Does the best natural deodorant brand actually work? The short answer is yes: there are some amazing aluminum-free deodorant brands out there that leave you smelling like a rose–but there are a lot of ineffective ones, too (yikes). Lucky for you, we’ve spent a long time wearing natural deodorant, soliciting reviews from our friends, and trolling the internet for the best up-and-comers. Here are the best natural deodorant brands for smelling rosy in 2021, no matter the climate.
Why Use Natural Deodorant?
Why all the fuss about going “natural”? The gist is: People are concerned about some of the long-term impacts that conventional antiperspirants may have on health (think: Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer). Though researchers are divided on whether conventional products pose a threat, many people are choosing the better-safe-than-sorry approach when it comes to their pits.
Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant
For starters, it’s important to distinguish between deodorants and antiperspirants.
- Deodorants don’t contain anything that stops you from sweating–only ingredients to make you smell less bad (antibacterial agents) and others to make you smell like lavender or another nice fragrance.
- By contrast, antiperspirants are designed to make you sweat less. An antiperspirant may seem like a good idea when attending your friend’s outdoor wedding; Long-term, it may have some serious consequences related to the chemicals (think: aluminum and parabens) that stop you from sweating.
Most brands you’ll see in the drug store are both deodorant and antiperspirant–but the real issue is with the latter’s ingredients, notably aluminum. Today, there is widespread debate over the long-term impacts of aluminum in antiperspirants, some arguing that it may contribute to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
How We Defined Natural Deodorant
The word “natural” is notoriously vague in the clean beauty community, so let’s set some parameters. In this list, we consider “natural” to mean aluminum-free deodorant. Specifically, they are free from aluminum zirconium and aluminum chlorohydrate.
We’ve also expanded the definition to mean free of:
- Butane: A gas used to create aerosols that may cause cancer and reproductive issues that is banned or restricted in some countries.
- Diethanolamine (DEA): A chemical linked to cancer.
- Parabens: A preservative that may disrupt hormones, irritate the skin, or increase the risk of cancer.
- Phthalates: Chemicals used to increase the durability or longevity of products that may be endocrine disruptors and affect the reproductive system.
- Silicone: Though great in other products, silicone is a polymer that you don’t need to coat (or clog) your pores or in your hair.
- Sulfates: Chemicals often found in shampoo that may be harsh on the skin or hair.
- Synthetic fragrances: Artificial fragrances often derived from petroleum-based chemicals. They may also include phthalates.
- Triclosan: Antibacterial agent that may produce antibiotic-resistant germs and lower the immune system’s responses.
In addition to not having the above chemicals (because, really, who needs them?), the best natural deodorant is vegan and cruelty-free, meaning that it does not contain animal products nor was it tested on animals.
10 Best Natural Deodorant Brands for a Smell-Free 2021
We slathered, smelled, and sweated our way to the x best aluminum-free deodorants so you don’t have to. The following brands offer some serious protection, relaxing smells, and inspiring practices. Here’s what you need to know.
Kopari Aluminum-Free Coconut Deodorant
Kopari is one of our staff favorites because a) it works and b) it really does smell that good. Paraben, aluminum, phthalates, silicone, and baking-soda-free, Kopari has replaced all the bad antiperspirant ingredients with soothing coconut that keeps us smelling great all day (including during summer runs). We are partial to Gardenia, which smells like a sophisticated (and not overly floral) dream.
Arm & Hammer Natural Deodorant
Price: $8.69 (2 Pack)
Don’t let the price tag fool you: This affordable option from Arm & Hammer works like a charm–without those pesky metals, phytates, and parabens. Looking for a natural deodorant that works on balmy days? After bad experiences with a few brands (hint: they stopped working after a couple of hours), one of our writers has permanently switched to Arm & Hammer for long-lasting protection from icky smells. Check out the rosemary lavender scent.
Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant
Sick of stains on your white t-shirts? Us too, that’s why we appreciate Ursa Major’s non-staining Hoppin’ Fresh formula. This baking soda-free option is a cult favorite because it a) works on hot summer days and b) lasts for a long time. Pro Tip: Hoppin’ Fresh has a gender-neutral scent, so it’s a great natural deodorant for men, too.
Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant
By combining citronella and eucalyptus, this New York clean beauty brand has crafted a natural deodorant that actually works. It’s 100% alcohol and aluminum-free, which makes it a great choice for sensitive skin. It’s also free from baking soda and artificial fragrances. Pro Tip: Apply it after getting out of the shower (and right before you leave the house) for best results.
Formulated especially for athletes, the Kosas aluminum-free deodorant does two things to keep you smelling fresh on hot days: 1) It lowers the ph of your armpits, meaning that it’s harder for smelly bacteria to grow and 2) It exfoliates, which helps brighten your underarms. It also won’t leave residue on your clothing.
Corpus Third Rose is the anti-deodorant you’ve been looking for. Not only does this brand scream luxury (as does its price tag), but its highly effective and made in the United States from organic ingredients. One of our favorite things about this brand is their no-nonsense approach to terminology: They explain that “natural” doesn’t mean anything in the eyes of the FDA, and explain what exactly those long ingredients mean.
Corpus Third Rose is also water-based, which is a great option for those trying to avoid coconut oil and potential stains.
Pure Pitz Super-Concentrated Organic Natural Deodorant
Not only is Pur Pitz super-concentrated (hint: you need a LOT less than you think), but it’s also made with 10)% certified organic ingredients. This unique and effective aluminum-free deodorant combines is also made in the United States. Don’t be surprised by the small container: It’s concentrated so you only need a little at a time.
Concerned about getting goop on your clothes? Kinko’s oil-free and aluminum-free deodorant may be the one for you. Kinko Microbiomix contains pre and probiotics, helping to balance your skin’s microbiome. It also rolls on so smoothly that it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything at all. Another reason to love it: Kinko Microbiomix is certified cruelty-free by PETA and comes in a fully recyclable container.
If you’re a big fan of mint smells (like us), you’ll love Farmacy. It also contains Kaolin clay, which has antibacterial properties, tea tree oil, for reducing scent, and papaya to exfoliate. This is also a great option for those concerned about clothing stains and sensitive skin. Farmacy’s androgynous and non-invasive scent makes it a great natural deodorant for men and women.
Lovefresh Super Strength Deodorant
Looking to avoid aluminum but want something extra-absorbent? Lovefresh’s super strength natural deodorant is great for hard workouts and won’t stain your clothes. It also has a gentle, androgynous scent, making it a great option for women and men. Note that Lovefresh’s formula does contain a fair amount of baking soda.
Runner Ups: 4 Aluminum-Free Deodorant Brands
We like the following four brands, especially if you’re looking for a more affordable option. They’re also made from high-quality ingredients and produce much of what you’re looking for in a natural deodorant. You may need to apply more than once a day, however.
What We Like: Lavanila’s aluminum-free formula won a best of beauty award a few years back–and for good reason: It’s packed with fresh scents and antibacterial oils, which help minimize the bacteria that makes you smell bad.
What Needs Work: We’re not obsessed with it because the vanilla scent, which smells artificial to us. We also don’t love the buzzwords (“healthy” and “natural formula”), which are not terms recognized by the FDA.
Schmitts Natural Deodorant
What We Like: One of the more affordable aluminum-free options, Schmitts is available in a growing list of scents including lavender, charcoal, earl grey, fig, sandalwood, violet, rose, cedarwood, lily of the valley, and unscented. They also have several sensitive skin formulas. We love their emphasis on essential oils and their vegan and cruelty-free practices, too.
What Needs Work: We don’t find Schmitt’s formula to be particularly strong, meaning that it may not be a good choice for hot days or people used to anti-perspiratory strength.
Native Plastic-Free Deodorant
What We Like: We love the easiness of these scents, and their aluminum and paraben-free formula. Native glides on smoothly and is great for sensitive skin (and super moisturizing, too). Some of them contain baking soda, but many find that it isnt’ enough to cause irritation. We also love their plastic-free packaging option.
What Needs Work: We found that we had to reapply several times a day. It isn’t the stronger natural deodorant out there, though we appreciate the price point (the regular packaging is $12 and plastic-free option is $13).
Tom’s of Maine Long-Lasting Natural Deodorant
Price: $14.91 for 3-Pack
What We Like: Tom’s of Maine is leading the charge when it comes to affordable, environmentally-conscious products–and their aluminum-free deodorant is no exception. Tom’s formula is free from parabens, artificial fragrances, all while smelling great (and not leaving your armpits feeling goop-y). We also love how accessible it is price-wise.
What Needs Work: We found that Tom’s wasn’t strong enough for all-day wear in the summer. We wish the scent were slightly stronger, too.
The Dreaded Natural Deodorant Rash
Switching to natural products comes with a transition, no matter what brand you choose. For the first 2-4 weeks of using an aluminum-free product, don’t be surprised if your armpits have a rash or acne. Why? After years of using antiperspirants, most people’s armpits need to rebalance their pH. Washing your armpits with gentle soap and avoiding shaving may reduce the rash.
Most brands advise giving their product 3-4 weeks for your body to acclimate.
If it isn’t going away, it could be the natural deodorant product you’re using. Just because something is labeled “natural” doesn’t mean that it can’t cause side-effects–especially when it’s a new product. Some of the most common allergens are additives that may be found in coconut oil-based products or baking soda. Stopping use of a new product after a few days should solve the problem. If it doesn’t contact your doctor.
Worried about the transition period? Quarantine (and winter) are great times to detox from conventional products and give your body time to acclimate.
Natural vs. Aluminum-Free Deodorant
Technically, what you’re looking for is an aluminum-free product. “Natural” is a marketing term that a lot of companies toss around. In the eyes of the FDA, it doesn’t mean much. But aluminum-free does.
Beyond natural deodorant, you’ll find a variety of clean beauty products labeled aluminum-free. This is because many cosmetics and pharmaceuticals contain aluminum, a common metal with a wide variety of applications.
Why Natural Deodorant Avoids Aluminum
In the case of antiperspirants, aluminum is used to stop your armpits from sweating. This is because it contains salts, which dissolve on the skin’s surface and stop the body from sweating. But this can work the other way, too: your body may absorb the aluminum, which has lead to widespread concern.
“Recent research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that frequent use of antiperspirants can cause aluminum to accumulate in breast tissue, but this doesn’t prove that aluminum salts can cause breast cancer,” explains Penn Medicine on the subject of antiperspirants and health.
Aluminum may have other consequences, according to physician Benjamin Chan, DO cited by Penn. These may include reduced kidney function, dementia, and bone disease. That’s why non-natural deodorants must label that they contain aluminum for those who already suffer from kidney disease.
In short, research on the long-term impacts of aluminum is inconclusive. Many natural deodorant users are of the opinion that absorbing metals into breast tissue can’t be healthy.
Antiperspirants and Breast Cancer: What Does the Research Say?
Some argue that smearing chemicals onto your armpits, which are home to lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are part of the immune system. They help the body fight off disease and infection. Additionally, armpits are close to the breast.
- This study from Breast Cancer Research, link the mass-marketing of antiperspirant products to the rise in breast cancer cases, especially those that begin at the outer regions of the breast.
- Another body of research published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention connects breast cancer to antiperspirant use and shaving.
The National Cancer Institute states, “no scientific evidence links the use of these products to the development of breast cancer.” However, more and more people are choosing the “better safe than sorry” approach — opting for natural deodorant over conventional options.
Why Doe the Best Natural Deodorant Exclude Parabens?
Parabens are used to prevent bacteria growth on products like antiperspirants. They’ve been widely used in cosmetics since the 1950s beyond non-natural deodorant, including shampoo, toothpaste, makeup, and lotion. According to Scientific American, 90% of grocery store items may contain parabens.
Should you be concerned? According to the FDA, the amount of parabens in non-natural deodorant is not dangerous. Some people worry that parabens function too closely to estrogen, however. Estrogen is a hormone found in women that promotes breast growth and other important functions. By functioning similarly to estrogen, parabens may disrupt hormone function. They are labeled as “endocrine-disrupting chemicals” by the United Nations, according to the Environmental Working Group.
Types of Parabens
How do you know if a product contains parabens? Look for the following terms under ingredients:
Worried About Hormone Disruption? Switch to Natural Deodorant
What does hormone disruption do? This could mean lowering sperm count as demonstrated in an animal-model study published in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology. For women, it could also mean decreased fertility as indicated by shorter menstrual cycles (see this study for more information).
The concentration of parabens needed to produce a negative effect is still under debate. The FDA maintains that conventional deodorant does not contain enough to post a health or hormonal risk. It is crucial for you to make your own health and wellness decisions; Do not take this information as medical advice and speak with a doctor if you have any questions.
9 Common Ingredients You’ll Find in Natural Deodorant
So what do organic products use instead of the chemicals found in conventional alternatives? Here are a few ingredients you may find while browsing the back of your next natural deodorant purchase:
1. Non-Nano Zinc Oxide
A common alternative to aluminum, non-nano Zinc Oxide is used as an antiperspirant that isn’t absorbed into the skin. Why doesn’t it work the same way? Unlike regular Zinc-Oxide, which is completely different, non-nano zinc oxide has particles that are too big for absorption.
2. Essential Oils, or Why Natural Deodorant Smells Great
These can mean a lot of different things. Essential oils are plant extracts that can be used to relieve stress, reduce bacteria growth, smell nice, and boost immunity. Some common essential oils you may find in natural deodorants are grapefruit, tea tree, lavender, rosemary, and citrus.
3. Aloe Vera
Another antibacterial agent, aloe vera is also anti-inflammatory. The benefit to using products that contain aloe vera under your armpits? Its antibacterial properties may kill the germs that cause sweat to smell.
4. Coconut Oil (a Common Natural Deodorant Base)
Another natural antibacterial agent, coconut oil can soothe, moisturize, and kill the germs that grow under our armpits. It’s what we call a carrier oil, meaning an oil served to dilute more potent and potentially harsher essential oils.
5. Baking Soda (Often Found in Natural Deodorant)
How can natural deodorant reduce sweat without aluminum? We have two words for you: baking soda. Baking soda is great at absorbing moisture and odors. Keep in mind that it, too, can contain aluminum, though there are options without it, which ensure that you’re using an aluminum-free deodorant.
6. Kaolin Clay
Another great way to absorb moisture and odors is Kaolin clay, which comes from China.
7. Alcohol (Sometimes in Natural Deodorant)
Some people like products that contain alcohol because of its strong antibacterial properties. Bear in mind that it can be harsh against the skin after you’ve just shaved.
8. Arrowroot Powder
This is used to thicken deodorant into the paste we’re familiar with. It’s also great at absorbing oil, making it a fitting ingredient for organic products.
Another great ingredient for absorbing sweat and reducing bacteria (and through that smells), cornstarch also moisturizes the skin.
What Does “Organic” Mean?
Many of the best natural deodorant options use organic ingredients. Organic is a technical term specified by the USDA. For something to be officially labeled organic, it has to follow a specific set of growing practices. This typically means no synthetic fertilizers, artificial preservatives, or colors, and meeting certain environmental and health standards.
Whenever possible, we recommend organic products, whether we’re going over mineral sunscreen or aluminum-free deodorant. However, make sure to check for official organic certification if this is something that’s important to you.
The Best Natural Deodorant Brands Work and Smell Great
Here at HouseFM, we switched to aluminum-free deodorant and haven’t looked back. Why? Not only does it work, but we prefer the all-natural scents and the peace of mind that comes with using a product that doesn’t contain aluminum, parabens, or artificial scents.