The quest for a non-toxic deodorant that truly works isn’t easy, but it’s a work in progress. The difficulty is this: body chemistry. What works for one may stink on another. The common ground is possible health issues associated with conventional deodorants that contain the active ingredient aluminum.
In the past, those seeking to be health conscious were relegated to “natural” deodorants that were offbeat (the crystal), unreliable (stinking) or messy (Ever walk around with your arms out, waiting for sticky deodorant to dry?). That meant keeping a “special occasion” antiperspirant/deodorant on hand and hidden away for dressy affairs and hot dates. It is best to be armed with the latest information and products to keep you dry and smelling sweet.
Note: Conventional antiperspirants work by temporarily by plugging sweat glands, versus conventional deodorants that kill bacteria on the skin’s surface. While the studies associating antiperspirants and deodorants with serious health issues aren’t definitive, medical professionals still often advise against using these products. Also, many avoid plugging sweat glands or putting chemicals right where there are lymph glands.
Clean-beauty (organic and natural) brands are a big deal and more popular than ever. Many companies have developed underarm products that work. Typically, “clean” products fight bacteria-causing odor with essential oils, and wick wetness with clay and botanical powders.
Many of the more effective and popular “clean” deodorants are cream formulas that require applying with fingers. That said, there are easy-to-use stick deodorants, and some people swear by plain coconut oil for keeping odor at bay. It goes back to personal body chemistry and preferences. I tried the coconut oil, and it did help keep down body odor, but the coconut scent wasn’t OK for my husband.
In early May when I posted on Facebook that I was searching for natural deodorants to try for this article, the response was enormous. Many voted for Tom’s, Jason and Kiss My Face, brands easily found in stores and at reasonable price points. I tried several and they were passable and easy to use (stick form), but sometimes with more scent than I prefer as they interfered with my perfume. On the opposite end of the spectrum I tried a number of very pricey brands (including Aesop and Clarins). They were nice and worked well, but were costly ($30 and up) and very heavily fragranced.
Aside from keeping me dry and pleasant-smelling, there was one big issue: transfer. Most of the deodorants left marks on my clothing. Easily wiped away with a wet cloth, it was nonetheless annoying. One deodorant (Ursa Major) made me smell unflatteringly like beef vegetable soup, so I passed on that product.
In all I tested 15 natural deodorants in a variety of conditions from anxiety to work-out, to festival days, events and just running errands. After all is said and done, I proudly and safely raise my arms for these deodorants.
Meow Meow Tweet: The Grapefruit is baking soda-free and just about perfection. For helping with wetness, the Lavender with baking soda does the job and smells awesome.
Lush: T’eo with tea tree and citrus is a workhorse, but don’t use it immediately after shaving unless you like pain. Combine this or the patchouli-scented Aromaco with Twinkle Toes dusting powder for days when it’s going to be a really sweaty affair.
Piperwai: This one has activated charcoal, must be applied with fingers and is fantastic on all fronts. No, the charcoal doesn’t make your pits gray.
Lavanilla: Two words: Vanilla Summer.
Dr. Hauschka: The Sage Mint scent is tops. It didn’t do much for wetness, but it was great on odor.
Schmidt’s: Cream or stick, the Lavender and Sage is where it’s at.
Soapwalla Deodorant Cream: Vegan and top quality – a great combination of clays and essential oils to battle sweat and smell.
Don’t Sweat it: Handmade in Florida and available online, order the Bergamot Blend or Pretty Flowers and be done.