You are what you eat. We know the body processes, utilizes and/or digests everything we send down the hatch. But what about what we put on our bodies, specifically our armpits? Skin acts as a barrier to protect our insides, but it also absorbs some of what it’s exposed to, which means potential environmental contaminants can seep through. This is why it’s important to consider what you're rolling, rubbing or spraying on your body.
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“In the conventional deodorant market, you will find that a common active ingredient in most deodorants and antiperspirants is an aluminum compound usually in the form of aluminum zirconium or aluminum chloride,” says Amy Murphy, store director at Follain Beacon Hill, a beauty boutique specializing in safe, effective and U.S.-made products.
Aluminum's sole purpose is to stop the sweat glands in your underarms from releasing sweat by blocking the glands entirely. "This is not ideal in many ways, mainly because you are using a chemical ingredient to inhibit your body from going through a natural cooling process,” she says. Here are nine of the best natural, aluminum-free deodorants on the market — and we tested every single one of them.
1. Agent Nateur No3
It’s branded No3, but it gets a number one in this review. We’re coming right out of the gate with Agent Nateur because it’s the best of the best, and its ingredient list is something to brag about: organic coconut oil, sodium bicarbonate, beeswax, sunflower butter, avocado butter, castor oil, raw organic honey, lavender essential oil, hydrogen peroxide, eucalyptus oil and “love.” Another plus is that it comes in stick form so you don’t have to apply with your fingers, which scares away some folks from other natural products. Available in two sizes: 1.1 and 1.7 ounces.
PRICE: Starts at $11.00
WHERE TO FIND: AgentNateur.com
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2. Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant Cream
This one is the cat’s meow. Sorry, had to. In all seriousness, this stuff works. It gets the job done in a single application, but a second slather later in the day makes it work all the better. Also, if you have sensitive skin, Meow Meow Tweet offers a grapefruit-scented option that is baking soda-free (a potential underarm irritant). It’s also Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certified (vegan), and the kind folks at Meow Meow Tweet provide the option of ordering a “mini” jar to try out before investing in the full size.
PRICE: Starts at $8.00
WHERE TO FIND: MeowMeowTweet.com
3. Soapwalla Deodorant Cream
Straight out of Brooklyn, Soapwalla has won the hearts of many. “While I love all of our deodorant brands, my favorite one is by a brand called Soapwalla,” says Amy Murphy, store director, Follain Beacon Hill. “We carry this product in our store, and it is consistently our best-selling product by far. We tested just over 30 different types of deodorant before making the decision on this one. It is not only effective, it also smells incredible!” That may be due to the fact that the baking soda-based deodorant uses lavender, tea tree and citrus oils, which also control bacteria that causes body odor. It’s available in standard and travel sizes.
PRICE: Starts at $5.00
WHERE TO FIND: SoapwallaKitchen.com
4. Osmia Deodorant Cream
Another deodorant cream, Osmia is unique in that it includes Fuller’s earth clay to help control odor and moisture without blocking your sweat glands like aluminum. The smell on this one is stronger than most of the others that were tested. Osmia includes “a proprietary blend of certified organic and wild-harvested essential oils” for the fragrance. If scented is not your thing, you may want to choose another option included here. Available in both sample and full sizes.
PRICE: Starts at $3.00
WHERE TO FIND: OsmiaOrganics.com
5. Primal Pit Paste
The Paleo lifestyle is in, and, while this Primal Pit Paste is on trend, it also does its job of controlling underarm stink. Of all the deodorants included here, this one offers the most options for all the different needs and body chemistries out there. Primal Pit offers a paste in a jar, a deodorant stick and a spray option. There are also varying levels of strength: light, regular and strong in the jars, and regular and sensitive in the sticks. Primal Pit Paste recommends starting out with regular strength and going up or down from there.
PRICE: Starts at $3.95
WHERE TO FIND: PrimalPitPaste.com
6. Ursa Major
True to its constellation name, Ursa Major can handle a “bear” of an underarm stench. It uses hops (antibacterial and antimicrobial) to fight smell and aloe and eucalyptus to help soothe and cool touchy armpits, respectively. It’s also a great option for those who are not on board with the cream type. “We just brought on a stick deodorant from Ursa Major that has been very popular in the store for those who are a bit more hesitant to apply deodorant with their fingers,” says Amy Murphy, store director at Follain Beacon Hill.
PRICE: Starts at $18.00
WHERE TO FIND: UrsaMajorVT.com
7. Stinkbug Naturals Deodorant
This one lives up to its name, squashing the smelliest of stinkbugs. Available in both cream and stick “bar” options, Stinkbug Naturals Deodorant has one of the cleanest ingredients lists out there. The Floral Lime Organic Bar is super effective, and it only contains organic coconut oil, organic beeswax, baking soda, organic corn starch, ylang-ylang (tropical tree) oil and lime oil.
PRICE: Starts at $7.99
WHERE TO FIND: StinkbugOrganics.com
8. Alba Clear Botanica Clear Enzyme, Aloe Unscented
There are a few Alba Clear Botanica Clear Enzyme options on the market, but specifically look for the aloe unscented. The other scent options — lavender and tea tree oil — don’t score as well in the Environmental Working Group’s database because of the fragrance ingredients used. The Alba brand is more commercialized and available in some grocery retailers, making it more accessible.
PRICE: Start at $5.60
WHERE TO FIND: Amazon.com
Natural Deodorant Need-to-Knows
Many natural deodorants contain baking soda, which can be an irritant to those with sensitive skin. While it’s not that common, there are people with a specific sensitivity to baking soda-based products, causing skin irritation after regular use, according to Murphy. “In those cases, we typically recommend a different formula using arrowroot powder or a milder absorbing ingredient instead of baking soda because it is not as granular,” she says. So if you know you have sensitive skin, seek out a baking soda-free deodorant like Meow Meow Tweet Grapefruit. Even if health isn’t your main concern for switching to natural deodorants, consider your clothes. Murphy reminds us that the cause of those pesky yellow stains on our shirts’ underarms is not actually from sweat — it’s the aluminum causing the discoloration.
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There was one runner-up our “testing team” found to be very effective, but its ingredient list wasn’t quite up to snuff. Lavilin Deodorant Cream is marketed as a “single application” deodorant — you only need to apply it once every seven days — and it works! Unfortunately, it scores a 4 in the EWG database because of the fragrance ingredients used as well as the inclusion of talc, which carries the potential for asbestos contamination.
What Do YOU Think?
Have you found a natural deodorant that works? If so, which one? Share your thoughts and your personal deodorant reviews with us in the comments below.