Deodorants are the products we depend on daily to prevent body odor. Most commonly used on under-arms and feet, they work to eliminate the bacteria that causes the odor or mask the odor. Alcohol can temporarily kill bacteria. Longer-acting antimicrobials, like triclosan, kill bacteria and slow their regrowth. Fragrances work to mask odors and minerals are added to help absorption and reduce friction on the skin.
Deodorants come in many forms, including gels, solids, soaps, and sprays. Some deodorants have antiperspirant ingredients, though true antiperspirant products are a subgroup of deodorants that prevent your body from sweating by blocking sweat glands. We will be focusing in on deodorant products here, including those with antiperspirant ingredients.
What’s in deodorant?
I like to group ingredients by function. It makes it easier to understand what’s in each product, why, and then find products that have the types of ingredients I’d feel good about using.
I broke out the ingredients commonly found in deodorants into 4 groups:
1) Antiperspirant ingredients: Aluminum compounds are the active ingredient used in antiperspirants to temporarily prevent sweating by blocking sweat glands. Common ingredient names are: Aluminum Zirconium Complex, Aluminum Chlorohydrate, Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex GLY
Ban Roll-On is a good example of a deodorant product that includes the active antiperspirant ingredient Aluminum Zirconium Complexes
2) Antibacterial Ingredients: Anti-bacterial ingredients are added to kill the bacteria that is the source of body odor. These active ingredients include alcohol-based ingredients like denatured ethanol and cetyl alcohol. Longer-acting antimicrobial ingredients include triclosan.
3) Powders & Starches: This group of ingredients is added to absorb wetness, and includes ingredients like talc, arrowroot, and baking soda.
Jason Natural Cosmetics Fresh Unscented Deodorant Stick For Men and Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant both include ingredients from this group, including absorbing agents like arrowroot powder, cornstarch, silica, and sodium bicarbonate.
4) Fragrance: Added to mask body odor and add scent, synthetic fragrances are commonly used in mainstream products. Essential oils and plant-based scents are other types of fragrances used in deodorant products.