What You May Be Sweating Out This Summer: Chemicals in Deodorant

Alysse  What You May Be Sweating Out This Summer: Chemicals in Deodorant

At the end of last semester, I took on environmental toxins in cosmetics and personal care products as my new research topic. Therefore, I have spent time this summer reading books and articles, and scientific papers about the harmful chemicals that are used in these beauty products. Aside from reading, the summer months call for sunshine, sandals, shorts, and unfortunately….sweat. The high temperatures during this time often cause us to coat on deodorant to avoid sweating out the heat.

Unfortunately, the deodorant we use every day may contain endocrine disrupting chemicals. We apply and reapply this product, allowing these chemicals to be absorbed into our skin, increased by the cuts and nicks we get from shaving.

Aluminum is one of the main ingredients found in deodorants. It is used as an antiperspirant, which causes a physical plug to the sweat ducts to prevent sweat from escaping onto the skin’s surface. This metal mimics estrogen and can cause damage to our endocrine system. Although the science on breast cancer risk is still in question, concentrations of aluminum have been found in mammary tissue where breast cancers have been originally diagnosed.

Triclosan is another ingredient often found in deodorant, as well as many other personal care products. It is an artificial antimicrobial chemical used to kill bacteria on the skin. Studies have shown that this chemical can disrupt thyroid and other hormone systems, and may disrupt normal breast development.

Parabens are a group of compounds that are used in many personal care products to prevent growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and mold. They mimic the role of estrogen in the body and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors.

It’s always good practice to check the ingredient label on your favorite deodorants. To make sure you don’t sweat over your choice of deodorant brands, turn to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.

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