9 Bad Ingredients in Deodorant What to Avoid

9 Bad Ingredients in Deodorant: What to Avoid

9 Bad Ingredients in Deodorant: What to Avoid

Consumers are becoming more conscious of the ingredients in their deodorants and antiperspirants.

Understandably, we want to ensure that what we put on our bodies is SAFE and will not pose any risk to our health.

After all, no one wants to deal with toxic chemicals and threats like the increased risk of breast cancer when trying to practice good hygiene.

In this article, I will thoroughly discuss nine bad ingredients in deodorant that many people say you must avoid.

At the end of this read, you will know whether these would affect your overall health based on facts and science and if it is worth switching to natural deodorant options for your hygiene needs!

1. Aluminum

Aluminum compounds are one of the active ingredients found in many deodorants, specifically those that double as antiperspirants.

Several variations of aluminum compounds are typically used, including:

  • aluminum chlorohydrate
  • aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly
  • aluminum chloride

They primarily aid in reducing sweat by blocking the sweat glands. Aluminum salts dissolve on the skin and penetrate the pores, thus impeding the body's ability to sweat.

Many people have tagged aluminum compounds as harmful ingredients to avoid in deodorant formulas. They are often linked to Alzheimer's disease, increased breast cancer risk, and kidney problems.

Others believe that by preventing the body from sweating, harmful toxins accumulate in the lymph nodes, which in turn leads to serious health conditions like cancer. 

A recent study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information even suggests that frequently using antiperspirants can cause the accumulation of aluminum salt in breast tissue.

Higher rates of aluminum have also been found in patients with breast cancers.

However, according to the American Cancer Society, there is NO conclusive evidence to prove that human use of aluminum can lead to breast cancers.

They also found that healthy breast tissue and those in breast cancer patients have the same amount of aluminum compounds present, which further puts the validity of this belief into question.

2. Parabens

Kid Applying Deodorant

Is it crucial to buy deodorants without parabens?

One of the labels people check in personal care goods, like body wash and shampoos, is "paraben-free," as consumers consider these products the safest to use.

Companies include parabens as an active agent in the manufacturing process of food and beauty products to stop the growth of bacteria and fungi and prevent bacterial contamination.

While parabens are widely used in consumer products, many are reluctant to purchase goods containing these chemicals.

Parabens have been tagged as endocrine disruptors, as they mimic estrogen in the body, causing reproductive issues and endocrine system disruption.

Continued exposure to conventional deodorants containing parabens has also been linked to breast cancer and prostate cancer risk due to the accumulation of synthetic estrogen in the body.

However, despite such claims, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) experts have not found concrete evidence to prove that cosmetic products containing parabens can lead to severe health conditions. 

3. Talc


Talc is one of the other ingredients or additives you will encounter in deodorant. It is primarily used for its ability to absorb moisture and reduce friction, which helps prevent dryness and irritation on sensitive skin.

While this is used in many deodorants, consumers are still skeptical of talc due to its high likelihood of asbestos contamination, which might cause cancer.

Even if it's said to help sensitive skin, talc can still be a potential skin irritant, especially to those allergic to the mineral.

Other than the main concern about health, the production of talc also poses several threats to the environment, including:

  • water contamination
  • land disturbances
  • air pollution
  • waste production
  • biodiversity loss

4. Triclosan

Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical and synthetic preservative used in any commercially available deodorant. It is mainly integrated into the formula to kill bacteria and prevent body odor.

Despite its supposedly beneficial use, triclosan is among the deodorant ingredients banned by the FDA in 2016 due to its effects on hormones and bacterial resistance.

This harmful chemical was also LIMITED or PROHIBITED in several countries for hand washes, deodorant formulas, shampoos, and cleaning agents.

Canada allows minimal amounts of triclosan in mouthwashes, non-prescription drugs, and a few cosmetic products, but it is completely prohibited in antiseptic products in the US.

Several studies indicated that triclosan is among the chemicals that affect the immune system, thus posing the following health risks in humans:

  • Altered Immune Response: Some studies suggest that triclosan can affect the immune system by altering how it responds to common bacteria, viruses, and allergens. 
  • Antibiotic Resistance: Regular exposure to triclosan could potentially cause bacterial resistance, even to other antibiotics, complicating the treatment of bacterial infections.
  • Disruption of Microbiome: Triclosan might disrupt the balance of the microbiome, which plays a crucial role in immune system regulation. 
  • Endocrine Disruption: While the primary concerns with endocrine disruptors are related to female and male fertility issues, these disruptions can also impact immune function.
  • Effects on Pregnant Women: Exposure to an endocrine disruptor during pregnancy can potentially affect the development of the fetus. 

5. Phthalates

Phthalates are chemicals used as fixatives and solvents in many body care products, including deodorant formulas.

It ensures that artificial fragrances infused in perfumes and soaps last long on the skin. It slows the rate at which fragrance compounds evaporate, prolonging the scent's intensity.

Phthalates are also integrated into deodorant formulas to unify various ingredients and ensure a consistent formulation.

Like other toxins, phthalates are harmful to a person's health, especially with extended exposure. Here are a few ways it can impact a user's body.

  • Liver: Phthalates are metabolized and detoxified in the liver, which can lead to increased stress on this organ. Over time, this can contribute to liver damage or dysfunction.
  • Kidneys: Similar to the liver, the kidneys filter and excrete phthalates. Prolonged exposure to these toxins can strain the kidneys, potentially leading to kidney damage.
  • Lungs: Inhalation of phthalates can lead to respiratory irritation and potentially worsen conditions like asthma. 
  • Reproductive System: Phthalates have been linked to decreased sperm quality, altered hormone levels, reproductive malformations, and interference with ovarian function.

Due to its wide array of health risks, it is best to AVOID deodorant brands that use synthetic perfumes and essential oils in their formula. 

Natural alternatives, such as those utilizing natural fragrances, are much better options if you don't like unscented variants.

6. Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol in Deodorants

Propylene glycol maintains the shape and consistency of deodorant formulas. It helps resist the changes in temperature and humidity, thus allowing for longer shelf-life.

Aside from cosmetic production, propylene glycol is utilized to de-ice airplane wings, especially in cold weather conditions.

Despite its varied uses, consumers who wish to avoid toxins are reluctant to use products containing this substance. Propylene glycol has been linked to various health issues, including contact dermatitis, rashes, and itchiness.

It's also one of the toxins identified to cause adverse effects on the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys with long-term exposure. This ingredient is even linked to cardiovascular issues and heart disease.

7. Alcohol

Many deodorant formulas use alcohol to kill germs and help the product dry more quickly when applied.

Alcohol is generally safe to use topically, but many people find it drying and irritating to sensitive skin or when used post-shaving. It might also cause blocked pores and discoloration on the underarms.

With these factors in mind, consumers mostly prefer ALCOHOL-FREE and natural deodorant options, which are gentler on the skin.

8. Formaldehyde Releasers

Little Girl Applying Deodorant

Formaldehyde releasers are widely used in cosmetics and other personal care products. A few of these chemicals include the following.

  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Quaternium-15
  • Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol)

These chemicals slowly release a small amount of formaldehyde over time, which acts as a preservative to PREVENT the growth of bacteria and fungi.

This happens through hydrolysis — a chemical reaction that occurs when its molecules come into contact with water.

Although it preserves the deodorant's shelf-life, prolonged use still entails potential risks. 

For one, formaldehyde can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. It is also a known carcinogen, thus promoting the growth of cancer cells in the body.

Some even claim that it can cause breast cancer like other toxins because of how close the armpit is to breast tissue. 

The amounts of formaldehyde produced by releasers are typically low, but many are still concerned about exposure to such toxins.

9. Petrolatum and Mineral Oil

Most of us may be familiar with petrolatum and mineral oil in body care products. Both are occasionally used in deodorant as moisturizing and soothing agents and to enhance the formula's texture.

While these ingredients are not considered toxins, some people still avoid brands using petrolatum and mineral oil because they can potentially clog pores and prevent the skin from breathing.

When applied, these create a barrier on the skin's surface, causing concern that they might trap bacteria, sweat, and other toxins that must be excreted.

Generally, these ingredients are safe to use and are non-comedogenic, but for people with sensitive, oily, and acne-prone skin, these might contribute to acne breakouts and irritation.

Key Takeaways on Bad Ingredients in Deodorants

Many toxic ingredients are found in drugstore deodorants and antiperspirants.

While several studies debunk the potential risks they pose to our health (like breast cancer, liver disease, and kidney failure), it is still best to take precautions and choose natural deodorants if you have doubts.

Natural deodorants are less likely to contain synthetic fragrances, essential oils, and other harmful toxins that most of us avoid. They contain natural ingredients that are gentle on the skin and are not harmful to our health.

When choosing body care products, it is best to make informed decisions by researching with the help of reliable sources like the Environmental Working Group or the FDA.

Choosing the best deodorant for your needs will depend on your preference, but it's always better to consider natural deodorant options that do not contain harmful chemicals.