I’ve been making my own deodorant for a couple years, but lately it hasn’t been very effective. It has started to irritate my skin and is scarcely showing up in the battle of the stink. Since homemade isn’t cutting it but I still want to use something natural (specifically with no aluminum in it) I decided to see what’s on the market.
This is exactly what it sounds like: I’m on the hunt for the best natural deodorant out there, and I’m trying as many different kinds as I have to until I find it.
For Round 1 I bought five different brands of natural deodorant to test. Honestly, I was hoping to find a winner right away, but this is proving a little more challenging (and expensive) than I expected.
Things to know:
- I am a sweaty, stinky woman. It’s fine. I mean, I don’t love it, but that’s why I’m on this quest in the first place.
- I live in the Phoenix metro area. We have very little humidity here, so I’m not sure how that would have affected my results. (Sorry Midwest people.) It’s also crazy hot here; it’s only April but we’re already seeing 90°+ days on the regular.
- I planned to use each natural deodorant for at least a week and my routine didn’t vary at all from the usual: running errands, walking kids to school, etc.
- I did some research before buying anything. There are a million articles and blog posts about the best natural deodorant, and I chose the contenders in this round from those suggestions. Since most of them were sponsored partnerships of some kind, though, I took those recommendations with a large dose of skepticism.
- All the links are affiliates (which means I make a few pennies if you buy something) but nobody is paying me to promote anything. I bought every single one of these natural deodorants with my own money because I am willing to invest in finding the best one for me.
- My criteria were as follows: How is it applied? How does it smell? Does it keep me from being a sweaty stinky mess at the end of the day?
- Your mileage may vary. Despite my *highly scientific method* (ha!) I can’t promise you’ll have the same results with any of these products. Don’t be mad at me if you buy something I recommend and wind up hating it.
Also worth noting: since I stopped using “normal” deodorant a long time ago, my body has had a chance to adjust and get rid of all the toxins it was holding on to. The process was awful. I was even smellier usual. It took months to clean the sweat/aluminum residue completely out of my shirts. What I’m saying is, if you’re making the transition to something more natural than what you’re currently using, it might take some time and it might get ugly. Totally worth it, in my opinion, but don’t expect honeysuckle + roses right away.
With all that out of the way…let’s get into it!
Schmidt’s Deodorant Stick in Ylang Ylang + Calendula
Scent: This smells like walking into a Whole Foods. Obviously it’s good for me, right?
Application: Stick. I was startled when I swiped this under my arm at how rough it felt. Like there was gravel embedded in the stick or something. Not comfortable, and not off too a great start.
First impression: It smelled exactly like I assume natural deodorant would smell, which means I now smell like a hippy. Also my armpits feel all scratched up. So far, not thrilled.
Effectiveness: Meh. The strong ylang ylang/calendula smell mostly masked my own musk, but there was definitely still a whiff of B.O. in there. And my pits were pretty damp. A second application in the afternoon helped.
Final thoughts: After using this for only a few days, I was ready to throw it in the trash. I didn’t smell great. Not only did my armpits hurt, they were starting to break out with pimples and/or ingrown hairs. That, in case you wondered, DOES NOT FEEL GOOD. Now maybe my skin is extra sensitive (it is) but I’m pretty sure deodorant isn’t supposed to cause raging sores where it is applied.
If you’ve got tough leathery armpits, maybe you won’t have the same problems I did. And if you’re willing to reapply halfway through your day, there are worse things to smell like than a hippy. I wouldn’t recommend this one, though.
Nourish Organic Stick Deodorant in Fresh Fig
Scent: It seriously smells like a fig. Earthy, fruity, with a hint of maybe chocolate? Confession: I was a little tempted to taste this one.
Application: Stick. After the previous week, this felt smooth like butter. Ahhhh. After a few days of use, though, it started to get a little gritty.
First impression: The scent and texture were so different from the Schmidt’s stuff that I had high hopes. Perhaps unreasonably high.
Effectiveness: Again, meh. My armpits stayed drier, which was nice. The fig smell was SO strong, though, and I never quite got used to it. I felt self-conscious all week, especially on days when I was extra active or it was really hot out.
Final thoughts: This is a weird thing to nitpick about but it bothered me: this natural deodorant left a thick residue on my armpits that was really hard to scrub off. I get that antiperspirant kind of works that way; it clogs your sweat glands or whatever. But my pits didn’t feel quite clean all week, which wasn’t my favorite. As I mentioned above, the texture got gritty after the initial layer of smoothness. Fortunately, though, it didn’t make my armpits break out. In fact, they healed pretty quickly once I switched to this kind. That was nice.
Of all the options in this round, this was a tie for my second-favorite. I felt like it kept my sweat situation decently in check and I wasn’t exactly smelly, I just didn’t smell like me.
LaVanila Sport Luxe Deodorant in Vanilla Breeze
Scent: This does not smell like vanilla. It smells like baby powder. I was disappointed because I love the smell of vanilla.
*Note: at this point I was starting to get really discouraged by this experiment. Somehow “Vanilla Breeze” not smelling at all like it should was a bigger let down than it probably should’ve been.*
Application: Stick. By far the smoothest stick of the bunch, actually, with no grit at all. I used this one for over a week just because it felt so nice when I applied it.
First impression: Not thrilled with the scent (if I wanted to smell like a baby I’d carry a baby all day…oh wait…) but happy about how it felt going on. We’ll say I was cautiously optimistic.
Effectiveness: This wasn’t great for wetness; I easily soaked through my shirts by the end of hot/busy days. However, I didn’t smell bad, which was a huge win. On hot or busy days, I could’ve benefited from a second application, because as I said at the beginning, I’m naturally pretty stinky. But this kept the worst of it at bay. I’ll take it.
Final thoughts: I really didn’t care for the scent. Something about my body chemistry does not mesh well with that baby powder smell. I also didn’t like that it didn’t keep my armpits as dry as I’d have liked. That said, I’d rather have sweaty pits than stinky ones.
This was my other second-favorite. If the scent had been better, it would’ve been a 4. I’ll have to see if it comes in other flavors.
Soapwalla Organic/Vegan Deodorant Cream in Citrus
Scent: Definitely citrus! Not sweet citrus though. It smells exactly like lemon zest: tangy + sharp + fresh. It’s clean but a little overpowering.
Application: Cream. Before this natural deodorant adventure I was making my own and storing it in a little twist top jar, so this wasn’t weird to me at all. If you’re used to stick deodorant, though, it might feel odd. You scoop a small amount out of the jar with your fingers and smear it on your clean armpits. It’s kind of nice to have control over how much you use, exactly where it goes, and how well it gets rubbed into your skin.
First impression: I like it! The smell is pleasant, if a little sharp, and the cream goes on smooth.
Effectiveness: Easily the best product I’ve tried so far. I don’t smell like B.O. and my pits are fairly dry. If I apply twice in a day, wetness isn’t an issue at all.
Final thoughts: Hallelujah! Something that actually works!
The citrus scent is really strong. Even David was like, “Yeah, you smell like a lemon.” But given the alternative, I’m okay with smelling like a lemon. Spoiler: this is what I’ve been using since I finished this round of tests. It’s my favorite so far. Spoiler #2: I have had a few zits/ingrown hairs on my armpits since using it. That might just be a hazard of a decent antiperspirant, and they clear up quickly. Still, it’s uncomfortable, so the search will continue.
Erbaviva Organic Deodorant in Jasmine + Grapefruit
Scent: It smells like sweet citrus and rubbing alcohol. Which is why this next part shouldn’t have surprised me.
Application: Spray. I got a little travel-sized bottle that I spritzed right onto my pits. AND THEN IT BURNED. I had just showered + shaved and was not prepared for this. It’s like aftershave for your armpits! No thank you!
First impression: Nope nope nope.
Effectiveness: This did nothing for me. I was stinky and sweaty within an hour of showering, and all I did was get dressed and eat breakfast.
Final thoughts: Is this just a bottle of rubbing alcohol + scent? Like, is it perfume in disguise as deodorant? I could only use this for three days before I gave up.
Seriously, why is this even on the market? Does it work for anyone? Could I use it like pepper spray? Or as a disinfectant? Ugh. Not a great way to end Round 1.
The Round 1 champion was obviously the Soapwalla Organic/Vegan Deodorant Cream. I’m not 100% satisfied with it, but it’s doing a decent job for now. Meanwhile I’ve ordered a few more testers—all different brands from this round—and should be ready to share more results in a month or so.
Do you use a natural deodorant? Have you found one you like? Let me know and I’ll add it to my list of contenders!