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Science Shows Why You Need a Pregnancy Safe Deodorant

written by Jen Brady  |  updated August 2, 2022

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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).

Here’s what you’ll learn today:

Disclaimer time: Although I studied holistic nutrition, I’m not a doctor or a biochemist. I research ingredients because we all need to look out for ourselves. My goal is to choose what I believe is “safer” based on what I discover. If you have any concerns about the products below or any others, please ask your doctor or midwife.


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.

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.

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.

Also, with every brand, beware of essential oils to avoid during pregnancy. Check out this list or ask your doctor/midwife. To keep it easy, I usually choose the unscented formula during pregnancy.


Natural Pregnancy-Safe Deodorants: Tested and Reviewed

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.

natural non-toxic deodorants pregnancy safe

1. Attitude Natural Deodorant

Attitude natural deodorant pregnancy safe

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:

  • Personal experience: This deodorant would crumble a bit while I was trying to apply.
  • Although it’s awesome it’s plastic-free, there are some design flaws with application.

2. Each and Every Natural Deodorant

Each and Every natural deodorant pregnancy safe

PROS:

  • This is my favorite store-bought brand!
  • 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.
  • “Worry-free” recycling: collect 5 containers and ship them back for free.

CONS:

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

3. Earth Mama Natural Deodorant

Earth Mama pregnancy safe deodorant
Taken from my pits: balls formed midday.

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.
  • 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.
  • Avoid the Bright Citrus scent, which doesn’t score well on EWG.16
  • Personal experience: goes on smoothly. However, after a while, it would cake up and form balls. While I love Earth Mama and their ingredients, this one didn’t work for me and my pits.

4. Natural, Handmade Deodorant on Etsy

best natural deodorant on Etsy safe for pregnancy

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).
  • Personal experience: This one works for me and is highly recommended!

CONS:

  • A little pricey (but supporting handmade and small biz).
  • I also got some for my hubs: it’s a no for him — it was too hard and tore his arm hairs, so beware.

What to Expect When Switching to a Natural Deodorant

Repeat after me: 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 aluminum 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.

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

Pregnancy Safe Deodorant FAQs

Is deodorant safe during pregnancy?

In general, yes, deodorant is safe to use during pregnancy. But, you must look at the ingredients individually and determine if each ingredient in the deodorant is safe to use.

Are crystal deodorants safe?

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. I personally wouldn’t use crystal deodorants during pregnancy.

Do I have more body odor when I’m pregnant?

It depends — 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, ask someone you love. Chances are, it’s your supernatural pregnant senses that are detecting the stink.

What about an armpit detox?

“Armpit detoxes” may help the transition to a more natural deodorant. I 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.

Is Native deodorant safe for pregnancy?

Yes, Native is considered safe for pregnancy and has a good score on EWG. I personally have never used it but you can find it on Amazon here if you’d like to give it a try.

Is Schmidt’s deodorant safe for pregnancy?

Yes, most of Schmidt’s deodorant is considered safe for pregnancy and has a good score on EWG. The main ingredients are typically arrowroot powder, baking soda, coconut oil and shea butter. Schmidt’s has complete ingredient transparency with SmartLabel.

What I don’t love about Schmidt’s is they discontinued their fragrance-free option. You can still find it on Amazon here for a limited time.

Is magnesium a safe deodorant ingredient?

Yes, magnesium is considered a safe ingredient in deodorant during your pregnancy. It can minimize odor and is an effective alternative to questionable ingredients such as aluminum and fragrance.

Is Rexona deodorant safe for pregnancy?

Since Rexona is an antiperspirant and contains aluminum and fragrance, I personally would never use it during pregnancy.

Is Secret Aluminum Free deodorant safe for pregnancy?

Although Secret Aluminum Free deodorant is free of aluminum, parabens, dyes, and talc, it still contains fragrance. I love that Secret is on SmartLabel with ingredient transparency. But if you look under the fragrance section here, there are too many questionable ingredients listed. I personally wouldn’t use this deodorant during pregnancy.

Is Degree deodorant safe during pregnancy?

Since Degree deodorants typically contain aluminum and fragrance, I personally would never use it during pregnancy.

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

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

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, when needed, warm up with your fingers to apply.

Using the recipe above, you’ll make about 85 g.

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.

Prices are accurate at time of publishing.
*Important note on essential oils: there are some you need to avoid during pregnancy. Check out this list or ask your doctor/midwife.


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.


How to Save Money on Deodorant

I know all this natural stuff can get pricey, which is why I’m coined the coupon queen. Use these tricks to save some green:

1. Join TopCashBack. It’s free and the savings add up fast. Vitacost and Each and Every are on there and it’s often up to 6% cashback. It’s easy to redeem as well.

2. Use Honey. Forget trying to look up coupon codes. Use Honey and it’ll find the best usable codes when you go to checkout. I’ve saved hundreds.

3. Vitacost. No membership fee and there’s always a coupon code. Use TopCashBack and Honey with Vitacost, and your deodorant savings are huge.

4. Each & Every. This is my fave non-handmade deodorant. Buy directly from their site and save 15%, free shipping, and use TopCashBack for some serious savings.


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.

Peace love & baby kicks.

Care to share?

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 “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.

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