Concerns about the questionable ingredients in antiperspirants are on the rise – most notably, aluminium, which temporarily plugs the sweat ducts and can be easily absorbed into the skin. Sounds scary, huh? Well, not only this but recent medical studies have revealed potential dangers of trying to reduce sweating given that it’s vital for not only temperature regulation, but ridding your body of toxins.
Switching to an all-natural alternative without the aluminium-based compound and just the pleasant scent of deodorant sounds appealing – but can they actually work? We tested one a day, putting them through their paces in the name of safer sweating.
1. Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant, £18
It is… A clear stick that doesn’t leave any coloured residue on the skin or stain your clothes.
It felt like… Actually quite a treat to apply, it’s not in the slightest bit sticky. It sinks in quickly and feels nourishing to my sensitive skin. It doesn’t contain any parabens, silicones or waxes, so I’m impressed at how smooth and firm the formula is.
The wet test… I tested this in a power Pilates class and an energetic yoga session which both built a lot of heat but my underarms didn’t feel clammy. Impressive.
The whiff test… I couldn’t smell a thing – at the end of the day there was no scent (unfortunately), but equally no smell of sweat. Proof that eucalyptus neutralises odours. This experiment isn’t half as bad as I thought!
2. Weleda Sage Deodorant, £10.19
It is… A liquid with a pump action spray. Weleda has 3 different scented deodorants, I chose the Sage variety which combines a host of other lovely essential oils (including rosemary, pine, clary sage, eucalyptus, lavender, oakmoss, thyme, tea tree, peppermint and ylang-ylang, phew!).
It felt like… Fresh! Although it’s a bit drippy when applied, it dries quickly and doesn’t feel sticky.
The wet test… I tried this during my first TenBarre class (a challenging combo of ballet and dynamic Pilates moves) and left a bit clammy. Later I rushed to a meeting on the stuffy London underground and emerged the other side in a sweat. Not ideal.
The whiff test… My husband said I smelt “10% worse than yesterday, which isn’t bad” (hmmm!). Although I definitely didn’t repel my colleagues – I hope – a top-up at lunchtime would have been a good idea.
3. Lush The Greeench Deodorant Powder, £6.95
It is… A pale green powder (that looks invisible when rubbed into the skin) which reminds me of discovering talc aged 8. Potentially messy. While it’s weird to get used to using, it’s kinda satisfying.
It felt like… Actually quite nice on the skin, it’s absorbent but not dehydrating; it almost has a non-tacky creamy quality. This would be great for the chest and feet as well as the armpits.
The wet test… I did an ‘advanced’ Pilates class this morning which was actually pretty tough but I didn’t notice any wetness. In the shower that night it felt creamy when I washed it off proving it has staying power.
The whiff test… It had a neutral scent and my odour followed suit – totally inoffensive. The ingredient lycopodium powder must be magic. I’d happily use this again.
4. Dr Hauschka Sage Deodorant, £13
It is… A roll-on creamy formula with a mild refreshing sage scent. Of all the natural deodorants, this feels most similar to your typical roll-on antiperspirant.
It felt like… Like any other roll-on. It dried pretty quickly and didn’t leave marks on my clothes. So far, so good.
The wet test… I applied it twice, before and after a hard yoga class which it passed, no sweat. However, what it didn’t survive very well was my work presentation that afternoon. A hot room + nerves = a sticky sweat patch. Luckily my top was black.
The whiff test… I didn’t pong, though I could smell mild – but undeniable – BO on my top when I got undressed. I think this would be fine for lazy days but under pressure it didn’t perform.
5. Sukin Natural Deodorant, £7.56
It is… A liquid with a pump action spray. It smells lovely, the citruses of tangerine and mandarin making a nice change to herbs.
It felt like… Spritzing this felt refreshing – obviously it leaves you wet, but again it was non-sticky and cooling. I like.
The wet test… I did a Psycle class which is pretty hardcore cardio – no one can get away without breaking a sweat. Naturally (soz) it didn’t keep me dry, but for the rest of the day’s activities it did nicely.
The whiff test… After the spinning I could still smell the scent of the deodorant which is a good sign. Obviously if I hadn’t of showered I would have whiffed of stale sweat – but it’s important to sweat and nice to know this didn’t block my pores when doing so.
6. PitROK Crystal Natural Deodorant Stick, £5.95
It is… A stick made of pure mineral salts with no other ingredients added. You don’t get more natural than this.
It felt like… My dad uses this (yeah, ok, we’re hippies) and he rightly told me it’s essential to apply it to clean, wet underarms. I wondered if it was actually working as you can’t feel anything deposited on the skin – it’s that pure.
The wet test…Not bad at all. I tried it on an activity-free Saturday and since to a gym class for fairness where I got a healthy sweat on, but I felt like I wasn’t wearing any deodorant – because I didn’t need any! I became this uber-human that didn’t get sticky or whiffy when sweating. Ooh!
The whiff test… The stick is fragrance-free and thanks to the crystal’s natural bacteriostatic action, I didn’t smell of anything – totally neutral. “You can get away with it” my hubby contributed. I’m glad because this is staying in our bathroom cabinet.
7. Neal’s Yard Remedies Lemon & Coriander Deodorant, £8.50
It is… An organic liquid with a pump action spray. The brand has other variants including Lavender & Aloe Vera but I went for the zesty Lemon & Coriander one that smells amazing packing 8 pure essential oils.
It felt like… All the other deos that come in spritz form – it left me temporarily wet but in a nicely refreshing way. Not sticky or tacky at all.
The wet test… Coriander is astringent, meaning it can tighten sweat pores, but this was only temporarily effective. I’ve had this deodorant for a while as I tested it during my Organic Beauty Week experiment and while I loved it at the time; I now know it needs regular reapplication to remain effective. However, as it’s wet to apply this isn’t always practical when you’re fully dressed!
The whiff test… If you don’t keep up with reapplication and break a proper sweat then it will inevitably dry with a musty BO smell.
- 7 All-Natural Deodorants That Actually Work
- I Tried 11 Natural Deodorants on a Quest to Find One That Actually Works
- 1. Crystal Rock Body Deodorant Fragrance Free
- 2. JASON Pure Natural Deodorant Stick in Aloe Vera
- 3. Ethique Glow Solid Deodorant in Lavender and Vanilla
- 4. Lavanila Deodorant in Pure Vanilla
- 5. Crystal Essence Mineral Deodorant Roll-On in Chamomile & Green Tea
- 6. Anthony Alcohol-Free Deodorant
- 7. Dr. Hauschka Deodorant in Rose
- 8. Tom’s of Maine Deodorant in Tea Tree
- 9. JASON Dry Spray Deodorant in Fresh Cucumber
- 10. Lavanila Sport Luxe Deodorant in Vanilla Breeze
- 11. Schmidt’s Sensitive Skin Formula Natural Deodorant in Jasmine Tea
- Fat and the Moon Deodorant Cream (2 ounces, $12)
- Thinksport Natural Deodorant Aloe and Tea Flowers (2.9 ounces, $7)
- Ethique Sans Unscented Solid Deodorant (2.5 ounces, $13)
- Malin+Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant (2.6 ounces, $22)
- Honorable Mentions
- Do Natural Deodorants *Actually* Work During Sweaty Workouts?
- How Does Natural Deodorant Work?
- Antiperspirant vs. Deodorant
- Natural vs. Artificial Fragrances
- How Does Natural Deodorant Work without Artificial Fragrances?
All-in-all natural deodorants prove way more effective than people think. Irritation, stinging and white marks all become a thing of the past. If you opt for a wet spray be mindful of reapplying as-and-when. The crystal stick and powder were perfectly adequate for me, but the unconventional application may raise eyebrows in the gym changing rooms. My overall favourite is the Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant (shame it’s twice the price of most the others!), for its texture and trustworthy durability. Converted.
7 All-Natural Deodorants That Actually Work
Massimiliano Alessandro/Getty Images/Amazon.com
Deodorant is the last thing I think about in the morning—and the first thing I worry about after a sweaty workout. I’m a newbie runner and am prepping for my first 5K, and since I often do my training runs during my lunch break, I really need a deodorant that stands up to sweat and smell.
I’ve been on a rocky road to finding the perfect deodorant; some in the past have left me with red rashes and irritation post-shaving. Although my go-to standard, Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant Deodorant ($5; amazon.com), has been keeping me dry and B.O.-free for years, I’ve been curious about all-natural deodorants—but worried they wouldn’t stand up to stink.
Plus, even though a link between deodorant chemicals and breast cancer hasn’t been proven, I still like the idea of having an all-natural option, especially because it’s something that stays on your skin all day.
I tried 25 types of all-natural deodorant during my lunch-break workouts. Through trial-and-error (and many 5K runs), these are my top picks for all-natural deodorants.
Schmidt’s Bergamot + Lime Deodorant
To buy: $10; amazon.com
This stick is made with coconut oil and shea butter, so it glides on smoothly. I also tested a version you can rub into your underarms with your fingers, but if given the choice, I would pick the stick version. It absorbed quickly and left no residue on my clothes. Plus, if you’re not into scents, Schmidt’s also has a fragrance-free option of both the stick and deodorant jar.
Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant
To buy: $22; amazon.com
This clear deodorant was my favorite. The eucalyptus smells fresh, and the gel glides on easily without leaving a residue. I wore it for a long run, and afterward I still smelled fresh like eucalyptus, not B.O. It’s also alcohol- and aluminum-free, so after shaving it didn’t sting to apply—always a plus.
Fresh Sugar Roll-On Deodorant Antiperspirant
To buy: $19; nordstrom.com
This roll-on smells just like the other cult-favorite Fresh Sugar products. The fragrance is faintly sweet like natural sugar, not the overly syrupy smell I’m used to when things are described as smelling like sugar. The scent strikes the perfect balance of smelling slightly sweet but not cloying. As the name implies, the product is made with sugar, as well as oat kernel extract, witch hazel water, aloe leaf extract, and meadowsweet extract to soothe your skin and keep you dry at the same time. The product applied smoothly and absorbed quickly (something I worry about with liquid deodorants). When putting my shirt back on after my workout, I didn’t have any tell-tale white deodorant stains on the inside, and the deodorant dried in record time.
Meow Meow Tweet Baking Soda Free Deodorant Cream in Grapefruit
To buy: $18; amazon.com
This is the one I was most worried about trying. It comes in a cute little jar, and you have to apply a pea-sized amount with your fingers (!). But I loved it once I got over how weird it was to put it on with my hands, rather than an applicator. I tried the grapefruit scent, and it lasted all day, even after a 3-mile run.Meow Meow may be your best bet if you have sensitive skin. Many all-natural deodorants contain baking soda, which can irritate the underarms, but this version swaps it out for arrowroot powder and dietary magnesium to keep you dry, plus shea butter to moisturize.
Agent Nateur No. 3 Deodorant Holi (Stick)
To buy: $26; dermstore.com
With its simple and chic packaging (plus its edgy name), this deodorant is something I would display on my dresser. Scented with honey, lavender, and eucalyptus, it smells feminine without being overwhelming, making it a great choice if you’re not a huge fragrance fan but still want a little hint of scent.
Arrow Protect Aluminum-Free Deodorant
To buy: $9; birchbox.com
The package might be small (perfect for keeping in your purse if you sweat a lot!), but this deodorant packs a huge dose of sweat protection. The bright citrus scent is pleasant and the tiny tube fit in the small pocket of my gym bag perfectly.
Weleda Citrus Deodorant Spray
To buy: $10; amazon.com
This non-aerosol spray felt almost like putting on a fragrance instead of a deodorant. The lemon scent was super fresh and easy to apply. I even spritzed some on my wrists for a mid-afternoon mood boost.
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I Tried 11 Natural Deodorants on a Quest to Find One That Actually Works
Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to live that #healthyish life, getting rid of all the unnecessarily harsh products in my world. Swapping in natural cleaning products and detergents? Simple and, ultimately, relaxing—now I’m not freaked out if I accidentally get some bathroom cleaning spray on my skin. But finding a natural deodorant that actually works (and continues to work after a few hours or a tough workout) was not nearly as stress free.
The process involves a lot of trial and error, which means trying out ineffective product after slightly less ineffective product, until you slowly wear away that unspoken reputation you have among your friends and colleagues as a generally nice-smelling person. That is, of course, unless you’ve got a handy guide like this.
I put 11 of the most popular natural deodorants to the sweat test then rated them from zero to five stars. Check out my thoughts below (you’re welcome).
1. Crystal Rock Body Deodorant Fragrance Free
Rating: 0 starsYou can’t ignore the wacky stuff if you’re going natural. Crystal is basically an extremely nice piece of salt in a plastic dish. You’re supposed to use it right out of the shower, and you’re instructed to run the rock itself under some water to get it to “release its powers” or whatever. Before my review, I should note that I once dated a guy for six months who used this thing every. single. day, and I can attest that he really did smell very good and not at all like BO, so maybe it does work for some people or maybe he was just a naturally scentless person? Unclear. But my own body did not respond positively to rubbing a wet rock on my armpits in the morning. After one day, I smelled very strongly of BO and ended up taking a second shower that night. After the gym, I smelled decidedly sour and gross, like someone who had just done an intense workout without using any kind of deodorant at all, which I’m pretty sure is exactly what happened.($6.21, amazon.com)
2. JASON Pure Natural Deodorant Stick in Aloe Vera
Rating: 2 starsThis looks like a classic stick deodorant, but it goes on really wet and takes a long time to dry, a sensation I did not enjoy. While I like the smell of fresh aloe, this product only kind of hints at aloe-ness and instead smells more chemical clean, like the stuff you’d use to scrub a locker room rather than to soothe a sunburn. After a day of walking around, I smelled a little ick, but some of the deo scent still remained. After an intense workout, the BO was pushing through.($5.11, amazon.com)
3. Ethique Glow Solid Deodorant in Lavender and Vanilla
Rating: 2 starsThis comes in a solid square, like a bar of soap, packaged in a cute, environmentally friendly paper box. I love the idea of using a deodorant bar, but I found that if it gets exposed to too much heat (a.k.a. my sauna of an apartment in the summer), the bar starts to sweat and gets oily, which makes it gross to touch and hard to use—you definitely have to wash your hands immediately after. Before it got overheated, however, this deodorant was great: It glides on clean and without residue, and it smells lovely—heavy on vanilla and light on lavender, a nice combo. After a day of wear, I didn’t notice any smell, but my partner said I smelled a little rough. After an hour at the gym, the BO smell was stronger.($17.50, amazon.com)
4. Lavanila Deodorant in Pure Vanilla
Rating: 2 starsBonus points to the brand for designing packaging that isn’t so ugly I need to shove it under my sink when guests come over. At first appearance, this looks like a deodorant you’d happily display on your vanity or shelf. It smells good in the tube, but for some reason, it ended up smelling “kind of medical,” as my partner put it, on my skin—sweet but also a little like camphor. It glides on thick but doesn’t leave a residue. After a day of running around town, my underarms smelled like an oddly equal mix of sweetness and stink. After a workout, I’d say that this was better than nothing but still not great.($10.14, amazon.com)
5. Crystal Essence Mineral Deodorant Roll-On in Chamomile & Green Tea
Rating: 3 starsThis one comes in a rollerball and smells nice, but in no way does it smell like green tea. There’s a very faint hint of chamomile, but it pretty much smells like one of those Bath & Body Works soaps that were popular with the girls in middle school. Anyway, after wearing this all day, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my armpits smelled like not much of anything at all—just faintly sweet. After a sweaty workout, however, I could smell my own odor for sure, just barely concealed by the light perfume.($6.40, amazon.com)
6. Anthony Alcohol-Free Deodorant
Rating: 3 starsThis is a product intended for people who typically like masculine scents. It’s a gel stick that smells minty, fresh, and manly, but doesn’t give off that creepy body-spray vibe. I liked it (I’ve gone through phases of wearing men’s cologne), but my partner was confused by my smelling like a man, which I guess was to be expected, as I normally smell like Coco Mademoiselle. It takes a few minutes for it to dry fully, so you need to plan ahead before putting on clothes. After a full day of running around doing work and errands, I didn’t end up smelling like much of anything at all, which was nice. Post-workout, I did not smell repulsive, but I also wasn’t at peak freshness.($17.10, amazon.com)
7. Dr. Hauschka Deodorant in Rose
Rating: 4 starsOne sniff and I was immediately reminded of fresh rose petals. In my opinion, this is a gorgeous scent, but my partner thought it smelled “old-fashioned… kind of old ladyish.” (TBH, I think that’s just a hazard of all single floral note scents.) After testing, the initially intense rose smell faded some but was still fairly fragrant and sweet, with maybe the tiniest bit of odor peeking through. Remarkably, when used immediately before an intense workout, my underarms still smelled mostly like a bouquet of flowers.($25, amazon.com)
8. Tom’s of Maine Deodorant in Tea Tree
Rating: 4 starsTea tree oil is one of those scents you either really like or really don’t. Personally, I love it and think it smells clean and woodsy. This stuff glides on slick but dries quickly and doesn’t leave a residue. After a day of wear, I didn’t think I smelled like much, and my partner confirmed it—not my personal stink but not like tea trees either. After the gym, it was about the same.($4.78, amazon.com)
9. JASON Dry Spray Deodorant in Fresh Cucumber
Rating: 4 starsAt first sniff, this product smells a little bit like bug spray, but not in an entirely bad way. It goes on dry, feels clean, and doesn’t leave an icky residue. The spray cap is pretty resistant and difficult to work (I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone with arthritis, carpal tunnel, or a short temper), and it leaves a distinct (although not unpleasant) scent in the air, which hangs around for a while—like Febreze for your body. Twelve hours later there was no discernible smell in my pits, neither BO nor cucumber, which I think means this stuff did its job. When I wore it to the gym the next day, I did smell kind of musty afterward but not bad.($7.39, amazon.com)
10. Lavanila Sport Luxe Deodorant in Vanilla Breeze
Rating: 5 starsMuch like its pure vanilla sister, this comes as a solid, round stick in lovely packaging. According to my partner, it smells “fresher, more like baby powder. I like it more than the other one. Do I have to keep doing this?” To me, it smells a little bit like swim practice in a nice way—bright and clean. What makes this formula different from the regular version is a “proprietary technology” that utilizes a blend of all-natural antibacterial and antimicrobial ingredients. It glides on residue free, or in other words, my black tops were safe from problematic white streaks. After a full day of doing stuff, that very clean scent remained, and after a trip to the gym, I smelled decidedly not bad at all—kind of like wet laundry, the fresh kind.($13.96, amazon.com)
11. Schmidt’s Sensitive Skin Formula Natural Deodorant in Jasmine Tea
Rating: 5 starsThis one smells fresh and sweet—not oversweet or syrupy, just like a bowl of jasmine green tea ice cream (if that’s even a thing?). After wearing this all day, my exact note was, “My underarms smell like fresh jasmine and no BO, and I want to lick them.” Seriously, after an entire 12 hours of wear, this stuff made me want to taste my own armpits, which is… both disgusting and a pretty good recommendation, I think. After the gym, the scent remained strong. (If you prefer a more neutral scent, the charcoal magnesium is another great option.) My only complaint is that it leaves a bit of a residue, which you need to be careful of when dressing or wipe off. But frankly, it’s worth it: I’m a total fan.($10.99, amazon.com)
Making the switch to natural deodorant can be a bit like taking a driving test: If you’re not fully prepared for the road ahead, there’s a strong chance you might fail before you succeed. At least, that was my experience when I first tried to convert 15 years ago. I was persuaded to ditch my drugstore antiperspirant by a yoga teacher friend. “Don’t you know that stuff is full of poison?” she said when I whipped out a stick of Dove after an Ashtanga class. Admittedly, I had no idea that aluminum, the active ingredient in most antiperspirant, is potentially harmful, with studies having raised questions about its link to cancer. And given that my mother is a two-times breast cancer survivor, that potential truth, whether conclusive or not, hit a raw nerve. “You should use this stuff instead,” she said thrusting a clear phallic object into my hands—a deodorant made from crystallized rock salt. This, she assured me, was Mother Nature’s answer to odor-free pits. “Layer up with a little perfume and you’ll be good to go,” she said.
What she didn’t tell me, though, is that no amount of salt can fully substitute for antiperspirant. Therein lies the fundamental difference between what you’ll find at the drugstore and the natural alternatives. Antiperspirant prevents you from perspiring, just as the name suggests. Deodorant, on the other hand, functions by zapping the bacteria that causes body odor; it won’t stop your sweat glands from doing their thing—and that’s kind of the point. So if, like me, you decide to go au naturel during one of the hottest New York summers in recent memory, then you’ve got to be prepared to sweat—a lot—at least in the few weeks that it takes for your body to adjust.
My interactions with other people became fraught with anxiety almost immediately once I made the switch. Even a friendly handshake held the potential for disaster. What if my outstretched arm revealed an unsightly wet patch? Or worse still, a putrid whiff of BO? (Sadly, my fragrance-free salt wand had usually stopped working by noon.) Hugging and high-fiving were now completely out of the question. I remember one particularly steamy morning emerging from the subway like I’d literally gone swimming in the East River in my vintage silk dress. (Note to all natural deodorant newbies: Never wear silk in the heat; it’s almost as insulating as a puffer coat.) In that moment, I felt so defeated, I would have willingly drowned myself in a pool of my own sweat. Needless to say, I was back to my Dove-using ways within a week.
“It’s really a matter of finding what works best for you. Not every natural deodorant works for every body,” says Katie Sturino, founder of Megababe, a body-positive beauty line. “I tried all the ones people were raving about when it first became a thing. A lot of them had baking soda, which I’m allergic to, so I ended up with pits covered in rashes.” Sturino, whose mother is also a two-times cancer survivor, decided to make nailing the perfect aluminum-free deodorant her personal mission. Megababe’s recently launched Rosy Pitts deodorant was a year in the making, part of a new generation of products that bring the science of natural deodorants up to speed. Her brand replaces popular, natural deodorizing agents such as baking soda and alcohol that can be irritants to sensitive skin with a blend of antibacterial ingredients that includes sandalwood and sage, as well as skin-nourishing coconut extract and antioxidant-rich vitamin E. Where traditional natural deodorants tend to pull from a repertoire of heavy herbal scents—eucalyptus springs to mind—Sturino’s has a light, floral note. “We went through a lot of roses—grandma, sugary, you name it!—before I found the right one,” she says of her fragrant pick, Moldova rose. “Now, when I open it, I just want to stick my face in it because I love the scent so much.”
When it comes to fighting BO, most of us want the most advanced weaponry we can get. However, after all the recent news about aluminum causing Alzheimer’s disease, or parabens and phthalates messing with reproductive hormones, maybe you’ve considered taming your approach. Maybe you’ve actually bought a natural deodorant. And maybe, like many of us, you really gave it the old college try but stank to high heaven and eventually slunk back to that tried-and-true electric blue stick that could deodorize a dead cow and will probably outlast the apocalypse.
Whether you’re interested in trying natural deo for the first time or looking for a better option, we’ve done the homework for you. Our six testers (five women and one man) tried 17 total brands and scents, all free of aluminum, phthalates, and parabens. Here’s what we found.
Fat and the Moon Deodorant Cream (2 ounces, $12)
(Photo: Courtesy Fat and the Moon)
Best Overall Natural Deodorant
For once, the packaging is exactly right: “This deodorant is for the full spectrum of stinky,” reads the label on Fat and the Moon deodorant cream. One tester used it to free-solo the Second Flatiron in Boulder, Colorado, and to battle nervous sweats during an ice-climbing competition in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The verdict? “Standout performance—I never smelled myself, even when my armpits were next to my face during big reaches at the end of the day,” she reported. “Plus, I tend to ‘misplace’ my razor for the winter, and this stuff is more than a match for the determination of hairy pits.” Credit a mix of stink-zapping baking soda, moisture-absorbing arrowroot powder, and naturally antimicrobial tea tree oil.
Because this deodorant comes in a jar, you have to spread it on with your finger, which testers actually loved. “It seems like rubbing it in helps it absorb better—I never got any pilling or sticking to my clothes,” one reviewer said.
Testers also loved the subtle scent, which incorporates the warm, woodsy smells of black pepper, clary sage, and bergamot with the brighter scents of coconut oil and grapefruit. “The fragrance is nice without being girly or over-the-top,” noted one tester.
Thinksport Natural Deodorant Aloe and Tea Flowers (2.9 ounces, $7)
(Photo: Courtesy Thinksport)
“After years of pretending that Tom’s of Maine worked—sorry, everyone around me—Thinksport felt like magic,” said one particularly odiferous tester, who used her Thinksport Natural Deodorant Aloe and Tea Flowers for a full summer of climbing, camping, and backpacking trips until there was nothing left but the plastic nub. “This stuff both makes me smell delicious and totally wipes out underlying odor for up to two days,” she said. That’s thanks to tried-and-true baking soda, wetness-fighting arrowroot powder, and various plant-based oils and extracts that boost moisturization and fragrance.
Testers also loved the price: it’s about half as expensive as many similarly effective deodorants.
Ethique Sans Unscented Solid Deodorant (2.5 ounces, $13)
(Photo: Courtesy Ethique)
Most Eco-Friendly and Best for Sensitive Pits
Deodorants from the New Zealand beauty brand Ethique aren’t just paraben-, aluminum-, and phthalate-free—they’re also free of baking soda, which can be an irritant to sensitive skin.
In pit-to-pit tests with other deodorants, Ethique always outlasted competitors. One tester, who swiped it on before ultimate Frisbee games and climbing trips in Colorado’s Front Range, says it was the longest-lasting deodorant she’s tried. Another tester reported similar longevity while climbing and car camping.
The science behind that all-day deodorizing power? Ethique’s Sans Unscented Solid deodorant is packed with the nontoxic, antibacterial agents zinc oxide and magnesium hydroxide. It also contains activated charcoal, which absorbs bacterial waste into its porous surface, and bamboo extract, an ultrafine powder derived from the plant’s stalks, which can absorb up to 200 percent of its own weight. Almond and jojoba oils meant smooth application and moisturized pits, as two sensitive-skinned, bike-commuting testers confirmed.
Another bonus: instead of using plastic, Ethique wraps its square-shaped deodorant pucks in wax paper and cardboard, to keep the product off your hands. (The whole package is compostable.) “I was initially worried about the weird shape and the lack of a plastic applicator, but it was still really easy to apply,” noted one tester.
Malin+Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant (2.6 ounces, $22)
(Photo: Courtesy Malin+Goetz)
Malin+Goetz Eucalyptus deodorant had the freshest scent of any product we tried. The fragrance is bright and clean, reminiscent of a backyard garden after a good spring rain.
The deodorant gets its aroma from eucalyptus oil, which also has antiseptic properties, making it a possible cure for some bacterial sources of BO. The other active ingredient, citronellyl methylcrotonate, is a nontoxic odor neutralizer as well.
Testers were impressed with this deodorant’s staying power. “After a run, a sweaty weight-lifting sesh, and two hours of gym climbing, my eucalyptus-scented pits still smelled fresh,” said one. The only issue: this New York City–based cosmetics brand ain’t cheap.
(Photo: Courtesy Pretty Frank)
Pretty Frank Charcoal Seaside Deodorant Jar (2 ounces, $10)
“This deodorant seemed to zap the nervous sweat I worked up after a tough client meeting,” said one tester. “And after a four-hour climbing session, I wasn’t able to smell my pits, even when I was soaked in sweat and could smell my feet through my socks.”
In Pretty Frank’s Charcoal Seaside deodorant jar, arrowroot powder and baking soda absorb moisture and odor. As backup, a cocktail of essential oils—like lavender, lemon, and juniper berry—also help inhibit bacterial growth. The organic shea butter and organic coconut oil that make it spreadable also help moisturize.
(Photo: Courtesy Native)
Native Cucumber and Mint Deodorant (2.7 ounces, $12)
While most testers had strong and differing opinions on their absolute favorite deodorant, most agreed on Native as a pretty solid runner-up. (It’s also one of the easiest to find in stores and one of the better cost-per-ounce values.) The Cucumber and Mint deodorant scored particularly high marks for its fresh scent.
“I still smelled good after a few hours of skiing, 45-minute spin classes, and hourlong runs,” said one tester after a month of use. The formula includes odor-absorbing baking soda as well as magnesium hydroxide, which works by altering the pH of your skin to make it less hospitable to bacterial growth.
(Photo: Courtesy Purelygreat)
Purelygreat Tea Tree Stick Deodorant (2.6 ounces, $12)
Tea tree oil gives this deo both antimicrobial powers and a fresh fragrance that our testers loved. One Colorado-based adventurer reported all-day effectiveness, even after long runs and hardcore climbing sessions in St. Vrain Canyon. For that, you can thank the Purelygreat Tea Tree Stick deodorant formula, which includes baking soda and zinc ricinoleate to help neutralize odor, and corn starch, which reduces wetness.
Another tester praised the consistency, which was easy to apply and never felt slimy—a problem with some natural deodorants.
Filed To: ScienceSkinHealth and BeautyGear Review Lead Photo: Hannah Hester
Do Natural Deodorants *Actually* Work During Sweaty Workouts?
I’ve lived a hardly-sweaty, never-smelly life thanks to my drugstore antiperspirant. So when I heard of natural deodorants, I wondered what’s so bad about my usual?
“While evidence of aluminum’s (the active ingredient in antiperspirants) harm is mostly hearsay, it’s certain that aluminum does block pores and some derivatives can stain clothes,” says Michael Swann, M.D. and dermatologist at Swann Dermatology. You’ve probably heard talk about the aluminum in antiperspirants causing cancer and Alzheimer’s. While researchers have found high amounts of aluminum in the brains of those who have suffered from Alzheimer’s, causality hasn’t been proven. But most drugstore antiperspirants only block pores by 20 to 30 percent, and unless they contain aluminum chloride, they’re unlikely to stain clothes (if they do, try this Genius $1 Trick for Treating Sweat Stains).
I decided to give natural deo a go. To test their efficacy, I put a handful of natural deodorants through a week’s worth of sweaty workouts: a grueling boxing workout at Overthrow, a pulse-fest at Flybarre, and a heated spin session at SoulCycle. I usually sweat a ton in cycling and boxing, so I didn’t notice a significant difference in using natural deodorant. While wearing the natural deodorant during barre, however, I did notice that I had more sweat under my arms than usual. I applied immediately before each class and didn’t smell bad afterwards. But after I took a shower, reapplied, and went on with my day, I had a different experience.
I found that all the natural deodorants smelled great at first swipe; I loved the scents of lavender, basil, and eucalyptus. Most natural deodorants are made of a combination of cornstarch and clay to absorb moisture, eucalyptus to combat odor-causing bacteria, and aloe to sooth skin.
However, though the intensity varied with each deodorant, no matter which one I used, I smelt progressively worse as the day wore on. Best case, I was a little more wet at the end of the day and smelled neutral. At the worst, I wreaked and didn’t want to be near anyone. (See: 9 Reasons Your Sweat Smells.)
Until I tried these deodorants, I literally thought my sweat didn’t stink. But I was wrong. I smelled more rancid with some deodorants on than I had without any deodorant at all.
Dr. Swann says that as more time passes, the more you sweat, and some deodorants may not be able to withstand its smell. “Deodorants, whether natural or not, work best by neutralizing some of the odors that come from sweat and oil glands. As your natural perspiration odor mixes with the odor of the deodorant, it may overcome the ability of the deodorant to mask your odor.” (Science has actually pinpointed the bacteria that causes B.O.)
And the smell of sweat plus herbs was not pleasant. As the day wore on, my stink grew, and with it my self-consciousness. I wondered if people could smell me. I kept my elbows down and didn’t stand closer than one foot from someone. My thoughts became irrational; though I’ve never high-fived anyone at work, I cursed the deodorants for robbing me of that ability. I feared bestowing the stink on anyone I talked to, thanking my lucky stars that we can’t yet smell through technology.
For someone who can normally wear shirts a few times before washing them (I know I’m not the only one…), I was sad to have so many tops go to laundry after one day’s wear. (Related: 11 Ways to Make Your Sweaty Workout Clothes Stink Less.)
According to Dr. Swann, the response to natural deodorants varies per person. Some need to reapply multiple times a day, and some don’t. It depends on how much you sweat, and how much you’re comfortable with.
Though I didn’t love the natural deodorants during my week of tests, Swann says my hope for using natural deodorants is not lost. “Because deodorants don’t block sweat like antiperspirants, your armpits may not be used to sweating as much until you make the switch off antiperspirants.” Your body has to get used to the amount of sweat it’s producing. Since the aluminum is no longer blocking sweat glands, you will sweat more than usual, but your body will eventually find an equilibrium.
“A good way to transition is to use a natural deodorant on a regular basis and, for special occasions or outfits made of an unforgiving material, such as silk, use antiperspirant,” says Swann.
One of my favorite natural deodorants from the test was All Good, which has arrowroot powder that acts as an absorbant. It remained neutral throughout the day and didn’t leave me feeling sweaty. Since the test, I’ve used it on a daily basis and saved my antiperspirant for specific tops or occasions, per Swann’s suggestion.
“If you’re not having any trouble on a daily basis, then you may be able to go off antiperspirants completely. Everyone is wired differently and some people sweat more than others. This can be debilitating for profuse sweaters, but if that isn’t you, it will be easier to switch,” Swann explains.
If your body agrees with natural deodarant (and that might take time!), go for it. If not, that’s OK too-we won’t judge. When it comes to protecting your armpits, you want to go with whatever will make you feel ready to offer up high fives with abandon. (Psst… This is the right way to use deodorant, because you’ve probably been doing it wrong.)
- By Hannah Doyle @hannahedoyle
How Does Natural Deodorant Work?
A natural deodorant is a good choice for individuals looking for odor protection without using products that contain artificial fragrances on their skin. Natural deodorants are specially designed to help you beat the heat using effective, naturally derived ingredients.
Much like traditional deodorants, the natural variety aims to neutralize odors and discourage bacteria from lingering on your body, helping you smell fresh and clean throughout your day. Brands that produce natural deodorants place an emphasis on using plant-based ingredients that are safe and effective. So, how does natural deodorant work?
Antiperspirant vs. Deodorant
Antiperspirants and deodorants may live side-by-side in store aisles, but they work in very different ways. According to the Mayo Clinic, antiperspirants keep you from sweating by blocking your pores with aluminum-based compounds. Deodorants do not reduce sweat, but instead work to reduce or mask the scent associated with sweating. They can also make your skin less attractive to odor-causing bacteria.
Why use natural deodorant? Natural deodorants let the sensitive skin under your arms breathe with fragrances derived from plant-based ingredients. Learning more about the contents of your personal care products allows you to make more informed decisions when choosing the best items for you and your family.
Natural vs. Artificial Fragrances
Both natural and nonnatural deodorants are often scented, but not all fragrances are created the same way. Natural fragrances are derived from ingredients found in the Earth. They’re often scented with essential oils sourced from lavender, citrus, or vanilla bean extracts.
Synthetic fragrances are often man-made and developed in a lab. Unscented or fragrance-free deodorant is also an option, but you will still want to check the ingredients list to see if any odor-masking substances were added.
How Does Natural Deodorant Work without Artificial Fragrances?
Products made with synthetic fragrances may be less expensive, while those that use natural scents may be easier on sensitive skin. In fact, a study published in Contact Dermatitis found that deodorants were the leading cause of fragrance-based allergic skin rashes.
Natural deodorants can give you confidence for the day while taking care of your skin with naturally derived substances. For example, Tom’s of Maine’s Natural Strength Deodorant lets skin breathe with an exclusive blend of odor-neutralizing botanicals and no artificial fragrance. Additionally, some plant-based ingredients may have residual benefits for your skin, such as aloe vera, which has soothing properties.
Different deodorants work better for different lifestyles, so try out a new deodorant and see if it suits you. Whether you are training for a marathon, spending time outdoors volunteering with your family, working a full-time job, or doing all three in the same day, we all deserve a deodorant we can trust.
Do you prefer a natural deodorant? Let us know your favorite on Twitter!
Image Sources: | Pexels |
The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom’s of Maine.
If you’re new to to world of natural deodorant, you’ll have to detox first. Your skin is so used to relying on unnatural chemicals that block your pores and the natural process – your body needs to purge. After using these products for years there is build up and residue under the skin that takes time to pull out.
With conventional deodorant your armpits are most likely accoustomed to:
- Phthalates – a hormone disruptor and linked to infertility
- Aluminum – linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s
- Parabens – a hormone disruptor and can found in breast cancer tissue
- ethyl, methyl, propyl, butyl, isobutyl, benzyl
- Formaldehyde – a known carcinogen
- Antibacterial – a hormone disruptor and adversely effects the immune system
- Propylene glycol – an antifreeze agent
It will take several weeks for a complete detox. During that time, it’s suggested not to wear any deodorant. If you try to skip the detoxing phase and immediately switch to a natural deodorant you will most likely experience noticeable irritability and more sweating with a stronger smell.
With such chilly weather, doing a detox now is ideal. After your detox, you’ll notice less sweating, less stink, and less irritation without using deodorant. My detox lasted around three weeks.
PRO TIP: If you want to speed up the process mix some bentonite clay with apple cider vinegar. Apply with a rag on your armpits after a shower.