A bottle of deodorant or antiperspirant next to another tube of deodorant or antiperspirant on the table with some leaves of plants

Nontoxic Antiperspirants and Deodorants

Oct 12, 2022

Did you know that ingredients found in antiperspirants and deodorants have been found in human blood and fat cells

How this affects our health is still not fully understood. But what we know so far is concerning. For example, health risks are higher if exposures occur prenatally, when we’re kids, during adolescents, and probably during menopause.

In this blog, you will learn six questions and six tips to help you identify the safest, most effective antiperspirants or deodorants for you and your family.

Antiperspirant vs Deodorant:

Before we get started, let's talk about what's the difference between antiperspirants and deodorants.

Antiperspirants are products that contain compounds that will block your sweat glands to prevent moisture from reaching the surface of your skin. So if you're someone that sweats a lot and you want to prevent the embarrassing sweat stains that can develop in your shirts under the armpit area, then antiperspirants are products that you've probably been using. 

But be aware of aluminum-based compounds, which are often the active ingredients in antiperspirants that work very effectively in preventing a lot of sweating in the armpits.

These compounds have been studied for how they may affect your brain and nervous system. For decades, there have been concerns about "aluminum’s capacity for neurological disruption and neurotoxicity" including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). While the research on how aluminum in antiperspirants may contribute to neurodegeneration and neurotoxicity is still inconclusive, the February 2020 article "Early insight into the potential contribution of aluminum to neurodegeneration" in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry stated: 

"Research continues to strengthen the view that aluminum is toxic to brain genetic systems."

But, the American Cancer Society states:

"At this point, no clear link has been made between antiperspirants containing aluminum and breast cancer."

While the jury's still out on how these compounds affect us, the preliminary evidence leads me to do everything I can to avoid products that contain them. 

One product that my husband discovered as being hugely helpful is the Thompson Tee. These T-shirts contain special materials in the armpit area that absorb the sweat. He loves them, he says it's super effective, and it eliminates his need for antiperspirants. 

Be Aware of Triclosan:

Which ingredients are being used to fight bacteria that create odors? Triclosan has been a popular ingredient used for this purpose. 

The concern is that it may disrupt thyroid hormones, and it may also contribute to certain bacteria that can make you resistant to antibiotics, which are very important for us to stay healthy, according to the article "5 Things to Know About Triclosan" published on the FDA website.

So if you want to play it safe, read product labels to avoid triclosan. You might also want to avoid products that claim antibacterial and germ-fighting properties. They could contain triclosan, or a substitute chemical that could pose similar health concerns. 

Safer antibacterial ingredients could include tea tree oil and clove.

Why You Should Look Out for Fragrance:

Which ingredients are being used to mask odors? 

Even though we’re drawn to our favorite scents, some nasty chemicals can hide in good smells. Companies don’t even have to list the ingredients in their fragrances! 

Anything labeled “fragrance” or “perfume” is likely to have allergens and EDCs (like phthalates). Phthalates, for example, might impair male reproductive abilities, or fetal development in pregnant women. Phthalates have also been linked to lower IQs and higher rates of asthma.

People with sensitive skin or eczema are even more vulnerable to an allergic reaction from scents. It’s best to avoid scented deodorants since there is no way to know what they’re really made of.

Fragrance studies have found that sometimes these chemicals are harmful to our:


Nervous system

Reproductive system

And so many other things. So to be safe, avoid fragrance by choosing fragrance-free. Look for fragrance-free on the product label and read the ingredient list to avoid fragrance and perfume.

Avoid Parabens:

Which ingredients are being used for preservatives? Parabens are a class of chemicals that are often used as preservatives in deodorants and other personal care products. Studies have indicated that some parabens may participate in the production and regulation of estrogen and other hormones.

More studies are needed to understand how prolonged exposures might affect reproductive systems and cancer.

When we apply deodorant, some ingredients can be absorbed through our skin and affect our hormones and development. Avoiding these chemicals will be especially good for your children since EDCs can mess with their natural puberty process. 

Read product labels to avoid ingredients that end in parabens.

What are Safer Ingredients to Look for?

Nontoxic antiperspirants usually use baking soda or cornstarch to absorb sweat.

Nontoxic deodorants often use:

Coconut oil

Charcoal powder

Essential oils (like tea tree oil to fight odors)

My favorite deodorants are by Primally Pure: charcoal and the lavender-scented Primarily Pure deodorant. 


You can use discount code RUANLIVING, which will provide you 10% off your entire first purchase with Primally Pure! ✨Please note that I am an affiliate partner of Primally Pure so I also earn an affiliate commission for sales using my discount code.

What Else Can I Do?

If you want to do some extra research (which I always recommend), then the best source available to help you find the safest deodorants and antiperspirants is the Environmental Working Group.
They have an excellent database called Skin Deep. This database has reviewed thousands of personal care products, including antiperspirants and deodorants, and assigned a safety rating.

So check that out!

Let’s Summarize:

In this blog, I shared with you a number of ways to help you find safer, nontoxic and effective antiperspirants and deodorants.

Next time you go to make a purchase, ask yourself, “Which ingredients are being used to block the sweat from emerging to the skin?”

You want to avoid aluminum-based compounds.

You want to avoid Triclosan.

You want to avoid Parabens.

You want to avoid fragranced products.

Look for antibacterial or germ-fighting properties as a signal for you to research that product further. 

Choose fragrance-free and read product labels to avoid fragrance and perfume for which ingredients are being used as preservatives.

Parabens are a popular class of chemicals used as preservatives, and you can avoid them by reading product labels. 

For nontoxic products, you want to look for ingredients like coconut oil, charcoal powder, maybe essential oils like tea tree oil to fight odors, and, to absorb sweat, look for baking soda and cornstarch. You can also Google for more ingredients.

There are countless recipes, but those are common ones. 

And last, look at the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep database. It's an excellent resource.

And if you want to save time and not do any research, then you can also just check out the Primally Pure deodorants.

Again, charcoal and lavender are the ones I've chosen for my family. And also, check out Thompson T-shirts; they contain materials in the armpit area to absorb sweat. 

We're all in this together.

You can learn more at Ruan Living and follow me on Instagram.

If you found this blog helpful, then you may also want to listen to my Practical Nontoxic Living podcast and learn more about my 40-Day Home Detox adventure. 

Don’t miss out on new content to help you detox your home, diet, self-care and technology! To more easily learn simple detox tips, follow Ruan Living on Instagram by following this link: CONNECT.

I wish you good luck with your home detox journey!

Thanks so much for reading my blog. 

See you next time.

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About Ruan Living

Ruan Living simplifies a nontoxic lifestyle through its Practical Nontoxic Living podcast, free detox workshops, online D-Tox Academy, and transformative 40-Day Home Detox. It aims to help you avoid toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from what you buy, own, and do— without compromising your joy and convenience. Ruan was founded by Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of the bestselling critically acclaimed book A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Toxic Exposures and several detox workbooks. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Business School, Sophia has served on the Brown University School of Public Health Advisory Council and Well+Good Council. A popular nontoxic living speaker, consultant, and teacher, Sophia lives in New York City with her husband and three daughters. Her passion for empowering others to enjoy nontoxic living began with the birth of her first daughter in 2007. Everything she creates is a love letter to her children and for the healthiest, brightest future possible. You can learn more here: Sophia’s Impact.


This article is for informational purposes only. This information is provided “as is” without warranty.

It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. We do not offer medical advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other opinion on your conditions or treatment options. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Ruan Living.

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Some of the services and products recommended on this website provide compensation to Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living. All recommendations are based foremost upon an honest belief that the product, service, or site will benefit our site visitors in some way.  

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