In 2021, the independent pharmacy Valisure began publishing the results of its research concerning the benzene contents of frequently used consumer products. After confirming the chemical's presence in sunscreens and hand sanitizers, a later report noted that more than half of the tested deodorant and antiperspirant batches contained benzene.
Benzene is a known carcinogen and "class 1 solvent", and its presence in self-care products represents a severe health hazard. Prolonged exposure to this toxin can lead to fatal conditions like leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma, and the maximum safety level for individuals working with benzene ranges between 0.1 – 1.0 parts per million (ppm).
After analyzing 108 batches of deodorants and antiperspirants from 30 different brands, Valisure found that 59 batches (55%) showed signs of benzene contamination.
- High concentrations (2.24 – 17.7 ppm) – 24 products
- Median concentrations (0.20 – 1.89 ppm) – 14 products
- Detectable traces – 21 products
However, it's important to mention that contamination was most likely the unintentional result of propellants used in spray deodorants (isobutane, butane, propane), as benzene isn't an ingredient manufacturers use in their products' formulations.
Conventional deodorants contain other toxic chemicals
Consumers rely on deodorants to stay fresh, sometimes applying them several times a day, but health experts have highlighted issues with several other chemicals frequently used in conventional deodorants, including:
- Propylene Glycol
- Artificial Fragrances
Exposure to these chemicals has been clinically associated with various adverse health effects and life-threatening conditions such as cancer (several types), organ damage, neurotoxicity, hormonal imbalances, reproductive issues, and congenital abnormalities.
Safer substitutes aren't difficult to find
With so many health hazards readily available only one spritz away, it comes as no surprise that health-oriented consumers have been taking note of the dangerous chemicals they may be exposing themselves to. As a result, the demand for safer alternatives has increased, and a few common-sense approaches can help individuals select the suitable non-toxic substitute that works best for them.
Staying informed is the most essential aspect of consumer safety, so it only makes sense to read product labels and ensure they don't contain any unwanted toxins. While this is the most basic preventive measure, consumers should also know that manufacturers may use different names for the chemicals they use or not indicate their percentages clearly. Moreover, unintentional contaminants like benzene would obviously not be listed.
Baking soda and cornstarch are two ingredients that are common in many kitchens and can prove efficient DIY options to block bad odors and absorb perspiration. Though it has noted antibacterial properties, backing soda's higher alkalinity may irritate sensitive skin types. Cornstarch is a friendlier alternative for sensitive skin that is also used to treat sunburns and irritations, and its vitamin A, B1, and B2 contents help prevent foul odors and keep the skin dry.
Mineral salt alternatives
In the form of alum stone, potassium alum is an effective mineral salt substitute whose antiseptic and antibacterial properties have been known since ancient times. As opposed to chemical deodorants that use artificial fragrances to mask bad BO, alum stone actively wards off odor-producing bacteria. Its recommended application is on clean yet still damp skin right after a shower by rubbing a thin layer on the underarm area.
Prep U Joins the Benzene Deodorant Replacement Campaign
Since hazardous chemicals lie at the root of the problem, a sure way to prevent exposure is to opt for products that contain only natural ingredients. Prep U offers natural, award-winning deodorants designed with sensitive skin in mind that rely on ethically sourced, non-GMO, and vegan ingredients like activated charcoal, arrowroot powder, beeswax, Shea butter, coconut oil, and vitamin E. The sense of freshness is maintained using essential oils, naturally derived from Bergamot, Frankincense, Neem, and Eucalyptus, in place of harmful artificial fragrances.
Interested individuals can also request all-natural Prep U products courtesy of the Benzene Deodorant Replacement Initiative. The program launched by Environmental Litigation Group, PC, aims to provide non-toxic deodorants for health-conscience consumers, prioritizing those who have incurred life-threatening conditions like leukemia after regularly using contaminated products. Follow the link above and fill in the form to receive a free package.