Finding a good deodorant is much like finding a good pen: Sometimes you just happen upon it, and other times it requires an extensive hunt and many, many attempts. Which is to say that deodorant is subjective and highly personal to your taste. For example, I like deodorants that smell like fresh laundry but don’t include aluminum or baking soda, parameters that led me to my longtime favorite: Native’s sensitive-skin line. You may be different, but generally, a good deodorant — antiperspirant or not — will stop you from smelling and offending your fellow man and, if it’s meant to reduce sweat, will make your armpits less sweaty. Deodorant falls into two categories: deodorants with aluminum and deodorants without. Aluminum-free deodorants are often referred to as “natural” and use ingredients like arrowroot powder, magnesium, and baking soda to absorb additional moisture and keep you smelling fresh. Aluminum will help to stop you from sweating; natural deodorants will not.
To track down the best, I talked to dermatologists, athletes, trainers, and sweaty Strategist staffers about the deodorants and antiperspirants they’re using to stay fresh, and I tested a few of them to make sure they belong on this list. Our picks, below.
What we’re looking for
Antiperspirant or deodorant
Deodorants are broken down into two categories: antiperspirants and deodorants. Antiperspirants contain aluminum, which works by blocking the sweat glands, minimizing sweat, and cutting down on the smell. Deodorants on the other hand use a range of ingredients to absorb sweat and minimize smell. A popular ingredient in non-aluminum deodorants (often referred to as natural deodorant) is baking soda, which does a good job of absorbing sweat and smell. Baking soda can be sensitizing, however, and has been known to cause irritation and sensitivity for some people. With that in mind, we’ve included lots of baking soda-alternative formulas too.
Deodorants come in a wide variety of scents, from floral to earthy to citrus, which helps to scent your pits and mask the funk. Fragrance can also be an irritant, so that’s something to keep in mind if you have sensitive skin.
Deodorants tend to be the more affordable side, but in case you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, we’ve noted how much you get in a tube, as well as the cost per ounce.
Best antiperspirant-deodorant stick
Antiperspirant or deodorant: Antiperspirant | Scent: Cucumber melon | Price: 2.6 ounces (Approx. $2/ounce)
If you don’t need a super-strong antiperspirant like the Dove Clinical Protection, the standard Dove is a classic and solid option. Tamara Pridgett, founder of fitness creative agency Extended Day Studios and host of The First podcast, has been wearing it since middle school and counts it among the products she can’t live without. “It’s my go-to and I need to have it at all times,” she says. “I like it because it doesn’t get clumpy underneath my armpits, and it lasts for an eternity.” The classic option offers 48 hours of antiperspirant protection and has moisturizing ingredients for the skin. Strategist writer Emma Wartzman is also a fan: “I have tried a lot and nothing works better for me than this one.”
Best antiperspirant-deodorant stick for sensitive skin
Antiperspirant or deodorant: Antiperspirant | Scent: Unscented | Price: 2.6 ounces (Approx. $1/ounce)
Fitness coach Avamaria Rivas is both a heavy sweater and someone with sensitive skin. To avoid irritation, she only wears deodorant when she leaves the house or teaches fitness classes. Her deodorant of choice is Dove Sensitive, which she found after trying both natural and traditional options. “It’s the only deodorant that doesn’t break me out,” she says. “I also like that I don’t smell and that I stay fairly dry after my intense workouts.”
Best clinical-strength antiperspirant-deodorant stick
Antiperspirant or deodorant: Antiperspirant | Scent: Cucumber | Price: 1.7 ounces (Approx. $5/ounce)
“This is my longtime favorite antiperspirant, I’ve used it for many years,” says Dr. Jessica Krant of Art of Dermatology. “It does the trick for wetness and odor and never irritates my skin.” Krant recommends the entire Dove Clinical Protection line for heavy sweaters but likes the Cool Essentials scent in particular because of the green tea, which has anti-inflammatory properties that help to safeguard against irritation.
Best antiperspirant-deodorant gel deodorant
Antiperspirant or deodorant: Antiperspirant | Scent: Lavender | Price: 2.6 ounces (Approx. $2/ounce)
Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla likes this deodorant from Secret, which dries down completely clear and doesn’t transfer onto clothing. It’s also long-lasting: “It survived eight-hour shifts when I worked in retail and got me through hourlong job interviews when I was ridiculously nervous,” she says. Then there’s the scent, which Pardilla describes as “heavenly.” She opts for the lavender scent (though it also comes in other scents like rose, coconut, and water lily), which she describes as “subtle but sweet.”
Best antiperspirant-deodorant deodorant stick for super-sensitive skin
Antiperspirant or deodorant: Antiperspirant | Scent: Unscented | Price: 2.25 ounces (Approx. $4/ounce)
If you’re super-sensitive, you might want to try Vanicream, which dermatologist Susan Binder of Binder Dermatology describes as “great for sensitive skin.” Despite having a fairly high concentration of aluminum (20 percent), it’s unscented and free of practically any other irritant you can think of. It’s also long-lasting, offering clinical-strength protection for up to 24 hours.
Best long-lasting natural deodorant
Antiperspirant or deodorant: Deodorant | Scent: Rose, vanilla | Price: 3.25 ounces (Approx. $3/ounce)
Schmidt’s is a big player in the natural-deodorant space, beloved by celebrities, Strat staffers, and dermatologists like Binder, who uses it daily and opts for the rose and vanilla scent. Schmidt’s, like many natural deodorants, uses baking soda to absorb and neutralize odor along with arrowroot powder, which helps to soak up sweat. If you’re particularly sensitive to fragrance, Binder says you might want to skip it because Schmidt’s uses essential oils to scent their products.
Best natural deodorant without baking soda
Antiperspirant or deodorant: Deodorant | Scent: Cotton and lily | Price: 2.65 ounces (Approx. $5.28/ounce)
Lots of natural deodorants use baking soda in their formulas, and while effective at absorbing odors (similar to the way it eliminates smells in your fridge), it’s more alkaline than your skin, which can throw off your pH balance and cause irritation. I happen to be one of those people who can’t tolerate baking soda, so I use Native’s sensitive line, which is baking-soda free and uses tapioca starch to absorb sweat. It also contains oils and moisturizers like shea butter and coconut oil to help it go on smooth, and it comes in a bevy of different scents. It isn’t incredibly long-lasting, so I need to reapply every few hours, but as someone with sensitive skin, I’ve adapted to a life of toting it around with me wherever I go. Plus, the scents are nice — they remind me of Dove scents, but without the aluminum.
Best natural deodorant for moderate sweaters
Antiperspirant or deodorant: Deodorant | Scent: Lemon, sage, vetiver, sandalwood | Price: 2 ounces (Approx. $9/ounce)
While Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo isn’t a particularly heavy sweater, she does sweat when she’s stressed. “My body odor tends to follow my moods,” she explains. Her deodorant of choice is this natural deodorant from Mind Alt, which she says both calms her nerves and covers any body odor. The roll-on format applies in thin, quick-drying layers, minimizing transfer and that wet, goopy feeling. The most calming scent, she says, is the sage, vetiver, and sandalwood, which, according to the brand, supposedly gives you more energy.
Best AHA deodorant
Antiperspirant or deodorant: Deodorant | Scent: Citrus, ylang ylang | Price: 2.4 ounces (Approx. $7/ounce)
AHAs have become the popular new ingredient in deodorants, supposedly making armpits inhospitable to bacteria and thus eliminating the funk. It’s pretty successful — I’ve noticed a significant reduction in stink with this one in particular — and comes recommended by the Zoe Report deputy beauty editor Hannah Baxter, who has been using this formula for over a year. The main ingredient in this deodorant is shikimic acid, a natural deodorizer that helps to fight acne. It also contains an assortment of other acids, like lactic and mandelic acids, which help with brightening and exfoliating. AHA deodorants can be particularly helpful for people who struggle with ingrown hairs, as the acids help to keep pores unclogged.
Best-smelling natural deodorant
Antiperspirant or deodorant: Deodorant | Scent: Lemon, patchouli, sage, and cedarwood | Price: 1.7 ounces (Approx. $12/ounce)
Corsillo is also a fan of this deodorant from Evolvetogether, which makes some of our favorite disposable masks. “It goes on more like a body balm than a deodorant and makes my armpits feel really soft,” says Corsillo. “It keeps me dry, knocks out any body odor even on the hottest days, and it’s clear, so it doesn’t leave any white marks.” And while the formula’s great, Corsillo says the best part is the scent. She likes the scent “Tulum,” which has notes of lemon, patchouli, sage, and cedarwood. “It’s a bit Topanga canyon and a bit fresh lemon water at the spa.”
• Hannah Baxter, deputy beauty editor at the Zoe Report
• Susan Binder, dermatologist and founder of Binder Dermatology
• Liza Corsillo, Strategist senior writer
• Dr. Michelle Henry, dermatologist
• Dr. Jessica Krant, dermatologist at Art of Dermatology
• Ambar Pardilla, Strategist writer
• Tamara Pridgett, founder of fitness creative agency Extended Day Studios and host of The First podcast
• Emma Wartzman, Strategist writer
• Avamaria Rivas, Fitness coach
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