Have you ever needed to calculate the square root of 43 wile checking out at the grocery store? Yeah, me neither. But you know what I have done in grocery stores? Googled mysterious ingredients on my phone.
So here’s the deal: There are literally thousands of synthetic chemicals on store shelves in our grocery stores, but information about how these chemicals affect us wasn’t on a high school pop quiz. We learned about square roots and the fact that William Shakespeare married a woman named Anne Hathaway, but not this. And you guys, that’s a problem because everyone has to eat. (And though it’s not absolutely necessary, I presume most of us bathe at least occasionally, too!)
Despite the fact that they’re added to food, personal care products, and household cleaners, many of these chemicals have never been tested for safety. (source 1, source 2) When I realized that, I began switching over to products free of synthetic chemicals, starting with the products I use most often.
Because it was so easy to replace and there were definite concerns about its use, deodorant was the first to go. Here are are the top five reasons I ditched conventional deodorant, and why you might want to consider doing it, too.
5 Reasons To Ditch Conventional Deodorant
Many deodorants and antiperspirants – including some “natural crystal” deodorants – contain forms of aluminum, which inhibit perspiration. This controversial ingredient is classified in this review, which was written by an oncologist, as both a genotoxin and hormone disruptor.
It was found by one study to “change the way breast cells divide, even at low concentrations.” (source 1, source 2) And in this study, aluminum levels in nipple aspirate fluids were compared in breast cancer patients versus healthy control patients. The cancer patients had significantly higher levels of aluminum, and researchers concluded that the “reasons for the high levels of aluminium in NAF [nipple aspirate fluid] remain unknown but possibilities include either exposure to aluminium-based antiperspirant salts in the adjacent underarm area and/or preferential accumulation of aluminium by breast tissues.”
Ahh, Triclosan, the ingredient Minnesota banned over concerns that it may contribute to the development of superbugs. Studies indicate that this chemical, which is used in everything from toys to toothpaste, may disrupt normal thyroid function and alter hormones. I’ll pass, thankyouverymuch.
Propylene glycol (PEG) is a penetration enhancer, which means that one of the things it does is help other chemicals get deeper into skin. So yeah, there’s that. And also, it is classified as a moderate hazard by the Environmental Working Group.
This one I actually have written about before, so I’ll just recap: Breast cancer most often occurs in the upper outer quadrant – just under where women rub deodorant on. In a 2012 study, 99% of breast cancer samples that were analyzed contained parabens – a common ingredient in deodorants. Some say there is no link and that the increased rate of cancer in this quadrant is because it contains the most epithelial tissue. However, it is interesting that in places like Scotland, the rates occurring in the upper outer quadrant went from 38.3% in 1980 to 54.7% in 2001. “Any increase in the disproportionality of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant would be inconsistent with an explanation relating to the greater amount of target epithelial tissue in that region but does parallel the increasing use of cosmetics in the underarm area,” write the study’s authors. (source)
And then there’s this: According to the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, pararbens “are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. Parabens mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells. They also increase the expression of genes usually regulated by estradiol (a natural form of estrogen); these genes cause human breast cancer cells to grow and multiply in cellular studies . Parabens are also linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and skin irritation . Since parabens are used to kill bacteria in water-based solutions, they inherently have some toxicity to cells .”
Thanks to a loophole, companies can hide all sorts of nasty chemicals under the label “fragrance” without disclosing them. In one study conducted by the Environmental Working Group, nearly half of the ingredients in the fragrance products they tested were not listed on the label.
Many of these ingredients are phthalates (which some studies have linked to diabetes, obesity, cancer, fertility problems and developmental disorders), known neurotoxins, and chemicals likely to stimulate an allergic reaction. ( source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4, source 5, source 6, source 7, source 8)
Oh, and get this, even “‘unscented’ products may contain masking fragrances, which are chemicals used to cover up the odor of other chemicals.” (Source: Campaign For Safe Cosmetics)
Ready to make the switch?
I promise, it’s easier than you probably think, and homemade deodorant really does work. In case you need them again, here’s my three-ingredient original recipe, my sensitive skin recipe, my solid deodorant recipe which also works for sensitive skin, and a pre-made option you can buy. I’ve also got a stick version coming out soon.
Do you have any tips for making the switch to non-toxic personal care? Please share in the comments below!