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I made the switch to natural deodorant in 2018, starting with whatever I could find at my local drugstore (at that time, Tom’s) and testing other formulas from there. Back then, the options were limited, but in the years since, it seems like nearly every personal-care brand has released its own natural deodorant. There are deodorant sticks from Native, roll-ons from Real Purity, and even an acid-based deo from beauty brand Kosas that’s supposed to make you smell like nothing at all. After testing a bunch and speaking with experts, I now consider myself well versed in the world of natural deodorant. And the one thing you need to know about all of them is that they won’t stop you from sweating. That’s because natural formulas lack aluminum, the ingredient in conventional antiperspirants that plugs up sweat glands. As the name implies, antiperspirants “work to block sweat ducts,” while deodorants are meant to oust any odors, dermatologist Dr. Shari Sperling told us. Natural deodorants do have alternative ingredients like glycerin, which can absorb moisture to help you stay dry and may make you feel as though you’re not sweating, experts explained to us.
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 may not work for someone with more sensitive skin or a heavier sweater. And since there are so many factors to consider (do you want a charcoal-based deodorant or one with arrowroot powder? A gel or a cream?), I polled a handful of clean-beauty experts, dermatologists, and Strategist staffers to find the best natural deodorants for all types of sweaters.
What we’re looking for
How it smells
Is it earthy? Floral? A mix of both? Is it made of synthetic fragrance or scented with essential oils? Fragrance can be an irritant, so I’ve kept that in mind when considering a formula’s merits.
Unlike traditional antiperspirants that promise 24-hour protection (and deliver), natural deodorants don’t last quite as long. Some need to be reapplied throughout the day to keep you smelling fresh, while others only need touching up after a particularly strenuous activity, like working out. Realistically, no natural deodorant is going to be as effective as an antiperspirant when it comes to keeping you dry, but it will help your sweat smell better or, in some cases, eliminate the smell altogether.
Natural deodorants come in a range of formats, from sticks to creams to roll-ons. Sticks are most similar to traditional deodorants like Dove and Secret and thus can be ideal for newbies or anyone who likes the ease of use of a stick. Creams are an OG format in the natural-deodorant world but tend to be messier and a bit more difficult to apply. They’re the most interactive and often require you to smear the product into your pits by hand or with the help of a tool. Then there are roll-ons, which are compact, easy to apply, and — because they’re clear — don’t leave marks on your clothes. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Some mimic a traditional deodorant stick, while others have to be scooped out and daubed into your armpit. Format doesn’t necessarily mean better or worse, but it can have an impact on ease of use.
What it’s made of
Natural deodorants use a variety of ingredients to keep you smelling fresh and somewhat dry. Baking soda is a well-known odor absorber. The drawback of baking soda, though, is how irritating it can be for people with dry or sensitive skin. This is because baking soda is alkaline (meaning it has a pH above 7). When it comes into contact with your skin, with its natural pH around 5, baking soda can cause dryness and irritation. For additional sweat absorption, some brands mix in other ingredients like activated charcoal (known for its ability to absorb bacteria). Other popular ingredients include magnesium and arrowroot. Magnesium behaves similar to baking soda but without the same levels of irritation, and arrowroot both thickens and absorbs moisture. Magnesium and arrowroot are popular substitutes in baking soda-free natural deodorants.
Regardless of which deodorant you choose, you should probably patch-test it first. Dr. Heidi Waldorf of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics recommends swiping on a little for a few days on a small area of your inner upper arm before using it on your pits.
Best overall natural deodorant
Scent: Earthy scent | Longevity: Long-lasting | Format: Roll-on | Ingredients: Contains baking soda and tapioca starch
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 make it a favorite of three of our experts. I haven’t personally tested this one because it contains baking soda (irritating to my sensitive pits), but the consensus is that it would work well for most people. It’s good for both suppressing odor and absorbing moisture. According to Jacqueline Jones, natural-beauty writer at the Beauty Proof, it’s a “game changer” in comparison to other natural deodorants she’s tried that were messy, stain-producing, and otherwise ineffective. “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.’”
Best natural deodorant for reducing sweat
Scent: Fragrance-free | Longevity: May not require reapplication | Format: Roll-on deodorant | Ingredients: Contains essential oils, vegetable glycerin, aloe
While the only FDA-approved antiperspirant is aluminum, there’s anecdotal evidence that this deodorant from Real Purity helps to cut down on sweat. It’s become something of a cult favorite amongst Strategist staffers since Aubrey Plaza introduced it to us in 2017. We investigated its seemingly magic properties in 2021, and while dermatologists maintain that there’s no such thing as a natural antiperspirant, some ingredients are better at absorbing sweat than others. Real Purity uses vegetable glycerin and aloe, which dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick told us “does not prevent the formation of sweat, but can help to absorb moisture, minimizing the feeling of wetness.” Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens (who has been using the deodorant since 2018) says this is the only natural deodorant she’s tried that hasn’t stopped working. It’s also odorless, which she describes as a benefit. “It doesn’t have some like cedary sagey geraniumy whatever-y smell,” she says. “It smells like nothing.”
Best natural deodorant for heavy sweaters without baking soda
Scent: Citrus and mint | Format: Cream | Longevity: Long-lasting | Ingredients: Contains activated charcoal and coconut oil
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 in combination 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-size amount is plenty. If you’re sensitive to coconut oil, she recommends patch-testing and proceeding with caution.
Best natural deodorant if you’re new to natural deodorants
Scent: Various | Format: Stick deodorant | Longevity: Long-lasting Ingredients: Contains glycerin
Dove is a big player in the traditional-deodorant space, but it’s recently expanded into natural deodorants too. Its zero percent aluminum option comes in familiar scents (like cucumber and green tea) and is widely available at big-box retailers. Strategist writer Chloe Anello is a fan. Anello has been a Dove antiperspirant loyalist but tried the aluminum-free version in her favorite scent, cucumber and green tea. “It has that same fresh scent the antiperspirant does, so most important, I don’t feel like I smell during the day,” she writes.
Best-smelling natural deodorants with baking soda
Scents: Various scents that use synthetic fragrances | Format: Stick deodorant | Longevity: May require reapplication | Ingredients: Contains baking soda
Native’s deodorant comes in an array of fresh scents like coconut and vanilla and cucumber and mint. The brand also releases limited-edition scents seasonally (I bought coconut milk and turmeric by the pack). Its formula isn’t drying, like those of other natural deodorants, because it includes coconut oil and shea butter, and while I don’t personally use this one because it contains baking soda, it’s a favorite of friends. “I’ve tried many other natural deodorants — they either don’t work or are irritating to my skin,” dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman explains. Native is the exception — she even recommends it to her patients, who have also come to love it.
Best natural deodorant for odor
Scent: Vetiver, vanilla bourbon, cardamom, black pepper, and tonka bean | Format: Cream | Longevity: Long-lasting | Ingredients: Contains baking soda and magnesium
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 important, it works really well; 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 super-effective, and a little goes a long way.” The only downside is that it’s a cream you have to apply with your fingers, a format that was once common among natural deodorants but has mostly been replaced by tubes.
Best natural deodorant for odor without baking soda
Scent: Available in various scents | Format: Stick deodorant | Longevity: May require reapplication | Ingredients: Contains magnesium and arrowroot
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.
Best natural deodorant for sensitive skin
Scent: Available in various scents | Longevity: May require reapplication | Format: Stick deodorant | Ingredients: Contains arrowroot powder and magnesium
I’ve been using Native’s Sensitive line for the past few years, and it’s the only thing I’ve used that keeps me fresh enough while also not irritating my armpits (I’m violently allergic to baking soda in deodorants). To keep odor at bay, it uses arrowroot powder and magnesium hydroxide, which work together to neutralize scent and absorb moisture. It doesn’t cause redness or sting, and comes in a wide range of scents. I’m such a fan that I keep at least four or five in stock at a time and collect the limited-edition scents.
Best natural deodorants with probiotics
Scent: Unscented | Longevity: May need reapplication | Format: Stick deodorant | Ingredients: Contains baking soda and probiotics
Probiotics have become more prevalent in the natural-deodorant space in recent years, an evolution that coincides with the rise of microbiome-focused skin care. They function in deodorant the same way they function in supplements. The probiotics introduce new, healthy bacteria to your armpit, the idea being that they’ll counteract the bad bacteria that makes your sweat smell bad. It works to varying degrees, but this one also contains baking soda, which helps with sweat absorption. Together, the two function similarly to charcoal and baking soda, but with one major difference — charcoal apparently removes the bad bacteria that makes your armpits smell while probiotics introduce additional bacteria to balance your microbiome out. This deodorant has amassed lots of fans, including the likes of Vice-President Kamala Harris’s niece, author and lawyer Meena Harris, who says that it’s fragrance-free and doesn’t have a super-stinky adjustment period like other natural deos.
Best natural deodorant cream
Scent: Smells like peppermint, lavender, and tea tree | Longevity: Long-lasting | Format: Cream deodorant | Ingredients: Contains baking soda and essential oils
Despite the rise in tube deodorants, I found that there’s still a market for cream deodorants in pots. While stick deodorants are designed to go on in thin layers, cream formulas can be applied more liberally to the armpit and thus offers more protection. A balmlike consistency makes a pot natural deodorant easier to rub in, and thus helps it absorb deeper into the skin. If you want to give it a try, Tara Foley, founder of Follain, 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 natural deodorant cream for sensitive skin
Scent: Fresh, rosy scent | Longevity: May require reapplication | Format: Stick deodorant | Ingredients: Contains corn starch and glycerin
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, “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.
Best natural deodorant for kids
Scent: Various scents | Longevity: May require reapplication | Format: Stick deodorant | Ingredients: Contains coconut oil, sage oil, and essential oils
This coconut-oil-based deodorant from Kopari (coconut oil is known for being both antimicrobial and antibacterial) is a favorite of Strategist writer Latifah Miles, who uses it on her son. “I was looking for something that isn’t too fragrant, doesn’t block his sweat glands, and is as close to natural as possible while actually working,” she says. To find this one, she’s tried both kid-specific deodorants along with a few natural adult formulas, and so far, this one has worked the best. “I love that the texture is smooth and creamy,” she says. “The scent is very light, which is nice for a child, and a little goes a long way.”
Best AHA deodorant
Scent: Unscented | Longevity: Long-lasting | Format: Roll-on | Ingredients: Contains AHAs and hyaluronic acid
Two people I spoke with mentioned this deodorant from Kosas, which uses AHAs to reduce odors rather than sweat-absorbing ingredients like starch or baking soda. Its serumlike texture makes it a much lighter option (very similar to the Crystal roll-ons), and once you get used to the slightly wet feel after you first apply, it dries down and disappears. It’s a great option if you don’t like the waxy feel of a traditional stick deodorant and also want to brighten and tone your armpits in the process. Hannah Baxter, a deputy beauty editor at the Zoe Report, tried lots of natural deodorants before switching exclusively to acids for her pits. She has been using this formula from Kosas for almost a year. One of the star ingredients in this formula is shikimic acid, a natural deodorizer that typically pops up in skin-care products to help with fighting acne. In deodorants like this one, its exfoliating properties help to adjust the pH of the armpit, which makes it an inhospitable place for bacteria to thrive (in other words — no bacteria, no smell). It also contains a blend of other acids, including mandelic acid (for brightening), lactic acid (for exfoliating), and hyaluronic acid, all of which work together to brighten, moisturize, and deodorize while helping with ingrown hairs. “It’s really easy to get ingrown hairs in the armpit area,” Dr. Alan J. Parks, dermatologist and founder of DermWarehouse, says, “so the addition of AHAs helps prevent this from happening.”
Best scented AHA deodorant
Scent: Available in various scents | Longevity: May require reapplication | Format: Roll-on | Ingredients: Contains niacinamide, PHA, lactic acid, xylitol esters and mandelic acid
If you want something scented (the Kosas one comes in a few different scents as well), Asia Ware, fashion and beauty writer at the Cut, likes this deodorant from Saltair. The serumlike deodorant has notes of coconut, almond blossom, and vanilla and contains a blend of actives, including lactic and PHA (this ingredient helps minimize discoloration and ingrowns), niacinamide (which brightens and smooths), xylitol esters (reduces how much odor-causing bacteria sticks to your skin), and mandelic acid, which makes the skin’s surface more acidic to combat odor and also exfoliates. Ware recently wore it to the gym, and after an intense three-hour workout, there was zero odor. “If I smelled anything, it was the scent of the deodorant,” she says.
Some more natural deodorants we’ve written about
• Hannah Baxter, deputy beauty editor at The Zoe Report
• Mi-Anne Chan, beauty reporter and video director at Condé Nast
• Liz Carey, Strategist contributor
• Cindy DiPrima and Kerrilynn Pamer, co-founders of CAP Beauty
• Cybele Fishman, dermatologist
• Tara Foley, founder of Follain
• Dr. Suzanne Friedler, dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology, PC
• Dr. Marisa Garshick, dermatologist
• Dr. Michele Green, cosmetic dermatologist
• Meena Harris, lawyer and author
• Annie Jackson, Credo co-founder and COO
• Dr. Debra Jaliman, dermatologist
• Jackie Johnson, host of natural beauty podcast Natch Beaut
• Kirbie Johnson, beauty reporter and co-host of the Gloss Angeles Podcast
• Jacqueline Jones, natural-beauty writer at the Beauty Proof
• Lara Kaiser, aesthetician
• Dr. Jessica Krant, dermatologist at Art of Dermatology
• Dr. Angela Lamb, dermatologist
• Nicolette Mason, clean-beauty enthusiast and content creator
• Dr. Alan J. Parks, dermatologist and founder of DermWarehouse
• Doree Shafrir, author and co-host of podcast Forever 35
• Dr. Shari Sperling, founder of Sperling Dermatology
• Dr. Heidi Waldorf, founder of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics
• Dr. Josh Zeichner, dermatologist
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