Personally tested by a very sweaty person.
Why Switch To Natural Deodorant?
We tend to think of our armpits as a pesky afterthought in our morning routine. However, it’s a very sensitive area that we should tend to with extra care. The hair follicles on your underarm make it a more porous area susceptible to absorbing ingredients. It may be especially crucial as there’s a concentrated set of lymph nodes by your armpit that help to regulate your immune system.
Traditional deodorants rely on aluminum to clog your pores and prevent sweating. But sweat is a natural process we don’t want to interfere with, especially when there are some scary suspicions that the aluminum in deodorants can increase your risk for breast cancer or Alzheimer’s. Although there’s no definitive scientific evidence behind these claims yet, we like erring on the side of caution.
Which Ingredients To Avoid
The big ingredient to avoid is aluminum. However, you also want to avoid parabens, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances that can disrupt your endocrine system. Even then, there’s a whole host of other unpronounceable ingredients that pop up on labels. To really get into it, I used the Think Dirty app which allows you to scan skincare products to see the breakdown of ingredients and any harmful effects. For items not listed on the app, I searched individual ingredients one-by-one on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWP) online database of clean skincare ingredients to determine its cleanliness.
What’s The Best Natural Deodorant?
To find out, I bought eight popular natural deodorants and put them to the test. Trust, I’m a genuinely sweaty person, so if it works for me, there’s a good chance it’ll work for you too. Here were the contenders, starting with my least favorite and ending with my dream natural deodorant.
(Note: As many people find that baking soda in natural deodorants irritates their skin, I’ll mark the ones including it with an asterisk for easy navigating.)
Crystal Mineral Deodorant Stick
Clean Rating: Does It Get Any More Natural?
My Review: Ever the crystal fan, I want with all my heart for this one to work. The label promises 24-hour protection against underarm bacteria, and each rock is supposed to last a whole year. Economical! Plus, I recently heard Alicia Silverstone recommend it on a green beauty panel. Alas, perhaps her vegan sweat is not as intense as my situation. For me, this offered as much protection from underarm stink as miming putting on deodorant would have. Hard pass.
Primal Pit Paste Natural Deodorant*
Clean Rating: Totes Clean
My Review: A friend of mine swears by this stuff. It performed fine once it was on—but getting it on was another story. There was something appealing to me in theory about making contact with my underarms each day and lovingly massaging deodorant in (no doubt stimulating my lymph system in the process). But in reality, it felt like a messy hassle. To be fair, I have extremely dry eczema-ridden hands, so I was acutely aware of every tactile sensation required to scoop the paste out of the jar and rub it into my underarm. Ick. But it gets points for using many organic ingredients—most deodorant brands don’t bother. I would definitely give their stick application deodorants a try.
Aesop Herbal Deodorant
Clean Rating: Pretty Clean
My Review: The most expensive deodorant on my list by far. So expensive that I assumed this stuff would not only protect my pits but also render me a better person and draw more attractive men into my life. I opted for the roll-on option over the spray because there is no way I’m wasting a single drop of that expensive elixir on anything less than direct-contact application. While I did love the herbal scent, even a mild sweat during the day seemed to wash the product right off my skin. I was left reaching for multiple applications throughout the day. Finally, although pretty clean, three of the ingredients listed were marked as low-hazard items on the EWP database. If we were looking at a $15 natural deodorant, it might be higher on my list, but I don’t feel it performed for the price.
Kopari Coconut Deodorant
Clean Rating: Not As Clean As You Think
My Review: Here’s the deal on this one. While it’s free of aluminum, pthalates, parabens, and baking soda, this deodorant contains some fragrance ingredients that warranted a dirty rating on the Think Dirty app. Bummer! In our trial run, it applied smoothly, stayed in place, and actually held up really well throughout the day. Personally though, the scent was too floral and sweet for me anyway.
Schmidt’s Sensitive Skin in Jasmine Tea
Clean Rating: Clean As Can Be
My Review: Schmidt’s is the most reminiscent of the drugstore deodorants of my upbringing. They offer a wide variety of scents and also have standard and sensitive skin formulas for those who get a rash from baking soda. This one did the job on keeping me stink-free, but I wasn’t crazy about the jasmine scent. (Charcoal magnesium is supposed to be a dream, though!) Also, when I worked out, I found that my sweat came out in white rivulets, making me feel like the deodorant was merely sitting on top of the skin instead of fusing in. But this one gets a very high clean beauty score on the Think Dirty app and is priced reasonably.
The Takesumi Detox by Kaia Naturals
Clean Rating: Pristinely Clean
My Review: Now we’re talking! This was a strong contender and kept me stink-free even after a two-hour hike in 85-degree weather. Impressive! Maybe there is something to including charcoal in deodorant. Equally impressive to their performance is the minimal list of ingredients that all pass with flying colors. If you’re sensitive to baking soda, this one is my recommendation. My one note? I unknowingly purchased the “Juicy Bamboo” scent, which smelled shockingly like Mr. Clean. That said, they have some very delicious sounding alternative scents including Black Oak and Bourbon, Cold Pressed Rose, and Nordic Frost. I will definitely be returning to this brand!
Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant*
Clean Rating: Very Clean
My Review: This deodorant has a smooth application that blends right in with the skin. There’s even a slightly cooling sensation thanks to the peppermint and eucalyptus oils. Only one ingredient came up as a low hazard which makes it a very safe bet. This one held up great for me throughout the day. Although I’ve had sensitivity to other baking soda deodorants in the past, I had no problems here. Though the mint kept me fresh for sure, I do wish Ursa Major was available in other scent profiles for a more personal experience.
AER Next Level Deodorant by Vapour Beauty*
Clean Rating: Queenly Clean
My Review: I just felt like this deodorant got me. The Palo Santo Blood Orange scent was deliciously original. Wearing it made me feel like a chic yoga retreater in Valencia, Spain. It had a fascinating texture that pushes up as a gel and dries like a powder. It wore well all day. The ingredients are all clean, clean, clean. Because it’s really just that good, half of the ingredients were even organic. I think we have our winner for the best natural deodorant!
* Contains baking soda.