Hey folks! So last week throughout my research for my blog on breast cancer prevention the topic of commercially produced deodorants/antiperspirants came up quite a bit! It is a controversial topic in the consumer and health world and many people don’t know which way to go, or what products are safe. I decided to move into this week with a deeper understanding of what exactly is going on with these deodorants and why it is so important for us to be conscious of the products we are covering our underarms with.
The reason this topic is controversial is that there have not been many studies on the relationship between the use of antiperspirants and toxicity. Many are starting to believe that there is a correlation between breast cancer and the use of these antiperspirant products. So when there are not enough studies and research out there on a topic how do you find the answers you are looking for?
What you do is break down your question a little bit more… So what we know is that there are at least 3 well-known ingredients in deodorant that are known to be toxic in one way or another to the human body. These ingredients are aluminum, parabens, and triclosan. So from there, I can research these individual ingredients instead of the antiperspirant as a whole, and I find that there is plenty of information out there on whether these ingredients are toxic or not. I am then able to take this information and make my own conclusion on whether or not I will use products with such ingredients in them.
So here are my findings for you and my conclusion of it all…
Let’s start with aluminum… It is the number one active ingredient in antiperspirants. It is also the most controversial and potentially most harmful ingredient in these products.
Why you don’t want aluminum in deodorant
So what is aluminum? The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of that word is aluminum cans… the vessels we drink our toxic sugary sodas out of… and without even getting too far into my research, I am already thinking there is no way in hell that aluminum should be plastered to our skin. Aluminum, the 13th element on the periodic table, is a functional, light, durable metal. It is easy to work with and has become a key material of engineering over the last 100 years in the industrial world. In terms of antiperspirant products, aluminum acts as a plug to our sweat glands, reducing or eliminating the natural process of sweating that takes place in our underarms.
For me personally, whenever I learn of something that stops any natural process the human body goes through, a red flag comes up. Our body’s process of sweating is not only important for temperature regulation, but it is a huge part of our body’s natural detoxification process. So when we put these antiperspirants on our underarms not only are we plugging our sweat glands with toxins, but we are stopping our body from releasing toxins that are already in our body which is just causing the accumulation.
Another red flag is the research that shows aluminum to be a xenoestrogen and hormone disruptor. Xenoestrogens are xenohormones that mimic estrogen, the most important female sex hormone. When people think of the hormone estrogen it is typically related solely to the reproductive system, but what people need to understand is that estrogen plays a role in multiple systems of the human body, in both males and females, and is an essential part of the proper functioning of the body systems as a whole.
There is much research out there today showing a significant correlation between exposure to xenoestrogens and increased, gender-related, cancer risk. What I have found that seems to make the most sense is that xenoestrogens are not actually what is causing cancer, but cause cancer to grow more rapidly.
Xenoestrogens are fueling the cancer fire that is simmering inside of us all. And what I mean by that is we all have cancer cells present in our bodies, and our badass immune systems work hard every day at keeping all those bad cells in check and not letting them take over. But then we are exposed to things like xenoestrogens that cause those bad cancer cells to reproduce quicker and defeat our immune systems. Another fact that I have to put in here is that aluminum is proven to cause DNA damage, adverse effects on the blood-brain barrier, as well as inauspicious epigenetic effects in high doses.
So, many would argue that there are very low levels of aluminum in antiperspirants, so we shouldn’t have to worry about it. But my brain says this aluminum is still causing all of these adverse effects, but at a slower rate because there is a smaller amount of aluminum at play. There is not much research or studies on the topic of small amounts of aluminum over a longer period of time in the human body because we have not been studying the topic long enough. I know research and studies are very important when trying to navigate today’s health world but sometimes you have to rely on your common sense and instincts because we don’t know everything!! Common sense to me in this situation is, if it hurts you in large doses, over time it will hurt you in small doses.
Another controversial aspect of aluminum is its relationship to Alzheimer’s disease. Many Alzheimer’s patients have traces of aluminum in their brains. Again, there is not enough research to actually peg aluminum as a causative factor in Alzheimer’s, but my instincts tell me to avoid it just based on the fact that it is found in most Alzheimer’s patients.
Why you don’t want parabens and triclosan
Now let’s touch base on parabens and triclosan. I am not going to go into too much detail because essentially they act in the human body the same way aluminum does in that they mimic hormones. The main difference is that they are put into antiperspirants for different reasons than aluminum.
Parabens are used as antifungal and antibacterial agents. The purpose of parabens in antiperspirants is to kill off all of the bacteria that cause bad BO. Parabens are highly detected in human breast cancer tissues, but just like aluminum and Alzheimer’s, there is no research to actually prove it a causative factor. Parabens are listed as a category 1 priority substance for endocrine disruption in Europe and are banned from being used in concentrated forms in cosmetics. Any time I see something that we use here in the US banned or listed as a serious concern in other countries I try to avoid it at all costs.
The controversy with parabens is that people argue that they are safe because they are found in many foods that we consume regularly such as barley, strawberries, currants, vanilla, carrots, and onions. Well, we can argue back that not only are the parabens in antiperspirants synthetic (whereas parabens found in food are naturally occurring) but the ones found in food are actually metabolized when eating them, breaking them down into a less estrogenic form. When these parabens are applied topically to the skin they bypass the metabolic process and are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and organs.
Now I don’t need to say much about triclosan because it is very similar to parabens in the fact that its purpose in antiperspirants is to kill stinky bacteria, and it mimics hormones just the same as parabens and aluminum. Some fun facts I do want to throw in real quick is that there are numerous studies on triclosan and its hormone-mimicking abilities AND this one’s the best… the FDA has banned triclosan in hands soaps due to the numerous health concerns in humans and aquatic life that triclosan has been linked with, yet it is still allowed in other products including antiperspirants!
OK… now that we got all of that fun out of the way I am going to share with you a homemade green tea deodorant recipe that I whipped up today that is free of toxins, supports the body’s natural detoxification process through the sweat glands, and actually works better than most store-bought natural deodorants (which are also an option when trying to avoid these chemical ladened antiperspirants) This recipe is so quick and easy to whip up, and it is WAY cheaper than any store-bought deodorant (natural or synthetic).
Kenzie’s Natural Homemade Green Tea Deodorant
- 1 ⅓ cups extra virgin coconut oil Cocos nucifera
- 1 ½ tablespoon of beeswax Cera Alba (either beads or graded from a block)…increase beeswax during summer months or if in a warmer climate
- ¼ cup baking soda Sodium hydrogen carbonate
- ¾ cup arrowroot powder Maranta arundinacea
- ½ teaspoon Matcha Camellia sinensis
- 30-40 drops of chosen essential oil ( best to use antibacterial essential oils such as: Tea tree Melaleuca alternifolia, lavender Lavandula angustifolia, lemon Citrus x Limon, lemongrass Cymbopogon, rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis, eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus, peppermint Mentha × Piperita, or bergamot Citrus bergamia.)
*Have some fun and play around with the essential oils until you find a combo that you enjoy and works best for you… I typically use tea tree and lavender but for this specific batch I used tea tree and bergamot (that is what I had on hand) and I actually think I might like it more than the lavender.
- Melt coconut oil and beeswax together. It is best to use a double boiler for this. I don’t have a double boiler so I make my own by putting my ingredients in a mason jar and place in a pot of water on the stove.
2. Add the baking powder, arrowroot, and matcha. Mix until well blended.
3. Remove from heat and let cool, stirring every 5-10 minutes until it reaches a pudding-like consistency. You can place it in the fridge to speed up the cooling down/ hardening process.
4. Add essential oils, mix well.
5. Store in a mason jar or purchase deodorant containers. I prefer a mason jar as this deodorant can get a little runny at warmer temperatures due to coconut oil’s low melting point of 70 degrees F. If storing in a jar I find it easiest to apply just using my finger, then washing my hands after.
Not only is this deodorant cheap and easy to make, but it is full of all-natural, organic ingredients. It is also packed full of antioxidants from the Matcha and the coconut oil that will help you fight off cancer, Not cause it!! On top of that, all ingredients are easy to find in your local grocery store. If you can’t find our Matcha products locally you can go to our website and purchase online! And remember if you don’t have the time or desire to make your own deodorant there are plenty of natural, carcinogen-free deodorants out on the market today! I just personally think this homemade recipe works the best!! Thanks for reading this week’s post! And please feel free to leave comments or shoot me an email if there is a topic you want to learn more about! ~Kenzie
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
Ahn, K. C., Zhao, B., Chen, J., Cherednichenko, G., Sanmarti, E., Denison, M. S., . . . Hammock, B. D. (2008). In vitro biologic activities of the antimicrobials triclocarban, its analogs, and triclosan in bioassay screens: Receptor-based bioassay screens. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(9), 1203-1210. doi:10.1289/ehp.11200
Antiperspirants/Deodorants and Breast Cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2018, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/myths/antiperspirants-fact-sheet Bollinger, T. (2018, June 29).
Cosmetics and Cancer-Causing Ingredients. Retrieved November 5, 2018, from https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/cosmetics-cancer-causing-ingredients/ Bollinger, T. (2017, March 03).
The Link Between Xenoestrogens and Cancer (video). Retrieved November 5, 2018, from https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/xenoestrogens-and-cancer/ Darbre, P. D. (2016, June). Aluminum and the human breast. Retrieved November 5, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26997127 Suzuki, D. (n.d.).
The Dirty Dozen: Parabens. Retrieved November 5, 2018, from https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/dirty-dozen-parabens/
Meet the Author: Mackenzie