We’ve been duped into buying harmful products and applying them daily to our bodies. Today’s underarm industry is worth billions, even though mainstream products contain ingredients that cause allergic reactions, and are linked to cancer and possibly Alzheimer’s.

Aerosol and antiperspirant deodorants are heavy in petrochemicals (propellants). In 2010, for example, AXE Body Spray was fined for selling sprays that failed to meet basic air quality standards. It is best to avoid all aerosolized products.

Deodorants contain ingredients that kill the bacteria that cause unpleasant odors. Most also contain perfumes and “fragrances”.

Antiperspirants plug sweat glands, and there is a cumulative effect to daily antiperspirant use.

Research has shown time and time again that ingredients like parabens, triclosan, phthalates, aluminum, propylene glycol, and fragrances can harm your health.

Parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, or butylparaben) are found in many deodorants and antiperspirants. They help keep bacteria from growing, and are preservatives. They also mimic estrogen. These products can disrupt the body’s delicate hormonal balance, which leads to birth defects, early puberty in children, organ toxicity, and an increased risk of cancer.

Triclosan is classified as a pesticide. Studies suggest triclosan may disrupt thyroid function. It is also found in some antibacterial soaps that have recently come under fire. The state of Minnesota just banned its use in antibacterial products.

Phthalates help ingredients dissolve in order to maintain a consistent product. They are among hundreds of chemicals also added as a fragrance. They have been linked to birth defects and, like parabens and aluminum, may disrupt hormone receptors. Thyroid problems, obesity, and diabetes are also associated with phthalates.

A majority of antiperspirants contain aluminum, which closes the sweat ducts. Although studies show a link between the aluminum in deodorant and cancer, as well as Alzheimer’s, many brands still use aluminum in their products.

Propylene glycol is a common ingredient. It can adversely affect the renal system (kidneys), the respiratory system, and the skin. In large doses, propylene glycol can damage the central nervous system.

TEA & DEA: Triethanolamine and diethanolamine adjust pH and are used to convert acids to salts (stearate), which then become the basis for a cleanser. They are both toxic if continually absorbed into the body in small doses over a long period of time. DEA can cause liver and kidney damage, while TEA can cause allergic reactions. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to their known cancer-causing effects.

Yes, smelling bad is socially undesirable, but if you want to do something about your environmental impact and reduce the application of chemicals to your body – consider tossing conventional commercial underarm products and switch to ones that don’t contain toxic chemicals. Safer products are gaining in popularity and can be found at Fruitful Yield, Woodman’s, Trader Joe’s, and so on. I’ve tested Tom’s brand and can recommend it.

You may also want to experiment at making your own preparations. Combine three parts coconut oil, three parts arrowroot, and one part baking soda in small bowl. Add 3 to 10 drops of essential oil. Refrigerate if runny in the warmer months – or add a little more arrowroot and baking soda. Primal Pit Paste is a commercial version. A quick search of the internet for “homemade deodorants” will yield other suggestions.

Whether you make your own or buy a commercial product, do your best to avoid toxic chemicals and you will reap the rewards of better health.