Your Ultimate Deodorant Guide

Robin Foroutan and Stephanie Mandel by Robin Foroutan and Stephanie Mandel

Your Ultimate Deodorant Guide

June 05, 2019

Deodorant is a fact of life. “Deo for your B-O” as they say. Here’s what you need to know:

active ingredient

Deodorant works in one of two ways: in the form of antiperspirants that prevent you from sweating, or as actual de-odorants that allow you to sweat but interfere with the bacterial activity that creates body odor. Of all the potentially toxic personal care products we put on our bodies, antiperspirant might be the most blatant, but both forms can introduce toxins into the body. Interestingly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies deodorants as cosmetics, while antiperspirants are considered over-the-counter drugs.

Antiperspirants are harmful for two primary reasons:

1. They block the body’s natural ability to sweat, part of the body’s innate detoxification process.

2. Their primary active ingredient is aluminum, a toxic heavy metal.

3. Here’s a typical drug store deodorant label — note the active ingredient...

- Ingredients to avoid -

Deodorants may contain harmful ingredients, including:

1. Aluminum

Aluminum is the primary ingredient in conventional antiperspirant deodorants because it stops our bodies from sweating. Aluminum can be absorbed through the skin, and studies associate it with increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. In addition, people who have trouble detoxifying may have a harder time eliminating aluminum from the body (notice the warning about use with kidney disease on the label above).

2. Parabens

Parabens are very common in skin care products because they allow them to last for months or even years in your cabinet. Parabens can mimic hormones in the body and disrupt functions of the endocrine system.

3. Triclosan

The FDA classifies triclosan as a pesticide and the EPA classifies it as a probable carcinogen. The FDA has banned triclosan from being used in soap products and stated that it did not have data to show triclosan was safe or effective. However, they still allow the use of triclosan in other skin care products, like deodorants.

4. Fragrance

“Fragrance” can mean hidden chemicals and many of them are harmful to our health. In addition, about 80% of the “fragrances” are not tested for human safety in healthcare products. If that’s not disturbing enough, a common chemical found in fragrance is phthalates, which is associated with increased risk for breast cancer, developmental issues, infertility, weight gain, and allergies.

5. Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is found in many cosmetic products, as well as antifreeze, polyurethane cushions, paints and other industrial products. While we don’t have conclusive evidence that it’s unsafe, we’re wary of this ingredient. It’s classified as “expected to be toxic or harmful” on the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List.

6. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

While some conventional drug store brands are starting to remove aluminum from their products, they may still contain potential toxins, like BHT. Animal studies have shown that it may cause a range of concerning issues, including developmental changes, thyroid and endocrine changes, and cancer.

7. Cyclopentasiloxane

Animal studies show endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity, and tumor formation at moderate doses of this chemical.


- Insider tips -

  • Baking soda is usually one of the top ingredients in natural deodorants. If you’re prone to skin irritation, take note of where it falls in the ingredient list. If it’s one of the first two ingredients, it may cause irritation; if it’s the 3rd ingredient or lower on the list, it’s less likely to irritate, but you may need to reapply it more frequently during the day. Some companies like Primal Pit Paste offer a “sensitive” option without baking soda.
  • We’ve noticed that some of the otherwise clean deodorants out there still list “fragrance” in their ingredients. When in doubt, we recommend asking the company directly to find out what it’s derived from.

- Watch out for sneaky labels! -

Even many “natural” deodorants contain questionable ingredients. Just because these products are labeled or marketed as “organic” or ”clean” does not mean they are free of toxic chemicals! Make sure to read the labels of deodorants before buying. You can also check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to look up these ingredients and other chemicals to check for safety and other health precautions.


This guide was written by Dr. Morrison and the health and nutrition experts at The Morrison Center. Our team is dedicated to helping you achieve optimal health through the treatment and prevention of disease.



Dr. Jeffrey Morrison is an award-winning medical doctor, a leader in the field of Integrative Medicine, and champion of a nutritional approach to healthcare



Robin is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in Integrative Medicine, Functional Medicine and holistic healing modalities. She helps her clients address complicated conditions and return to wellness.



Stephanie is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner with a passion for helping her clients fulfill their potential through both emotional and physical optimization.


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