The often complex and long ingredients lists of bodycare products contain a number of ingredients of concern. Parabens, phthalates and triclosan have been selected by Ethical Consumer as important indicators for our own toxics rating.
Companies that receive our best mark for their toxics policies avoid all three toxins, ones who score a middle have a policy to avoid one or two of the toxins, and companies that score a worst use all three of the toxins or have no policy.
Best rating for toxics policy
Faith in Nature, Green People, Little Satsuma, Weleda, Pacifica, Neal's Yard, Lavera, JASON, Sanex, Soft & Gentle, Crystal Spring and L'Occitane.
Middle rating for toxics policy
Dr. Hauschka, Logona and Sante, Attitude, Urtekram, Aesop, Bulldog, Mitchum, Body Shop, Unilever (Dove, Lynx, Rexona, Simple, Sure, Vaseline), Boots, PitRok, Lush.
Worst rating for toxics policy
Arrid, Amplex and Triple Dry, Eucerin, Fa, Right Guard, Natrel Plus, Nivea, Gillette, Old Spice, Superdrug, Avon, Dr Organic
Parabens in deodorants
According to Breast Cancer UK: “Parabens can mimic oestrogen action and have been measured in human breast tissue at concentrations which are functionally capable of mimicking oestrogen action in a way which could lead to increased growth of oestrogen-responsive human breast cancer cells”.
Breast Cancer UK's position:
"Breast Cancer UK supports the phase out of all parabens from all cosmetics and products designed to be applied to the skin."
Cancer Research UK’s position:
“A recent review of the evidence surrounding parabens and breast cancer found that parabens can encourage human breast cells to behave like breast cancer cells, by moving about and invading tissue, avoiding cell death, and suppressing the work of a drug commonly used to treat breast cancer. But there are hundreds of other environmental chemicals that are found in human breast tissue, so it’s hard to be sure that parabens can cause cancer alone.”
Breast Cancer Fund:
“Check personal care product labels and avoid any products with parabens or any word ending in "-paraben."
Paraben free brands
The following companies have a policy not to use parabens in any of their products:
Faith in Nature, Green People, Little Satsuma, Weleda, Pacifica, Neal's Yard, Lavera, PitRok, Logona, Sante, Urtekram, Aesop, Bulldog, Body Shop, Dr Hauschka, Hain Celestial Group (JASON), Colgate-Palmolive (Sanex, Soft & Gentle, Tom’s of Maine), Crystal Spring (Salt of the Earth) and L'Occitane, Dr Organic.
Additionally, Lush do solid deodorants and powders that are paraben-free.
Some research suggests that aluminium-based compounds, which are more commonly found in antiperspirants rather than deodorants, may be absorbed by the skin and cause oestrogen-like (hormonal) effects like breast cancer. However the link between antiperspirants and cancers is not conclusive.
The compounds used are usually Aluminium Chlorohydrate or Aluminium Zirconium.
However, if you want to err on the side of caution, a wide number of brands now offer aluminium free deodorants, including Green People, Faith in Nature, Little Satsuma, Weleda, Neal’s Yard, Salt of the Earth, Urtekram, Logona, Lavera, Lush, Pitrok, Dr Hauschka, Aesop and Sante.
For more information about aluminium compounds and their toxicity see the Environmental Working Group’s website.
To avoid any toxic chemicals and to be totally aluminium free, just use soap and water. Or try a pinch of baking soda mixed into water.