Natural deodorants have become mainstream thanks to increasing backlash over harmful chemicals found in their non-natural counterparts, including parabens, phthalate, propylene glycol, and the most concerning, aluminum.
Though the American Cancer Society and the Alzheimer’s Association claim there is not enough evidence, studies have shown aluminum (aluminium) to have a genotoxic profile, which means it can alter our DNA. Research links it to Alzheimer’s disease and suggests that the underarm skin near our breasts absorbs 100 percent of the aluminum-based compounds used in antiperspirants to plug up sweat glands, which causes “estrogen-like” hormonal effects and contributes to breast cancer.
If you’re not willing to take the risk (we’re not), here are our six favorite natural deodorants. All can be used anywhere on the body that gets hot and sweaty and prone to heat rash.
For the Beauty With Brains
Made in small batches, SmartyPits was inspired by founder Stacia Guzzo’s breast cancer survivor mom. “When she found the lump, it was directly underneath her armpit,” Guzzo says. “We had no family history of breast cancer, she didn’t have the genetic markers, and some of her doctors speculated it could have been environmentally influenced.” Guzzo says she tried to go aluminum free but couldn’t find a deodorant that worked well, felt good going on, and smelled good. So she decided to make her own. After tweaking formulas, she found her favorite using beeswax, arrowroot powder, avocado oil, coconut oil, and baking soda (all SmartyPits also come in baking soda-free varieties). The SmartyPits lineup features scents like Coconut Mango, Lemongrass Patchouli, and Rosemary Mint. The traditional scent collection is “essentially the ‘cleanest’ fragrance you can find on the market,” according to Guzzo. The natural scent collection is scented only with essential oils. Available at amazon.com, $12.
For the Sensitive Type
Founder and Soap Walla Kitchen chef Rachel Winard tried roller, stick, and spray applications before finding cream much more effective for keeping dry and preventing body odor. “You have more control over where and how much deodorant you’d like to apply, you don’t get random white streaks on your clothing, and you can cover the entire armpit,” Winard says. “There’s also something lovely about massaging an under-loved area of the body every day — plus health benefits for underarm lymph nodes.” We found the frosting-like consistency easy to apply and quick to absorb. Refrigerating (while not necessary) adds coolness for an even fresher sensation. Soap Walla is vegan, organic, and uses food-grade ingredients like ginger, salt, avocado, and rosehip, as well as lavender, peppermint, and tea tree essential oils, which help absorb moisture and discourage bacteria. Available at amazon.com, $16.
For the Real Go-Getter
Founded by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur convinced there was a market for natural, aluminum-free deodorant created specifically for the modern masses, Native describes itself as “deodorant that isn’t a chemistry experiment.” The company keeps ingredients simple: arrowroot powder, jojoba, castor bean and coconut oils, shea butter, beeswax, vitamin E, and baking soda. Scents include Lychee & Goji Berry, Fig & Honey, Coconut & Vanilla, and Gardenia & Orchid. The more than 5,300 five-star reviews and testimonials — such as “this is the only natural product that doesn’t irritate my skin, doesn’t require multiple applications, and doesn’t ruin my clothes” and “during menopause you realize you need something that will last, because you just can’t predict what your body is going to do next” — convinced us. Available at nativecos.com, $12.
For Community Supporters
Eight years ago, Jaime Schmidt decided she was going to make a natural deodorant that worked well and smelled nice. When the people of Portland, Oregon, discovered what their hometown girl had done, Schmidt’s natural deodorant began to sell out at local boutiques and co-ops — and then it really took off. The award-winning vegan formula comes in solid sticks and jars of cream for normal or sensitive skin. Signature scents include Rose & Vanilla, Ylang-Ylang & Calendula, and Begamot & Lime. The best-selling Charcoal & Magnesium is a baking soda-based formula enriched with the calming mineral. If fragrance isn’t your thing, Schmidt’s has you covered too. Available at target.com, $6-$11.
For the True Nature Lover
A leader in the farm-to-skin movement, Dr. Cindy Jones founded her Colorado Aromatics skin care line for people who love the outdoors (read: don’t mind smelling a bit like they love the outdoors). The company’s Chalk Creek deodorant powder is a talc-free formula designed to reduce odor and moisture. It contains baking soda, cornstarch, essential oils, and a blend of finely ground herbs for a heavenly scent. Though it may seem like the least likely candidate for someone fighting a major battle with sweat and stink, we think it’s a winner. Available at coloradoaromatics.com, $10.
For the Basic Betty
InstaNatural’s plant-based deodorants promise no parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, formaldehyde releasers, synthetic dyes, or other preservatives that have been blamed for increased skin sensitivities, breakouts, and rashes. Instead, the Florida-based company uses a natural, water-soluble liquid from the fermentation of vegetable feedstock that neutralizes perspiration odors with powerful enzymes — which we admit sounds a bit out there, but just goes to show how natural it really is. It comes in a single clean, fresh formula that combines sage oil with lavender and citrus extracts. Available at walmart.com, $14.