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A Breakdown Of Common Deodorant Ingredients - And Why You Should Avoid Them

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Conventional deodorants contain a slew of toxic chemicals, which is scary when you consider that deodorant sales bring in approximately $18 billion per year. You can avoid the dangerous ingredients found in traditional deodorants by switching to one that features a natural formula, but you might want more information to decide if that's really the best option. Review the facts about common deodorant ingredients below so you can make an informed decision about whether to switch to a natural deodorant.

Propylene Glycol

Have you ever seen artificial smoke waft through the air during a play or Halloween party? Propylene glycol is a synthetic substance used to create realistic-looking smoke and fog. It's also used as a solvent in paint and plastic products.

The Food and Drug Administration classifies propylene glycol as "generally recognized as safe," but there are still concerns associated with the substance. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry warns that propylene glycol can damage the kidneys, respiratory system, and skin. 

Deodorant is applied directly to the skin, and skin absorbs propylene glycol easily. Avoid this neurotoxin by looking for "PG" or "PEG" on ingredient lists. It may also be spelled out fully.


You may have brushed off the once-popular claims that aluminum causes breast cancer after reading the Snopes link claiming deodorant is probably safe. The National Cancer Institute agrees that research related to whether deodorant causes cancer is inconclusive but warns that deodorants and antiperspirants with aluminum might play a role in the development of breast cancer when combined with other factors. The agency reports that women who shave their underarms and use personal care products with aluminum before the age of 16 develop breast cancer at an earlier age than other women.

The reason some folks connect cancer with aluminum-based compounds is because aluminum disrupts the behavior of a hormone called estrogen. After menopause, high levels of estrogen are linked with an increased risk of breast cancer development. If you want a deodorant without aluminum, make sure the label doesn't say "aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly" or "aluminum chlorohydrate."


Triclosan is found in conventional deodorants, laundry detergent, and toothpaste, but it was originally launched as a pesticide in the late 1960s. Some individuals experience dermatitis and other skin issues after contact with triclosan. It also disrupts endocrine function and damages aquatic ecosystems. In 2015. the US Environmental Protection Agency responded to a petition that requested a triclosan ban by agreeing to reevaluate the dangerous effects of the substance. 

Before checking the ingredients on a container of deodorant, make sure the package doesn't say "antimicrobial protection". Antimicrobial protection is typically associated with triclosan and similar compounds.

If you dislike the scent of sweaty underarms but don't want to use conventional deodorants, try a natural deodorant. Natural deodorants gently reduce the formation of odor-causing underarm bacteria without relying on dangerous chemicals.