You probably heard that some deodorants contain controversial ingredients, but do you know if this is true?

Blood tests have confirmed that commonly used substances in deodorants can enter the body through the epidermis. Additionally, according to research, some ingredients from deodorants are absorbed and stored in fat cells, especially in the underarm area.

Compounds that are used in antiperspirants and deodorants may lead to developmental or reproductive issues, including cancer. Research also shows that these substances can create problems by messing up with the micro-organisms that are beneficial to your body.

Are deodorants truly toxic?

Main ingredients you should avoid in deodorants

Here are the main ingredients you have to look out for.


Parabens are a preservative widely used in the cosmetics industry.

They are easily absorbed into the skin and have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive health problems. 

Parabens are also suspected endocrine disruptors: chemicals that may mess with the function of your body’s reproductive and developmental hormones. 

They have also been linked to ecological harm, as low levels of butylparaben can kill coral, according to laboratory tests.

In the US, the FDA limits the levels of parabens allowed in foods and beverages, but it does not regulate these chemicals in cosmetics and body care products.

Are deodorants truly toxic?


Aluminium is commonly found in antiperspirants.

Aluminium could cause ‘gene instability’ in the breast tissue, according to research.

Due to this instability, there is a possibility of the growth of cancer cells.

And indeed, breast cancer incidence tends to align with use of products that contain the metal.


Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical and known endocrine disruptor found in cosmetics, soap, deodorant, sponges, toothpaste, cutting boards, shoes, towels, and clothes. It’s used to kill bacteria on the surface of the skin.

Human autopsy analysis has revealed that triclosan bioaccumulates in liver and adipose (fat) tissue.

According to a major study, “triclosan is so common that 75% of Americans have detectable levels of the stuff in their urine.”

Studies performed on animals also showed unusual hormone activity when linked with Triclosan.

Triclosan could also impact the day-to-day functions of genes.

In 2016, the FDA banned the use of triclosan in consumer soaps.

Are deodorants truly toxic?


Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that soften plastics.

They appear in many products, from baby toys to construction materials and cosmetics.

They evaporate easily and can enter the body through inhalation, dermal exposure, or food. For instance, a 2012 Swedish study of children found that phthalates from PVC flooring were taken up into their bodies, showing that children can ingest phthalates not only from food but also by breathing and through the skin. 

Among many other side effects, phthalates may cause:

  • asthma and allergies, as well as other chronic diseases in children 
  • anti-androgenicity, which may lead to low libido, male genital birth defects, and impaired reproductive function in adult males, especially when fetuses and babies are exposed
  • obesity and type II diabetes 
  • breast cancer 
  • attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, neurodevelopmental issues, and behavioral issues 

Phthalates are not always indicated on product labels and the best way to (partly) avoid them is to prefer glass over plastic containers and buy products that do not contain fragrance. That being said, because phthalates are transported over long distances by wind, it results in a worldwide diffusion. Some were even found in isolated areas of the Amazonian rainforest!

Are deodorants truly toxic?


In a way, the term “Fragrance” refers to some of the nastiest toxic chemicals in skincare products, for one very simple reason: fragrances are made of a complex mixture of dozens of chemicals and are considered “trade secrets”. As such, there is no legal requirement to disclose their full list of ingredients on product labels.

For instance, fragrances can contain phthalates or styrene, a substance anticipated to be a human carcinogen, but because fragrance ingredients are not clearly listed on product labels, it’s impossible to know exactly what you are applying to your skin.

Fragrance mixes have also been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress, and potential effects on the reproductive system.

Are deodorants truly toxic?

Key takeaway

  • Avoid products with the term “Fragrance” on the ingredients label. 
  • Aluminium is found mostly in antiperspirants and is suspected to cause gene instability.
  • 75% of Americans have detectable levels of Triclosan in their urine. When purchasing products labelled as “antibacterial” or “germ-fighting” – beware! They might also contain Triclosan.
  • Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that soften plastics. They evaporate easily and can enter the body through inhalation, dermal exposure, or food. They are know endocrine-disruptors that can be found in deodorants.
DIY Deodorant Kit

What is the best solution to break free from toxic chemicals in your deodorant?

I recently had a question from a family member regarding how to choose a non-toxic deodorant.

There are now brands that provide toxic-free deodorants but, to be honest, it’s actually one of the easier product to make at home.

Homemade deodorants work extremely well. I once had a student at a workshop who told me that her boyfriend, who exercises every day, had never tried anything as efficient as the homemade deodorant I had made with them.

If you’d like to try making a vegan and completely natural deodorant, I’d suggest trying our Home DIY Kit!

You’ll have everything you need to make a beautiful, vegan solid deodorant bar at home – including ingredients and instructions. I’m sure you’ll enjoy making it, and using it 😉

Happy DIY!


also on the blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *