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  • Miranda Lipton

Breaking down deodorant

This one’s for all the people out there who don’t want to smell bad or rub toxic ingredients onto their armpits. Ironically, I am an anosmic, which means that I do not have a sense of smell, so smelling bad has never been a personal problem for me. But realizing at a young age that I didn’t want other people smelling my bad smell, I hopped onto the deodorant bandwagon. After my proper research I learned tonight that there are many aspects of my deodorant I didn’t know I should be avoiding.


And now that I know I thought I would share, starting with the umbrella problem contained in deodorant among so many other products: endocrine disruptors.

These are chemicals that can affect a body’s reproductive and developmental hormones; they are also a component of ingredients in many deodorants that you’ve likely never known how to pronounce. These sneaky little disruptors can make their way into your body and mess with production of hormones, tricking your body into thinking these they are real hormones, and ultimately affecting your mental and physical health.


Some of the most concerning ingredients to look out for are parabens. Parabens are used to prevent bacterial growth and are artificial preservatives, but with other safe alternatives to achieve the same function, the risks of these chemicals far outweigh the benefits they bring. Studies have suggested that parabens can harm fertility and reproductive organs, as well as increasing the risk of cancer. You can easily recognize a paraben as the word will be attached to the end of any ingredient that contains it (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben).


Propylene glycol (often listed as PEG or PG) is considered a neurotoxin - a poison which acts on the nervous system. It is known to cause skin irritation, liver and kidney damage. I'm not a doctor but I'd suggest just not rubbing that on your body.

Fragrance is a kind of sketchy term that is often used to mask the unsafe chemicals hiding behind it. If a product uses fragrance, make sure to check if the specific ingredients within it are disclosed. If not, pass.

Aluminum is a controversial ingredient and from what I’ve read, the traces of aluminum in skincare products is not significant enough to cause damage, but high amounts are linked to cancer and neurological diseases. If you’d rather just not touch it, I’d recommend the Package Free Deodorant Stick, which is not only made from natural and healthy ingredients, but is in a compostable package so there is no waste when you’re done with it!!!!

Which brings me to the next confusing and unclear aspect of deodorants: recycling the containers. It seems that most plastic deodorants are recyclable on a case-to-case basis. Since the containers are often made of various types of plastics (between the main body, twisty-thing on the bottom, and cover on the top), they may need to be broken down into their various parts to be properly recycled. Since that is way more effort than I’m willing to put in, I’m just going to stick to the plastic-free deodorants from now on. BUT if you have a bunch of plastic products that reach the end of their life and you want to make sure they go to the right place, terracycle will collect them all and recycle them into new and improved products. And if your container has a recycling number that looks like this on it:

, then just check on your local recycler’s website to make sure that number is accepted and you’re good to go!

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