woman wondering is deodorant bad for you

Is Deodorant Bad For You?

Read our guide on the ingredients often found in deodorant to understand whether their harmful reputations are fact or fiction.

Is deodorant bad for you?

Deodorants and antiperspirants help keep us smelling fresh and sweat free no matter what life throws at us. Whether you roll it, spray it or layer it, deodorants have been formulated to work with your body to help you smell good and stay dry.


In recent years, there has been a lot of misinformation about antiperspirants, including questions around whether there are harmful ingredients in deodorant or whether antiperspirant is bad. This has led some people to ask, ‘is deodorant bad for you’?


Some think deodorants stop us from eliminating toxins, while others worry about what they think are harmful ingredients in deodorants.

So, is deodorant bad for you? We myth-bust some of the common falsehoods about deodorants and antiperspirants.

woman using deodorant

Fact or Fiction: What ingredients in deodorant are harmful?

Some worry that because deodorant is applied directly to the skin, ingredients used in deodorants and antiperspirants can be potentially harmful. But ingredients used in deodorants and antiperspirants are well tested and repeated studies have proved them to be safe to use. Here is a breakdown of what ingredients you may find in a deodorant and antiperspirant, why they are used - and why they are safe. 



woman wondering is antiperspirant bad for you

What ingredients in deodorant are harmful?


Aluminium compounds are one of the main active ingredients in antiperspirants that help to combat sweat, and these work by plugging pores in your underarms to prevent sweat from forming on the surface, helping you stay dry. The inclusion of aluminium compounds separates antiperspirants from deodorants. While antiperspirants provide sweat and odour protection, deodorants do not contain any aluminium salts and therefore only offer odour protection.


When people ask ‘is deodorant bad for me’, aluminium is often cited as the main offender. But aluminium does not enter the body in any significant quantity when using antiperspirant, and it will not lead to any potential health complications. Aluminium is also the third most common element in the Earth’s crust, which means that everyone is exposed to it in small quantities, not just when using an antiperspirant.


All major studies into aluminium antiperspirants since the early 2000s have  suggested products containing aluminium are not a problem. But if you would rather avoid using products containing aluminium there are products available that do not contain it. The NIVEA Deodorant Aluminium-Free Spray Fresh Flower’s quick-drying formula is lightweight and offers up to 48Hrs of NIVEA deodorising protection. 

What ingredients in deodorant are harmful?

Ethyl alcohol

Some deodorants and antiperspirants contain ethyl alcohol, the chemical name for alcohol, which is used to kill bacteria that feed off sweat and are responsible for causing the smell we know as body odour. It is also used to dissolve different ingredients and to help the product dry quickly when applied. It is safe to use topically, but some alcohols can dry out your skin and cause irritation especially to sensitive skin or when used post shaving.


Here at NIVEA, we have many alcohol-free deodorants and antiperspirants to choose from. For example, NIVEA Pearl & Beauty Anti-Perspirant Deodorant Roll On and NIVEA Black & White Max Protection Anti-Perspirant both contain 0% ethyl alcohol but still provide long-lasting, comfortable dryness and all-day freshness.




What ingredients in deodorant are harmful?


These compounds help deodorant and other cosmetics—such as fragrance—stick to your skin. They are also used as fragrance ingredients as they can help extend the life of a fragrance. If your skin is sensitive, opt for a deodorant that is fragrance free, such as the NIVEA Anti-Perspirant Deodorant Sensitive & Pure.



woman using antiperspirant

young woman using deodorant

Is deodorant bad for you: Toxins, deodorant and your body

  • Antiperspirants and deodorants don’t prevent the body from getting rid of toxins - sweating is your body’s way of keeping cool, not eliminating waste. The skin's purpose is to protect your internal organs and it does not dispel toxins through sweat - that’s the job of the liver and kidneys. 
  • The skin is a brilliant defence against anything the body doesn’t need. Ingredients in deodorants will penetrate the skin only in the smallest quantities. And, any excess ingredient, for example, aluminium, is expelled from the body by the kidneys.
  • Deodorants and antiperspirants don’t stop us from sweating. We sweat to regulate our body temperature - and using antiperspirant or deodorant won’t prevent this process from happening. Antiperspirants contain aluminium salts that help plug your pores so you don’t sweat as much - but you will still sweat when your body needs you to.

How to use antiperspirants

To use antiperspirants safely, always follow the label instructions. 


Use after a shower or bath in the morning, or, if you suffer from excessive sweating it can help to apply at night before bed to clean armpits, as this allows the aluminium salts to form plugs that block sweat gland openings.