▷ Best (Most Effective) Natural Deodorants (2018 Update)

Best (Most Effective) Natural Deodorants

Written by Mark Hansen and updated on April 17, 2018
Natural-Deodorants

“You won’t get any sympathy from me because you shouldn’t wear deodorant at all” said the doctor. “I haven’t worn deodorant in years, and I would bet that you wouldn’t know that even though you’re only 2 feet from me right now.”

For some folks, that may have been sound advice. But I was a 19-year-old college student at the time, having my first experience with a rash in my armpits. I still needed to do things like get a job and find a mate…things that I figured would require some sort of deodorant.

So began my quest to find a deodorant that my body wouldn’t reject.

Switching to a Deodorant Without Aluminum

The first step I took was to try various products. This was in the early 90s, so the number of products available was much smaller than it is now. The first thing I discovered was the difference between deodorant and anti-perspirant.

The key ingredient that makes anti-perspirant work is aluminum, and there had been some concern about the safety of using aluminum on the skin (though no definitive proof that it’s harmful). So my first step was to use a product that was a deodorant without anti-perspirant.

This worked…for a while. A number of years actually, it was nearly a decade later when I had the old familiar rash reappear under my arms.

Unfortunately it was back with a vengeance. There was a large, red rash that was all throughout my armpits and formed a ring that was an inch or two wide around the perimeter of my armpit as well. I worked out at a boxing gym that required members to wear tank tops at the time. I ended up leaving the gym because I felt like a freak.

Beware Topical Steroids

This time I went to a dermatologist, hoping for better advice. They wrote me a prescription for topical steroids and told me to use it. What they didn’t tell me was when to STOP using it. And that’s really important.

My experience with topical steroids is that they suppress the symptoms pretty effectively, but they come back almost immediately when you stop using the steroids. My other experience is that they thin your skin.

The doctor didn’t tell me that, and I ended up with marks in my armpit where the skin thinned out.

Thinned skin due to topical steroid use

They don’t hurt but they are ugly and they will never heal. So be warned about using topical steroids, I don’t think they are a solution for this issue at all.

What Causes Deodorant Rashes?

Further research revealed that there were plenty of other chemicals in deodorant that might be a problem. There are parabens, triclosan, phthalates and whatever comprises “fragrance,” which manufacturers aren’t obligated to disclose.

There isn’t iron-clad evidence that any of these substances are harming humans via the application of deodorant, but they definitely weren’t going to improve my health and I suspected one them was causing the rash.

So I tried to find the best deodorant for my sensitive skin, by trying all the other options I could find. I tested other mainstream deodorants, Tom’s of Maine, crystal deodorants and any other products that were sold as natural deodorant alternatives.

How Do Natural Deodorants Work?

They work the same way all deodorants do, by killing the bacteria on your skin. However, it occurred to me that there are many anti-bacterial substances, many of them natural in origin. A number of essential oils have anti-bacterial properties for example.

My Crystal Deodorant Review

I’m sure your individual body chemistry matters and that crystal deodorants work fine for some people. However, I tried a couple different ones and had terrible results. It seemed to somehow make me sweat more and smell worse. I’m personally better off using nothing than crystal deodorants.

I even tried home remedies like making a paste with baking soda. This was fairly ineffective and pretty messy. I read about folk using coconut oil as deodorant but that would certainly feel gross and would almost certainly result in grease stains on my clothes so I skipped that one.

How to Choose a Natural Deodorant

If you have a rash or some sort of reaction to deodorants, the first step is to eliminate that. I would suggest going cold turkey for a few days or a week just to make sure it’s your deodorant and not some other product.

Deodorants aren’t the only substances that can irritate your skin. The moisture of your armpit could interact with the detergent on your clothes, and some people are unwittingly quite sensitive to detergents. If you shave your armpits, you probably use a shaving cream and maybe you don’t tolerate that very well. So I recommend eliminating your deodorant for a while to ensure that’s really the core issue.

After that, I suggest trying a high-end product that has all natural ingredients and minimal processing (or making one yourself as detailed below). If that causes you no issues and you like it, keep it. Products like that are expensive though, so if you want to economize then try another one that is cheaper and/or easier to find locally, working your way down the ladder that I’ve outlined in the products below. I’ve arranged the product reviews in descending order of price and purity.

Natural Deodorant Reviews

So which natural deodorant works best? First off, I’ll say that I think what constitutes the best natural deodorant for men versus women is virtually identical. I’ve been seeking the best men’s deodorant for sensitive skin, but realized that the women’s version would just smell different. Either it keeps odor down or it doesn’t, and the only remaining difference is the scent. For years I used an unscented deodorant that worked reasonably well, but I do now prefer a naturally scented one.

Pronounce Skin Care Deodorant

Pronounce Skin Care is obsessive about ingredients, so if you want to be 100% sure that you’re getting a pure product, they are the best in my opinion. You’ll see that ingredients are certified organic, non-GMO, food-grade, naturally-processed, and more. These deodorants are even free of baking soda, which is something people look for as well. They go to extremes to make sure the product is entirely natural from start to finish, just like I would do it for myself.

As you might imagine, their products aren’t the cheapest on the market, but you’re getting the quality you pay for. They are also one of the only companies I know of that makes a more potent version of their base product. So if you want all-natural but you have body chemistry that requires a stronger deodorant, they offer their Defunkifying Deodorant as an option.

Kiss My Face

Years ago, this was the ONLY natural deodorant option I could find that actually worked as a deodorant for longer than 15 minutes. They now have a whole line of deodorant options, including a Men’s Sport option (which does contain baking soda if you care about that). There are a few more chemical ingredients in this one but it ticks all the boxes of the important ones to avoid.

natural deodorant ingredients

Some users note that it’s not the best option for really hot climates (though that’s a tough bar) and that you have to apply it more than once per day, which is a known issue with natural deodorants generally. I don’t typically use this one anymore but I’m very grateful it existed back when I really needed an option like this.

Kiss My Face Aluminum & Paraben Free Active Life Deodorant Stick-Lavender-2.48 oz, 2 pk

Tom’s of Maine

One more step down the ladder is Tom’s of Maine. Most ingredients are still pretty natural and similar to the ingredients in Kiss My Face. There is a “natural fragrance” that is unspecified, and that’s not ideal. Tom’s of Maine is now owned by Colgate, so despite the natural sounding name, this is a mass-market product.

Tom's of Maine Natural Deodorant Stick, Aluminum Free, Long Lasting, Refreshing Lemongrass, 2.25 Ounce

That’s why it’s here though, it’s affordable and readily available at any Whole Foods market. You can do better above but you can also do a lot worse. This particular one is the lemongrass scent, which I find works well for both men and women because it’s a clean scent that is gender-neutral. My wife and I both use lemongrass scented deodorant, which makes buying it a bit easier.

How to Make a Natural Deodorant Stick

There are many recipes for DIY natural deodorants on the internet, but I prefer to get mine from someone who I know produces natural deodorant for a living. So I found this recipe for natural, DIY deodorant from the folks at Pronounce Skin Care. You can add whatever essential oils you want (here’s a list to help you choose). The recipe they show isn’t in stick form but you could easily pour it into a stick container.

How to Use Natural De​odorants

For the most part using a natural deodorant is the same as using any other deodorant—with one important difference. Some natural deodorants come in a cream, crystal, or other form that is a little different from a stick. So they can be a little messier to apply. But the big difference in how to apply natural deodorants is just frequency. I find that they don’t last as long as standard deodorants, so it may be necessary to apply them twice daily. Some people may even want to use them more than that.

Detox Phase

I did not experience this personally, but I commonly hear that people go through a “detox phase” when switching to a natural deodorant. That is to say, your symptoms may briefly get worse for a short time while your body expels all the chemicals. That’s something to keep in mind when running your tests on what works for you. This is another reason I prefer the cold turkey method; it’s easier to understand what is happening that way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can you buy natural deodorant?

Why switch to natural deodorant?

Is natural deodorant safe?

About the author

    Mark Hansen

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