I had just picked up a can of deodorant, removed the cap and prepared to spray my underarms, when I saw a huge, hairy spider scrambling across the top of the dresser where I was standing. I simply reacted, turning the deodorant on this hideous intruder and giving it a good blast.

To my utter amazement, the spider immediately flipped over on its back and its legs crumpled. The deodorant had killed it quicker than any insecticide I’d ever used. I remember looking at the dead spider, then looking back at the can of deodorant in my hand and deciding, “I’m not spraying that under my arms!”

“Most conventional deodorants contain a slew of toxic chemicals, such as aluminum chlorohydrate, parabens, propylene glycol, triclosan, TEA, DEA, FD&C colors, and Talc, among others.”[1]

chemicals in personal care productsLet me explain the dangerous chemical aluminum chlorohydrate, for example, that is commonly found in deodorants and antiperspirants. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) provided by Science Lab.com, lists aluminum chlorohydrate as “Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant). In case of contact, immediately flush skin with plenty of water. Cover the irritated skin with an emollient. Remove contaminated clothing and shoes.”[2]

Or consider the healthy risks of DEA (Diethyl phthalate). The MSDS on DEA cautions that this substance may be toxic to the liver and central nervous system. “Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.”[3] In case of spill, full suit, boots, gloves and splash goggles must be worn. Despite the warning, it’s okay to spread it on your underarms after stepping out of the shower!?

In fact, most body care products contain materials that would require hazmat training and protective equipment in an industrial setting. Click to Tweet.

And harmful ingredients in your blood can have potentially deadly effects on your body. Yet we freely apply these to our skin and put them in our mouths.

Who has Oversight of Chemicals in our Personal Care Products?

If these common ingredients in personal care products are so bad, how do manufacturers get away with it? Doesn’t the FDA oversee and police these issues? The FDA does have oversight in terms of approval, but the personal care industry is highly unregulated. The law under which the FDA operates in this regard has not been updated since 1938.[4]

Typically, the FDA relies on research performed by the manufacturer to demonstrate the safety of a product. The problem with that system is conflict of interest and research that could hardly be touted as impartial.[5]

Labeling is also misleading. The word “natural” is totally unregulated, and even “organic” in the context of body care products is left to the interpretation of the manufacturer. And when it comes to “fragrance,” there’s definitely a fly in the ointment. As many as 38 chemicals not listed on labels in name-brand fragrances have been identified in laboratory tests.[6] Thus, your seemingly safe daily hygiene can have serious consequences for your health.

Also, when it comes to putting things on our skin, we used to think of skin as a protective covering, or barrier rather than the largest organ of the body. Our skin, surprisingly, absorbs a great deal of what we put on it. So, if we’re putting chemicals on our body, it will absorb those chemicals…and toxins.

A Quick Look at other Common Personal Care Products

Many shampoos, conditioners, lotions, sunscreens, cosmetics, skin care products, colognes and toothpaste are rife with toxic chemicals. Harvard School of Public Health claims that the average American is exposed to more than 100 chemicals from personal care products even before leaving home for work.[7]

Some of the more common chemicals found in our personal care products include:

  • Parabens – interfere with hormone production and release[8]
  • DEA – a known carcinogen and disruptor of hormones[9]
  • Phthalates – interferes with hormone production and may contribute to breast cancer[10]
  • Triclosan – the EPA classifies this as a pesticide[11]
  • Sodium fluoride – often used in toothpaste, a mere 0.1 ounce is considered toxic[12]
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – an eye and skin irritant and toxic to many organs[13]
  • Propylene glycol – an industrial antifreeze
  • Formaldehyde – basically embalming fluid and known carcinogen[14]

If you look at the label of your deodorant and see any of the compounds above, toss it out.

What’s a Body to Do?

With the lack of regulation and all the hidden chemicals, it’s difficult to rely on label-reading to make your personal care product purchases. So there are two basic options left to us:

  1. Find companies that make truly natural, healthful products. Beauty requires sacrifices, but none of them should be your health. There are plenty of deodorants out there that don’t contain harmful ingredients and get the job done naturally. For example, Alba, Burt’s Bees, Kiss My Face, MooGoo, Pacifica, Shea Moisture, Shikai, Uncle Harry’s Natural Products, etc. are all companies that profess to produce all-natural products.
  2. Make your own products! At WellnessMama.com, you’ll find perhaps one of the largest collections of natural body and beauty recipes. Below, are three to try out.

safe homemade spray deodorant recipeSpray Deodorant Recipe[15]


  • 4 ounces magnesium oil
  • 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oils or a mixture
  • A 4 ounce or larger glass spray bottle


  1. Make the magnesium oil if using homemade magnesium oil.
  2. Pour in to glass spray bottle and add any essential oils if using.
  3. To use: spray a small amount on underarms and rub in gently. Let dry for about 5 seconds.

Homemade Body wash[16]


  • 3 Tablespoons liquid castille soap
  • 3 Tablespoons raw honey
  • 2 Tablespoons oils (I used 1 TBSP each of castor oil and olive oil)
  • 10 drops of essential oil of choice (or more for your preferences)


  1. Carefully mix all ingredients by hand with a spoon in a glass liquid measuring cup. Do not use a blender, whisk or had mixer as this will create bubbles and make it impossible to get into a container.
  2. Pour into a (preferably glass) container and use in the shower as a body wash. Use with a natural sea sponge for ease of use

chemical free and safe homemade lotions barsHomemade Lotion Bars[17]


  • 1/3 cup Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter or Mango Butter (or a mix)
  • 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles (measured dry)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil OR 1/4 cup liquid oil like olive, hazelnut or almond
  • Essential oils of choice


  1. Combine the butters, beeswax pastilles and coconut oil in the top of the double boiler or in a mason jar sitting on a wash cloth in a small saucepan.
  2. Put about an inch of water in the bottom of the double boiler or in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir the top mixture carefully until all ingredients have melted. NOTE: Be careful not to get any water in to the butters/oil mixture as it can ruin the bars.
  4. Once all ingredients have melted, remove from heat and add essential oils.
  5. Stir essential oils in and quickly and carefully pour in to the plastic deodorant molds. If possible, transfer to the refrigerator to harden or let sit on the counter for 4-6 hours or until completely cooled.

Please keep in mind that no two bodies are alike. A deodorant that works on you may not work on your spouse or somebody else. That goes for all body care products.

If you find this article helpful, consider becoming a member of Home Cures That Work. A Home Cures That Work membership provides you with hundreds of articles and resources on natural home remedies and relevant health issues.

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Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.


[1] Natural Cosmetic News, “Dangerous Chemicals in Deodorant & Antiperspirant: A Detailed Review of the Chemicals, Research & Avoidance Tips,” nd, http://www.naturalcosmeticnews.com/toxic-products/dangerous-chemicals-in-deodorant-antiperspirant-a-detailed-review-of-the-chemicals-research-avoidance-tips/.
[2] ScienceLab.com, “Aluminum Chlorohydrate MSDS,” May 21, 2013, http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9925582.
[3] ScienceLab.com, “Diethyl phthalate MSDS,” May 21, 2013, http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9923754.
[4]Amy Roeder, “Harmful, Untested Chemicals Rife in Personal Care Products,” Harvard School of Public Health, February 13, 2014, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/harmful-chemicals-in-personal-care-products/.
[5] Dr. Mercola, “Best-Selling Toothpaste Contains Hazardous Endocrine-Disrupting Chemical,” August 27, 2014, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/27/triclosan-toothpaste.aspx.
[6] Dr. Mercola, “Is Your Perfume Poison?” November 27, 2013, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/27/toxic-perfume-chemicals.aspx.
[7] Amy Roeder.
[8] Dr. Mercola, “Is Your Perfume Poison?”
[9] William Lynch, “What Are the Harmful Ingredients in Toothpaste?” Livestrong, March 12, 2014, http://www.livestrong.com/article/167101-what-are-the-harmful-ingredients-in-toothpaste/.
[10] Shannon Marks, “Skin Lotion Ingredients to Avoid,” Livestrong.com, August 16, 2013, http://www.livestrong.com/article/89548-skin-lotion-ingredients-avoid/.
[11] William Lynch.
[12] William Lynch.
[13] William Lynch.
[14] Vanessa Cunningham, “10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients to Avoid,” Huffington Post, January 23, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-cunningham/dangerous-beauty-products_b_4168587.html.
[15] Wellness Mama, “Spray Deodorant Recipe,” nd, http://wellnessmama.com/22357/spray-deodorant-recipe/.
[16] Wellness Mama, “Homemade Natural Body Wash,” nd, http://wellnessmama.com/23862/homemade-natural-body-wash/.
[17] Wellness Mama, “How to Make Lotion Bar Sticks,” nd, http://wellnessmama.com/15193/lotion-bar-sticks/.