Raise your hand if you’re sure the ingredients in your deodorant are safe. Most major brands include aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium, designed to temporarily block the flow of sweat. Some research suggests the skin may absorb these aluminum-based compounds, which may elevate estrogen levels and increase the risk of breast cancer. Talc powder, a fine powder used for its absorbent, deodorizing qualities, is suspected to be a possible carcinogen. Other ingredients of concern include triclosan, propylene glycol, and synthetic fragrances and preservatives (see “The Ban List: 7 Ingredients to Avoid in Personal-Care Products”).
Fortunately, there are safe and effective alternatives. Crystal deodorant stones contain a naturally occurring form of aluminum made up of molecules that are too large to be absorbed by the skin. If you want to eliminate aluminum altogether, seek out natural ingredients that kill odor-causing bacteria and neutralize the smell of sweat instead of trying to stop it—after all, sweat is a necessary part of our bodies’ natural cooling process. Some good options include tea tree oil, witch hazel, baking soda, hops, sage and lemon peel.
1. Desert Essence Lemon Tea Tree Deodorant
Desert Essence’s deodorants are aluminum- and propylene glycol-free. Some varieties list “natural fragrance,” which is phthalate-free and derived from essential plant oils and extracts. This variety gets its sweet citrus scent from lemon tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract. 2.5 oz., $6
2. Crystal Body Deodorant Stick
Rather than potentially harmful aluminum chlorohydrate or zirconium, Crystal products contain potassium alum or ammonium alum, made up of particles too large to be absorbed by the skin. The Deodorant Stick (shown in the Image Gallery) can last up to a year. 4.25 oz., $7
3. Soapwalla Deodorant Cream
LSoapwalla owner Rachel Winard began making natural personal-care products to help alleviate the painful sensitive skin caused by lupus. Her all-natural, aluminum-free deodorant cream has an easy-to-apply, frosting-like consistency and a wonderful aroma of lavender, peppermint and tea tree. 2 oz., $12
4. Fragrance-Free Super Protection Deodorant
Soothing organic aloe vera juice is the base of this gentle, fragrance-free roll-on deodorant. Baking soda and lichen extract help control odor, and yucca extract offers antibacterial properties. 3 oz., $10
For more natural deodorant products, see our Resource Guide for Personal-Care Products. For more on chemicals in beauty products, read the original article, “Come Clean: Natural Alternatives to Chemical-Laden Personal-Care Products.”