Let’s talk B.O.! Do natural deodorants really work? Why should we use them? Which ones are best? As per usual, there’s more here than meets the nose! In this video and blog, I’m giving you the down and stinky scoop on deodorants and antiperspirants. Like many of you, I’ve been on the hunt for natural products that work for years, and now I’m gettin’ down and dirty to find the best natural deodorant. I finally tested over a dozen products and included the results in this (hilarious) video and awesome infographic below. Pssst! Make sure you watch the entire video. You don’t want to miss my surprise guest—A GRIZZLY BEAR!
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and it’s really good at absorbing what you put on it. Think about it like this: when smokers want to quit, they slap on a patch that delivers nicotine right to their bloodstream via their skin, same deal with the birth control patch. There are even vitamin B12 patches! With your spongy epidermis in mind, it’s important we do our best to reduce our chemical exposure. Which includes what we put on our pits. I can’t wait to discuss this all with you. Let’s dive in!
To clear up our stinkin’ thinkin’ about, well, stinkin’, here are a few starting points about deodorants, antiperspirants and good ole sweat:
- Why do we sweat? Sweating is our body’s cooling mechanism. We sweat when it’s hot out, when we’ve been exercising, when we have a fever or when we’re anxious and stressed.
- Why does it smell bad? Actually, sweat itself doesn’t smell. That signature sweaty odor comes from the meeting of the bacteria living on our skin with the sweat escaping from our sweat glands.
- What are antiperspirants? Some people try to prevent body odor by using an antiperspirant to stop their bodies from sweating (yikes!). Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever find a truly non-toxic anti-perspirant because of the harsh ingredients necessary to prevent sweating—more on this in a moment.
- What are deodorants? Unlike an antiperspirant, a deodorant works on top of the skin, killing off the bacteria with an antiseptic ingredient, then covering any leftover odors with a scent. As with all personal products, it’s important to be an informed consumer to select a safe natural deodorant. The good news is that it’s possible!
Conventional Deodorants & Antiperspirants
What should you be looking for when you check the ingredients on your next stick? Here are a few of the potentially harmful things found in regular deodorants and antiperspirants. These are the guys you want to avoid. Take note: Some of these ingredients will be spelled out right on the label, and some won’t be, so you might have to sleuth a little further.
What does it do? Absorbent and colorant.
Why should you avoid it? It is considered a carcinogen if it contains asbesiform fibers. But there’s no way to know if the talc in your product contains asbestos. So stay away—better safe than sorry.
What does it do? Kills bacteria.
Why should you avoid it? Triclosan disrupts the endocrine and immune systems, can cause allergic reactions and can also build up in your tissues.
What does it do? Acts as a preservative.
Why should you avoid it? BHT can cause allergic reactions and has also been linked to cancer.
What does it do? Keep things from drying out. Propylene glycol is used in cars as an anti-freeze and in airplanes as a de-icer.
Why should you avoid it? It can irritate your skin (and gosh knows what else).
What do they do? Used as a preservative, containing antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Why should you avoid them? Many parabens mimic estrogen in the body, and have been found inside breast cancer tumors. The widespread use of parabens in personal care products makes their potential link to cancer especially concerning. Most experts call for more research.
What does it do? This one is pretty straight forward: the synthetic chemicals listed as “fragrance” are included in products to mask body odor.
Why should you avoid it? There are an alarming number of chemicals (over 3100!) that fall into the fragrance category. According to the Environmental Working Group: “The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products.”
What do they do? These chemicals are called plasticizers—they make products more spreadable.
Why should you avoid them? Phthalates have been found to be endocrine disruptors (chemicals that can affect your hormones).
What does it do? Aluminum chlorohydrate is a salt that prevents wetness, which makes it a very popular ingredient in antiperspirants.
Why should you avoid it? The continued use of aluminum chlorohydrate adds to the number of chemicals your body must eliminate and to your overall body burden (see more below).
How do these chemicals impact your health?
As our friend Heather White, the Executive Director of Environmental Working Group, put it so clearly during our Chat & Chew, we just don’t know what the long term effects of the buildup of these chemicals are, and the things we do know are pretty alarming. When EWG studied body burden, (the amount of chemicals stored in our bodies), they found the average person has nearly 300 different chemicals in their system, including PCBs and DDT, which were banned over 30 YEARS AGO in the US.
But there’s good news! Lucky for us, there are natural ingredients that can be used in place of the chemicals. Remember that we all have different body chemistry. That’s why your best friend might swear by a certain brand, but that same formula might leave you wanting (and wafting). What works magic for me may or may not work for you.
Disclaimer: Read your labels tootsies! When you test your own deodorants, keep in mind that not all natural deodorants are created equal. And just because a product says “natural” on the package doesn’t mean it’s all good in the hood. If you can find products that are certified organic (not always possible), that may be the best way to go, since the labeling has a more stringent standard than “natural.”
My Natural Deodorant Rankings
I hope you enjoy my video (watch above!) and rankings chart, which cover a slew of sticks (and rocks, and sprays, and creams—whew!). The natural deodorants I tested are all free of the harsh toxic chemicals and are cruelty-free. I ranked the deodorants a few ways: How well they worked for me, how enjoyable they were to use (sticky? chalky? silky?), and how they rated at EWG’s Skin Deep database. Though I tested over 15 products, I only included the top 9 because many of the others ranked too high at skindeep (over a 3 rating). Download my Natural Deodorant Rankings chart below!
I found a wonderful deodorant that actually works all day and night….it’s called Purely Great and it is made in Canada and is available on line. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.
what’s the difference b/w a deodorant & anti-perspirant people asked ?
deodorant can remove or mask odors but doesn’t prevent sweating, but anti-perspirant helps prevent sweating to reduce or prevent odors. I also find that UARMSOL POWDER works best because you definitely can sweat as much as you want without experiencing any odors at all, that’s a fact!
I’ve been using Lavanilla for a few years. I’ve been told it’s pretty clean, but you know, sometimes it’s hard to decipher ingredients, even the natural ones sometimes have long confusing names! What do you know about this deodorant?
I’ve had the same problem with never knowing what ingredients are safe or not. So my friend and I started using coconut oil and making our own. It’s awesome because you can use the scents you really like.
Wow Jadah, that is a great idea to use coconut oil as deodorant. I have been experimenting with essential oils and just throwing it under my arms. It definitely works and you get a cooling sensation as well but I may give the coconut oil a try as it is literally good for EVERYTHING! Thank you for the idea 🙂
They forgot the best natural deodorant on the market! And it really works! http://www.JamesNatural.com
I’ve been using Primal Pit Paste for the past year. Love it. Works better than conventional deodorant and is safe and natural.
I love Primal Pit Paste too – it works great and smells heavenly! Ingredients: Coconut oil, raw shea butter, beeswax, arrowroot powder, non-aluminum baking soda, and essential oils (i.e. lavender or thyme and lemon grass). No parabens, no aluminum! Highly recommend it.
But it’s not cheap, so I may try some of these helpful at-home recipes people mentioned in these comments when I run out. Thanks!
I have been using Primal Pit Paste for about a year and Love it.. The cream does not have beeswax like the stick version so it is vegan.
You really need to include PRIMAL Paste……….they are awesome!!!
My husband and I love PRIMAL PIT PASTE!!! We both use the Lavender scent as it doesn’t smell flowery or girly at all. It’s just a really good, almost sporty-type scent. Hubby has strong pit odor while I don’t, but we can both get away with using the “Regular” (the jars come in “Light”, “Regular” and “Strong”). Less is more with this stuff; DO NOT over apply!!! It also comes in a stick version in “Regular”. The jar is a better value, but the stick is easier to apply. Thehe jars also come in a trial-sized version, and we use those for traveling because they’re so small. PLEASE NOTE: As I mentioned, less is more with this product. Just a tad goes a long way.
Primal pit paste has caused a nasty burning rash on both my armpits. When i researched it, that is not an uncommon issue with it
I’m a Primal Pit Paste user too…I was disappointed it didn’t make the review. I think Kris would have loved it!
How do you feel it compares to the others on the list. Have you tried any of them?
I hadn’t even heard of half of those brands. They sound fantastic, though. I’d really like to try out the urban cowboy ([email protected] rankings!)!
I’ve been using PureBodyScent deodorant for about 6 months now and I have to say that this is one of the best deodorants that I’ve every tried. Totally free of all the toxic ingredients and zero hydrogenated oils. Very nice scents and works extremely well. 😉
They forgot the best natural deodorant on the market!..And it really works!
They forgot the very best natural deodorant on the market!..And this stuff really works!
I’ve used both the Crystal Essence (which she gives 3 unicorns) and also Tom’s. While Crystal Essence is better than toms, they both do not stand-up to high heat, intense activity or humid weather. I’m actually somewhat dissapointed with the review of three unicorns for the Crystal Essence, she must not be very sweaty…. I have been on the hunt for a good natural deodorant for a few years and now I’m going to try the pit paste, that and Lavanilla seem to be the best reviewed elsewhere, and in this conversation chain
Completely agree with you, I was using the Crystal Essence and it was not working for me. I tried the Alaffia one which was just terrible and have been using the Herban Cowboy one. It’s ok, I’m actually going to try combining it with the Crystal Essence so I can use both of them up and avoid being wasteful but I get smelly by the mid-end of the day. That said, I am a sweater!
Hi Kris – http://moogoo.com.au/deodorant.html/ PLEASE PLEASE check out this product from down under I alternate between MI ESSENCE and this MOOGOO deoderant. Thanks for this subject! Its so hard to find a goodie! Cheers from BINC Downunder Renay!
Yes, my son uses Moo Goo, and I was using it before he nabbed it from me. Its great. I use Natural Essence and find it fantastic. Anyway…. on the Moo Goo, so nice to find something I am happy for my youngster to use, he only needs it once a week on sport day but I freaked when he wanted to start using because of his odour, so did a lot of research and Moo Goo was the one I settled on.
Hi. I sweat a lot and have tried loads. The best thing to stop the smell is barcabonate soda!dampen your fingers and put in barcabonate and pat onto your armpits. I don’t smell all day through to evening, it still allows you to sweat which is normal. Cheap too!
I make my own – baking soda & organic essential oil. Sprinkle onto wet fingers and rub into pits! Works amazingly well.
Hi Linda! I do the same! I use natural spray-on aloes vera and baking soda. Protects my pits the whole day and through tough workouts! Maïté
I also make my own with Coconut oil, arrowroot, baking soda and essential oils. It works amazingly even when I am working out!
Yes, I make my own deodorant out of the same… you can Google homemade deodorant and come up with several great blogs. Even with the natural products, there are often ingredients that I can’t pronounce and don’t know what they are. I like knowing what I’m using, and it’s fun to make my own! (and cheap!)
I would like to try this, I have baking soda, coconut oil and essential oils, but does the coconut oil cause an oil stain on your clothes? What if you are wearing a nice shirt or whatever…
I tried to do the same and while it worked amazingly well, I developed red and irritated skin under my armpits. Am I doing something wrong? I used about 2 tbs of baking soda, 1 drop peppermint oil and some water. I want to keep using it because of the effectiveness but afraid I’m doing damage to my skin.
Peppermint oil isn’t very good for skin. Maybe you could try a batch without it?
Hi! I cannot use a natural deodorant with any baking soda – it burns my skin every time. Maybe that is your source of irritation?
You can substitute arrowroot for the baking soda. Sometimes the baking soda can be abrasive to some people. Hope it works for you!
I love Deodomom
Have you tried Simply Divine Botanicals’ Crystal Ally deodorant spray? This has worked well for me. I’m not sure what its EWG Ranking would be though.
I’ve found a Canadian deodorant as well, JASÖN made by The Hain Celestial Group.
Another possibility is lime. Yes, it’s a bit strange and it doesn’t last 24 hours, but if you use the juice from a slice of lime after shower and make sure your skin is dry before you put it on your skin and again before you put on your clothes you will stay fresh for many hours.
I use the Crystal Essence unscented and it’s great, but is a little sticky and takes a while to dry. So when I’m in a hurry, I use Pitstop powder deodorant, which works great!
I have tried the spray version of thai crystal, but your are right it drips and it is frustrating, but works well. I am looking forward to trying the others and so is my husband. I value your opinion and your research.
Thanks for all that you do! You don’t know how much this has helped me with my own journey with breast cancer.
I use Sweet Deodorant. It is Vegan and Gluten free.
No chemicals. Deb Metler makes it in Michigan.
Liquid Rock from Kiss My Face! It works! It really works yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!
Thank you for sharing your list Kris, now I have options! I’m a big fan of Dr. Hauschka so I’m definitely going to try that one as well.
Can you please post the ingredient list for the Kiss My Face product… Unfortunately most of their products I have seen are full of toxins!
Hi, Lyndsi! Do you know which Kiss My Face ingredients are considered toxic? I’ve been using their Liquid Rock deodorant for years. It’s the only natural deodorant that I’ve tried (out of a long and varied experiment!) that works for me. But I will definitely reconsider, depending on which ingredients are toxic. Please advise! Thanks in advance!!! Their ingredients are listed on their web site. Here are the ingredient list for the unscented KMF Liquid Rock, which is the one I use (list pulled from the KMF web site): Aqua, Potasssium Alum, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Salix Alba (Willow Bark Extract/Extrait d’ecorse de saule), Usnea Barbata (Lichen Extract/Extrait de lichen), Sodium Phytate, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate
I would absolutely love to refrain from the commercial/toxic deodorants but gosh darnit, just can find something else that works effectively! I have tried “natural” deodorants sooo many times.
I gave up trying for awhile because I could not find anything that worked. Then I read an article that said it takes your body about a week to adjust to no anti-perspirant. While your body is adjusting, your pits will be awful, lots of sweat, waning though as the week progresses. So, I tried again when I was off work for a week. I washed my pits a lot with vinegar for the first few days, foregoing any deodarant use. The vinegar helps kill any of that smelly bacteria. After a few days, my sweating slowed down. Then I set about trying deodarants. I only bother to use one if I am going to be around people. Since breaking the anti-perspirant habit, my body sweats more naturally and I don’t need the mask unless I have been working on the farm or exercising. Then showering takes care of that! Best one I have tried so far is Origins Organic Spray. I can work hard on farm for 5 hours, and still be okay a couple of hours later. Ingredient list seems okay but it hasn’t been rated yet by EWG.
Hmm. I used Kiss My Face’s Liquid Rock deodorant for about four months until my mom discreetly told me it wasn’t really working and I’d been smelling. I had to switch back to a conventional antiperspirant but all the brands I’ve used have made me break out in pimples and rashes! Pit zits = horrible! What gives?! Should I keep trying different natural brands?
KarenM, the article you mention (about your body needing a week to adjust) may explain why my husband felt the coconut oil wasn’t working at first, and then after a few weeks, we noticed very little body odor. We wondered if his body was adjusting to it. I had stopped using it because I felt it wasn’t working, but I think I’ll start again to see if the odor changes after a few weeks. Good to know!
What kind of vinegar should you use for that? Apple cider?
Yes. it took me almost 2 weeks without antiperspirant for my armpits to detox. During that time I smelled worse than ever! But I’m so glad I waited it out because now I don’t need anything at all!
Awesome! Detoxing varies from person to person, and eating an alkaline diet can usually remove the need to use any product. So glad you are healthy and natural 🙂
RachelD we hear this from a ton of our customers over at Real Purity! We make natural, organic deodorant that is clinically proven to last 24 hours and designed specifically for sensitive skin, so I wonder if we could help you out? If you want to try again, please email me at rachael at realpurity dot com and I will send you a travel size to trial. We have over 350 five star reviews of people who have the same challenges, so definitely check it out if you’re open to it!
Kris! I have also been looking for a natural deodorant for years, and recently found one that seriously works. It’s made by Blissoma, a local company her in my lovely hometown of St. Louis. 😉 The lavender scented one is divine – truly. http://www.blissoma.com/Lavender-Natural-Deodorant-Spray_p_11.html
The founder/owner of the company was at a local farmer’s market and I was so dorkily excited to tell her about how great it worked! I know you said in your video you don’t love the sprays, but I spray it on and do something like brush my teeth before getting dressed. Seriously you should try it! 🙂
Kate, I’m from STL too! And, I’ve had trouble finding something that works. I’ll definitely try this out! Which farmer’s market is she at?
You can order her products online at blissoma.com, or you can find them at several locations in St. Louis – http://www.blissoma.com/Locations-to-Buy_ep_42.html
I met her at the Best of Missouri Market at the Botanical Garden, and like I said, I was so goofy and excited about this product.
Hope you love it!
P.S. The Natural Way in Webster Groves actually has testers of it available. Yes, it’s a bit odd testing spray deodorant in a store, but I did, and I so don’t regret it! 🙂
Hi, Elaine! I met the her at the Best of Missouri Market. Blissoma products are in several stores in St. Louis – I originally found them at The Natural Way. Hope you love them, too!
What worked really well for me was the crystal stone or alum stone type of depdorant, they work great against odors…but a few months ago I came across a DIY natural deodorant recipe and it’s even better!!!
“1/4 Cup of Baking Soda (neutralizes odor)
1/4 Cup of Arrowroot starch (absorbs moisture)
4 Tb Coconut Oil (anti-bacterial and moisturizing)
1/4 tsp Tea Tree Oil (anti-bacterial)
Mix all ingredients together to form a paste/cream… and that’s it!”
I made mine (with peppermint oil instead of tea tree) end of July,I use it everyday and I still have a little bit left! It’s brilliant!
I make my own this way, too, and it really works. I use tea tree oil AND peppermint oil.
Ditto Chloe’s recipe. It’s just the best thing I’ve ever tried and the concoction lasts for a long time. I just smear a pea-sized amount per pit and the stinkies be-gone!
Oh and just a little extra info — I’m a GUY with a penchant for stinky — so this natural recipe, in my perspective, is the bomb!
Thanks for the recipe, Chloe! I’m doing a workshop at a local health food store later this month on ways to use coconut oil and this will be a wonderful recipe to share. Participants at the workshop will make a couple homemade recipes to take home and try. I love peppermint essential oil myself, but I always tell folks that there is some research that says pregnant women should not use peppermint essential oil. Essential oils are so great; so powerful. They are medicine, too. Looking up the properties of the herb, and any contraindications to using it is good to know if you are going to make your own health and beauty products. For example, I might want to use sage in something I make for body care, but if I was pregnant, the sage shouldn’t be used b/c it could bring on contractions and baby could arrive too early. Again, thank you for sharing this. I’ll mention you and Kris at the workshop!
So true! Great and important information to share. 🙂 Just to clarify there is no reason clary sage should be avoided during pregnancy. Many books have propagated this folk message, and it is nothing more than a calming, sebum regulating and antibacterial essential oil. There are many recent publications from midwifery and aromatherapy sources helping clear the myth. Have a beautiful day 🙂
Thanks Chloe, I am going to try this. Currently only on weekends I have been spraying on apple cider vinegar and then using a combo of baking soda and arrowroot with some Essential oil, it works fine until I do some sweating, but making the paste might be the way to go . Thanks again
Yep, same here but with sandalwood oil too. I scoop it all into an old Herban Cowboy deo canister and stick in the freezer till firm then keep it in the fridge… I live in the tropics and this works great. If I have an extra sweaty day ahead, I dust on a little plain arrowroot and baking soda mix for extra dryness and freshness. I have not used anti-perspirant for years and this is the best alternative ever, better than the crystal or anything based on that and waaay better than the store bought non-crystal alternatives. Takes 5 minutes every couple months to recreate and refill… easy easy easy.
After you make your own deodorant how do you store the paste and how long does it keep?
I use this too and it’s awesome! I like a drop of lavender EO, too.
Hi, I use the same recipe, but without the essential oils so far. Working well for me, still wondering a bit, as it seems to leave some residue on my clothes some of the time. Does anyone else have that?
And what’s funny but not so convenient, is that with fall coming, lower temperature in our bathroom means it’s too hard to use! So at the moment, I’m back to my cristal stone. Any thoughts?
I use Lavanilla deodorant. It works well & smells good. It lasts about 12 hours.
I tryed Toms first but I got an awful rash so I couldn’t wear anything for a couple of weeks, not the best couple of weeks fro everyone but then I tryed Jason calming lavender which is a 5 and it works better than by old chemically deoderant
Leah, I had a very similar experience with Tom’s! I’d been using it about a week with no issues, but one morning I put it on and it started to BURN! It felt like my pits were on fire! I read somewhere that a lot of people have issues with the hops in this brand.
Same experience with Toms… loved the smell, but I got a rash and itched so bad. I switched to Native and I LOVE it.
I use Kokomo Cream Deodorant by Crunchy Betty. It’s homemade! No problematic ingredients and it smells a lot like a Piña Colada. She even includes the recipe with your order, if you are a do-it-yourself kind of gal. http://Www.crunchybetty.com
I’ve been using the Soapwalla deoderant for a while and I love it!