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.
Meow Meow Tweet: Lemon-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.
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!
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?
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.