Though the jury’s still out on whether traditional antiperspirant deodorants (with ingredients like chlorohydrate, parabens, propylene glycol and triclosan) are causing any serious harm, lots of folks are interested in making the switch to cleaner, aluminum-free versions just in case. Here’s everything you need to know about going natural. Plus, 21 of our favorite picks ahead.
HOW TO SWITCH TO NATURAL DEODORANT
First things first: Before ditching your regular deodorant for a natural version, here are a few things to keep in mind to make the transition as seamless (and pleasant-smelling) as possible.
1. You Might Need to Detox Your Armpits First
Though it’s not medically proven to actually expel any toxins, some people swear by applying a bentonite clay mask to their armpits as a way to prevent those “I’m so smelly, I can’t take this anymore” moments that happen when your skin is acclimating to natural deodorant.
2. At First, Your Underarms Might Feel Super Dry
After trying natural deodorant for a few weeks, the skin under your arms might start to feel like a desert. Why? Because baking soda is a commonly used ingredient in natural deodorant, which can be drying. Luckily, there’s an easy solution: Moisturize your pits liberally after showering, allowing the lotion to soak in for a few minutes before applying your deodorant.
3. You Might Need to Apply it More Than Once a Day
Depending on how much you sweat, the days of waltzing from work to the gym to dinner with only one deodorant swipe under each arm may be over. Since you’re no longer plugging up your sweat glands with aluminum, you might need to reapply your deo once or twice more throughout the day to stay fresh.
4. There's No One-Size-Fits-All Deodorant for Everyone
While you might be tempted to just use the most popular option and stick with it, most people have to try a few different formulas before finding the right natural deo for them. Bottom line: Be patient and keep testing until you find your perfect match.
Speaking of trying different deos, here are 21 of our favorites to get you started.
1. Corpus Natural Deodorant
“Who knew using deodorant, much less a clean one, could be such a luxe experience?” says senior editor Dana Dickey, who fell so deeply in love with the neroli scent she emailed the company to ask that they bottle the scent as a fragrance. Aluminum-, phthalate-, talc- and paraben-free, the transparent stick uses organic ingredients to keep odor under control.
2. PRETTY FRANK JASMINE DEODORANT
Formerly known as Primal Pit Paste’s Jasmine Stick, this formula was a hit with PureWow contributor Lindsay Champion. “It kept me dry and smelling lovely all day, and I never had to do a second application, even after running or going to the gym,” she notes. “The baking soda formula might cause irritation for some people, but I found that moisturizing under my arms before applying did the trick.”
3. URSA MAJOR HOPPIN’ FRESH DEODORANT
We love this formula for its fresh smell (there’s real mint and eucalyptus in it) and the fact that, texture-wise, it’s pretty similar to a traditional deodorant. According to our skincare savvy colleague, “It glides on easily and doesn’t leave any white residue, which is a huge plus. It also feels incredibly cooling for the first 10 to 20 minutes after applied, which I love. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. It stayed put even during an intense workout and didn’t cause any irritation or bumps like I’ve had in the past with natural deodorants.”
4. MEGABABE ROSY PITS DEODORANT
This megahit deodorant (which has a five-star rating and sold out in eight minutes at launch) is free of aluminum and baking soda. Instead, it uses cornstarch to absorb moisture, so it’s safe for sensitive and eczema-prone skin. Couple that with bacteria-fighting green tea, coconut, sage and sandalwood and it’s no wonder the stick is a best seller.
5. LAVANILA VANILLA GRAPEFRUIT NATURAL DEODORANT
We were already in love with Lavanila’s perfume, so it makes sense that we fell for the brand’s deodorant, too. Featuring a citrusy blend of pink grapefruit, lime and vanilla, the scent is light and subtly sweet. Powered by something called “beta glucan technology,” the formula eliminates odor and absorbs wetness, while allowing skin to breathe. The application feels super soft and silky (without leaving any sticky residue behind).
6. MEOW MEOW TWEET GRAPEFRUIT DEODORANT STICK
How cute is this packaging? Admittedly, it’s what initially drew editor Abby Hepworth to the product. What kept her coming back for more was its effectiveness—after her body had a few weeks to adjust. “There was definitely a detox period where my body had to get used to natural deodorant and I did not smell particularly good during that first week and a half,” she admits. After the adjustment, it’s been smooth sailings. “I really like this deodorant and I was surprised to learn that switching to an all-natural product wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it would be,” she adds.
7. AGENT NATEUR HOLI NO. 3 DEODORANT
Lifestyle director Angela Pares’s foray into the world of natural deodorant did not go off without a hitch. “After much trial and error, I was informed that sometimes you can’t just make the switch cold turkey. You have to do a little detoxifying first. I used a bentonite clay mask on my armpits a few times a week to ensure that I was clearing things out for maximum effectiveness.” After the initial funk was gone, she tried this formula and was hooked. “The deodorant feels just like a regular tube but smells even better (she prefers the eucalyptus, but the brand also has a rose-scented version).”
8. BRIOGEO B. WELL TEA TREE + EUCALYPTUS CLEAN DEODORANT
With a plant-based formula that uses potent botanicals like tea tree and eucalyptus to help neutralize odor, this deodorant leaves you smelling minty fresh all day long—even after a sweaty spin class or a high stakes meeting at work. Thanks to coconut oil and aloe leaf, it glides onto skin easily without tugging and doesn’t leave any chalky residue behind.
9. Humble Deodorant
Manufactured in small batches in Taos, New Mexico, this pick is loaded with natural ingredients like cornstarch, coconut oil and organic bees wax. “I LOVE the lavender scent. It's also not chalky like a lot of deodorants and glides on super easily,” says market editor Olivia Kappler.
10. Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant
The key ingredient here is eucalyptus, which is known for its antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory powers in the plant world. It also lends a crisp scent. “I found this deodorant in the men's section and was concerned the scent would be too masculine for a woman but it's really nice,” says one user. The gentle formula can also be used on sensitive and eczema-prone skin.
11. Kosas Chemistry AHA Serum Deodorant Serene Clean
This chic roll-on creates a pH environment that is inhospitable to odor-causing bacteria. Plus, the alpha-hydroxy acid in the formula helps to brighten darkened underarms and prevent ingrown hairs. “I’ve been using this since last summer and found that it keeps the B.O. away,” says editor Katherine Gillen. She also notes that it “takes a long time to dry on ya’ pits” so give yourself a few extra minutes before you get dressed.
12. Kaia Naturals Charcoal Deodorant Lime Mint
“I absolutely love this deodorant. From an intense gym class to stressful days at the office, this product does not disappoint,” says one reviewer. Activated charcoal draws out toxins from pores and the lime-mint leaves your underarms feeling tingly and smelling fresh. The grey color also gets high marks from users because it doesn’t leave white streaks on clothing.
13. Kaia Naturals The Underarm Bar
“I was extremely skeptical when I got this as a sample [but because] I have stinky tendencies [and] I work out daily, I gave it a try. The mini bar lasted me five months and is the only soap to truly make the stink go away,” says one user. Made to be used as an extra cleansing step before putting on a natural deodorant, the soap offers maximum odor protection. To use, simply lather up with the bar and let the suds sit on your skin for 30 seconds before rinsing off. All you’re left with is an extra clean-feeling and odor-free surface.
14. Kopari Natural Coconut Original Deodorant
Sage oil and plant enzymes help reduce odor in this aluminum- and baking soda-free formula. And the smooth stick goes on clear, so it won’t streak or stain your shirts or skin. “It's a slick formula that glides on a little wet, but dries down and leaves a nice coconutty smell,” says one user.
15. Frank Body A Clean Deodorant
Alcohol- and aluminum-free, this stick deodorant is also fragrance-free, which is welcome news for those with sensitive skin. Natural, skin-safe synthetic ingredients do the heavy lifting here, with one self-described “serious anxiety sweater” being surprised at its efficacy: “This one doesn't have much of a smell [to it] so I wasn't too hopeful. But I went [for] an hourlong run and weights session and smelled my pits after and absolutely couldn't smell any kind of odor.”
16. Aesop Deodorant
This spray-on formula contains witch hazel, vetiver root, lemongrass and just a touch of patchouli instead of aluminum. “Me and my spouse have gone through several bottles of this, as it is a unisex scent,” says one user, who adds that it has “a nice scent,” that’s “more earthy/musky.”
17. Milk + Honey Lavender, Tea Tree Extra Strength Deodorant No. 9
If you plan on shaving your pits, do it the night before you apply this deodorant to minimize any potential irritation from the baking soda in the formula. Remember: Baking soda is super effective at neutralizing odor, but can take some getting used to. Made in Austin, this is aluminum- and paraben-free stick keeps your underarms comfortably dry, while coconut oils ensure a silky spread on your skin.
18. Crystal Essence Magnesium Solid Stick Deodorants
Paraben-free and free of toxins, this is a one-ingredient solution to underarm wetness. Potassium mineral salt controls odor naturally without blocking pores like antiperspirants do and the lavender-rosemary scent smells warm without being overpowering. As one fitness instructor said after giving the product a top-level test: “No embarrassing white residue [and it] keeps me fresh throughout 12 sessions of running and personal training!”
19. Each & Every Worry-Free Natural Deodorant
The makers of this deo pride themselves on creating an aluminum-free product that’s effective without having to resort to complex chemicals. Instead, Dead Sea salt, essential oils and tapioca are blended into a non-irritating stick. “It doesn’t clump and leave white marks on clothing, either” says one happy reviewer.
20. Baxter of California Aluminum-Free Deodorant
“This deodorant is great smelling, [long] lasting and doesn't mess up my shirts at ALL! I wish I knew about it years ago. I would have saved hundreds on ruined shirts,” exclaims one user. We enjoy its citrus-musk scent and cool blue packaging, too.
21. VICHY 24-HOUR DRY-TOUCH ALUMINUM FREE DEODORANT
This aluminum- and alcohol- free stick uses zinc gluconate and perlite to absorb moisture and fend off odor-causing bacteria from your skin. It also features the brand’s hallmark mineralizing thermal water (from France, no less) which soothes and strengthens your skin’s moisture barrier to prevent irritation. (Note: The mild formula is meant for low to moderate activity so if you’re, say, training for a marathon or headed to a high-intensity interval class, you may want to toss this into your bag for a post-workout reapplication.)
PureWow may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from PureWow's editorial and sales departments.