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, scents, and using different ingredients, one deodorant that works great for someone else might not for you.
The Difference Between Natural Deodorant and Traditional Deodorant
Many people use the terms deodorant and antiperspirant interchangeably, but they're not quite the same thing. Deodorants typically work by masking bacterial odors with scents and contain ingredients that kill the bacteria.
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 make the switch to a natural deodorant.
Traditional deodorants usually have a long list of synthetic ingredients that you probably don't want near your armpits. These can include parabens (controversial preservatives), triclosan (to kill underarm bacteria), phthalates (to make the scent last longer), chemical fragrance (mystery concoctions of chemicals), and more.
A good natural deodorant avoids all of these chemicals and ingredients, letting you live your best stink-free life without worrying about what you're putting under your arms.
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. To make a long story short, although the common wisdom is that aluminum in deodorant is unsafe, it's inconclusive as to whether that's true or not.
Some experts have suggested that it's possible that aluminum in deodorants—especially if used after shaving— can accumulate in breast tissue, in turn leading to breast cancer. However, several studies have been done on the issue, with inconclusive or negative results. (source)
Natural Deodorant Is a Trial-and-Error Exercise To Find What Works For You
The tricky thing with natural deodorant is that it really comes down to personal preference. Not everyone is going to like the same brands, products or scents, so finding your own holy grail deodorant is going to take some trial-and-error.
For example, a lot of natural deodorants incorporate baking soda into the formula to absorb sweat, but some people find that it irritates their armpits. Body chemistry differs between people too, so a deodorant that 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.
Let's take a look at the ingredients you'll find in a natural deodorant.
Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) - Out of the 16 deodorants we looked at, 9 of them used sodium bicarbonate. In deodorants, its 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, 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, orange / lemongrass / lavender / peppermint oil - Antibacterial oils that help kill the odor-causing bacteria under your arms. As a bonus, they also contribute to a pleasant, natural scent.
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 of them had ingredients that we wouldn't recommend.
We reviewed 15+ of the most popular natural deodorants on the market and rated them as follows:
Best ???? – These products are the best of the best. They contain all-clean ingredients, are non-toxic and are often the best choice for our environment.
Good – These products are typically quite good, but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.
Iffy – These products are typically okay, but have some issues that make us unable to give them a “Good” rating. Often times they contain ingredients that are questionable.
Bad – These products typically have toxic ingredients or issues that make them dangerous or unsuitable to use. 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.
Meow Meow Tweet
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.