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Science Shows Why You Need a Pregnancy Safe Deodorant

Jen Brady Green Baby Deals author
written by Jen Brady  |  updated September 14, 2021
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woman putting on pregnancy safe  deodorant

There are a million things to think about when you’re having a baby.

Well, here’s another one to consider: is your deodorant safe to use during pregnancy? There are so many controversial ingredients. It comes down to this: the less you have on, in and around your body, the better. For you and baby.

Spoiler alert: my fave natural store-bought pregnancy safe deodorant each and every time is Each and Every Natural Deodorant (buy on Amazon here). My fave handmade is this natural deodorant from Better Living & Home (buy on Etsy here).

By the end of this article you’ll get why I choose non-toxic and natural, every time. OK, here we go.

deodorant ingredients avoid

Deodorant Ingredients to Avoid

Take a look at the deodorant you’re currently using. Does it contain any of these ingredients?

Aluminum

Aluminum salts used in many deodorants clog and plug your underarm pores so sweat doesn’t escape. Hence the term “antiperspirant”.
There are two main issues with this:
1. Aluminum used in deodorant is controversial (and remains  inconclusive)1 to cause cancer and
2. Our bodies are designed to sweat. Yup, even our pits.

Triclosan

Triclosan is a common antibacterial chemical. You’ve probably heard of it being used in hand soaps. That’s because in September 2017, it was BANNED from liquid soaps.

It’s an endocrine disruptor, meaning it can really mess up your hormones (who needs that on top of all the other pregnant hormones?) In addition, it’s linked to breast cancer.2

It’s also disruptive to our planet: it doesn’t break down, ends up in our waters and is very toxic to aquatic life.3

Although banned from soaps, it’s still allowed in other products, including deodorant. Yuck.

Parabens

Parabens are basically preservatives. They may be listed as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, benzylparaben, isobutylparaben, methyl 4-hydroxybenzoate and propyl 4-hydroxylbenzoate. These are absorbed through the skin, mimic estrogen (more hormones ugh), and its use is linked to breast cancer.4 No thanks.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol or Polyethylene glycol (listed as PEG or PG) are probably the most common ingredients but you should still avoid them. Why? They actually help other chemicals get deeper into the skin. They’re also considered a moderate health hazard by Environmental Working Group.5

Fragrance

This is a big one. Since companies (in the U.S.) don’t have to disclose all of their ingredients, the term “fragrance” can contain hundreds of ingredients, including phthalates (listed below) and other chemicals linked to hormone disruption and cancer.6

Fragrance is considered a high health hazard by the Environmental Working Group and has “been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.”7

Phthalates

You’ll want to avoid phthalates as much as you want to avoid attempting to pronounce it (but if you’re curious – it’s “tha-lates”). This ingredient is used to make other ingredients more flexible.

Safe, natural deodorants may be a little harder to adhere to your skin by not including this ingredient. But my opinion — it’s worth the effort.

What’s wrong with phthalates? It’s another hormone disruptor and it can cross the placental membrane.8 Phthalates have been shown to impact fetal development in pregnant women, and “phthalate exposure is associated with a shorter duration of pregnancy.”9 Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Is Dove Deodorant a Pregnancy Safe Deodorant?

Still unsure about your own deodorant? Let’s break down some ingredients to a popular brand. I don’t mean to pick on Dove, but admittedly I used Dove for many years and always loved the smell.

Here are the ingredients for the “Dove Go Fresh Advanced Extra Care Rejuvenate Antiperspirant” which is actually a Best of Beauty Award Winner from Allure (2018).

Active Ingredient: Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY (15.2%) Inactive Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearyl Alcohol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, PPG-14 Butyl Ether, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-8, Dimethicone, Fragrance (Parfum), Silica, Polyethylene, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Steareth-100, BHT, Hydroxyethyl Urea.

So we already know we want to avoid the aluminum, PEG-8 and fragrance. The Environmental Working Group gives “moderate hazard” ratings to cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, steareth-100, and BHT. These all have evidence linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and/or neurotoxicity.10,11,12,13 Gross.

What about Dove’s 0% aluminum line? It’s a step in the right direction. But it still contains fragrance and BHT. I do love their reusable containers and refillable options and wish more companies would follow this system.

What About Crystal Deodorants?

You may have seen or heard about the “all-natural salt sticks” that are trending in the natural deodorant category. They typically contain one ingredient. That’s one of the indicators that they could be considered safer than other options.

However, the one ingredient is usually “potassium alum”. Although it’s a naturally occurring mineral salt, I personally wouldn’t use it as a pregnancy safe deodorant.

Potassium alum is stated to be unabsorbable by our skin, because it’s a larger molecule. A French study proves otherwise.14 The fact is, natural crystal deodorant stones do contain aluminum, and it has the potential to be absorbed.

Again, we are putting this on our skin, close to our lymph nodes. There must be a better alternative. Ah, yes…

How to Choose a Pregnancy Safe Deodorant

Now that you know the dangers of certain ingredients found in deodorants, it’s time to take action.

If your current deodorant has any of the ingredients listed above, please consider switching. A good start is your local health food store or Whole Foods and peruse the natural section. But it doesn’t stop there.

Many of the “natural” stores will still sell products with these toxic ingredients. So you must read the ingredients. General rule of thumb: the less ingredients, the better.

Deodorant isn’t always one-destink-fits-all, especially in the natural category. They all work a little differently depending on your body. I’ve tested out my fair share and below are my faves.

Now listen up: these natural deodorants are not “antiperspirants” — meaning they’re not going to clog your pores and stop you from sweating (this is a good thing). But they do contain effective sweat-absorbing ingredients to help keep you dry.

Each and Every Natural Deodorant

PROS:

  • EWG VERIFIED™ (meets EWG’s strictest standards for your health)15
  • Main ingredients: caprylic/capric triglyceride, tapioca starch, ozokerite (earth wax), magnesium hydroxide and magnesium carbonate.
  • Uses dead sea salt instead of baking soda.
  • Certified vegan and cruelty-free.
  • Free of aluminum, synthetic fragrances, alcohol, parabens, baking soda, and phthalates.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Sustainable, plant-based packaging made from sugarcane, a 100% renewable plant that is carbon negative and earth positive.

CONS:

  • A little pricey for 2.5 oz.; save a bit when you order a 2-pack.

Last update on 2021-09-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant

PROS:

  • Main ingredients: arrowroot powder, baking soda, coconut oil and shea butter.
  • Certified vegan and cruelty-free.
  • Products are always free of aluminum, propylene glycol, SLS, PEG, parabens, phthalates, artificial fragrance, artificial flavor, artificial colorants, and artificial sweeteners.
  • Started in Portland, Oregon; now available worldwide.
  • It’s a moderately-priced natural deodorant option. It lasts a long time though, and you can often get a deal on 2 or 3-packs.
  • Want to avoid baking soda? A sensitive skin formula is available.
  • Sustainable company: “All manufacturing, processing, and production of our ingredients are responsibly stewarded and minimize unnecessary steps”16

CONS:

  • Schmidt’s needs to step up and go non-plastic or have a reusable/refillable option.
  • Beware of certain scents containing “natural fragrance”, which could have hidden things in there.

Last update on 2021-09-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Earth Mama Natural Deodorant

PROS:

  • Main ingredients: organic coconut oil, organic corn starch, baking soda, magnesium hydroxide, organic arrowroot powder.
  • Most ingredients are certified organic.
  • Free of propylene glycol, artificial fragrance, parabens and aluminum.
  • Formulated especially for sensitive skin, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Dermatologist tested and clinically tested for irritation.
  • It’s a moderately-priced natural deodorant option, but it lasts a long time and you can often get a deal on 2-packs.
  • Personal experience: goes on smooth, smells great and lasts.
  • Earth Mama is an awesome company and puts mama first.

CONS:

  • Earth Mama needs to step up and go non-plastic or have a reusable/refillable option.
  • Since the first ingredient is coconut oil, if it’s too warm it’ll be a little gooey.
  • Avoid the Bright Citrus scent, which doesn’t score well on EWG.17

Last update on 2021-08-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Attitude Natural Deodorant

PROS:

  • EWG VERIFIED™ (meets EWG’s strictest standards for your health)15
  • Main ingredients: arrowroot powder, shea butter, baking soda, coconut oil and cornstarch.
  • Certified vegan and cruelty-free.
  • Free of aluminum, parabens, triclosan, steareths, phthalates, talcum powder and artificial colors.
  • Clinically tested, hypoallergenic and non-irritating.
  • Plastic-free, biodegradable all-paper packaging.

CONS:

  • Some say the product crumbles while applying.
  • Although it’s awesome it’s plastic-free, there are some design flaws with application.

Last update on 2021-09-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Natural, Handmade Deodorant on Etsy

PROS:

  • Handmade, fresh, vegan, cruelty-free and organic.
  • Main ingredients: magnesium hydroxide, coconut oil, arrowroot powder, shea butter, zinc and probiotics.
  • Free of baking soda, alcohols, aluminum, parabens, sulfates and synthetic fragrances.
  • Biodegradable push-up paper tube.
  • The next-best thing to making it yourself (our recipe is below).

CONS:

  • A little pricey (but supporting handmade and small biz).

best natural deodorant

What to Expect When Switching to a Natural Deodorant

Repeat after us: You CAN live without an antiperspirant. Sweat is a necessary function in your body to detoxify and keep balanced. And here’s the good news: the aluminium in antiperspirant is why your shirts are yellowing, not sweat.

There may be an initial period of extra sweat. Please don’t sweat it: this is completely normal. Your body is purging some toxins – that’s what we want for baby! The natural deodorant is (finally) allowing your skin to breathe. It will regulate in a week or two, so you have to hang in there.

Do I Have More Body Odor When I’m Pregnant?

You may think you’re smellier than you actually are. Hyperosmia is a heightened sense of smell. It’s common in early pregnancy and beyond. This strange pregnancy symptom can actually help protect your baby from things like rancid food.

When in doubt, just ask someone you love. Chances are, it’s your supernatural pregnant senses that are detecting the stink.

What About an Armpit Detox?

You may have read about armpit detoxes and how they may help the transition to a more natural deodorant. We don’t recommend any type of detox during pregnancy. And if you’re not using the right type of charcoal to detox, it could potentially contain lead.

Let your body detox naturally. Ditching your current deodorant and eating a healthy diet for pregnancy is what you need right now.

cute baby photo break
Cute baby photo break. Just because.

Can’t I Just Make My Own Pregnancy Safe Deodorant?

Absolutely, and you’ll save some dough. Back in the day (aka before I had babies), I totally made our own and loved it. Hopefully someday I can get back to that 😉

Anyway, here’s the recipe that worked for me:

Mix together to form a toothpaste-like consistency. Store in an airtight glass container. If it’s cooler weather, you may have to heat up the coconut oil first. Once the deodorant is made, you can warm up with your fingers to apply.

Homemade Deodorant vs. Store Bought: Cost Breakdown

(Prices are accurate at time of publishing.)

Using the recipe above, you’ll make about 85 g.
3 Tbsp. coconut oil: $0.48
3 Tbsp. arrowroot powder: $1.07
10 drops essential oil: $0.60

Important note on essential oils: there are some you need to avoid during pregnancy. Check out this list or ask your doctor/midwife.

Total average cost of homemade deodorant (85 g): $2.15

Average cost of store-bought natural deodorant (per 92 g): $9.00

No doubt about it: you’ll save some dough if you choose to make it yourself.

Whichever you decide, the benefits for you and baby are priceless.


5 Simple Steps to Using a Pregnancy Safe Deodorant

  1. Check your current deodorant.

    Does it contain aluminum, triclosan, parabens, propylene glycol, fragrance, and/or phthalates? Is the ingredient list very long and hard to understand? If you answered yes to any of these, it’s time to make the switch.

  2. Chuck toxins responsibly.

    Empty the deodorant as best you can into the trash and if the container is recyclable, do so.

  3. Buy (or make your own) natural deodorant.

    Buying? Choose a pregnancy safe deodorant with natural antibacterials like arrowroot and coconut oil. My fave store-bought is Each and Every Natural Deodorant (buy on Amazon here). My fave handmade is this natural deodorant from Better Living & Home (buy on Etsy here)..

  4. Don’t apply immediately after shaving.

    This gives your pores a chance to close and avoids potential irritation. If the weather is cooler, you may need to warm the deodorant up a little by holding it under your pit before applying.

  5. Use only what you need.

    You may find after scrubbing your pits with a natural soap in the shower, you need very little to none. Or if it’s the middle of the summer and you’re active, you may need to reapply before the day is done.


That’s all there is to it, mamas. Congrats on taking one more easy step toward living a safer greener life for you and baby.

Ready for more? Take the FREE Pregnancy Challenge or check out all the baby registry must-haves here.

Peace love & baby kicks.

Care to share?

“Creating my natural baby registry will be fun & stress-free.”

— said no mama, ever.

Let’s get real.

Sources

1 Darbre, Philippa D. “Underarm antiperspirants/deodorants and breast cancer” BMC, Springer Nature, 13 December 2009, https://breast-cancer-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/bcr2424
2 “Progression of breast cancer cells was enhanced by endocrine-disrupting chemicals, triclosan and octylphenol, via an estrogen receptor-dependent signaling pathway in cellular and mouse xenograft models.” PubMed, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24684733
3 “Effects of triclosan on various aquatic organisms.” PubMed, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2004, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15746894
4 “Parabens.” Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, https://www.bcpp.org/resource/parabens/
5 “Propylene Glycol.” Skin Deep®, Environmental Working Group, https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705315/PROPYLENE_GLYCOL/
6 “Expert Panel Confirms that Fragrance Ingredient Can Cause Cancer.” Environmental Working Group, 7 August 2014, https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2014/08/expert-panel-confirms-fragrance-ingredient-can-cause-cancer
7 “Fragrance.” Skin Deep®, Environmental Working Group, https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702512/FRAGRANCE/#
8 “Cumulative Chemical Exposures During Pregnancy and Early Development.” PubMed Central®, National Center for Biotechnology Information, December 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4626367/
9 “In utero exposure to phthalates and fetal development.” PubMed, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2006, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17017909
14 “Crystal Deodorants Contain Aluminum.” Bubble and Bee Organic, 27 February 2018, https://bubbleandbee.com/blog/crystal-deodorants-contain-aluminum/
15 EWG VERIFIED™ page. Environmental Working Group, https://www.ewg.org/ewgverified/about-the-mark.php
16 Schmidt’s About page. Schmidt’s Deodorant Company, https://schmidts.com/our-story
17 “Earth Mama Bright Citrus Deodorant.” Skin Deep®, Environmental Working Group, https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/products/812334-Earth_Mama_Bright_Citrus_Deodorant/


Jen Brady author crunchy mama illustrationToday Parenting Team Contributor

About the Author

Jen Brady — Chief Green Mama
Mom of two. Wife of one. Holistic nutritional consultant. Amateur biohacker. Guide of the Green Yourself Pregnancy Challenge. Author of the Green Your Baby Registry Guide.

I'm wild about pregnancy and babies (in a sane way) and I need to steer you away from harsh chemicals and hormone disruptors. Stick with me to keep it lean and green.