DeodorantAfter a full year of maternity leave bliss, it’s back to work time for me. The kids have started a “play school” program and I’m about to take the plunge (hopefully part-time) into the working world.

Like many postpartum moms, I’ve held off on really rejuvenating my beauty routine because, well, there was really no need to “primp up” for swimming lessons and toddler time at the library.

It’s likely an understatement to say my cosmetics are in need of some refreshment.  But, unlike my previous ventures to the pharmacy or department store makeup counter, I won’t be simply choosing by color.  This time I’m going to consider my long term health and that of the environment as my first priority.

It’s easy to focus all of our energy on protecting our children, but sometimes we need to also pamper ourselves. And I’m not talking about a trip to the spa.  I’m talking about finding out what’s in our makeup and making sure it’s safe as well as beautifying.  We owe it to ourselves (oh, alright, and also to our children) to be careful.

The Approach

I decided to make over my entire beauty routine in one sitting.  Then I sat down to research the products I was using and the alternatives.  I seriously thought this was attainable within a week or so – while simultaneously transitioning the kids into a new childcare situation. (For some insane reason, I visualized my 11 month old just settling in with his new caregiver – ha!) Well, I never got past deodorant. And let me tell you, that’s plenty for one week.

When researching cosmetics and the like, I’ve found two indispensable resources.  The first is the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.  This little gem claims to have the skinny on more than 65,000 products.  The second is GoodGuide.  (Yes, I’m touting GoodGuide again.  But seriously, it’s always a good place to start and has helped me climb the learning curve on many occasions.)

Toxic Much?

Here’s what I learned. My “Degree Ultra Clear Red Satin” antiperspirant is suspected of causing immunotoxicity, respiratory toxicity and skin or sense organ toxicity.  In addition, the manufacturer (Unilever) does animal testing and hasn’t signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.  And it’s only rated a 5.  Can you imagine what a 10 looks like?

Screenshot - Degree Ultra Clear Antiperspirant & Deodorant for Women, Pure Satin || Skin Deep Cosmetics Database | Environmental Working Group

This toxicity is mostly the result of one ingredient called “butylated hydroxytoluene”.  It also contains another ingredient called “aluminum chlorohydrate”, which is a known neurotoxin, but apparently the amounts in my Degree are “below the threshold”.  (Somehow I am not comforted.)

Screenshot - Degree Ultra Clear Anti-perspirant and Deodorant For Women, Red Satin with Triclear | GoodGuide

Holy cow.  After being so thorough in my investigation of household cleaners and food for my little ones, I’m not sure why this is a surprise.  Although I’ve repeatedly seen others discuss making their own deodorant or buying a safe deodorant, I still didn’t really get it.  Worn repeatedly (i.e. each and every day), my deodorant could actually kill me.

The Alternatives

So, I clearly need to toss my toxic deodorant.  But what will I use now?  Well, there are many alternatives. EWG’s top rated brands are Innocent Oils, Crystal Body and face Naturals.  And GoodGuide suggests Miessence, Burt’s Bees and Aubrey Organics.  I find the GoodGuide recommended brands more readily available in good old Saint John, NB, so I cross-checked them with EWG.

And the winner is: Miessence Organic Aroma Free Roll-On.  I bought it at the grocery store on Tuesday.  And guess what?  It even works.  (Or, at least, no one within smelling range has informed me otherwise.)

As an aside, I was surprised to see that some organic brands have toxic ingredients in some of their products, so I’ve learned to check the details of each  specific product before purchasing it.

Over the past few months, I’ve also seen lots of recipes for homemade, non-toxic deodorant floating about in various discussion forums.  Basically, they are a combination of baking soda, corn starch and sometimes coconut oil.  Planet Green has a recipe – if you’re crafty like that.

The Goodness

It’s easy to let our product research slide.  It’s easy to get busy with back to work and back to school and not consider all of the things we might be supporting or how we might be harming our own health.  Companies are focused on selling, so we need to be focused on protecting ourselves.  If we keep informed and keep buying only the products that are good for us, they’ll come around.  That’s the beauty of capitalism.  So, please, be good to yourself.

The “Green Your Beauty Routine” tale will continue next week when I tackle my idea of the essentials – concealer, lip gloss and blush.  Stay tuned.

Image: Stuart Miles /

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About the Author

Just a small town mom trying to make the world a better place for my kids. One small change at a time.

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