Are chemicals found in personal care products REALLY harmful?
The truth is, we don’t have a 100% clear answer to that question… but we do have compelling evidence to be cautious.
My research revealed 2 main concerns with the use of deodorant – contact dermatitis & breast cancer. Let’s look at these separately, since they’re totally different.
- Contact Dermatitis: if your underarms are itchy, have red bumps that may or may not be “razor rash,” or painful then you might just be experiencing contact dermatitis. Chemical fragrances are the primary cause of such reactions, and there are more than 2,500 different fragrance substances! Also, one product might contain hundreds of individual fragrance ingredients (Heisteberg, M.V., et al., 2011). Does your underarm really need to smell like a tropical drink or a forest? Probably not, especially if the scent comes from synthetic chemicals. Using a fragrance-free deodorant is a step in the right direction. More on your deodorant options later..
- Breast Cancer: let me start off by saying that no causal relationship has been determined between “individual or combinations of chemicals and the development of breast cancer” (Darbre, 2011, p. 113). However, a multitude of synthetic chemicals have been isolated in human breast tissue and human breast milk, including many which can cause endocrine disruption, are genotoxic (toxic to our DNA), and mimic or interfere with the action of estrogen in the body. The primary influence on breast cancer development is lifetime exposure to estrogen; therefore, we SHOULD pay attention to “the potential ability of environmental chemicals with estrogenic properties to drive the development and growth of breast tumors” (Darbre, 2011, p. 114). Another study reveals a 10-15% increase in risk of breast cancer among women who classify themselves as moderate and frequent users of beauty products. Deodorants were not singled out in this study, but some of the chemicals found in deodorant are found in other skin care products also. Remember, deodorants are applied to the skin and left there for up to 24 hours or more! Parabens, aluminum salts, triclosan, phthalates, and UV filters have been confirmed to be absorbed into the skin after dermal application. Combine that with a high number of breast cancers originating in the upper outer quadrant of the breast and you HAVE to take pause and consider that deodorant just might be a risk (Taylor et al., XXXX). It certainly doesn’t hurt anyone to choose a deodorant that is free of synthetic chemicals.
What are my options?
Do some research!! There are quite a few companies out there who sell deodorants that are free from all known harmful chemicals. Many are artisan-crafted and contain only plant-based ingredients such as shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, corn starch, arrowroot powder, and essential oils.
Botanichl is in the testing phase of manufacturing deodorant so stay tuned!!! A link to my store is coming soon.
your feedback is welcomed… let me know if there’s a particular brand of toxin-free deodorant you have tried and liked. or hated.
Darbre, P.D. (2011, February). Exposure to environmental estrogenic chemicals and breast cancer. International Journal of Clinical Reviews, Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.americansentinel.idm.oclc.org/docview/1017853649?accountid=169658
Heisterberg, M. V., Menné, T., Andersen, K. E., Avnstorp, C., Kristensen, B., Kristensen, O., & … Johansen, J. D. (2011). Deodorants are the leading cause of allergic contact dermatitis to fragrance ingredients*. Contact Dermatitis (01051873), 64(5), 258-264. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.2011.01889.x
Taylor, K. W., Troester, M. A., Herring, A. H., Engel, L. S., Nichols, H. B., Sandler, D. P., & Baird, D. D. (2018). Associations between personal care product use patterns and breast cancer risk among white and black women in the sister study. Environmental Health Perspectives (Online), 126(2) doi:http://dx.doi.org.americansentinel.idm.oclc.org/10.1289/EHP1480