Buying guide for Deodorants & Antiperspirants products
What to look for
It’s generally best to choose deodorants and antiperspirants that only include ingredients with no or low health concerns, as rated by GoodGuide’s Science Team. Skip or replace products that include ingredients with regulatory bans.
A basic part of our morning hygiene routine, Americans spend more than 18 billion dollars a year on antiperspirants and deodorants. With their frequent use, deodorant use can contribute to chronic exposure to low levels of potential hazards.
Classified and regulated as cosmetics by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, deodorants prevent body odors by killing the bacteria that causes the odor. Antiperspirants, considered an over-the-counter drug affects the underarm sweat glands and prevents sweating. Some issues associated with deodorant and antiperspirants include:
Health concerns — Ingredients in many deodorant products can carry human health concerns. Some of the most popular deodorants include ingredients that have been restricted for use in Canada like Aluminum Chlorohydrate, ingredients like Propylene Glycol that are suspected of causing toxicity to respiratory, skin and sense organs, and known allergens like Citronellol.
Ingredient disclosure — Complete lists of ingredients in deodorants are often unavailable, creating a significant barrier to assessing the safety of personal care products. Although companies are required to disclose the ingredients in personal care products, these lists rarely contain information about percent composition (needed to assess potential exposures) and often rely on generic terms like “fragrance” which make it impossible to assess whether there are any problematic ingredients present.
Contamination concerns — The Food and Drug Administration only requires cosmetic firms to list “intended” ingredients in products, which allows manufacturers to hide the presence of other ingredients from consumers.
Inadequate regulation — Personal care products are not subject to safety reviews by the FDA before they are put on the market, and the agency is frequently criticized for its lax approach to regulation. The European Union, for example, has banned the use of more than 1,000 substances in cosmetics; in contrast, the FDA has only prohibited the use of eight substances in cosmetics. There is widespread skepticism that the current regulatory system is sufficiently protective of human health.
Rating Deodorants & Antiperspirants products
To rate a personal care product, GoodGuide considers the following attributes:
- A health hazard rating based on the number of product ingredients categorized as low, medium or high health concern.
- Indicators that the product exhibits other negative aspects (e.g., does the product contain ingredients that have been banned or subjected to regulatory restrictions).
- Indicators that the product is among the best on the market in its category (e.g., has the product been certified as safe or healthy by a credible third-party).
- Indicators of data gaps that preclude evaluation of the product (e.g., no or inadequate disclosure of product ingredients).
Categorizing ingredients by levels of health concern
Defining Levels of Health: In order to identify ingredients of health concern, we utilize the science of health hazard assessment and rely on lists of chemicals labeled hazardous by various authoritative organizations. GoodGuide tracks whether chemicals are recognized or suspected of causing any of twelve major types of human health problems, ranging from cancer to endocrine toxicity to skin or eye toxicity. We combine this hazard data with chemical potency, human detection frequency and toxicity testing information, in order to assign ingredients to four levels of health concern: none, low, medium and high.