The Best Natural Deodorant (15+ Deodorants Analyzed)
Have you ever walked out of the house and had the dreaded realization that you forgot to put on deodorant? When it happens, it feels like being naked.
Deodorant is a necessity, and most of us have worn it every day since puberty, and for good reason—going without for a few hours leads to an embarrassing (and stinky) situation.
In recent years, the internet and social media have allowed for many natural deodorant brands to spring up, offering us body odor-fighting alternatives without the sketchy ingredients you might not want near your armpits.
Switching to a clean and natural deodorant is a journey. With products available in different forms, and scents, and using different ingredients, one deodorant that works great for someone else might not for you.
The Problem With Conventional Deodorant
Conventional deodorants have been a staple in personal care routines for decades. They keep us feeling fresh and odor-free throughout the day. However, many conventional deodorants are formulated with synthetic ingredients that may pose potential health risks, particularly when used over long periods.
These iffy ingredients can include:
- parabens (controversial preservatives)
- triclosan (to kill underarm bacteria)
- phthalates (to make the scent last longer)
- chemical fragrance (mystery concoctions of chemicals)
The continuous use of conventional deodorants exposes us to these chemicals daily, which may have cumulative and unknown effects on our health. Skin in the underarm area is thin and sensitive, allowing for easier absorption of these potentially harmful ingredients into the body.
Furthermore, the proximity of the underarms to the breast tissue has raised concerns about the potential link between conventional deodorants and breast cancer. (We’ll go into more depth on this later in the guide.)
In light of these concerns, many seek safer alternatives to conventional deodorants. Non-toxic and natural deodorants, formulated without harmful chemicals, offer a more health-conscious option.
By choosing these alternatives, we can minimize potential health risks while enjoying the benefits of effective odor and sweat control.
Why Non-Toxic Deodorants Are a Much Better Idea
Non-toxic deodorants are formulated without harmful chemicals to neutralize body odor and absorb sweat using natural and safe ingredients. They often contain plant-based components and minerals that pose minimal risks to human health and the environment.
This means you get to live your best stink-free life without worrying about what you’re putting under your arms.
Here are some things to know about natural deodorants:
- Ingredients: Conventional deodorants often contain ingredients like aluminum, parabens, and artificial fragrances. In contrast, non-toxic deodorants use natural ingredients such as essential oils, baking soda, and activated charcoal.
- Efficacy: While non-toxic deodorants may require a short adjustment period when you switch from a conventional deodorant, they can be as effective as conventional products in controlling odor.
- Environmental Impact: Non-toxic deodorants tend to have a lower environmental impact due to their natural, biodegradable ingredients and eco-friendly packaging options. Many natural deodorants come in a recyclable paper tube rather than the single-use plastic of conventional deodorants.
- They allow the body to sweat: Natural deodorants allow the skin to perspire naturally, an essential process for regulating body temperature and eliminating toxins. Unlike antiperspirants, which block sweat glands and may disrupt the body’s natural detoxification process, natural deodorants focus on neutralizing odor without inhibiting sweat production.
- Natural scents: Natural deodorants offer a wide range of unique scents and formulations derived from essential oils and plant extracts. This allows us to choose a fragrance that suits our preferences while avoiding synthetic fragrances that may cause irritation. It’s important to note that the essential oils used in natural deodorants can sometimes cause allergic reactions in susceptible users, however.
A 2016 study found that conventional deodorants alter the skin’s ecosystem and increase the load of potentially pathogenic Corynebacterium in the underarms. Natural alternatives are free from this risk.
A 2013 study found sage extract to be an effective natural deodorant, too.
Because of these reasons, it’s easy to see why so many people are turning to non-toxic deodorants as a safe and natural alternative.
The Difference Between Deodorant & Antiperspirant
Many people use the words “deodorant” and “antiperspirant” interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same. Deodorants typically work by masking bacterial odors with scents and contain ingredients that kill the bacteria.
- Deodorant primarily focuses on combating odor. The unpleasant smell associated with sweating is caused by the natural breakdown of sweat by bacteria on the skin.
- Deodorants contain ingredients that neutralize or mask these odors and antimicrobial agents that help reduce the number of odor-causing bacteria. Deodorants don’t prevent sweating but rather address the odor that results from it. They allow the body to perspire naturally, essential for regulating body temperature and eliminating toxins.
- Deodorants don’t have aluminum, which is used in antiperspirants to plug the pores in the underarm, stopping sweat from happening there in the first place. If you’ve been using antiperspirant your whole life, then holy moly, you’re in for a surprise when you switch to a natural deodorant.
In contrast, antiperspirants are designed to reduce or prevent sweating. They contain aluminum-based compounds that temporarily block sweat glands, reducing the amount of sweat produced. By limiting the amount of sweat on the skin, antiperspirants also indirectly reduce odor, as there is less moisture available for bacteria to break down.
There are two problems here: not only do antiperspirants block the body’s natural detoxification process, but they’re full of aluminum as well.
Let’s look at why we believe aluminum in antiperspirants is an alarming ingredient.
Is Aluminum In Deodorant Safe?
First things first—a deodorant, in the true sense of the word, does not contain aluminum. It’s antiperspirants or combination deodorant/antiperspirant products that contain aluminum.
You may have heard rumors that aluminum in deodorant can have a variety of negative health effects. It’s a common thought that aluminum in deodorant can cause both breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, although currently, there are no studies to back up this claim.
To make a long story short, although the common wisdom is that aluminum in deodorant is unsafe, whether that’s true is inconclusive.
- A 2016 in-vitro animal study found that long-term exposure of aluminum chloride on breast cells caused tumors and metastasized.
- In 2021, researchers compared the levels of aluminum and iron-binding proteins in breast fluid samples from healthy women and women with breast cancer. They found that both aluminum and a protein called ferritin, which binds to iron, were significantly higher in the fluid samples of women with breast cancer. The reasons for the high aluminum levels in breast fluid are still unclear, but it could be due to the use of aluminum-based antiperspirants in the underarm area or the breast tissue’s tendency to accumulate aluminum.
- A 2007 study found the same results, with elevated levels of aluminum from biopsies obtained following mastectomies.
While no studies outright conclude that underarm antiperspirants containing aluminum can contribute to the development of breast cancer, a potential link seems apparent.
For this reason, we recommend avoiding antiperspirants with aluminum and instead opting for a non-toxic deodorant.
Natural Deodorant Is a Trial-and-Error Exercise To Find What Works For You
The tricky thing with natural deodorant is that it comes down to personal preference. Not everyone will like the same brands, products, or scents, so finding your holy grail deodorant will take some trial and error.
When switching to a non-toxic deodorant, it’s important to understand that your body may need time to adapt to the new product. During this adjustment period, you may experience increased sweating or temporary changes in odor. This is normal and should not deter you from continuing with the transition. Remember that your body is simply adjusting to the absence of harsh chemicals and will eventually find its balance.
For example, many natural deodorants incorporate baking soda into the formula to absorb sweat, but some people find it irritates their armpits. Body chemistry also differs between people, so a deodorant your friend swears by might leave you stinking to high heaven when you use it.
The form factor is another thing that’s highly dependent on the user. There are roll-ons, creams, gels and sprays, and what one person likes, another might hate. You may have to try several different deodorants to determine which you like best.
Does the “Detox” Period Exist?
It’s a common idea that when switching to a natural deodorant, you’ll go through a “detox” period. Some claim that natural deodorant doesn’t work, and they still stink badly despite using it.
Realistically, you may experience something like this, but only if you use an antiperspirant with aluminum.
Aluminum-based antiperspirants temporarily block sweat, which can lead to increased sweat and odor when you switch back to a natural deodorant. However, this isn’t a detox period as much as an adjustment period.
During the detox period, you may notice that you’re sweating more and experiencing a stronger odor than usual. Don’t worry – this is a natural part of the process and a sign that your body is adjusting.
To help manage the detox symptoms, consider using a gentle exfoliant to remove dead skin cells, bacteria, and product buildup from your underarms. Additionally, stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet, and wear breathable clothing made from natural fibers like cotton or bamboo.
Ingredients of Concern in Conventional Deodorants
- Parabens: These synthetic preservatives are added to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold in deodorants. You’ve probably seen these listed on product labels as methyl-, butyl-, ethyl-, or propylparaben. They are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics, can be absorbed through the skin, and have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and reproductive toxicity.
- Triclosan: Triclosan is an antibacterial agent and preservative in many household products, including hand soaps, body washes, and deodorants. It’s a known endocrine disruptor and has been linked to creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The European Union also classifies triclosan as a skin and eye irritant. In 2016, the FDA banned triclosan from hand soaps and body washes, but it can still be found in other products.
- Chemical Fragrances: It’s common to see “fragrance” or “parfum” on ingredient lists without disclosing the chemicals that make up the fragrance. This is because fragrances are considered trade secrets under US law, and companies are not required to disclose the specific ingredients that make up the scent. These chemicals can be made from a list of hundreds of different chemicals, and we have no idea what they are when hidden this way.
- Propylene glycol: Acts as a penetration enhancer, increasing skin absorption of other ingredients in a product. This isn’t a concern when none of the other ingredients in a product is potentially dangerous.
Ingredients You Can Expect In Natural Deodorants
Let’s take a look at the ingredients you’ll find in a natural deodorant.
- Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda): Of the 16 deodorants we looked at, 9 used sodium bicarbonate. In deodorants, it’s used as an antibacterial and pH neutralizer—essentially neutralizing the acid in sweat along with the bacteria in your underarm, in turn reducing odor. Some people—especially those with sensitive skin—find baking soda to irritate the skin after a few uses. This is because it can, over time, mess with the skin’s natural pH balance. If you try a natural deodorant that uses sodium bicarbonate and find that your underarms are getting irritated and sore, this is probably the reason why.
- Activated Charcoal: Carbon-rich, this ingredient can extract oil, dirt, and debris from your clogged pores. It’s also very absorbent, able to absorb 1,000 times its weight in moisture.
- Arrowroot Powder, Tapioca Starch, Magnesium Hydroxide, and Corn Starch: These ingredients absorb moisture to keep you dry. They’re less irritating than sodium bicarbonate but also less effective at neutralizing odors.
- Coconut Oil: Often used as a base in deodorants, it’s theorized that because it’s antibacterial, it will help fight against odor-causing bacteria.
- Tea tree oil: This is another natural essential oil with proven antibacterial properties. This makes it a great natural ingredient to use in clean deodorants.
To compile our list of the best natural deodorants, we looked at social media, online clean beauty stores, and online magazines.
All of these natural deodorants are advertised as being clean, safer alternatives. We found that while many of the products we looked at were good in terms of ingredients, some had ingredients we wouldn’t recommend.
Below is our list of natural deodorant ratings. They’re rated on this scale:
– These products are the best of the best. They contain great ingredients, are non-toxic, and are often the best choice for our environment.
– These products are typically quite good but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.
– These products are typically okay but have some issues that make us unable to give them a “Good” rating. Often they contain ingredients or materials that are questionable.
– These products typically have toxic ingredients or issues that make them dangerous or unsuitable. These products should typically be avoided.
These are simply the best natural deodorants we looked at. With all-natural and safe ingredients and nothing questionable, you can enjoy a safe and stink-free day with any of these deodorants.
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Vegan, cruelty-free, palm oil free, and handmade. What more could you want in a deodorant? Containing essential oils and mineral powders, this powdery balm has a grapefruit scent that smells like the real thing. It also comes in a cardboard packaging, which proves plastic is no longer necessary when it comes to deodorant products.
Little Seed Farm
Moving away from the conventional form of deodorant, Little Seed Farm Deodorant Cream comes in a jar. Its smooth paste-y texture can be scooped up with the wooden stick that’s included. With a refreshing, citrusy – most notably grapefruit – scent, it’s the perfect neutral fragrance for both men and women. Say goodbye to residues that stain your clothes and hello to dry long-lasting underarms even in the hottest of climates.
With 19 plant and mineral ingredients, Coconut Matter’s All Natural Deodorant is a natural solution to stop body odor for hours on end. A glide of this works on any sweaty area of your body, not just the armpits. Following its name, this deodorant is made up of coconut and contains essential oil scents. This compact-sized deodorant also comes in a zero-waste, biodegradable and hand-rolled packaging.
You can constantly smell like the spa when leaving the house, thanks to PiperWai’s Charcoal Deodorant blend of 11 essential oils, which includes citrus and mint. It’s gentle for use on sensitive skin, even on psoriasis or eczema, due to its non-irritating ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter, and pure vitamin E oil. The activated charcoal also allows you to work out with confidence, as this powerful ingredient absorbs wetness, while forming a shield between your skin and shirt. If you’re not used to the jar format, this one also comes in a stick.
Our best budget pick goes to Acure’s Fragrance-Free Deodorant. It’s also a preferable choice for those who just want pure sweat protection minus the fragrance. Their formula is not as strong as other deodorants, making it suitable for those who don’t sweat as much. Although this deodorant has a thicker texture than most, it won’t leave a waxy or sticky feel.
Our overall recommended deodorant.
Good for your pits, good for the planet. Papr’s deodorants are subtle in fragrance – from nuances of bergamot to lemongrass – but effective when it comes to stopping odor. Using safe ingredients like coconut oil and tapioca starch, Papr Deodorant is good to use on a daily basis. Bonus: If you subscribe to receiving Papr’s deodorants or other products, they’ll plant a tree in your name.
While these aren’t the absolute best natural deodorants, they’re still great choices and if you’re a fan of any of them, you can feel safe using them.
Stress sweat? No worries. The inclusion of magnesium relaxes your pits, while the activated charcoal helps refine it for a healthy underarm skin. While some natural deodorants may not be strong enough for an active person, this one can prove otherwise. It also has a unique blend of ingredients to create a special scent: vetiver, vanilla bourbon, cardamom, black pepper and tonka bean.
Sometimes, all you need in life is a fresh-smelling deodorant to keep you going in your day. The Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant leaves a cooling and invigorating aroma, while eliminating unwanted odor-causing bacteria. Perfect for sensitive skin, this deodorant leaves no irritation and will absorb and dry quickly.
Don’t settle for a cakey deodorant. Kaia Natural’s Charcoal Deodorant Sakura Blossom is light but still extremely effective in removing toxins from your pores using the activated charcoal. Those with sensitive skin also won’t have to worry about irritation or redness with this one. Its flowery scent is not overwhelming, but may make you want to reapply just for the fragrance!
An aluminum-free, cruelty-free, and 100% natural deodorant can be found in this Lovefresh product. Handmade in Toronto, the All Natural Deodorant includes cocoa seed butter, arrowroot powder, natural beeswax, and kaolin clay. It’s also been said to leave you feeling fresh for hours!
Using odor-fighting magnesium and essential oils, Schmidt’s Deodorant provides all-day coverage. Don’t let the color of the charcoal-activated deodorant deter you away – it goes on clear and won’t stain your shirts. Its fragrance is natural and crisp, making this deodorant suitable for both men and women.
Native’s Deodorant is aluminum-free but full of natural ingredients that helps with long-lasting odor protection. The absence of aluminum makes it suitable for rash-prone skin, while its berry-like fragrance is present but not overwhelming. This easy-to-apply solid deodorant isn’t known to leave oil stains on your clothes either.
Look to Kosas’ Chemistry AHA Serum Deodorant for a product that does more than keep your sweat at bay. The unique AHA blend in its formula has also been said to exfoliate, improve skin moisture and brightens. The added aloe vera and hyaluronic acid also makes for clearer and smoother skin.
Only one deodorant we looked at deserved an Iffy rating because it uses propylene glycol, an ingredient we recommend avoiding in natural deodorants.
This deodorant contains propylene glycol, a petroleum-derived ingredient used to give the product a slick consistency. Chances are that you’d have to ingest a lot of propylene glycol to have any negative health effects, but it also functions as a penetration enhancer. This means that it can potentially aid other ingredients in absorbing into the skin. For this reason, we would recommend more natural deodorants over this product.
Two natural deodorants we looked at received a Bad rating because they use both propylene glycol and synthetic chemical fragrance.
This deodorant contains contains chemical fragrance, and for this reason, we don’t recommend it.
With propylene glycol and chemical fragrance, we don’t recommend this deodorant.
Our best budget pick for a natural deodorant is Acure’s Fragrance-Free Deodorant. With clean ingredients and in a convenient stick form along with the great price, it’s easy to recommend for those on a budget. On the downside, it does come in a plastic container.
For those that can spend a bit more money, PAPR’s line of deodorants are excellent not only for their clean ingredients, but also their plastic-free packaging. Their paper tube is biodegradable and recyclable, and is a great choice for the eco-conscious deodorant user.
Have you ever reviewed the ingredients in Lume Deodorant, Beautycounter Deodorant or the Food Babe’s Organic Deodorant?