Can store-bought deodorant harm you?
I googled that probably thirty times over the past few weeks. And even more so after an Internet Friend called me out for fear-mongering after I shared that I had opted to make my own deodorant. I had said that “many studies” have linked store-bought deodorant to potential negative health impacts.
She really made me think: Was I fear-mongering?
For the record, that’s never my intention. Instead, my intention is to share my journey in real-time: What I’m learning. What’ I’m researching. How I’m arriving at decisions. In my eyes, more information can never be a bad thing.
But that is, as long as it’s true!
In my past life (aka three years ago), I was a news reporter. You might have noticed how I incessantly link nearly every sentence of my blogs. I want you to always be able to have a head start on additional research if you don’t agree with something or if it interests you. I want to show my sources, because I believe in complete transparency. I’m not an expert! (I just play one on Instagram. Lol, jk.)
And what I’m fully realizing now is that I have an enormous responsibility to choose my words carefully & include verified information to back up any claims I make – even those meant out of the goodness of my heart.
So maybe I shouldn’t have said “many,” as it’s a subjective term. But only because a (well done) Instagram caption isn’t enough space to provide enough context.
Let me explain
As I’ve fallen deeper into the zero waste/sustainability rabbit hole, I have read, listened and watched more than I have about any other topic that has interested me in the past. And what I’ve found a lot of times is – there hasn’t been enough research completed to say one way or another.
I think a lot of times when people begin researching with a goal in mind – i.e. to support what they already believe – they hunt for the specific information that will defend them. That’s not my style. Facts are facts are facts & I never want to sway anyone’s opinion by omitting information that doesn’t support my own.
Take deodorant, for example.
Several scientific papers I’ve read have come to a similar conclusion: Yeah, there’s probably/maybe/could be something there, but we just haven’t completed enough research, or there was some flaw in the research we did do that causes us to hesitate. Or, yeah, in this one small study, we found some links to health concerns, but it’s not enough to say there is a definitive connection.
Here’s some of what I’ve read:
To date, the evidence has been largely inconclusive, with evidence of both protective and harmful effects of deodorant use, whereas other researchers have failed to find an association between the two.
Large-scale epidemiologic studies of the relationship between aluminum-containing antiperspirants and the risk of breast cancer would be desirable.
Under some circumstances, triclosan triggered the production of chloroform in amounts up to 40% higher.
Our comprehensive search has identified an insufficient number of studies to conduct a quantitative review and obtain reliable results.
So here’s my take -- no different than what I had said initially, just with a little more context. I full-heartedly believe that using a deodorant that has four simple, natural ingredients is much “healthier” than anything containing aluminum, parabens, triclosan, propolyene glycol, etc…
It’s the same concept with deodorant. There are hypotheses that consider since you are applying these chemicals to the sensitive skin in your armpit, perhaps it’s absorbed into an area next to the breast. Some scientists have hypothesized that this may contribute to breast cancer. To me, the idea of rubbing chemicals I can’t pronounce into sensitive parts of my skin gives me the heebie-jeebies. But, to each her own!
You may be sensing a pattern, but I spent a lot of time reviewing different recipes and reading about “secret” ingredients that you “must” use. If you’ve ever looked into DIYing deodorant, you likely felt a bit overwhelmed! (I sure did.)
But I realized that most of the recipes have four core ingredients. And after a week or so of using my homemade creation, I am comfortable recommending it to you!
Please note that I’ve read that baking soda can cause people irritation when they first start using natural deodorant. It’s recommended to use half the amount of baking soda if this happens to you! There are also baking soda-free recipes you can try.
Another thing is, wanting to wear a natural deodorant isn’t all about your own health or the environment. Sometimes people say their deodorant loses effect over time. Some people even say natural deodorant helps them sweat less!
My perspective is if you can make deodorant out of four simple ingredients, and it works, why bother wasting money, buying a new product every few months that comes in packaging that could potentially take a long time to decompose, and maybe harm your body?
½ cup of baking soda
½ cup of pure cornstarch (You can also substitute this for arrowroot powder. I had trouble finding this around me, but I’ve seen that it’s preferred.)
6 tablespoons of pure, unrefined coconut oil
20 drops of essential oils (I used lemongrass!)
Combine all ingredients (I put them in my food processor), and add your favorite essential oils. I stored mine in a mason jar and keep it in my bathroom. To apply, I use a pea-sized amount on the tip of my finger and rub it in! No need for Popsicle sticks or applicators, but if you prefer there are great sustainable options available.
If it gets too hard – move it to a warmer area (like a steamy bathroom!). If it gets too liquidy – pop it in the fridge before use.
Let me know if you have ever made your own deodorant, and definitely if you use my recipe!
Until next week, fam.