Test: These chemicals are used in your deodorant
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Test: These chemicals are used in your deodorant

Deodorants can contain unwanted chemicals which may give you allergy or are suspected of being endocrine disruptive. Find a good choice among 61 deodorants.

Christel Søgaard Kirkeby · Foto: Getty Images · 22. januar 2021
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The ingredients of the deodorant stay on the skin for a long time

A deodorant is one of the personal care products that you probably use every day. The ingredients in your deodorant stay on your skin for a long time, until you wash again.

In this way, deodorants give a lengthy skin contact with the ingredients within the deodorant.

Therefore, choose your deodorant carefully if you wish to limit your accumulated exposure to unwanted chemicals.

Unwanted chemicals can e.g. be allergenic or substances suspected of being endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

Delicate armpits

The chemical substances in your deodorant may easily penetrate the skin of your armpit.

Moisture on the skin a.o. causes this delicacy. Shaving your armpits may also affect the skin.

You should not use a deodorant just after shaving your armpits. There, the skin can be more vulnerable and sensitive to the ingredients.

Deodorants with perfume often cause perfume allergy

The perfume of deodorants is one of the most frequent causes of perfume allergy.

Perfume allergy continues for the rest of your life once you have got it.

Therefore, a deodorant without perfume is your best choice if you wish to minimize your risk of getting perfume allergy.

Choose a roll-on or stick over spray deodorant

Deodorants as a roll-on, stick, or lotion are generally better for your health.

Spray deodorants create so-called aerosols. They are the tiny drops from spray that keep on floating and spreading in the air, inevitably for you to inhale.

For this reason, spray deodorants are not included in the test.

14 deodorants in the test contain substances suspected of being endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)

In the test, almost one out of 4 deodorants contains substances that researchers and authorities suspect of being endocrine disruptive. This applies for totally 14 out of the 61 deodorants that were tested.

EDCs can impact the hormonal balance of the body. This is the case for e.g. sex hormones or metabolism hormones which both control bodily processes.

EDCs can a.o. add to obesity, decrease of semen quality, and certain variants of cancer that are hormone sensitive.

The cocktail effect from unwanted chemicals is problematic – not the individual deodorant

Your health will not suffer any impact if you use a single product containing an EDC.

However, EDCs can be of consequence when you are exposed to them from multiple sources in your everyday life.

Researchers refer to combined effects or cocktail effects by the many chemical substances you are exposed to daily. Therefore, avoiding EDC whenever you can may be a good idea.

About the test

  • The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals has bought a broad selection of deodorants in shops and web shops.

    Spray deodorants are not included in the test, as spray products form tiny drops in the air that you breathe in. The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals therefore generally recommend deodorants as a roll-on, lotion, or stick.

    The deodorants in the test are selected in order to represent the general product market. It has been taken into account that the test should cover different brands, prices, men’s and ladies’ editions, etc.

    The test is performed as a label test. This means that the deodorant's label of ingredients has been reviewed in order to check the deodorants for ingredients that can be problematic. That is e.g. whether the ingredients are suspected of being endocrine disruptive or whether they may cause allergy.

    The lists of ingredients have been presented to the companies responsible in order to ensure that our tests deal with current products.

    This is what we have found

    The test includes 61 deodorants. They can be divided into these categories:

    • 26 deodorants get the optimal chemical assessment and are free from a series of problematic substances
    • 19 deodorants get the middle chemical assessment. They contain e.g. perfume.
    • 16 deodorants get the lowest chemical assessment. They contain e.g. suspected endocrine disruptive substances, or allergenic preservatives.

    The test shows presence of following, unwanted chemicals

    Benzyl salicylate is suspected of being endocrine disruptive. Found in 7 deodorants

    BHT is suspected of being endocrine disruptive. The chemical was found in 4 deodorants.  

    Butylphenyl methylpropional is suspected of being endocrine disruptive. The chemical was found in 4 deodorants.  

    Cyclopentasiloxane is suspected of being endocrine disruptive and has environmental impact. The chemical was found in 1 deodorant.  

    Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate is an allergenic preservative which also can be detrimental to the environment. Found in 3 deodorants.

    Perfume may cause allergy. A total of 32 deodorants in the test contain perfume. Deodorants are the most frequent cause of perfume allergy. 

    Extracts from plants which may cause allergy were found in 7 deodorants.

    The Danish Environmental Protection Agency advices on choosing perfume free deodorants

    Development of the contents of deodorants

    In comparison with latest tests from 2018 it is noticeable that fewer deodorants in this test contain problematic chemicals. In our test we have e.g. not found any triclosan; likewise usage of other suspected endocrine disruptive substances has become less frequent.

    In the database of the Kemiluppen app, however, the picture shows somewhat differently. More than every other deodorant stick contains suspected endocrine disruptive substances (in 76 out of 141).

  • L'Oréal (Vichy, Biotherm, Lancome, La Roche Posay, Giorgio Armani)

    ”Safety for our consumers is our first priority and we never compromise on the safety, efficiency or quality of our products. [The app] Kemiluppen does not take into account concentrations or exposure, which we do during the mandatory safety evaluation we perform on ingredients and products. On this basis, our products are safe and consumers can continue use without any concern”.

  • There has been a lengthy discussion about aluminium in deodorants. Aluminium is the only ingredient in deodorants that impedes perspiration. However, there has been a concern about the deodorants’ contribution to our accumulated exposure into a level where the nervous system may be impacted.

    In 2020, the SCCS (the EU Scientific Committee) and BfR (the German Risk Assessment Institute) have issued opinions about aluminium in cosmetics and deodorants. They both assess that usage of aluminium is safe.

    They underline that anti-perspirants with aluminium only contribute little to the accumulated exposure of aluminium. Exposure derives to a high extent from our food and from food contact material made of aluminium.

    BfR Opinion No 030/2020: New studies on antiperspirants containing aluminium: impairments to health unlikely as a result of aluminium uptake via the skin

    Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety SCCS OPINION ON the safety of aluminium in cosmetic products Submission II

    These deodorants with the A-rating are aluminium-free

    Aluminium is taken up via the skin only to a very small extent. This is the reason why deodorants with aluminium can obtain an A-rating. The substance is also allowed e.g. in a ‘swan’ labelled deodorant (Nordic Eco-label).

    If you, nonetheless, prefer to avoid aluminium in your deodorant, following deodorants from the test have received an A-rating and are aluminium-free,

    • Apotekets Deo roll-on
    • Hello Sensitive Sensitive deo roll-on
    • Karmameju Soft 02 deo
    • Levevis Deo roll-on
    • Matas Men deo
    • Matas Natur Deo roll-on d-vitamin & aloe vera
    • Organic Circle Deo roll-on

    If you wish to minimize your exposure to aluminium, pay special attention to food wrapping.

    • Choose a roll-on deodorant, stick or lotion. They are better than spray deodorants which form tiny particles in the air that you breathe in.
    • Go for deodorants that have ’no perfume’ or are ‘perfume free’. Perfume in deodorants is a frequent cause of allergy.
    • Choose a deodorant marked with The Nordic Eco-label (a green swan), preferably in combination with an anti-allergy label (the blue garland), or marked ‘AllergyCertified’.
    • Avoid use of deodorant just after shaving. There, the skin is extra vulnerable.

Contact us

Do you have any questions regarding the test? Or do you want to receive news articles regarding our tests in English?

Send an email request to Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals.

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