains NO parabens, aluminium, petrochemicals, propylene glycol, preservatives or alcohol! There are various scents that you can choose from, to keep yourself smelling fresh and gorgeous! People LOVE this organic roll-on deodorant because it's manufactured in an ECOCERT certified facility, and vegan & animal cruelty free! View here -->

We love this roll-on because it's an all natural, mild and alcohol-free deodorant suitable for people with delicate or sensitive skin (men AND women). This Simply Bee Deodorant is natural and organic, made through sustainably-sourced local bee conservation! Reduces body odour naturally and leaves you smelling fresh. View here -->

Natural Yogi deodorants come in a paste which melts into your skin. This range is natural and chemical-free, creamy, smooth and very gentle! There are various scents to choose on, depending on your preference. View here -->

Do YOU have a favourite natural deodorant or antiperspirant? Let us know in the comments below! 

If you have any questions, please contact our team for FREE health advice. We always love hearing from you!

Saskia michele holistic health blog

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