9 natural deodorants that work

9 Natural Deodorants that Work as Hard as Your Workouts

Let’s be real here; we would be nowhere without our deodorants. A good deodorant is like the ultimate cheat sheet. You’re a little smelly after the gym? Deodorant. You slept in your sweat last night because the weather decided to do a 180 and you can’t handle heat (I mean, theoretically speaking, of course)? Deodorant!

But for us green beauties, we have to be a little more careful about what we use on our pits. ‘Cause not only is our underarm skin smell-prone, it’s also quite absorbent. You might have already heard of the study that reported that the skin absorbed an average of 64% of what’s put on it – but did you know there was another study that showed an absorption rate of 100% for the skin on our underarms and genitalia (Kasting, 2005)?

What’s more is what we’re typically putting on our very absorbent pits….

Deodorant Ingredients To Avoid

Before we get to the nitty gritty of the strange and dangerous stuff found in the deodorants we use, we want to point out that they differ slightly between deodorants vs antiperspirants.

Deodorant: Is most often composed of antibacterial ingredients like Triclosan to inhibit bacterial growth as well as “fragrances” to kill or mask odor. Deodorants don’t reduce perspiration.

Antiperspirant: On the other hand, is made with sweat-blocking ingredients – typically aluminum chlorohydrate or less often, aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrate. These aluminum-based complexes basically form a plug in the duct of your sweat glands, effectively blocking your pores from producing sweat. prevent sweat from even reaching your skin’s surface.

Many products combine both kinds of ingredients for maximum effectiveness.

Okay, now let’s get to the actual ingredients to avoid.  Hopefully by now you’ve gotten pretty proficient in the art of checking the label (no sarcasm intended, that ingredients list is like a weird labyrinth of –oxides and –parabens) so here’s some stuff to watch out for when shopping for safe deo:

Aluminium

It’s a bit unsettling to find out that the stuff your cooking pans are made out of is the active ingredient in your antiperspirant. Aluminum is often used in high concentrations in antiperspirant deodorants (up to 25%) to block sweat and odor. And in order to do this, aluminum first needs to absorbed into the skin to block the sweat ducts. Result = less sweating, less odor.

But as lovely as dry pits are, the downside is that this absorbed aluminum can accumulate in side the body. When it gets absorbed through your pores, aluminum makes a little home base in your kidneys, lungs, and other vital organs including the brain. In the long term, exposure to this metal build-up not only slows calcium absorption and can cause damage to your central nervous system, but has been linked to causing changes in the estrogen receptors of breast cells (which can promote the growth of both cancer and non-cancerous cells).

And it’s one thing to occasionally come into contact with aluminum through cookware and soda cans and quite another to be chronically exposed to it through your antiperspirant deodorant. Especially when you consider the absorbency of your underarm skin as well as how often you use deodorant – scary exercise: multiply your daily use of deodorant by a year, or two years, or a lifetime, for an idea of how much direct aluminum exposure you’re getting.

Parabens

You might have already heard about these little nasties, but parabens are a class of chemicals used as preservatives in everything from shampoo to deodorants. When absorbed through the skin, they can mimic estrogen and give you a one-way ticket to hormone imbalance.

Parabens are not friendly to your body in general, but they’re probably worst when they’re constantly applied where they can build up in breast tissue. A 2004 study found parabens in 18 of 20 samples of tissue from human breast tumors and ‘though this doesn’t necessarily prove that parabens cause breast tumors – we’re going to err on the safe side.

Everything with –paraben at the end of it is suspect, but notable parabens include ethylparaben and propylparaben. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Triclosan

Triclosan is used to kill bacteria in soaps and deodorants, but when it’s absorbed through the skin it can play havoc with muscle function. Early animal studies have also shown that it might mean bad news for your endocrine system and thyroid gland- working in the same way that parabens do to mimic estrogen.

Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol is the stuff you’d find in de-icers for airplanes- what the hell is it doing in our deodorants? Basically, when it’s applied to the skin it takes a while to break down- leaving a nice little bit of irritation in its wake. If you have sensitive skin, you’d better be taking notes.

Phthalates

No, we don’t know how to pronounce that either (just kidding, it’s THAL-ates). Phthalates are a group of chemicals mostly used for fragrance in deodorants (hidden behind that sneaky ‘fragrance’ ingredient that nobody is required to reveal to you). The research we have is mostly from animals studies, but it’s none too promising. In animals, phthalates have been proven to cause damage to the kidneys, lungs, and most prominently the reproductive system- especially in males.

Last note on phthalates – “fragrance” ingredients showed a 100% absorption rate (Robinson et al, 2000). Just FYI.

But Are There Natural Deodorants That Work?

Okay, so now that we’ve showed you the horror show of strange, dangerous stuff commonly found in deodorants, let’s get to the good stuff. And by good stuff, of course we mean all-natural deodorants that are safe enough for your delicate pit skin.

But wait, you say, safe deodorant sound all good and dandy but do they work?!

Yes and no. One thing you should know about all natural deodorants is that they’re just that – deodorants, not antiperspirants. As mentioned above, antiperspirants are designed to block sweat glands so that you stop sweating, which is a little bit unfair on your poor pits (sweating is natural, after all). Deodorants, on the other hand, do just that; de-odorize.

So from natural deodorants, you typically get a combination of antibacterial action, sweat absorption (not blockage), and odor killers (or maskers). And most of the best natural deodorants perform these tasks incredibly well – more than well enough to keep the majority of us odor-and-embarassment-free in our daily lives and workouts.

But if you’re used to antiperspirants that contain large doses of pore-and-sweat-blocking aluminum or if your daily routine consists of trekking through tropical jungles – in all honesty, natural deodorant may fall a bit short of your expectations. That being said, they do come with the advantage of being totally free of chemical toxins that compromise your health and you can re-apply as much as your heart desires.

Plus, the world of natural deodorant has really improved in the recent past and there are now surprisingly effective, all-natural deodorants that’ll have your back through even your sweatiest workouts – let’s check ’em out!

The Best Natural Deodorants That Work

If you’re finally ready to make the switch, here are the best natural deodorants on the market. They’re all non-toxic and au naturale – but they vary quite a bit in strength and lasting power. It might take you a few days or weeks to experiment and find the perfect all natural deodorant for you – but keep in mind that once you find it, you get the perk of toxin-free pits for years to come.

Here are our top picks!

Soapwalla Deodorant Cream

natural deodorants that work

This stuff works, like all day. Which is awesome news since Soapwalla’s vegan-friendly deodorant scores a whopping 0 on the EWG’s toxicity scale. It’s fragranced purely by natural ingredients like lavender and peppermint. And though the scent doesn’t stay very long, the deodorant itself will pretty much stay put all day and then some – unless you’re planning on a super rigorous workout, that is. For everyday life, walking, yoga class, etc – this one’s got you covered.

When applied to freshly shaved underarms it can sting a bit, so watch out for that.

EWG Score: 0

Price: $18 per jar

Ingredients: Butyrospermum parkii (Shea) butter*, Zea mays (Corn) starch*, Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) seed oil*, Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) seed oil*, Sodium bicarbonate*, Rosa rubiginosa (Rosehip) seed oil*, Lecithin*, Glycerin*, Cymbopogon flexuosus (Lemongrass) herb oil*, Kaolin, Tocopherol*, Citrus aurantium bergamia (bergaptene-free Bergamot) fruit oil*, Citrus aurantifolia (Lime) peel oil, Citrus paradisi (Grapefruit) peel oil, Litsea cubeba (May chang) fruit oil*, Vanilla planifolia (Vanilla) fruit extract. *Certified Organic

Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant Cream

natural deodorants that work

Meow Meow Tweet’s deodorant cream is completely hand-made and doesn’t contain anything to harden or solidify it – meaning that it can separate whilst you’re applying it and you’ll have to flap your arms around a bit afterwards.

But it’s definitely worth bearing through it for such a safe, natural product. The scent is just right- not too strong and not too weak. Lasting power isn’t all that great, and the original formula has baking soda in it – but people with sensitive skin shouldn’t count their loses because there’s also a formula without it, which is remarkably gentle, soft on the skin and still effective – the perfect natural deodorant for sensitive skin. Extra perk? Unlike other natural deodorants that burn after you shave, this one doesn’t irritate your pits even immediately apres-shave.

Oh, a jar of this stuff will also last you a few months so it’s a great value natural deo, as well.

EWG Score: N/A

Price: $14 per jar

Ingredients (for Baking-Soda-Free Deodorant Cream): *Maranta arudinacea (arrowroot) powder, *butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, magnesium hydroxide, *cocos nucifera (virgin coconut) oil, *simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil, *cirus paradisii (grapefruit) essential oil, *citrus bergamia (bergamot) essential oil, *citrus sinensis (sweet orange) essential oil, *citrus limon (lemon) essential oil. *certified organic ingredient

Green Tidings All Natural Deodorant

natural deodorants that work

If you’re a super active, on-the-go kind of person – this is one natural deodorant you’ll want to try. Green Tidings’ natural deodorants come either unscented or with a light lavender scent and ‘though the scent doesn’t stick around, the odor-repellent protection definitely does.

The formula is fairly light so it’s not likely to irritate sensitive skin but for such a light deo, it’s surprisingly strong – it’ll keep you fresh even through sweaty, rigorous activities. Bikram yoga? It’s got you covered. Squash session? Check. Summer-time trek? It’s got your back.

Extra perk? A number of different moisturizing and replenishing ingredients keeps your underarms happy and hydrated whilst still leaving you smelling fresh.

EWG Score: N/A

Price: $8 per stick

Ingredients: Organic Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Organic Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) (Unrefined, Fair Trade), Magnesium Chloride (Magnesium Oil, Raw, Pure), Manihot Esculenta (Tapioca) Starch, Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Wildcrafted Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax (Wild, Pesticide-Free), Organic Lavender Essential Oil (in Lavender scent only).

Piperwai Natural Deodorant

natural deodorants that work

Piperwai’s Natural Deodrant has a lovely peppermint scent to it, though it might be a little strong for some noses. This one’s quite strong – it’s made mainly from activated charcoal and baking soda, so those with sensitive skin could experience a spot of trouble with this deodorant.

It’s reasonably good at keeping the odors at bay, though to be on the safe side you should probably re-apply at least once during the day.

EWG Score: 2

Price: $24.99 per jar

Ingredients: Cassava (Tapioca) Starch, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Oil), MagnesiumHydroxide, Butryospermum parkii (Shea) Butter, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Rosewater, Witch Hazel, Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E), Sodium Bicarbonate, Activated Carbon (Charcoal), Proprietary Blend of 11 Essential Oils

Schmidts Natural Deodorant

natural deodorants that work

If you’ve been looking for natural deodorants, there’s a high chance you’ve heard of Schmidt’s. Literally everyone has an opinion on it, so I’ll try to keep it a little neutral.

First of all, it absorbs moisture instead of just taking away the scent, which isn’t very common when it comes to natural deodorants. It contains baking soda, which might irritate sensitive skin a little. There’s no white marks to speak of, but you will have to re-apply it a few times during the day to keep yourself dry and smelling fresh.

Overall, a fantastic natural deo, especially if your pits can handle the baking soda.

EWG Score: N/A

Price: $9 to $12 per jar or stick

Ingredients: Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), Maranta arundinacea (arrowroot) powder, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, Salvia sclarea (clary sage) essential oil, Lavandula (lavender) essential oil, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Humulus lupulus (hop) extract

Primal Pit Paste

natural deodorants that work

Primal Pit’s Paste comes with a choice of six different scenes from lavender to lemonade, with an unscented option as well. The whole line is completely handcrafted and comes in handy-dandy deodorant sticks (gone are the days of getting your finger suck in and painting your hand blue).

It contains baking soda as an anti-bacterial and beeswax so that they can use it in stick form (anyone want to explain that one to me?), so it’s probably not ideal for people with sensitive skin or vegans. There’s a lovely, light scent to it that seems to vanish after a few hours but the deodorant itself only requires a quick rub in the morning and at night to keep everything smelling good. It doesn’t absorb moisture, but it does take away the odor.

EWG Score: N/A

Price: $9 – $15 per jar or stick

Ingredients: Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Raw Shea Butter, Non-Aluminum Baking Soda, Organic Arrowroot Powder, Organic Essential Oils (They have a variety of styles for men and women and ingredients differ slightly.)

Organic Fields of Heather Deodorant

natural deodorants that work

Organic Fields of Heather’s natural deodorant takes low-budget hygiene to a new level. One 2.5 fl. Oz bottle of this stuff will only run you up $4, so it’s perfect for those who want to go natural but can’t deal with the organic price tags. It doesn’t contain any irritants whatsoever and is pretty much 100% natural without any sneaky fragrancing behind the scenes. Better yet, it won’t leave a residue. The only hiccup with this product is that it isn’t as strong as you’d expect, so this isn’t one to wear out to the gym.

EWG Score: N/A

Price: $4 per stick

Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Cocoa Butter, Aloe Vera, Beeswax, Blends, Extracts and Fragrances of Jasmine, Vanilla, Litsea, Rose, Lavender, Lemon, Blueberry, Orange, Juniper, Clary Sage, Citronella, Grapefruit, Spearmint, Patchouli, Peppermint, Bergamot, Cedarwood, Pine, Ylang, Coconut, Berry, Sage, Pepper, Clove, Peach, Ginger & Sandalwood

Ozone Layer Deodorant

natural deodorants that work

At first, having ‘oxygen’ as an active ingredient in a deodorant might seem a little silly, but oxygen is actually weirdly good at getting rid of the bacteria that cause smells when it’s used right. It comes in 12 different scents, most of which are based on essential oils, and an unscented option as well. The scent is really quite light though, so even if you do get the scented versions you won’t smell much of anything, apparent from whatever sweat isn’t. The formula is really quite light so it’s not likely to irritate sensitive skin.

EWG Score: 0-2 

Price: $9 per stick

Ingredients: Shea butter, Beeswax, Essential oils, Oxygen

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