More people are turning to natural deodorants as they’re discovering artificial chemicals aren’t good for the human body.
It can be tough to find a deodorant that is all-natural but still effective, and this problem is compounded by the fact that what works for one person doesn’t always work for another.
We scoured the market for the best natural deodorants available, made with high-quality ingredients such as shea butter, arrowroot, coconut oil and avocado that leave you fresh and free from artificial chemicals (like aluminum).
1. Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant
Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant is an all-natural and vegan deodorant that’s got a great scent and long-lasting efficacy. With scents available in cedarwood and juniper, lavender and sage, ylang-ylang and calendula, plus an unscented variety, pretty much everyone will find a scent of Schmidt’s that suits his or her nose.
Coconut, shea butter, and arrowroot make up the bulk of the ingredients, so you don’t have any petroleum byproducts or synthetic chemicals in the mix. Users praise its longevity and its excellent aroma in the scented varieties.
2. North Coast Organics Naked
For the ultra-minimalist, North Coast Organics Naked is the number one natural deodorant. It only has five ingredients: coconut oil, arrowroot powder, carnauba wax, shea butter, and baking soda. All of the plant ingredients are certified organic, and the ingredients are not just safe; they’re actually edible.
Since there are no additional fragrances or perfuming compounds, North Coast Organics Naked is totally unscented, aside from the extremely faint scent that you’ll get from the coconut, shea butter, carnauba, and arrowroot.
If you are hyper-conscious about what you put on your body, there’s no better solution than this natural deodorant. However, perhaps because of the simplicity of the design, some people find that this deodorant does not work for as long as some of its competitors.
On the upside, because it has so few ingredients, it’s the best product for people with very sensitive skin.
3. Sam’s Natural Deo
If you want a large variety of scents to choose from, Sam’s Natural Deo is the best choice when it comes to natural deodorants. It comes in an astounding 17 different scents, including an unscented variety as well as scents ranging from patchouli to tobacco.
The majority of the scent profiles are very masculine, so men who are tired of floral, lavender-scented natural deodorants can look forward to a wide range of manlier aromas from Sam’s Natural Deo.
The ingredients are a familiar blend of baking soda, arrowroot powder, coconut oil, and wax that give it a hard-wearing consistency. This makes applying a thin coating pretty easy, but some people find it difficult to get a thick enough coating down to be effective.
4. Underarmed Active Botanical Luxury Deodorant
Underarmed is a baking soda based deodorant delivered via beeswax, coconut oil, and avocado oil. If you’ve tried other baking soda products (also known as sodium bicarbonate) and they’ve worked for you, Underarmed is also likely to work.
The lavender and eucalyptus scent is very subtle and understated, so if you don’t want to broadcast to the world what scent you’ve got under your arms, or if you have a sensitive nose that can’t handle strong aromas, it’s an excellent choice.
Users with sensitive skin find it very gentle on their skin, so it’s a winner for people skin that has a tendency to develop rashes with other products.
5. Bali Secrets Natural Deodorant
Bali Secrets comes in four different scents, plus an unscented version. Its deodorizing power comes from potassium alum, a natural mineral salt, and its plant-based ingredients are grown in Bali.
All of the ingredients are rated as “safe” by the Environmental Working Group, a consumer watchdog organization for ingredients in cosmetic and personal health products.
Most users find that it’s got long-lasting anti-odor power, even when they’ve been exercising and sweating. If you know mineral-based deodorants don’t work for you, you may need to look elsewhere, but if not, this is one of the best natural deodorants out there.
6. Primal Pit Paste Natural Deodorant
Primal Pit Paste works a little different from other natural deodorants. It’s not a stick that you apply, it’s a paste that you have to rub in to your skin.
Essentially, it’s a baking soda based deodorant that uses shea butter, arrowroot, and coconut oil as a delivery vehicle. The paste form of the deodorant allows for a higher concentration of odor-fighting compounds, albeit at the cost of being a little messy to apply. It doesn’t have the best longevity, but many people still find it effective at fighting odor.
7. Green Tidings All Natural Deodorant
Green Tidings is another baking soda based natural deodorant, but it has some rare and unusual ingredients, like tapioca starch and magnesium chloride, that may give it an edge.
It’s a good option if other natural deodorants have failed you, because the unique combination of ingredients might be more effective at fighting your unique bacteria that give you your body odor. Users find it effective, but some people with sensitive skin get a rash when they use it for a long time.
8. Greener Path All Natural Deodorant
Greener Path goes heavy on the plant extracts and oils to spice up the aroma. It’s got everything from argan oil to green tea stem cell to grapefruit seed to contribute to the scent and fight odor causing bacteria.
At its core, it’s still a baking soda based deodorant, but its wide variety of other ingredients give it a very distinct chemical profile. This is polarizing–some people love its unique scent, while others find it overpowering and prone to causing skin irritation.
The consistency has a reputation for being a bit soft and sticky, so some users find that it makes them feel as if they are sweating all day. It may not be a top choice, but it’s an interesting take on the “maximalist” approach to natural deodorant.
9. Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Deodorant
Arm & Hammer Essentials is what you might call “natural lite” deodorant. It, like many of its competitors, is free of aluminum, parabens, and antiperspirant ingredients.
However, it’s not all-natural; it does have several synthetic ingredients like dipropylene glycol, octenidine, and ethylhexylglycerin. The upside is that it does work extremely well; many people for whom true natural deodorants fail to stop smells all day end up settling on Arm & Hammer because of its efficacy.
If natural ingredients are important for you, it may not be the best first option, but it’s a good fallback if you can’t find a product that consistently stops smells all day long.
10. Organic Fields of Heather Coconut Dream Deodorant
Organic Fields of Heather makes a natural deodorant that uses citrus fruit oils to give it a fruity smell and anti-bacterial power. The rest of the ingredients are pretty standard, but despite its popularity, it does not appear to be as effective at some of its competitors.
The citrus smell, from the orange and pineapple essential oils, can be overpowering, and the consistency is a bit greasy. It can stain some clothes, and most users find that it does not last as long as they’d like. Given that there are a lot of other options out there with similar ingredients, Organic Fields of Heather shouldn’t be your first choice.
Natural deodorant benefits and side effects
With the enormous number of synthetic coloring agents, perfumes, and antiperspirant and antibacterial ingredients in mainstream deodorants, it’s no surprise why people want a simpler, natural alternative.
There’s a swirl of controversy over ingredients like aluminum salts, which some consumer watchdog groups have flagged as unsafe for cosmetic products.
At the same time, you still want to be able to go about your day confident that you don’t have offensive body odor.
The right natural deodorant can enable you to avoid potentially harmful chemicals while still keeping your body odor under control all day long.
Many of the concerns about traditional deodorants and antiperspirants are centered around the inclusion of aluminium salt ingredients, which some worry are connected with increased risk for disease as a result of toxic accumulation of aluminum in the body.
Traditional deodorants, and especially antiperspirants, use aluminum salts to block sweat pores from producing sweat, which is one way to reduce body odor.
However, many people are concerned that this same aluminum salt could be absorbed into your body and could start accumulating. Could this be related to the development of disease or health risks?
One legitimate concern regarding aluminum in deodorants, acknowledged even by the Food and Drug Administration, is the potential for aluminum salts to accumulate in the kidneys and cause damage.
Typically this is not a concern in people with healthy, well-functioning kidneys that can remove aluminium salts, but for people with kidney disease, aluminum based deodorants pose a health risk (1).
This raises the question of whether it’s a good idea even for a healthy person to use aluminum based deodorant–it seems like it would put an extra stress on your kidneys, plus who knows what else the aluminum is doing while it’s inside your body after being absorbed and before being excreted?
Indeed, a case report published in 2004 by doctors in the American Journal of Medicine describes exactly such a case. They describe a 43-year-old woman who presented with mysterious symptoms, which the doctors eventually discovered were the result of a condition called hyperaluminemia, which is a buildup of excessive amounts of aluminum in the body (2).
Usually, this is the result of overuse of aluminum containing antacid drugs, but in this case, the doctors discovered that it was caused by the woman’s use of an aluminum containing antiperspirant.
What caused this woman’s body to accumulate so much aluminum is a mystery, but it gives more credence to the idea that avoiding a deodorant that uses aluminum is probably a good idea.
Another even more worrisome aluminum-related risk is Alzheimer’s disease. According to a scientific article in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, there is substantial evidence showing that aluminum accumulates in the gray matter of the brain in conjunction with the development of Alzheimer’s disease (3).
The article provides evidence that this accumulation is causal–as such, this becomes yet another reason to switch to a natural deodorant.
When choosing a natural deodorant, you should expect having to give a few products a try to see what works for you. Everyone’s skin bacteria is different, so what works for one person may not work as well for another.
Many manufacturers recommend giving a product an entire week’s worth of use, claiming that it takes a while for your skin chemistry to adjust to the new deodorant.
Since natural deodorants are made with safe, non toxic ingredients, the only side effects that tend to occur are rashes in people with sensitive skin.
It’s very hard to predict who will be susceptible to getting a rash from a particular deodorant; it likely has to do with how your unique skin chemistry interacts with the ingredients in a natural deodorant.
As a general rule, fewer ingredients means a lower likelihood of an adverse interaction, so if you know you have sensitive skin, look for a natural deodorant with as few ingredients as possible.
While lots of plant oils and extracts might be good for a deodorant’s aroma, this increases the likelihood that your body will react badly to one of the chemical compounds contained in the deodorant.
There are a whole host of health-related reasons to steer clear of traditional deodorants and antiperspirants. Natural deodorants offer a safe, effective way to keep your body odor under control without exposing your body to toxic compounds with the potential to cause adverse health effects, like aluminum salts.
If you have sensitive skin, try a natural deodorant with as few ingredients as possible, and remember that your own skin chemistry may interact with a specific product differently than other people.
If you get a rash, or if you find that a certain natural deodorant isn’t effective at controlling odor, it’s worth trying another product before going back to a standard mainstream deodorant.