Is adding antiperspirant to your underarm the last step in your morning routine? For most people, that's the reality. But when was the last time you turned over your anti-perspiring to read - or at least attempt - to read the label? That's the smelly truth about them, they’re full of things our bodies would be better off without.
Components found in antiperspirants
First things first, there is a significant difference between antiperspirants and deodorants. Deodorant masks odour from sweat (which is mainly bacteria) whereas antiperspirants work to reduce that sweat. As such, antiperspirants work to block your body's eccrine glands, which is a normal, natural and healthy process. As long as we're sweating due to normal everyday activities or fitness reasons (ie: working out, or sitting in the sauna) it's a good thing. Sweat helps us to detoxify and cool the body down.
So what is hiding in antiperspirants? Firstly, there are aluminum compounds, which prevent sweating by literally blocking and clogging the pores of the eccrine glands. Excessive aluminum compounds can impact how the body reacts to the female hormone estrogen which can be harmful to the body over time. Parabens are packed in there too as a preservative, which many people can be allergic to causing skin irritation. Parabens can disrupt hormonal balances, affecting both male and female reproductive systems and fertility. There have been parabens found in breast tumour tissues, which is rightfully alarming. So much so that Denmark has banned paraben in products for children under 3. Alcohol is in the formula too, with the hope to remove the odour of sweat, but it also dries out skin pretty intensely which can cause rashes and irritation. Triclosan has antibacterial properties, which sounds good, right? Wrong. Triclosan can disrupt hormone regulation (in animals) and the US food and drug administration (FDA) literally deemed it as a pesticide, banning it from being used in skin products. Yikes. If that wasn’t bad enough, there is also Propylene Glycol - a chemical that is used to de-ice airplanes in cold temperatures. What is that doing on your skin? Well, it’s used for “consistency and softness.” Studies say one would need to ingest a ton of propylene glycol for it to impact the central nervous system, heart and liver, however, it is known as a “penetration enhancer,” which means it makes getting all the negative elements - ahem, chemicals - in the anti-per spirants into the eccrine glands (sweat glands) easier. The next element is so bad that is banned in Europe as they are deemed carcinogens: Triethanolamine (TEA) and diethanolamine (DEA). These chemicals can impact your liver, kidneys and can even trigger asthma. Lastly, artificial colours and fragrances can cause respiratory problems, migraines, skin problems, cognitive memory issues, digestive issues - and more! Fragrances, for the most part, are just a chemical mixture of several dozen to several hundred chemicals, and these chemicals do not need legally need to be on the product label! That’s right, as long as a company lists it as a ‘trade secret’ it’s a loophole. This is why you may notice various products just stating ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ which is a lot less scary than the potentially hundreds of chemicals it took to make that scent.
You might be wondering how this is even allowed. It comes down to the FDA regulations, which do not require cosmetic manufacturers to prove in advance that all of their ingredients are safe. Instead, there has to be proof that an ingredient causes harm for a product to be taken off shelves.
So, what can we use instead of antiperspirants?
Ditching underarm products altogether is the number one way to ensure you’re not exposing yourself to these toxic chemicals. I get it though - you don’t want to get dirty looks for stinking up the office with BO.
Instead, opt for fragrance-free products. Note that “unscented,” is not good enough as it could be masking other harmful agents. Additional aspects to look for are products labelled paraben-free and fragrance-free - this is a good sign it's healthy, plus it’s always right to support companies that believe in transparency. Look for ingredients with positive ingredients such as clay, charcoal, baking soda, witch hazel, apple cider vinegar - or get creative and DIY!
Our recommendation: Ingredient's Deodorant Spray. This organic, stain-free deodorant is formulated with Organic Sugar Cane Alcohol and Saccharomyces ferment to effectively fight odor-causing bacteria and provide long-lasting odor protection without disrupting the body’s natural detoxification process. Formulated to dry quickly, this natural spray deodorant is free of aluminum and respects the skin’s natural pH level 5.5.
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