As we learn more about the ingredients in our personal care products, many of us are trying to find cleaner options with fewer chemicals and additives. A few years ago, I switched to natural deodorant, but when I started back to work in politics, I gave it up in the name of dryness. My “good-for-me deodorant” just couldn’t keep me odor free on stressful days.
Recently, I decided to try again with natural options. Here are the five I tried. Four duds, one clear winner.
Native Green Tea & Blackberry Deodorant. Native’s deodorant is aluminum-free and phthalate-free. It’s also vegan. Unlike some deodorants I tried, this one glides on smooth. The scent was subtle, but I didn’t find it particularly enjoyable.
Rating 1/5. I wanted to like this deodorant, but it was the worst one I tried. By noon, the protection was gone. I spent a fortune dry cleaning the dresses and blazers I wore the two weeks I tested this deodorant. It just really offered no protection, and I felt slightly damp most of the time.
Necessaire Gel Deodorant. Nécessaire’s deodorants are blogger favorites. Their gel deodorant is made with witch hazel, AHA, and niacinamide. The deodorant is designed to balance underarm pH to prevent the smell that comes along with bacteria growth. It’s also supposed to treat in-grown hairs.
Rating 3.5/5. For awhile, I thought this deodorant was the solution. It seemed to work well, I never noticed end-of-day odor. But after a little over two weeks, I noticed redness and dry skin in the folds of my skin. The minute I stopped using the deodorant, it got better, within a week it was gone. I don’t know what caused the reaction, but it wasn’t pleasant.
Megababe Smoothie Deo. Since it’s release several years ago, the Katie Sturino-created brand Megababe has been a hot topic. Their fruit smoothie deodorant smells great, like a beach vacation. It glides on smoothly. And it wasn’t irritating. But did it work?
Rating 2.5/5. On a regular day, this deodorant worked well. On a day when your boss is knocking on your door every fifteen-minutes and the printer jams and you’re scarfing down lunch before your next Zoom, it does not work that well. That’s when I need deodorant to work, and if it doesn’t, it’s a failure.
BeautyCounter The Clean Deo. I tend to avoid MLMs, but a friend sells BeautyCounter and offered me a sample of their award-winning Clean Deo. Made with baking soda, coconut oil and cornstarch it has different ingredients than many of the natural deodorants I tried, which usually don’t have baking soda. I also liked the fresh coconut scent.
Rating 3.5/5. This deodorant kept me dry most of the time. I started keeping it in my bag to re-apply on stressful days, and I would still be dry when I got home. The problem? The price. $28 through a BC supplier, almost $40 on Amazon. Even at regular price that is more than double to cost of most natural deodorants. No, thank you.
Lume Whole Body Deodorant. In the past, several of you mentioned Lume in your comments, so I gave it a try. Lume’s deodorant is made with mandelic acid, and unlike many natural deodorants, is water based. I loved the coconut and tangerine scents, but this was one of the few companies that makes an unscented option.
Rating 4/5. Lume claims to keep you odor free for 72-hours. Given the experiences detailed above, I thought that had to be nonsense. Now, I’ve never pushed my deodorant to the 72-hour mark, but Lume got me through a whole day of stress sweat with no break through or measurable dampness It also never smelled stale or off-putting.
I also like that it’s available on Amazon for the same price as in store. And I love that I can buy a two-pack. Frankly, I’m a customer for life.
Do you have a favorite natural deodorant? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Interesting! I have been using Native for years and really like it (I use the Bergamot scent, and also like the Vanilla). I did not/do not have the same issues with it not working, though I will say that your description of being “damp” is right on when it’s hot outside.
Megababe was a total non-starter for me. I felt like I was stinky from about three hours post-application until I showered the next day. I totally do not understand the cult following it’s garnered.
Not sure on the others you tried (I haven’t), but the reaction you had the the Necessaire sounds like the witch hazel might have been too drying for you, which is a bummer!
That would make a lot of sense.
I’ve had good luck with Schmidt’s. I have sensitive skin but can use their regular, non-sensitive formula with no issue. Lasts all day for me even with some cardio. Would not trust it beyond one day though. I’ve found that it does leave a residue on clothing but it comes out in the laundry..
this is the review i needed on natural deodorant! i just couldn’t believe any non-aluminum options could keep up with what my stress sweat level is like. follow-up question on lume: does it transfer to clothes? i haaaate showing up somewhere only to realize i have a white streak down the side of a shirt or dress from being a little careless while putting it on…
I’ve been using Native for years. Definitely agree with you on some dampness at times, but overall that isn’t a huge issue for me (natural deo or not) so it’s been fine. I will say, in the fall, I switched to their seasonal scents and those were a disaster. When I switched back to my usual coconut smell, no issues.
I like the previous formulation of the Nécessaire deoderant but for it was hard to find for a few weeks over the summer. I switched to Drunk Elephant’s version and think it works really well. So far acid deoderants have worked really well for me when things like Tom’s of Maine and Native were total duds.
OMG I’ve never smelled worse than when I tried wearing Tom’s of Maine lavender deodorant
Native and Tom’s were also terrible for me. By the end of the day my underarms smelled AWFUL.
Thanks for the tips! I also found that the Megababe deodorant was almost worse than nothing. I used the Rosy Pits and it was terrible. I don’t understand why so many people love it. Regarding Native, I have tried a couple different scents and weirdly, only some of them work for me. I really like the lilac and white tea. That consistently works for me on non-exercising days. When I do exercise, I have to use non-natural (the bad stuff) deodorant to be considerate to my classmates.
Have been using Kopari for years now and have never had an issue with it. I get hot/sweat a lot and this has been a game changer for me. They have a few different scents but I stick with the charcoal one.
I’ve never understood the hesitation with using a more traditional deodorant/anti-perspirant (with an aluminum-based active ingredient). If the FDA says it’s safe and effective, that’s good enough for me. Am I missing something?
With you. But I also eat fast food, drink diet pop, and use shampoo with sulfates. So I’m sure I’m making all sorts of terrible life choices but there are enough studies out there that everything is bad for you, so I just try to make the choices that work *for me* and worry about the big stuff (light on alcohol, no smoking, sunscreen and trying to move around every day).
Mitchum Smart Solid is my jam, it is water based so it doesn’t stain my clothes but also keeps me, a girl who sweats (not glistens) comfortable.
Same. Recent studies demonstrate that aluminum absorption from deodorant does not add to the total aluminum load in your body. I’m a biomedical researcher, AND a yoga hippy who doesn’t shave her armpits. I love my antiperspirant and use it with zero concern. I’m convinced that natural deodorants are a very calculated marketing attempt to capture part of the health conscious demographic. There are plenty of things with known health hazards: air fresheners, scented candles, fabric softener, nonstick pans. Natural deodorant is great if you don’t sweat much and like the scents (which are probably problematic), but there is no scientific reason to skip the aluminum versions.
Really appreciate your take on this. I’m a stinky gal and none of the natural deodorants I’ve tried have been as good as Old Spice AP. Their lavender and vanilla scents (Wilderness and Oasis, respectively) are so nice and keep.me.dry.
FWIW I switched to aluminum-free because aluminum based deodorants were staining my light colored summer tops. The pits would get yellow over time and I assumed it was from sweat but actually it was from the aluminum in the deodorant.
After a tip from the dry cleaner years ago, I stopped using aluminum deodorant and it was like magic. No more yellow stains. I’ve have never had a problem since.
Some of the complaints about being damp or wet make sense – it is deodorant, not anti-perspirant (right?).
I have used Old Spice Swagger deodorant (the blue one, not the white anti-perspirant) for years. It is the only one that works.
My answer to one of the commenter questions above – I use deodorant only because anti-perspirant stains the armpits of my clothes white, which I think is disgusting.
I’ve used Kosas Sport Chemistry Deodorant for four refills now, and would give it a 4/5 rating. It doesn’t stop the sweating like traditional deodorant, but works well with odor for one full day. I can’t use natural deodorants with sodium bicarbonate because they irritate my skin. I don’t have any irritation with Kosas, although it does use AHAs like the Necessaire deo.
+1 for Kosas. Also love a few of the deodorants from Old Spice (only ones that are blue/gel glide). Fiji is a great scent!
Another vote for Kosas! I tried Schmidt’s and Native and the scents combined with sweat made me smell worse than nothing at all. Kosas has a truly unscented option that I find completely neutralizes odor I would normally have without deodorant, and since I’m working from home I’m not worried about stopping sweat completely.
I LOVE Lume!! It does have a chemically sent when you first apply it (another person would not be able to smell it, just the wearer), but goes away quickly. I saw a lot of recommendations to apply it at bedtime for that reason though, which is what I do, and I am always good through the next day.
I can go a 2nd day, if I’m not exercising/sweating/stressing much.
I also really love that it is safe to use ~anywhere~. This maybe TMI, but I’m pregnant, which has significantly impacted how I smell (and how sensitive I am to ALL smells), so it is nice to be able to use this anywhere dampness occurs to help with odor. I’ve even seen people use it for foot odor!
This may be an overstep, if so, feel free to ignore, but where else do you apply the deodorant? I haven’t noticed that I’m particularly sweaty anywhere else, but maybe I’ve just never thought about it.
Summer pregnancy here. I typically apply under arms and under boobs and occasionally in my “leg pits” (space where my leg meets my groin area). Clinical style antiperspirant was the only thing that worked for me but I’ll try lume now that you’ve recommended it!
Lume used to be marketed as deodorant for “pits and private parts” 🙂
I personally use it in the crease where a leg meets the body – for me that is enough to control any odor in the area. It (used to) come with full instructions on everywhere you could put it, and best application methods for private area application for both women and men. Basically any area not internal is safe – Lume was developed by an OBGYN according to the website.
I’ve seen comments on Facebook for people who also use it to control foot odor and under boob-sweat odor – it works by killing the bacteria that causes the smell, so anywhere you have a smell caused by bacteria, it would help.
I have seen a gyno and there’s no problems, I just have a sweaty croch. In Texas. And I bought Lume because I was tired of hot days in polyester pants making me smell sweaty and gross. If you don’t have a sweaty crotch that you can smell when you’re sitting at your desk, be thankful that god did not deal you that particular card! Lume works great for that. I put it in the outer folds and along the panty line but only when I can tell its going to be one of those rank days.
Meow Meow Tweet all the way! It’s a paste and I am absolutely obsessed. No smell, and pleasantly dry. I do Crossfit daily, and it definitely gets wet during that, but doesn’t smell.
Team MMT, although I haven’t needed to use anything regularly in years. I sweat and smell less going au naturale. I wish Inuad figured this out before so many years of embarrassment and stinkiness!
Also MMT for me! Baking-soda free grapefruit is where it’s at. Been using it for years.
I love their lavender deodorant stick or the rose-scented one.
Nicholl Marling says:
I Started with Native, and wore it for probably 2 years, when I just felt like it wasn’t working anymore.
I tried Kopari, and it smelled great, but I always felt sweaty. Didn’t even finish the first tube.
I have been using Primal for a year and half and love it! The smell isn’t overwhelming and you still feel “fresh.”
ariane buffum says:
I also had that issue with Native and felt like I was an odd duck, everyone was raving about it and I never felt it did the job. I tried a couple of them and am glad to hear im not alone
I’ve been using Dove’s 0% aluminum for the past few months and like it. Not sure how natural it is, though. There’s some dampness but it’s not stinky. And no more stains on my tops!
I’ve tried Schmidt’s and Native and ended up with horrible, red, peeling underarms after a couple days.
Crystal liquid lavender. There was an adjustment period. Not everyone has that sort of time, I know.
Megababe smoothie deo kept rubbing off all over my clothes and I really disliked the scent. Generally, I dislike deoderant scents so it wasn’t too surprising that I didn’t like it. But, Megababe’s underarm Spacebar charcoal soap has really helped reduce the need for deodorant at all. Since I started showering with it, my sweat doesn’t smell. Because of that, I switched to an unscented plastic free deoderant from Long Wknd (by Pela) and it’s been working well since October. We’ll see how it goes once it’s humid in the summer!
I tried Native years ago (back when it was only available direct to consumer), and it worked really well to prevent odor and sweat, but it did leave white residue on my clothes that was really obnoxious to get out. I currently use byHumankind and am really liking it. In addition to being “natural,” they also try to minimize single use plastics, so you buy the plastic container once and all the refills are wrapped in cardboard. I started with the unscented one to make sure it wasn’t just masking odor and after a full day, I had no odor. I did have some sweat, but I also live in Seattle, so that usually isn’t much of an issue, and it was less than if I was wearing nothing. I now use rosemary mint and love the clean, not overly perfume-y scent.
I’ve used the Lavanilla “healthy deodorant” in the pure vanilla scent for a few years. I find it works pretty well. I have tried the sport luxe but prefer the vanilla scent. I have noticed some underarm irritation lately – almost eczema like – but I am not sure what’s causing it. I have been working out more so it could be from increased friction/sweat?
I used to be a clinical strength type gal, but switched to Real Purity roll on in the last year and was very pleasantly surprised. Maybe it’s the change in lifestyle during the pandemic, but dare I say I find it comparable? It got me through being overheated and pregnant last summer with no complaints, at least. I had previously tried Schmidt’s, but I think Real Purity leaves less buildup on my clothes and underarms and keeps me drier.
A Lume devotee here. Love the unscented and the original scent; been using several years. I tried native but it always left me feeling sticky.
I liked Lume for a bit, but then ended up getting a terrible reaction on one of my pits. Red, itchy, scabby skin… i still use it for other areas and like their soap, but was sad about having to discontinue using it on my pits.
Thank you SO much for this post! The search for a natural deodorant that works for you personally…IMHO is a slog! I have tried so many brands. I love hearing what worked out for someone else. I’m going to check out Lume!
For me – I think the AHAs work best? I have had success with the KOSAS Sport. It comes in an unscented, which I love!