The first thing you need to know about natural deodorant is that it will not stop you from sweating. That’s because natural formulas lack aluminum, the ingredient in conventional antiperspirants that plugs up sweat glands. Aluminum isn’t necessarily harmful — regarding its rumored link to cancer, the American Cancer Society says, “There are no strong epidemiologic studies in the medical literature that link breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, and very little scientific evidence to support this claim.” But many still opt for natural deodorants since, as Doree Shafrir, writer and co-host of the podcast Forever35, explains, they “don’t block your pores and prevent your body from sweating, they allow ‘good’ bacteria to flourish so that you eventually become less stinky than before.” In fact, Follain founder and CEO Tara Foley says deodorant is one of the top-selling categories at her shop: “It’s a place where a lot of people start their clean-beauty journeys.”
Which brings us to the second most important thing about natural deodorant: Finding one that works for you is a very personal process that will likely involve a fair bit of trial and error. One person’s favorite natural deodorant might not work for someone with more sensitive skin, or a heavier sweater. Many natural deodorants rely on baking soda to absorb moisture, for example, but too much baking soda can cause skin irritation in some people. Since there are lots of factors to consider (do you want a charcoal-based deodorant or one with arrowroot powder? A gel or a cream?), we polled a handful of clean-beauty experts to recommend the best for all types of sweaters.
Best overall natural deodorant
While some natural deodorants can have a gritty feel, Ursa Major has a smooth, gel-like consistency that glides on the skin like a conventional deodorant. Its easy-to-use stick, sweat-absorbing ingredients, and clean, unisex scent makes it a favorite of three of our experts. Jacqueline Jones, natural-beauty writer at the Beauty Proof, calls it a “game changer” in comparison to other natural deodorants she’s tried that were messy, stain-producing, and otherwise ineffective, and says, “no matter what the weather’s like or how crazy my day gets, the Hoppin’ Fresh deodorant gets the job done without screaming ‘dirty hippie.’”
It offers “long-lasting protection with a pleasing aroma — peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary — using kaolin [clay], baking soda, and saccharomyces [odor-fighting enzymes] to soak up sweat and bacteria,” according to Oakjoo Lee, merchandising and planning manager for skin care at Credo Beauty, who says it’s especially popular among male customers. It’s also a top seller at Follain, and Foley raves about its earthy, pinewood smell.
Best extra-strength natural deodorants
With a double dose of baking soda to keep you dry, this powerful deodorant is Foley’s pick for heavy sweaters. It’s formulated with arrowroot powder, another natural ingredient that helps soak up moisture. She says it’s the best for odor and sweat protection, so it might be one to consider if you’re hesitant about making the switch to a natural deodorant.
As Shafrir says, “The adjustment period when you switch from using an antiperspirant to a natural deodorant can be rough — on both yourself and the people around you.” For another option that best mimics an antiperspirant, she likes the extra-strength natural deodorant from Milk + Honey. She says this formula, from the Austin-based brand (that has advertised on her podcast), like LoveFresh, “has arrowroot powder for maximum absorption.”
Best-smelling natural deodorant
Without synthetic fragrances, natural deodorants usually get their scents from essential oils, which smell very differently than baby powder–esque traditional deodorants. CAP Beauty co-founders Cindy DiPrima and Kerrilynn Pamer agree that Agent Nateur’s unisex deodorant smells the best of the bunch, with a sophisticated scent that’s far from crunchy. DiParma told us: “The scent profile is simply gorgeous. With notes of vetiver, sandalwood, cedarwood, and rose, it’s warming, sultry, heart-opening, and most importantly, subtle.” Pamer, who is also CEO of CAP, calls it “musky, sexy … complex, and intoxicating.”
Best baking soda–free natural deodorants
Although baking soda keeps wetness and moisture at bay, it can also be very irritating to some people, sometimes to the point that it turns them off from natural deodorant entirely. Dermatologist Cybele Fishman explains, “Baking soda is highly alkaline, and often causes irritant dermatitis in armpits. I am seeing so many armpit rashes since so many people are changing to natural deodorants, and when we check, there is usually baking soda in them, and when they stop using it, the rash goes away.” As an alternative, she suggests baking soda–free deodorants, and this rose-scented one comes highly recommended by Lara Kaiser, of Shen Beauty. “There’s really nothing I don’t like about it,” says Kaiser, who found that other natural deodorants were either too greasy or left oily stains on her shirts. She likes that it “lasts forever,” describing how one tube lasts her a year even with daily use. Several of our friends at the Cut are fans as well.
Sustainably made and baking soda–free, Corpus deodorant is also popular at Shen Beauty according to Kaiser, who loves the subtly elegant scents. “A lot of my clients have been rebuying,” she says. Lee agrees that it’s “super chic and sleek” and describes how the “long-lasting water-based formula” contains “naturally derived enzymes and plant extracts” like rose, mandarin, and cedar root to neutralize body odor.
Best magnesium-based natural deodorant
Magnesium is another baking-soda alternative that’s more gentle on the skin and still effective for killing odor-causing bacteria. Last year, Jackie Johnson, host of the natural-beauty podcast Natch Beaut, judged natural deodorants at last year’s Indie Beauty Expo and awarded the first-place prize to Brothers Artisan Oil’s magnesium-based deodorant. “It works extremely well,” she says. “If you’re a stink queen, this will cut that for you.” It comes in a handful of scents, but Johnson’s favorite is eucalyptus and lime, which she calls “really light and refreshing, and not overpowering.” It kept her stink-free during a sweaty workout class, but she does add that, like with any natural deodorant, you might have to reapply throughout the day. “Get comfortable with reapplication,” she advises.
Lee likes this scent-free deodorant from Violets Are Blue, which she says is good option for someone transitioning from a conventional deodorant. “This has the look, feel and application process of a more traditional formula, which can make the switch much more seamless.” The quick-drying formula contains magnesium (which helps to block odor) and tapioca starch (which help you keep dry), and doesn’t contain irritants often found in natural formulas like essential oils, baking soda, or arrowroot. “It’s ideal for anyone with skin sensitivities,” she says.
Best (less expensive) magnesium-based natural deodorant
Schmidt’s is one of the biggest names in the natural-deodorant scene (actress and comedian Ana Gasteyer calls it “a unicorn product”), and their sensitive-skin formula replaces baking soda with magnesium. Even though she’s not sensitive to baking soda, Johnson prefers the magnesium versions. “I just think they work better, and I also think the scents are more exciting,” she says. Along with the jasmine-tea scent, she says the rose and black pepper and coconut-pineapple varieties are “on point.”
Best natural deodorants with charcoal
As Johnson says, “Charcoal is a hot ingredient,” and some natural-deodorant fans claim it helps ease the transition from using antiperspirants. The hosts of another beauty podcast, Breaking Beauty, gifted her this Takesumi deodorant and told her it’s “amazing” for making the switch. “It draws out toxins from your pores and has an easy glide-on application without white marks,” says Lee, who loves how it goes on clear. “The scent is beautiful, too,” she adds.
Combined with other powerful ingredients like baking soda, magnesium, and kaolin clay, activated charcoal makes this cream deodorant a strong stink-blocker. “It provides long-lasting protection and most importantly, it works really well, and the protection it offers is very close to a conventional formula,” according to Lee. Credo co-founder and COO Annie Jackson agrees that “the charcoal and magnesium in it are supereffective and a little goes a long way.” The only downside is that it’s a cream you have to apply with your fingers, a style once common among natural deodorants that has mostly been replaced by tubes.
Kirbie Johnson, a beauty reporter and co-host of the Gloss Angeles Podcast swears by this Piper Wai cream, which helped her survive a hot Texas day entirely stink-free. “The other deodorants I brought felt like they were evaporating off my body the minute they were applied, but this works, and stayed put. Even in 100 degree heat, I did not smell,” she says. Its main ingredients are charcoal and tapioca starch, which, combined, absorb sweat and control odor. It also contains essential oils like citrus and mint, which give it its light, pleasant scent. “The key is smoothing it onto your underarm liberally with your fingers,” Johnson says, noting that a pea-sized amount is plenty. If you’re sensitive to coconut oil, she recommends patch testing and proceeding with caution.
Best natural deodorant cream
Despite the rise in tube deodorants, Foley says there’s still a market for cream deodorants in pots. Because natural deodorant often has a balmlike consistency, she explains, rubbing it in helps it absorb deeper into the skin. If you want to give it a try, she says the Soapwalla deodorant is very effective since it “contains a lot of baking soda, [and] a lot of tea-tree oil,” which is naturally antimicrobial. In an ode to Soapwalla, writer Alice Gregory told us it has “the efficacy of substances usually formulated for the military.”
Best sweat-activated natural deodorant
“Sweat-activated” has long been a buzzword in conventional deodorant marketing, with products promising to fire up their sweat-busting power when you need it most, and Type:A brings the concept to the natural-deodorant world. “You’re not going to smell it or notice it until you start sweating, then you’re gonna smell the scent of the deodorant,” says Foley. Their deodorants, which come in scents like citrus and ocean mint, are packaged in squeezable tubes that you apply directly to the armpit. Lee likes that it “absorbs instantly and leaves the skin soft.”
And the natural deodorant Strategist editors love
We’d be remiss not to mention this roll-on deodorant from Real Purity, which sparked somewhat of a craze among the Strategist team when editor Alexis Swerdloff reported that she had stopped sweating (along with a handful of her friends) after trying it. One editor after another bought it and reported the same, so we had to investigate. Dermatologists we spoke with suspect the vegetable glycerin in Real Purity absorbs moisture, contributing to the dry feeling. Actress Aubrey Plaza is also a fan: “Judy Greer recommended this to me. She told me it’s the only one that works, and it’s true. I don’t have to reapply. It’s all-natural. It’s light and smells good.”
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