How to choose the best deodorant

How to choose the best deodorant

In addition to natural sunscreen, it is just as important for athletes to choose the best deodorant.

Let’s be honest, there is nothing worse than a stinky athlete! It’s one thing to be sweaty, which is natural by the way, but to reek – that can get a little offensive!

How to choose the best deodorant

Deodorant versus Antiperspirant

Many of us use the terms deodorant and antiperspirant interchangeably. I know I did before doing my research. But there is a distinct difference between the two products which is critical to understanding which one to use.

A deodorant does not affect perspiration but serves to mask or block odour. It contains antibacterial ingredients that help reduce odour-causing bacteria, and may also contain perfumes or oils to mask the smell.

An antiperspirant is very different to a deodorant where its main aim is to stop us from actually sweating, hence the name. Antiperspirant products usually don’t completely prevent sweating, so often also contain deodorising ingredients to reduce the smell.

The key differences between a deodorant and an antiperspirant

1. Aluminium content

In order to prevent sweating, antiperspirants contain aluminium salts that can come in various compounds. These ingredients work by temporarily blocking and shrinking pores. Generally, the higher the aluminium content, the greater the effectiveness of the antiperspirant to reduce sweat.

But did you know that aluminium is a known neurotoxin? 1

Even though there have been some research studies linking the use of antiperspirants to increased risks of serious illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease 2 3 and some cancers such as breast cancer, 4 5 there has not been enough conclusive evidence (such as levels of absorption of aluminium through the skin) to warrant a ban from major health organisations.

2. Pore blockage

In addition, even though the prevention of sweating under the armpits itself is not a big problem (we have many other pores in the body from which to sweat from), the clogging of pores from using antiperspirants can lead to other skin irritability and inflammation issues.

Normal Deodorant versus Natural Deodorant

Despite no definitive link from antiperspirants, I would prefer to limit any absorption of aluminium (as a proven toxin) in order to reduce the risks of associated cancers when choosing products for my family. So let’s take a look at the alternative to antiperspirants, the aluminium-free deodorant.

But are all deodorants equal?

Once again, many deodorants can also contain harmful ingredients. These can include:

  • Triclosan –  a commonly used antibacterial agent and preservative. There is evidence that it can disrupt the endocrine system, especially reproductive hormones. 6
  • Parabens – used as preservatives in underarm deodorants and antiperspirants. The presence of parabens has been found to contribute to the rising incidence of breast cancer. 7 8 These may be listed in the ingredients as methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, or butylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben or benzylparaben.
  • Phthalates – are a family of organic chemicals produced from oil. They come in various chemical structures and therefore can have different uses and toxicity levels. However, exposure to some phthalates is considered to be potentially harmful to human health, 9 including damaging the male reproductive system. 10

How to choose the best deodorant

So pull out your current deodorant and follow the list to:
1. Check there is no aluminium content.
2. Check there is no evidence of triclosan.
3. Check there are no parabens.
4. Check there are no phthalates.

If you found any of these ingredients, consider switching to a natural alternative.

A Natural Deodorant is the Best Deodorant

There are many natural deodorants on the market. You can find many different brands available at Nourished Life*.

Deodorant Review: Axilla Deodorant Paste

After testing a few natural deodorants and voted Axilla Deodorant Paste by Black Chicken Remedies, a great unisex athlete grade natural deodorant. Read the Athlete Grade Natural Deodorant – Axilla Review to find out why.

*Active + Nourished is a Nourished Life affiliate which means that if you choose to purchase through this link we will receive a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you. This will assist in the development and maintenance of the Active + Nourished website. 


Show 10 footnotes

  1. Exley C, 2014 Jun “What is the risk of aluminium as a neurotoxin? “PMID:24779346
  2. Exley C1 1998 Mar, “Does antiperspirant use increase the risk of aluminium-related disease, including Alzheimer’s disease? “ PMID: 9575492
  3. Tomljenovic L, 2011 ”Aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease: after a century of controversy, is there a plausible link?“ PMID:21157018
  4. McGrath KG, 2003 Dec “An earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis related to more frequent use of antiperspirants/deodorants and underarm shaving.“ PMID:14639125
  5. Darbre PD 2005 Sep “Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer
    “ PMID:16045991
  6. Wang CF, Tian Y 2015 Nov “Reproductive endocrine-disrupting effects of triclosan: Population exposure, present evidence and potential mechanisms“ PMID:26184583
  7. Harvey, P. W. and Everett, D. J. (2004), Significance of the detection of esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid (parabens) in human breast tumours. J. Appl. Toxicol., 24: 1–4. doi: 10.1002/jat.957
  8. Crinnion, Walter J. “Toxic effects of the easily avoidable phthalates and parabens.” Alternative Medicine Review Sept. 2010: 190+.Academic OneFile. Web. 2 Apr. 2016.
  9. Wittassek M et al, 2011 Jan “Assessing exposure to phthalates – the human biomonitoring approach.” PMID: 20564479
  10. EWG’s Skin Deep – “Top tips for Safer Products”

4 Replies to “How to choose the best deodorant”

  1. Thanks, very interesting article. My son has an allergy to most deodorants, I am looking forward to reading your next article.

  2. Thanks for this! I have heard about the Aluminum Zirconium being bad but not the others! I have been so unhappy with my deodorants lately I will have to try out your suggestions!
    Have a great day!

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