When Vogue publishes an article outlining the 10 chicest aluminum-free deodorants, you know you’ve got a trend on your hands. That, and the fact that conventional personal care conglomerates such as P&G, owners of Secret and Old Spice, and Unilever, owners of Dove, Degree and the unofficial scent of teenage boys, Axe, are acquiring natural deodorant brands in droves. Unilever recently acquired Schmidt’s, a product conceptualized and crafted by founder Jaime Schmidt in her kitchen, and in November, P&G acquired Native, a brand that is available via online purchasing only and has accrued a cult-like following.
Natural deodorants aren’t exactly new—they have been available in natural products stores for decades. But sales were stagnant; products were unexciting. Sometimes, natural deodorants appeared in odd formats, such as in a tub rather than a stick, rendering would-be shoppers frightened away by the prospect of using their hand to smear an oily substance into their moist pits. While we in Birkenstock-wearing Boulder are no strangers to trying uber-natural deodorants (or, ahem, none at all), in order for most consumers to truly make a switch to natural, products must mimic conventional options and actually work.
Such deodorants are successfully squashing consumer skepticism about efficacy, which is pushing the entire natural beauty and body category forward, says Jessica Rubino, New Hope Network’s in-house personal care expert.
“Would those plant-based deodorants ward off the stench? In recent years, formulators have worked hard to ensure the answer to this question posed by consumers and retailers would be a resounding ‘yes,’” Rubino explains. “And perhaps the greatest breath of fresh air (yes, it’s safe to take a nice big inhale) has been in the form of high-performance deodorants that are proving skeptics wrong and delivering seriously satisfying results—all with safe and effective ingredients.”
That said, some natural deodorants do limit B.O. better than others. A few editors on the New Hope Network content team have spent the last month experimenting with both new and legacy natural brands to determine which ones come out on top. Here, we review seven deodorants—so you don’t have to.
From the makers of the classic aluminum-free deodorant (it’s also available in a chunky “crystal” form) comes this redesigned product in a stick. It’s made without aluminum, chlorohydrate, parabens, zirconium or artificial dyes—ingredients often found in conventional products. While the Lavender & White Tea scent sounded wonderful, it smelled more saccharine than floral.
Experience: The texture is similar to a firm gel, which left no flakes or white streaks on my clothing. It pleasantly glided over my skin, making it a cinch to quickly use.
Efficacy: In my case, the “24 hour” call-out on the front of the package wasn’t accurate. It lasted for about six hours, and then my mom told me I smelled. And moms don’t lie.
Recommend to a friend? I probably wouldn’t recommend this product to a friend, but I do appreciate Crystal’s heritage as an original natural deodorant. And I’m sure Crystal works wonderfully on others. Perhaps it’s just not for me.
A full day of work, a 104 degree, 75-minute hot yoga class and a late-evening neighborhood stroll with the pup were no match for Native. This product left me feeling fresh from rise to rest.
Experience: The smell is the perfect simple botanical blend, and the traditional roll-on applicator is smooth and doesn’t harden. The best part? You can subscribe in a cadence of one to four months from the Native website and save cash and time, so you never have that panicked “out of deodorant” moment.
Efficacy: After many tumultuous relationships with natural aluminum-free deodorants, I found that Native takes the prize for keeping me dry and feeling confident in a way that I can only explain as magic.
SRP: $12 per bar or $30 for 3 bars. Not sold? Invest in the tiny travel pack for $24 for 5 mini-bars.
Recommend to a friend? Though the price point is high, it's worth the cost.
Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Deodorant Unscented
There’s lots to love here. With nine ingredients, this is one of the cleanest options I’ve seen, and it scores top marks in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. Of course, Tom’s of Maine has been a pioneer in the natural personal care space, demonstrating a long-lasting commitment to transparency, sustainability and social consciousness.
Experience: This was easy to apply—it's naturally soft, so you don’t have to let it warm against the skin like you do with some others, and it’s never left marks on my clothes.
Efficacy: The “24 hour odor protection” claim on the packaging seems like a stretch. For this not-particularly-sweaty office dweller, it barely held up for the length of the workday. By the time I changed clothes for an afternoon or evening workout, it was definitely time to re-apply.
Recommend to a friend? Maybe for those who don’t sweat a lot and aren't super active.
Kiss My Face Active Life Deodorant
The ingredient list is a bit intimidating, but it’s still clear of aluminum, parabens and artificial fragrances. It was also one of the more affordable options on the shelf at my local natural products store.
Experience: The first application was a little rough against my skin, but it was smooth sailing after that. At first, this deodorant smells a little funky when you take off the cap, due to the various extracts inside (rosemary, sage, coriander, thyme and green tea). Once I put it on, though, I didn’t notice any particular smell.
Efficacy: To my surprise, this deodorant kept me fresh throughout the day, even after a gym session.
Recommend to a friend? Yes.
Nubian Heritage has a line of Patchouli & Buriti-scented products ranging from bath bombs to body lotion to soap bars. Despite the patchouli, none of them, including this deodorant, smell overly like the third day at Woodstock. Rather, the scent is mild and soapy. I also dig the company’s commitment to sourcing fair trade ingredients, including shea butter.
Experience: Feels soft and nourishing on the skin, thanks to the abundance of oils and vegetable glycerin. Not for nothing, the deodorant's beautiful packaging looks great on my bathroom counter. Plus, it left no white streaks on my black blouse.
Efficacy: The deodorant effectively squashed stink during a low-active day spent working in front of my computer. But it quickly wore off during a pre-dinner run, which left me hunched over in a public bathroom, splashing water onto my pits before entering the restaurant.
Recommend to a friend? Probably not.
Available in luscious scents (yes, I'm describing a deodorant as luscious) such as Lavender + Sage, Ylang-Ylang + Calendula, Cedarwood + Juniper and more, this stand-out brand neutralizes odor and absorbs wetness. I love the easy-to-understand list of ingredients that includes arrowroot powder, coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda and more. If you wanted to, you could make this product in your kitchen. It's that clean label.
Experience: The texture is naturally rough—especially in winter months when my house is a little cooler. Place against your skin for a few seconds to allow the deodorant to soften, then glide on a thin layer. The scent is fresh and floral. It can rub off on dark clothing if you’re not careful.
Efficacy: Now this is what I’m talking about! Schmidt’s seems to last forever. I stayed fresh throughout the workday (with a quick run at lunch) and even through a hard session at the rock climbing gym. I don’t know how such natural, recognizable ingredients work so well, but Schmidt’s is officially my deodorant of choice from now on. I can’t wait to sample the other scents!
SRP: $9.99 (I know it’s high, but you won’t regret it.)
Recommend to a friend? Absolutely!
I love the squeeze-bottle container and unique applicator that ensures you apply a perfect, thin film to your underarms. The texture of the deodorant is quite nice—smooth and silky.
I’m happy to see that Type: A is transparent about what's inside—the company lists all ingredients and their functions on its website, which is rare in personal care. While the deodorant is free from aluminum and parabens, unfortunately Type: A does incorporate a few synthetic ingredients, such as diisopropyl adipate, which contribute to the creamy texture. But the existence of a database is commendable—it upholds the integrity of the brand.
Experience: Is it possible to look forward to putting on deodorant every day? It is with Type: A, as it makes my underarms feel smooth and perfectly moisturized. The crisp, citrusy smell is delightful. If scented deodorant isn't your thing, an unscented version is available, too.
Efficacy: Top notch! I almost feel like one application would stop stink and sweat for two days. It definitely works better than the conventional brands I’ve used all my life.
Recommend to a friend? Yes.