Though the jury’s still out on whether traditional antiperspirant deodorants (with ingredients like chlorohydrate, parabens, propylene glycol and triclosan) are causing any serious harm, lots of folks are interested in making the switch to cleaner, aluminum-free versions. Here’s everything you need to know about going natural—including eight of our favorite products.
The 8 Best Deodorants Without Aluminum (Plus Everything You Need to Know About Making the Switch to Natural)
How To Switch To Natural Deodorant
First things first: Before ditching your regular deodorant for a natural version, keep a few things in mind to make the transition as seamless (and pleasant-smelling) as possible.
1. You Might Need to Detox Your Armpits First
Even though it’s not medically proven to actually expel any toxins, some people swear by applying a bentonite clay mask to their armpits as a way to prevent those “I’m so smelly, I can’t take this anymore” moments that happen when your skin hasn’t yet acclimated to natural deodorant.
2. At First, Your Underarms Might Feel Super Dry
After using natural deodorant for a few weeks, the skin under your arms might start to feel like a desert. Why? Because baking soda is a common active ingredient in natural deodorant, dryness is actually a pretty common symptom. Luckily, there’s an easy solution: Moisturize liberally after showering, and allow the lotion to soak in for a few minutes before applying natural deodorant.
3. You Might Need to Apply it More Than Once a Day
Depending on how much you sweat, the days of waltzing from work to drinks to dinner to the gym with only one deodorant swipe under each arm may be over. Because you’re no longer plugging up your sweat glands with aluminum, you might need to reapply once or twice throughout the day. Just stash a backup in your purse and get used to the new routine.
4. There's No One-Size-Fits-All Deodorant for Everyone
While you might be tempted to just use the most popular kind and stick with it, most people have to try a few brands with different active ingredients before finding the right natural deodorant for them. The moral of the story? Keep testing natural brands and eventually you’ll find your perfect match.
The Best Aluminum-Free Deodorants
Speaking of trying different brands, here are six of the best ones around.
1. Megababe Rosy Pits Deodorant
This deodorant, which has a five-star rating and sold out in eight minutes at a J.Crew launch, has earned a cult following for good reason. It comes from the mind of none other than Katie Sturino (aka the genius behind The 12ish Style and a PureWow Coterie member). And considering its sibling is Thigh Rescue (basically a miracle for anyone with thighs), the deodorant was destined for greatness. The formula is free of aluminum and baking soda, and it features cornstarch to absorb moisture, so it’s safe for sensitive skin types. Couple that with bacteria-fighting green tea, coconut, sage and sandalwood and you’ve got a best seller on your hands.
2. Pretty Frank Jasmine Deodorant
Formerly known as Primal Pit Paste’s Jasmine Stick, this formula was a hit with PureWow’s editor at large, Lindsay Champion. “It kept me dry and smelling lovely all day, and I never had to do a second application, even after running or going to the gym,” she notes. “The baking soda formula might cause irritation for some people, but I found that moisturizing under my arms before applying did the trick.”
3. Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant
Senior editor Brianna Lapolla likes this formula for its fresh smell (there’s real mint and eucalyptus in it) and the fact that, texture-wise, it’s pretty similar to a normal drugstore deodorant. “It glides on easily and doesn’t leave any white residue, which is a huge plus,” she raves. “It also feels incredibly cooling for the first 10 to 20 minutes after applied, which I love. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. It stayed put even during an intense workout and didn’t cause any irritation or bumps like I’ve had in the past with natural deodorants.”
4. Lavanila Vanilla Grapefruit Natural Deodorant
We first fell in love with Lavanila’s perfume, so it makes sense that the brand’s deodorant smells incredible. A citrusy blend of pink grapefruit, lime and vanilla, it’s light and subtly sweet. Powered by something called natural beta glucan technology, this formula works to eliminate odor and absorb wetness while allowing skin to breathe. It’s also infused with pure essential oils, making application feel super soft and silky (without leaving any sticky wetness).
5. Meow Meow Tweet Grapefruit Deodorant Stick
How cute is this packaging? It’s what first drew editor Abby Hepworth to the product. What kept her using it was its effectiveness—after her body had a few weeks to adjust. “There was definitely a detox period where my body had to get used to natural deodorant and I did not smell particularly good during that week and a half,” she admits. Soon enough, though, she “really liked this deodorant, and was surprised to learn that switching to an all-natural product wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it would be.”
6. Agent Nateur Holi No. 3 Deodorant
Lifestyle director Angela Pares’s foray into the world of natural deodorant did not go off without a hitch. “After much trial and error, I was informed that sometimes you just can’t make the switch cold turkey. You have to do a little detoxifying first. I started my test with Agent Nateur by using a bentonite clay mask on my armpits a few times a week to ensure that I was clearing things out for maximum effectiveness.” After the initial weirdness, she was hooked. “The deodorant feels just like a regular tube but smells even better (this one smells like eucalyptus, but the brand also has a rose-scented version).” She also notes that if she foresees a particularly sweaty situation, she brings in the big guns (an antiperspirant).
7. Briogeo B. Well Tea Tree + Eucalyptus Clean Deodorant
A plant-based formula that uses potent botanicals like tea tree and eucalyptus to help neutralize odor, it leaves you smelling minty fresh all day long—even after a sweaty spin class or a high stakes meeting at work. Thanks to coconut oil and aloe leaf, it glides onto skin easily without tugging, doesn’t leave any chalky residue behind and feels immediately soothing on skin.
8. Vichy 24-hour Dry-touch Aluminum Free Deodorant
This aluminum- and alcohol- free stick uses zinc gluconate and perlite to absorb moisture and fend off odor-causing bacteria from skin. It also features the brand’s hallmark mineralizing thermal water from the region of Auvergne in France, which is known for its ability to soothe and strengthen your skin’s moisture barrier to prevent future irritation. (Note: This mild formula is meant for low to moderate activity so if you’re, say, training for a marathon or headed to a high-intensity interval class, you may want to toss your deo into your gym bag for a post-workout reapplication.)
Ok, Once I Find A Deodorant I Like, Can I Become Immune To It?
So you’ve found your natural deodorant match—awesome. Can you stick with it forever? Can you become immune to a certain formula? We checked in with Rebecca Baxt, M.D., a dermatologist and contributing medical expert to Zwivel.com. “Studies have been done that show when you use something to decrease the bacteria in the armpit, such as a deodorant, the ratio of different bacteria change,” Dr. Baxt says. “It is possible that bacteria could develop resistance to one of the chemicals being used to decrease them.”
OK, so how can you avoid the dreaded “I put deodorant on, but I feel like I smell” moment? It’s simple. Dr. Baxt told us that if you suspect your deodorant isn’t working anymore, change it. “It’s not necessary to ‘switch it up’ [some people recommend changing brands every six months], but that’s the first action item if your deodorant is failing.”
You know what they say: If you see something smell something, say something change your deodorant.