I’ve had some pretty unfortunate experiences with “natural” deodorants because… well, many of them just don’t work so well. I have to be honest it’s hard to find one that really does the job. But first, let’s talk about what we need the “job” to be:
I want to lessen the amount I sweat for sure, but most importantly …I want to smell good. It’s important to understand the difference between an anti-perspirant and a deodorant. The former is formulated to stop you sweating, usually by way of aluminum salts that plug up your sweat ducts. Deodorant, on the other hand, is simple formulated to keep you smelling sweet.
We are supposed to sweat – Hello hot yoga!!!! It’s not only natural, but it’s necessary. It’s one of the important ways in which we rid ourselves of pesky toxins. But, there’s a time and a place, right? If I’m wearing a silk blouse on set, I really don’t want to let it flow under the hot lights! However, if I’m working out or going for a tough old hike, I definitely want to let my body sweat it out. So I carefully choose when to slather or spritz my pits with a deodorant. Also keep in mind that it’s not the sweat that smells. Fresh sweat in of itself is a good smell, but once it’s been sitting around for a while, the bacteria gets to work and then it starts to smell funky. So blame it on the bacteria, but also be grateful for those little guys because they too have an important function in your body, and on your skin.
If you ever need an antiperspirant that STOPS your sweating (job interview etc), pick one of the aluminum salt brands from the drugstore (one or two applications won’t harm you or give you cancer…I promise), but just make sure it’s unscented because it’s the fragrance that largely tips it into the “toxic” category.
Okay, let’s get on with the deodorant pros and cons as promised. Over the years I have tested well over 50 “natural” deodorants. Some I like, and some I really don’t. I will continue to test as new ones hit the market, but here are my top 5 for now with their strengths and weaknesses.
Schmidt’s Deodorant – $8.99
Their description: Schmidt’s award-winning formulas naturally and effectively neutralizes odor and wetness. Plant-based powders help absorb wetness without the use of aluminum, propylene glycol, parabens & phthalates. Deodorants are enhanced with essential oils (no artificial fragrance), and they have a non-greasy, non-sticky feel. Certified Vegan, Cruelty-free, and Gluten-free.
Pros: I really love this product, because IT WORKS. Consistently, with no questions asked. Need proof? My beauty editor’s brother works in construction, and SWEARS by Schmidt’s. He says no other deodorants have EVER worked against his daily sweat and grime. So if it’s good enough for the build site, it’s good enough for me! Plus I love their sensitive skin line.
Stink factor: None, even after an intense workout.
Wet factor: A little, but not enough to be worried about
Cons: When I first used Schmidt’s, they only sold product in a tub (so you had to use your hands), but since they’ve added the stick format, there really aren’t any cons! Some people complain about the texture (it can have a little grit), but in my experience just rub it in and you’re good to go!
Their description: This natural deodorant uses extract of alpine moss to fight the bacteria that cause odor. Cleansing organic Essential Oils of Lavender, Tea Tree and Ylang Ylang are teamed with aloe vera, which is renowned for its cooling and soothing properties.
Pros: It really doesn’t get more natural than this deodorant. Their ingredient list is impeccable, and I love that it’s a liquid spray (it dries SO quickly). If you’re picking your deodorant just on smell, this has a lovely, natural, floral scent.
Stink Factor: Out. Of. Con.Trol. Seriously, I really smelled after wearing this deodorant, so much so that I become pretty sensitive to it. Now, to be totally honest, that didn’t stop me from using it again. And again. And again. I REALLY liked the smell of the product, and the spray works SO well for light tops and dresses. But seriously, you stink enough, and you start to learn your lesson.
Wet Factor: No more than usual, but the smell … Well, let’s not get too graphic.
Cons: I sweat through this almost every day I wear it – And it’s not neutral-smelling sweat either. For whatever reason, it works great for about 2 hours, and then I’m VERY sensitive to how I smell. I wish it worked better, because there are so many other great elements to this product, but ultimately, it just doesn’t work for my body. If there’s anyone out there who uses this product and it works, please let me know!!
Their description: Introducing a revolutionary roll-on deodorant that delivers a dose of essential minerals to your entire body with each application. A whopping 60% of what you apply to your skin gets absorbed directly into your bloodstream. Instead of saturating your body with toxins and chemicals, stay vigilant by using products that are seriously beneficial to your health like our brand new and totally groundbreaking roll-on deodorant. Its magnesium-rich formula will penetrate your skin, delivering this much-needed mineral to your entire body while actively keeping your underarms dry and deodorized.
Pros: The scent is really subtle and delicate, which I love. I also love the fact that it’s a roll-on, which doesn’t “sit” in your pits. Once it’s applied, it totally disappears. I also love that it contains magnesium, which is good for odor control and for getting some of the precious mineral into your bod (yes – Magnesium can be absorbed though your skin.
Stink factor: After a hot day of working, working out, walking the dog and doing a ton of housework, I didn’t notice the slightest whiff of unpleasant body odor.
Wet factor: It didn’t keep me bone dry for sure, but there wasn’t any noticeable wetness either.
Cons: Honestly, I’m hard-pushed to find a con. I guess it’s a good everyday workhorse of a deodorant. The scent didn’t knock me out, and I’m not sure it would keep me as dry as I want to be under hot lights on the set.
Soapwalla Deodorant Cream – $14.00
Their description: Soapwalla’s Deodorant Cream is all natural and uniquely powerful, utilizing superfine vegetable powders and clays, as well as lavender, peppermint and tea tree essential oils to absorb moisture, inhibit bacteria, and ensure a long-lasting and highly effective experience. The frosting-like consistency allows for easy manual application and rapid absorption, and is ideal for all skin types.
Pros: This was a trailblazer in the natural deodorant space – really the first “pit paste” to hit market. It quickly got a huge cult following. The fine powders and clays really do keep you dry, so I would venture to say that it is also an anti-perspirant as well as a deodorant. The essential oils are super anti-bacterial, and since it’s the bacteria that creates the stick, it gets full marks on this count too.
Stink factor: Pretty good after a day on the town.
Wet factor: Better than a lot of the natural pastes.
Cons: You have to dig it out of the jar and spread it like frosting over your pits. This just isn’t what I really feel like doing every morning. I’m more of a roll-on girl, so just not for me. It’s also quite pricey.
Toms of Maine Long Lasting Unscented $4.50 – $5.80 (depending on where you buy it)
Their description: At Tom’s what makes our products good is how we make them with no artificial fragrance or preservatives and no animal ingredients or testing, ever. This effective line of long-lasting, aluminum-free, deodorant sticks uses odor-fighting hops to provide 24-hour odor protection to help keep you feeling fresh throughout the day, while the natural fragrance helps you smell and feel your best!
Pros: Tom’s Deodorants are almost iconic. I couldn’t do a deodorant article without including them. I choose the long-lasting unscented for 2 reasons. It’s greener and safer than some of their other deodorants. Remember, unscented is the way to go unless the brand it using pure essential oils. It’s aluminum-free, and my husband uses it! As I said, my husband uses it and really likes it. He loves that it’s unscented. I asked him exactly why he likes it and won’t use any other, and this is what he said: “It’s not sticky like a bunch of those other ones you sometimes have me try. I have hair under my arms and I can’t stand anything that’s sticky, or that doesn’t just glide on. It keeps me body odor-free, so that’s all I need.” And it does keep him BO-free for sure!
Cons: I personally don’t love it. I do like a little bit of an essential oil scent in my deodorant. I dunno – it’s just a bit utilitarian for me.