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Everything You Need To Know About Natural Deodorants

Because sweat happens and summer stinks (in a good way!)

06.09.16

During Elizabethan times, a woman would peel an apple, place the fruit underneath her armpit, let it absorb her body odor, and gift it to her lover. Considering 95% of Americans now wear deodorant, the “love apple” probably ranks at the bottom of the list of ways to get your crush’s attention. Worse than screenshot-ing their snap.

Today we are a nation of armpit-stifling addicts. Leaving the house without applying it is arguably the quickest way to ruin a morning. Forgetting mascara isn’t ideal. Coffee’s bound to be somewhere. But realizing you’re sans antiperspirant and making human contact is terrifying.

The stank stigma is very real so there is no way I will abandon deodorant usage. Society has brainwashed me into believing my skin must be as hairless as a baby seal while also smelling like a citrus grove. I can’t give it up, despite knowing deodorants are notorious for their harmful ingredients (aluminum, parabens, silica, talc, etc.). While I don’t think my Dove Sensitive Skin stick will kill me, anything’s possible!

We sweat for a reason. Natural deodorants won’t stop that because they’re not antiperspirants, but they will help tame B.O.. You can amp up the amount as need be, even if it means having to apply shirtless and wash your hands afterwards (pastes are high maintenance!).

If you’re sweating you’re probably conquering something, like jumping off a cliff in the sunshine or marching your ass off to get to your job or dancing because you’re happy and it’s the weekend and you just watched Save the Last Dance on Netflix. Those are all good things. Don’t sweat the small stuff, just cover up with caution.

And since I want you to have a beautiful summer and make beautiful memories and post beautiful Instagrams, I tried ten natural deodorants so you don’t have to. Well… you still might have to. These things are wild cards.

Gold Medals

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Meow Meow TweetLemon-Eucalyptus was my #1 favorite scent. Mix that with fun, biodegradable packaging + a long-lasting product = something you should be excited about. I went on a serious run after eating a serious dinner from Shake Shack (it’s cool; I love to torture myself) and while I was sweaty and near death, I could still smell some Meow Meow Tweet.

Dr. Hauschka: Rollerball application for the win. Not only does this deodorant glide on like your favorite pair of slippers, it smells luxurious (but not overpowering) and lasts all day. Zero complaints.

Arm & Hammer: I actually didn’t try this, but Krista included it as a drugstore product fave so I trust it.

Black Chicken Remedies Axilla: Sure, all of these words at once lead me to believe this is actually an early 2000’s metal band and not a deodorant paste. Regardless, I loved the peppermint & cedarwood scent and creamy texture. Plus, it worked. What a treat you were, BCRA. See u at Warped Tour!

Silver Medals

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Captain Blankenship: I made my boyfriend smell my armpit after I finished a run (in humid, hot Carolina woods) while wearing this. He did not love doing this which is why he will not be getting a love apple for Christmas. The deodorant was completely gone, but I honestly didn’t think I smelled bad. Very proud of Captain Blankenship.

Burt’s Bees: Earthy & herbal with a good reputation. Sad to say this didn’t cut it for me. I smelled very bad very fast. If you don’t mind reapplying, this is fine for daily use or slowly walking into a movie theatre, sitting comfortably in air conditioning, and slowly walking back out.

Osmia Organics: Applying this was absurdly pleasurable. It had an exfoliating-like kick (tapioca starch?) and the cream was lighter than the others—similar to when Dannon released whipped dessert yogurt marketed as healthy mousse. I had to reapply, but I’m fine carrying a spare around. Commitment, ladies. What will you do for your deodorant?

Bronze Medals

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Schmidt’s: I have high hopes for anything with a miniature spoon under the lid, but this Ylang Ylang + Calendula paste did not work. It was dry and crumbly, making it difficult to adhere to my skin (kept falling on the floor) and there was too much an off-putting smell I couldn’t place (the hops?).

Fig + Yarrow Underarm Lotion: You’ll feel like an actual princess when you reach for your glass bottle of underarm lotion. Or like the owner of a boutique hostel chain. Underarm lotion. It went on easily, was noticeably moisturizing, and neutralized odor. I expected it to be flawless (hefty price tag for 2oz.) and it wasn’t, but it worked… a little… I think. I don’t even care, really, it’s that pretty.

Honest Co.: The shirt I wore after spritzing this Vetiver deodorant will continue to smell like patchouli for the rest of eternity. Archaeologists will uncover my belongings and said shirt will still smell. Lavender spray was lovely but didn’t last an average metro commute followed by sunny afternoon strolling. Vetiver, on the other hand, is probably still lingering in the air at LaGuardia and in the Lyft I took there. Pros: spray is great, breathable with a clean finish. Cons: I have PTSD.

Weleda: Another spray with positive reviews that didn’t do much. (Maybe sprays are my enemy?) Unlike my beloved Meow Meow, the citrus in this convinced me I was pouring a moscow mule directly on my body, which was alarming. Weleda didn’t work that well…eda for me.

Follow writer and armpit expert Elizabeth Sochko on Instagram @esochko. Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.

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  • Maia

    I actually just switched to Arm&Hammer after Krista’s drugstore recommendation! I like it a lot better than the smelly tea tree oil stuff I was using before. Thanks Krista and Elizabeth!

    • Ashley

      Same. I’ve been habitually and (what I’ve been pretending is) discreetly doing midday sniff tests because I can’t believe I found a natural deodorant that works. And, it was way cheap.

      • Krista Anna Lewis

        OMG YAY I’m so happy to be spreading the decent smelling ‘pit love.

    • %^&%$#

  • Megan Griffin

    thank you for this…my Toms of Maine deodorant is NOT holding up to the summer heat.

    • I’m using Tom’s right now and I find it decent, but it can be a bit hard to wash off.

      • Megan Griffin

        Mine worked all winter but I feel like it became less effective over time, unless it just hadnt been tested until the 90 degree temps arrived.

    • Krista Anna Lewis

      Toms does absolutely nothing for me. I think it only smelled good immediately when I put it on, and then the BO took over. Arm&Hammer is way better and you can still get the grass scent!!

      • Megan Griffin

        Thank you…I will get me some ASAP, as my husband has begun to notice my ripe smell:)

    • grace b

      Yea, I was using the Tom’s Unscented — did not work. Then I bought their “baby powder” scent and OMG do I smell HORRIBLE. It basically smells rancid. I really want to try Meow Meow Tweet now! Not a fan of the jars of stuff (tried Primal Pit Paste and just didn’t smell good).

  • Libby

    Try out the brand Primally Pure! I started using in January and only needed to reorder once so far. They even have a special formula for sensitive skin – which I have- and it works great. The tea tree and lavender scents are lovely, AND can come in a travel size which is so convenient!

  • lms

    Such a timely post – I bought the Soapwalla deodorant online and am trying it out for the first time today after doing loads of research on what I should be using now that I’m preggo. I wanted to switch before I have a baby on my boob – the internet unanimously said Soapwalla. So far it smells amazing (I bought the citrus one) and it went on like a dream. I still need to test it post run but I’m feeling pretty confident that it will be amazing at least for a regular day. Glad we have come a long way since the days of the crystal….

    • amy

      soapwalla smells sooooooooo good!

  • starfizz

    I’m a really big fan of Kiss My Face Active Life deodorant, and I’ve heard great things about Crystal deodorant!

    • Jennifer

      So I bought Kiss My Face Active Life deodorant about a month ago, and sister was STANK-Y for 2 weeks! By the end of the work day, I was walking around with my arms glued to my sides. The only thing I liked was a smooth it was and I really wanted it to work. But alas, I shall Stank no more! I bought Crystal deodorant and IT IS WORKING. The fragrance is Lavender + something else, but you can barely notice it. It leaves your pits super wet for a few minutes after applying but I literally don’t smell fragrance OR stale pits! Win win in my book.

      • starfizz

        Huh, must be different body chemistry? I’ve been using KMF for like 2 years and been fine. But I’m now more curious to try out Crystal deodorant!

  • Lee

    Has anyone tried the Ursa Major deodorant?

    • Sharon

      I backed their Kickstarter campaign. Their deodorant is the most effective natural deodorant that I’ve ever used. It smells fresh and minty and feels tingly. Our teenage sons even use it now!

  • Hilary

    So glad to hear a rave review of Meow Meow Tweet’s deodorant — been wanting to try it. I really like the Lavanila (vanilla grapefruit scent) I’ve been using for a few months, but do find that it usually makes me smell like french fries (?!?) by the end of the day. Which is bad only because it makes me crave french fries.

  • Oh the rest 5% of the Americans…

    http://somebodyfromsomewhere.me/

  • amy

    I suffer from an apparently overactive armpit situation. 🙁 it has taken years of looking for the right situation. At one point I was putting a sort of shellac on my armpits (only during those humid summer months) that I would need to let “dry or set”. That was probably filled with things that could preserve a human for decades. Anyway, a couple months ago, my boyfriend and I set out to find a natural alternative. I told him it may take a while…. and it did. until I found schmitds – that unfortunately got a bronze for application. I found the secret to schmitds application is yes, a bit much, BUT it WORKS. I apply small amount with spoon type thing into armpit – wait while it warms up and gets soft, and then rub it in with any number of deodorants that i now have on hand from my trials. it works so well that i have since washed all of my shirts from days gone by, and my clothes are now lasting longer and um, my boyfriend doesn’t have to smell my pits before we leave the house………. yes this is a totally embarrassing thing, but schmidts has changed my life. Note to schmidts: work on the application!!!

    • Nico

      Schmidts actually came out with stick versions of all their scents somewhat recently! The finger application was what prevented me from trying it before but I recently just switched from Arm&Hammer to this. (I found out that while A&H didn’t have aluminum it did have another ingredient that can be bad) So far so good!

    • EJS

      Amy I am so glad the Schmidts worked for you! I did consider heating the paste for a better application, so maybe that is part of the trick. Also- what Nico said below! STICKS! There’s still hope!

  • meme

    I am the biggest fan of the potassium alum. crystal. I’ve been using the “DeoÉxo Critstal d’alun de Potassium” which I got for 2 euros at my local French pharmacie, but I’m sure you can find something like it in the US.
    TMI but I have a strong scent, specially when it’s stress sweat, and this neutralizes it. I still get kind of wet and it’s not infallible against the stress swear, but no deodorant ever was for me (that’s what showers are for :p). It’s so good I bought one for my husband too.

    • Nico

      Potassium alum is still a form of aluminum if you are trying to avoid that ingredient…

      Just a friendly FYI 🙂

      • meme

        Oh, I feel really stupid now. I just saw it and thought “yey, natural and cheap” and I didn’t even notice the “alun.” part and that that was alluminum. Thank you for pointing that out!

        • Nico

          No way, don’t feel dumb about it! I didn’t know that at first either and used a Crystal Essence spray! 😉

          • meme

            Already threw it out, so thanks for that!

  • Aydan

    PRIMAL PIT PASTE!!!!!! I get the unscented jar (normal strength) and its amazing!!! No residue on clothing, no discoloration, no weird odors, totally odor cancelling and just so so gentle! I’ve turned coworkers, my mother, and friends onto it. Only weird thing is you have to scoop it out of the jar, but trust me its incredible!!!!

    • Emma

      YAS. PRIMAL PIT PASTE groupies unite. I’ve spent at least $100 in the name of my pit / breast health and, while it was an excruciatingly costly period of my life, it was worth it to land on PPP.

  • Rhia B.

    After trying a bunch, I’ve been using Le Couvent Des Minimes Everyday Deodorant for about a year and a half, and love it. Normally I hate scented anything, but this one’s a subtle lavender and rosemary and something else nice. Works great, and no more stained white shirts.

  • Lauren Carlson

    Have you tried Aesop’s deodorant? The smell is amazing and it works PRETTY well, but you have to re-apply. I usually just use the Crystal deodorant roll-on, and have worn it through workouts and hustles to and from work in the city heat, and I don’t get smelly!

    • EJS

      I haven’t tried their deodorant, but Aesop could bottle up wet gravel and I would probably be like, “oh wow I love this stuff, so natural & exfoliating!” I will DEFINITELY try their deodorant. Thank you for the recommendation!

  • Beatrice

    The Dr. Hauschka in Sage Mint is my jam – had a small heart attack re: price but it’s been an amazing shift from my previous deodorant (which was the ill-advised usage of…………. Old Spice). When this one runs out I’m going to try the Rose scent.

  • Liz

    Are there any natural antiperspirants out there? I am trying to get pregnant and I am trying to use as many natural and organic products out there. I sweat horribly and I normally use Certain-Dri, but I’m afraid to use it when pregnant. Any suggestions?

    • Nico

      Check out this article from Gimme the Good Stuff about safe options. I referred to this site for so many things while I was pregnant and still do! For what it’s worth, I seemed to sweat less while pregnant and nursing so you might find you don’t need an antiperspirant!

      https://gimmethegoodstuff.org/safe-product-guides/deodorant/

      • Liz

        Thanks for the info! 🙂

  • Stephanie Rood

    I’ve actually been using natural deodorant since I was 15 (I’m 25 now), I use a brand called Le Crystel Naturel, and it has never let me down – I use the spray, as their “natural rock” is not so good.

  • Inkygrl

    I’ve tried numerous natural deos and none worked for me. Now I make my own and it works like a charm. I take my fave body butter (Soap and Glory) and add baking soda and a few squirts of complimentary scented perfume. I’ve given it to friends too and gotten great reviews.

  • Shivani Lakshmi

    late to the party buuuuut the alvera deo w/ aloe and almonds is THE PITS. in that it is amazing at neutralizing iffy smells for the WHOLE DAY and glides on like a dream. love love love.

  • Karen Lee

    Surprised no one has mentioned PiperWai!! Smells so good I fell asleep sniffing my pits last night (hotel smelled weird).