by ANEEKA WARD
Deodorant is one thing most of us in the Western World use every single day. Personal hygiene is of top priority and I think we all shudder at the thought of be labeled as the stinky person in the room with B.O. If you’re like me, you probably never gave much thought to your deodorant. You just want it to smell good, you want it to keep you from smelling bad, and you probably want the one that’s on sale. Sound familiar?
Considering deodorant is something we apply on our bodies daily (and occasionally multiple times a day) I decided it was time to give a bit more consideration to what exactly it was that I was putting on my skin and allowing my body to absorb. Plus, a product everyone uses every day under their arms, sometimes under their breasts and even below their belt (just do a quick Google search for “ass-sweat” and see what comes up) couldn’t possibly be bad for you, right?
Lets go over a few definitions before I share the list of major ingredients in deodorant:
- Endocrine disruptors: Chemicals that interfere with the function of hormones, like estrogen and testosterone. Hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout the body coordinating complex processes like growth, metabolism, and fertility. They can influence the function of the immune system, and even alter behavior. (Frontline)
- Development toxicants: Chemicals that interfere with the normal development of a fetus or child.
- Reproductive toxicants: Chemicals that harm the reproductive system.
- Carcinogen: A substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue.
- Antimicrobial: Something that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth, like the bacteria that can cause stinky underarms.
With that ominous list prefacing the list of ingredients in deodorant, here they are:
- Pthalates (Fragrance): Probable carcinogen, endocrine disruptor, development toxicant, and reproductive toxicant.
- Triclosan (Antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agent): Endocrine disruptor, bio accumulates in your fat over time.
- Parabens (Antimicrobial): Endocrine disruptor. Found in almost all samples of post mastectomy breast tissue in 2004 study (Study).
- Propylene Glycol, PG, PEG (Moisture sealer, penetration enhancer): Neurotoxin.
- Aluminum Chlorohydrate (Anti-Perspirant): An endocrine disruptor that is readily absorbed through the skin.
One could draw the conclusion that these ingredients are not safe for daily use. If we are already vulnerable in certain areas of our body to develop cancer, such as the breasts and testicles, why chance increasing that risk solely to use a product that is convenient and cheap? Over the past few years I recall hearing chatter about deodorant being bad for you and linked to cancers, specifically of the breast. Yet somehow, I was able to ignore those warnings and continue with my day-to-day activities. Reminiscent of smokers seeing warning labels on their boxes and choosing to smoke anyways, we live in ignorant bliss only taking action when a crisis arises. Yet, there aren’t any warning labels on our deodorants. Would you voluntarily apply toxins directly onto your reproductive tract or organs? Some online forums and Men’s Health magazines actually suggest men using aluminum based deodorants and antiperspirants to their buttock and reproductive areas to combat odour and sweating. Insert wide-eyed, blank faced emoji here.
It is not a realistic suggestion to simply eliminate use of all deodorants. Despite the lack of natural options for deodorants in our local drug stores, they do exist! In truth, this entire post evolved from me unassumingly product testing an all-natural, handcrafted cream deodorant called Undercarriage. I have been using Undercarriage for the past month, and it has totally sidelined my drugstore bought deodorant.
Undercarriage is aluminum free, scented with essential oils and uses naturally occurring anti-microbial agents to combat odour. It comes in a variety of absolutely delicious smelling scents: coconut lime (my personal favourite, it smells tropical!), vanilla, lavender, wood-zee, gerouli and unscented. They also come in two formulas, regular and baking soda free (NO BS).
I was the kind of person that needed to change her deodorant every 6 months or so because they seemed to suddenly stop working for me. Admittedly, I was skeptical that something without any ‘industrial’ type ingredients was going to be effective. I had tried some crystal deodorants in the past and I was not a fan; I felt like I smelled like a walking incense candle soaked in patchouli. Not my jam. It took me a about a week to switch over to Undercarriage consistently. I applied a dime-sized amount of the cream to each underarm. It blended almost instantly with my skin from the warmth of my fingers.
Initially, I found I needed to re-apply it about half way through the day. After a day or so, I had an epiphany. If I had been using deodorant everyday since I was say, fifteen years old, and I figured the chances were I had some pretty clogged up pores in my underarms, and that could be the reason I needed to continually change up my deodorant every 6 months. I decided to try exfoliating them in the shower and let me tell you, it made all the difference! Since I started exfoliating my underarms in the shower once per week, I experienced a noticeable increase in the effectiveness of Undercarriage, rivalling my drugstore deodorant.
Aside from the fact it works, the absolute best part of Undercarriage is the peace of mind I now have about the lack of toxicity in this product. It is safe to use under your arms, under your breasts, and the coolest part, even below the belt. To get a really thorough review of this product, I shared samples of each scent to 8 friends and family members. Here is some of their feedback:
- Feeling safe giving this product to their 11 year old son who’s starting to get a little ‘smelly’ but doesn’t want him to start using drugstore deodorant earlier than necessary.
- Effective against ‘chub-rub’ when placed on the part of their thighs where their thighs normally rub together.
- Thought it was a great product for friends diagnosed with cancer or are going through chemotherapy treatment because they are not supposed to use deodorants during those times.
- Helped minimize odour and sweating to under breasts and inner thighs when playing sports outdoors.
I’ve been using my container of coconut lime for the past 2 months – it has a shelf life of one year – for under my arms, and I am not even half way through the container yet. At $24 a container, I am aware they aren’t giving it away (nor should they, it works!), but in complete honesty, knowing I’m not coating my underarms or allowing my loved ones to coat their underarms with toxins, is priceless. I will be buying this again, and again, and again.