The Quest for an All Natural Deodorant

Let’s face it, or rather armpit it, there is nothing SCENTsual about having underarm odor. It’s the pits really, and perhaps that’s where the phrase originates. But this is the risk associated with switching to an all natural deodorant. While getting used to the extra sweat can be a bit of an adjustment, as natural deodorants are not anti-perspirants, making the swap is usually the first recommended in the realm of natural beauty products. Unlike the liver, the skin doesn’t have a designated detox system. Anything applied to skin can be absorbed and enter either the lymph or blood stream (think nicotine patch).

This post is not meant as a (deodo)rant against how horrible anti-perspirant deodorant is and how you will get cancer and die immediately if you wear it. There will be no shaming here. I simply threw together some research studies and tried out a few brands for awhile. Here we go.

The research

Aluminum is the main ingredient in anti-perspirant deodorant and gets most of the heat for its adverse health effects. Research claims it can enter the lymph system and transform normal mammary gland epithelial cells – a causative factor in the formation of both benign and malignant breast cysts (Darbre, 2016). A study in 2003, for example, found that the age of breast cancer diagnosis was earlier in women who used anti-perspirant/deodorant products more frequently (McGrath, 2003). This study, however, only looked at individuals who already had breast cancer, and so doesn’t have foolproof generalizability. The effects of aluminum on the lymphatic system can be heightened for those with lowered immune system, and in breast cancer can cause genomic instability and proliferation in human breast cells (Mandriota, Tenan, Ferrari, & Sappino, 2016). This means, there are links that correlate aluminum and breast cancer, as well as research that indicates aluminum continues to enhance cell growth in individuals who already have breast cancer.

Note, however, that the research indicates correlation, not causation. The results of these studies are conflicting, and so it is impossible to say definitively that using anti-perspirant deodorant singularly causes any sort of cancer. In 2006, researchers examined antiperspirant use among 54 women with breast cancer and 50 women without. This study found no association between antiperspirant and the risk of breast cancer, though this sample size is small and perhaps it is not an accurate representation of the general public (Fakri, Al-Azzawi, & Al-Tawil, 2006).

Coincidentally the upper outer quadrant of the breast is where there is also a disproportionately high incidence of breast cysts and breast cancer, though this could be due to the fact that not all quadrants have equal amount of breast tissue, and the upper quadrant has the most amount of breast tissue (Darbre, 2016).  Furthermore, aluminum has been measured in human breast tissues/fluids at higher levels than in blood, and can adversely impact human breast epithelial cell biology.

Aluminum is also an established neurotoxin with links to neurodegenerative diseases like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), dementia, Gulf war syndrome and Parkinsonism (Maya, Prakash, Madhu, & Goli, 2016).  Other aluminum induced events include: oxidative stress, cell mediated toxicity, apoptosis, inflammatory events in the brain, glutamate toxicity, effects on calcium homeostasis, gene expression and Al induced Neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) formation (Maya et al., 2016).  Aluminum compounds are also absorbed by the skin and prohibit sweating, temporarily stopping the flow of sweat (Darbre, 2005).

There just is not enough evidence on either side to indicate cancer causation or lack there of. The remaining ingredients in anti-perspirant deodorants, however, also have reported adverse health effects.

Beyond aluminum, there are other chemicals in deodorant to be wary of: propylene glycol, triclosan, phytalates, parabens, fragrances, aluminum chlorohydrate, TEA, DEA, FD&C colors, and Talc. Propylene glycol studies have shown damage to the central nervous system, liver and heart. There is also concern that regular exposure to triclosan could cause resistant strains of bacteria to form, and in more than one animal study impacted thyroid function (O’Connor & Spunt, 2010). The phthalates and parabens in anti-perspirants are also endocrine disruptors in that they may interfere with hormone receptors and increase the likelihood of cell mutation. Endocrine disruptors mimic or partly mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body, potentially producing overstimulation. They can bind to a receptor within a cell and block the endogenous hormone (the real, naturally occurring hormone) from binding, and in turn the body misses the signal and doesn’t respond as it would otherwise. Endocrine disruptors can also: increase, decrease, transform or imitate the production of certain hormones. They compete with certain nutrients and interfere with hormone signaling by telling cells to die prematurely, binding to essential hormones, or accumulating in organs that produce hormones.

In another study, 8 substances, all of them fragrances, showed estrogenic effects with estradiol equivalence factors similar to parabens. Estrogenic effects mimic endoricrine disruptors. Fragrances, therefore, could be responsible for the observed estrogenic activity of deodorants (Lange, Kuch, & Metzger, 2014). Furthermore, some fragrances have ingredients that are known neurotoxins, many are allergies or skin irritants, and others exacerbate asthma.

The experiment

Overall, sweating is a natural cooling and detox method. Anti-perspirant prohibits this process, and its ingredients are small enough to slide into pores. Switching to an all natural deodorant is an entirely personal decision. Given the above research, the possible negative outcomes seem to outweigh the positives, which are just slightly dryer pits. In order to find a deodorant that worked best, each was worn consistently for three days, accompanied by living, exercising, and stressing. It was a trial and error until I found the one that felt the most SCENTsational for me.


EO Organic Deodorant

Lavanila Pure Vanilla

Primal Pit Paste Lavender

Ursa Major

Agent Nauter


Fat and the Moon

Primally Pure (lemongrass)

Piper Wei

Holly’s Keeping it Real

Uncle Harry’s


Meow Meow Tweet

North Coast Organics


Bali’s Natural Secrets

type A: Deodorant



1. Tom’s: propanediol, water, glycerin, sodium stearate, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, zinc ricinoleate, glyceryl laurate, natural fragrance (natural plant oils), humbles lupulus extract, helianthus annus seed oil, ascorbic acid

applied with clean armpit. no smell just that of the actual deodorant itself: minty and rustically herbal, kind of like a chic and less pungent vicks vapo rub. the after effect of the workout is fine, but after sitting for awhile the scent conjures images of dads cheering on children at a soccer game in the fall – stale, musty, and rugged. If B.O. were friendly, it would be this. It’s not overtly offensive, but you know it’s lurking somewhere close. Wearing overnight doesn’t really work. I’ve also tried applying this in the morning after sleeping all night and not showering and also no good. The smell in the middle of the day is strong and not in a good way, think: ripe. applied when wet = frothy

smell after workout: “well definitely not flowery” says roommate (mom)

smell after hot yoga: pretty benign, and applied nearly 2 hours earlier. no scent at all throughout the practice and I was dripping sweat so badly that some got in my eye and I had to stumble my way to the bathroom and do a mild eye dissection half way through class. but deodorant success.

Overall conSCENTsus: Tom’s is a friendly, sweaty, outdoorsy dad who wears menthol decongestant chest rub. Yum. Conflicting results – lasted through a workout if applied directly beforehand, but didn’t stand the test of an entire day. After a few days, really stopped working, and almost made me feel like I smelled worse than if not wearing any deodorant at all.

2. EO organic deodorant: organic ethanol, purified water, EO Essential Oil Blend (Organic Lavandula Angusifolia (Lavender), oil organic lavandula hybrida oil)

Alcohol is the base of this spray, which is effective at killing and combating odor-forming bacteria. It’s extremely light and smells almost like a body spray. The label advocates for “all day fresh,” which I didn’t find to be entirely true. While the smell is great, this is one I have to pack in my bag and apply all day long. The original spritz of alcohol doesn’t seem enough to kill the bacteria all day long. By the end of the day, my armpits smelled turnt, and not in a good way.

Overall conSCENTsus: The ingredient list is short, as is the amount of time this deodorant lasts, as is this synopsis.

3. Lavanila Pure Vanilla: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe Juice, Water), Propanediol (Corn Derived), Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Sodium Stearate (Coconut Derived), Silica, Carrageenan (Seaweed Derived), Stearyl Behenate (Coconut Derived), Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon Peel Oil), Inulin (Artichoke Derived), Saccharomyces Ferment, Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide (Sugar Derived), Yeast Beta Glucan, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract, Valeriana Officinalis Root Extract (Valerian), Hydrastis Canadensis (Goldenseal) Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract (Goji Berry), Botanical Fragrance Blend.

I am writing this as I just awoke from a 2 hour plane nap. My jacket is still covering my face and front side of my body, so I am unabashedly inhaling armpit. The smell is still light and powdery, without being overpowdering, sorry overpowering**. My pits are completely dry, although it is somewhat cold on the plane. Updates to follow.

This stick witnessed a 6 hour travel morning, navigating a rental car situation, walking around a new city, taking a hot yoga class, and inhaling authentic Mexican tamales. After hour 3 of the flight, I began getting unintentional whiffs of myself. When finally arriving at my destination, I was on the far end of the body odor spectrum. It was pretty bad. So much so that I tried to not move my arms at all to avoid stirring up the smell. I tried reapplying, but it seemed to just mask the smell rather than solve the real issue.

4. Primal Pit Paste Lavender: Non-Aluminum Baking Soda, Organic Shea Butter,  Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Arrowroot Powder, Lavender Essential Oil, Non-GMO Vitamin E derived from 100% Sunflowers

I used this one for about a week and the hopes were just so high in the beginning. For anyone who has been following this ludicrous journey from the beginning, this was the first one I ordered my mom to stick her nose into the depths of my armpit for. While she was abhorred about being featured on my stories in such a manner, she claimed the smell was benign. And this was after I did a p90x workout. I was feeling good. I continued to wear it for a few days, but the rash that developed was pretty painful. Someone once described it to me in my DM as “raw meat.” Nasty but accurate. At this point, rather than abandoning it in its entirety, I wish I had employed the use of the ACV wash and bentonite clay mask. Though this was early in the journey and I simply didn’t know any better. My mom also tried it for a few weeks and noted it didn’t particularly last for her either.

5. Ursa Major: (*denotes organic): Aloe vera (aloe barbadensis) leaf juice*, propanediol, sodium Stearate, tapioca Starch, silica, microcrystalline cellulose, cellulose gum, shea (butyrosperum parkii) butter (community trade), sodium bicarbonate, kaolin (clay), tocopheryl acetate, glyceryl caprylate, glyceryl undecylenate, glycerin, royal jelly extract, hops (humulus lupulus) extract, lemon (citrus medica limonum) peel extract, ginseng (panax quinquefolium) root extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, matricaria (chamomilla recutita) flower extract, saccharomyces ferment, rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) leaf oil, peppermint (mentha piperita) oil, grapefruit (citrus grandis) peel oil, eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus) leaf oil

I love the smell of this one, and this is what came highly recommended when I was in an all natural beauty store. The stick applicator is convenient and less tactilely involved than some of the other deodorants that come in little tubs. While I did like this for awhile, after about a week or so, I developed a red circle around my armpit and the originally welcomed cooling sensation merged into one of burning. I would also need to bring this with me throughout the day, re-applying every few hours. Oh and was with a friend who actually asked if I had just come from a workout. I think this is the most polite way of formatting the phrase “wow you smell.”

I also have a male friend who is a former soccer player who used this. He punted it across the room, screaming with purpose, “THIS DOESN’T WORK!!!!!!!!!” and then returned it to Amazon.

General conSCENTsus: (Ursa) Major disappointment.

6. Agent Nauter: Organic coconut oil, sodium bicarbonate, beeswax, sunflower butter, avocado butter, castor oil, raw organic honey, lavender essential oil, hydrogen peroxide, eucalyptus oil, love

This is the brand a few friends wear, one of whom is an active and hairy male. I’m not sure what body hair has to do with deodorant efficacy, but I feel like more fur = more smell; the deodorant gets quickly consumed by the forest of follicles. There are unfortunately no scientific studies to back this opinion.  While I never tried this, I received many recommendations but overall mixed reviews. One individual said it has consistently worked, others say it worked in the beginning and then lost its luster aka return of the funk.

7. Soapwalla: (*: certified organic, +: food-grade) Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba)*; Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil*; Rosehip Seed Oil*; Butyrospermun parkii (Shea) Butter; Corn Starch*+; Sodium Bicarbonate+; Kaolin Clay; Vegan Kosher Glycerin*+; a custom blend of essential oils, including: Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender)*; Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree)*; Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange); Mentha Piperita (Peppermint)*; Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergaptene-free Bergamot)*; Non-GMO Sunflower Lecithin*+; Non-GMO Vitamin E*+.

This brand also got a little soupy / watery in the container during the last spike of summer temperatures, so it’s heat sensitive. It’s also a little grainy when applying, and sometimes the oils separate. I tried this for a few days and the odor overpowered the pleasant citrus I smelled when first applying.

This was one of the first natural deodorants I tried. The initial smell really is amazing, but put plainly it just didn’t get the job done. I was sweating a lot, which I know is natural, but the sweat wasn’t scentless. After a few hours, I’d have to reapply, and then the baking soda would really start to bother me and create the dreaded red. The poor pits. They needed some TLC. However, it was highly recommended and does work really well for some people.

8. Fat and the Moon: coconut oil*, baking soda (aluminum free), arrowroot starch*, beeswax, essential oils of black pepper*, clary sage*, bergamot*, tea tree*, grapefruit*, *organic

I was traveling this weekend and popped into a boutique and stumbled upon this deodorant. It wasn’t originally on the list, but came highly recommended by the shop owner. She claimed she got all of her friends hooked on it, even her husband. What was most alarming was that she said it worked better than the anti-perspirant deodorants she had worn before making the switch to all-natural. The smell is understated, with just a hint of herbal. It is less grainy than other deodorants you apply with your claws – goes on smoothly and washes off easily, without any trace of oils.

I applied this after showering and slept with it overnight. No trace of smell. I then reapplied in the morning and went on a five hour hike. I was shocked by how little odor there was. I was hiking with a friend and also had her apply the deodorant before we went to compare our natural scents. The hike was grueling. I type this while wrapped in a blanket the next morning, unwilling to persuade my legs to emerge from bed. We stopped every half hour or so for hydration and whiff break (this is normal, right?…). While hiking up, we couldn’t smell anything besides the fresh mountain air. There was really no smell at all – neither the original herbal scent when first applying or any sense of body odor. We chose to jog the whole way down, which was 40 minutes. When getting back in the car, we had just a hint of something ripe. We went to lunch afterwards and the drove back home, and it is then that we both started to notice some underarm funk. I think after such an active morning, I would’ve noticed a smell even if wearing my old anti-perspirant. Traveling home, however, is when the smell started to build. When I got off the airplane I just felt travel body. I was hoping with a shower and reapply, the deodorant would start working again but tragically it did not.

9. Primally Pure (lemongrass) (BEST SMELLING): Organic Arrowroot Powder, Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil*, Tallow from Grass-Fed Cows, Organic Beeswax, Baking Soda, Non-nano Zinc Oxide, White Kaolin Clay, Organic Lemongrass Essential Oil – code lemons for a free lip balm when you add it to your cart

I cannot lie this one was my favorite smell. I applied the original once before I left the house and then another time while at a friend’s place before we went out for a few drinks. I felt the chafe almost immediately after the second application and the next day the entire surface area of pit was red. I then tried the sensitive formula, which is made with a smaller amount of baking soda (some people’s pits are sensitive to this ingredient) and fortified with kaolin clay (detoxifies) and non-nano zinc oxide (helps to prevent odor). The website says, “it’s important to let your pits heal 100% before trying this one. Those with extreme baking soda sensitivity may still react to this formula.” I so desperately wanted this one to work because it was recommended so highly to me, smells heck’n amazing, and is even in a stick, but it just didn’t get the job done as I had hoped. It didn’t last very long for me, and I definitely had B.O. at the end of the day or in the morning. Their body oil, however, is a staple in my bathroom. It is truly a spa in a bottle. Has the same lemongrass smell as the deodorant, but in body oil format. PS. Vegans beware, this does contain tallow from grass-fed cows.

**addendum 4 years after originally posting. This is the deodorant I use and love. While in the beginning it didn’t seem to work, it works so well now!

10. Piper Wai: Tapioca Starch, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Water, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Sodium Bicarbonate, Rosa Centifolia Flower Water, Hamamalis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cacoa)Seed Butter, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Magnesium Hydroxide, Activated Charcoal, Essential Oils*: Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Eucalyptus Radiata Leaf/Stem Oil, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Leaf Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Peel Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Cymbopogon Citratus (Lemongrass) Leaf Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Oil, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Leaf Oil, Lavendula Augustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil

The ingredient list is kind of ridiculous but all are essentially just oils. Essential oils, that is. Okay I used this one day while going to a wine tasting. I nestled it into my jacket pocket (the 2 oz size fits into a jacket pocket), fully expecting to tiptoe into the bathroom at some point to reapply. I do this during all deo experimentation. Not worth the self consciousness. Maybe it was the wine or maybe it was the deo, but I didn’t even think to reapply!! Meaning nothing overly rancid was sneaking from my armpits.  I also slept with it on, and woke up the next morning with just a mild twinge of B.O. I reapplied, then went on an hour long stair climb (the Harvard stadium steps if anyone is from Boston. Even if you’re not, they are crazy hard and I just want the world to know that I did it). I then went to my boyfriend’s place afterwards into which he so lovingly nuzzled his nose into my arm as I rubbed his head. I was anxiously awaiting the “oh no not another natural deodorant” comment, but it never arrived. It smells a bit mentholy but not in an offensive way. Almost like a floral menthol – gender ambiguous. This was my favorite for jar deodorants. My only complaint is that it goes on pretty chunky and doesn’t spread very well. Overall, worked pretty well.

11. Holly’s Keeping it Real (MOST RECOMMENDED): Organic coconut oil, arrowroot powder, baking soda, essential oil (based on scent you choose) – code lemons for 15% off

Please know 53 people gave this a 5 out of 5 star review on Etsy. It was the most recommended brand to me and works for so many people! The smell is amazing (I tried the lavender – it was divine), the ingredients simple, and perhaps most importantly, the owner is an other worldly gladiator goddess who took so much stake in the state of my armpits that it nearly moved me to tears. She would check in regularly, ask how they were doing, send me bentonite clay masks, send another sensitive formula over, and is just KIND. The real and genuine meaning of the word kind and caring, which is rare to find these days. If your’e gonna start with an all natural deodorant, I would start with this one. If only because you know ALL of your questions will be answered, your armpits will be cherished and if Holly can’t answer them she’ll respond promptly with a website or resource that fulfills the query. In the beginning when I wore this I was going in saunas and did not emit a single scent. As I continued to wear it however, the smell slowly returned. I wore it largely during the week I had dance performances and rehearsals and maybe it was the stress sweat that did me in.? IDK WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME WHY AM I A MUTANT. Has taken me 24+ years to try to answer that question and still no concrete answer.

12. Uncle Harry’s Natural Products: Sandalwood / Vetiver scent – Colloidal silver water, rose water, essential oils of sandalwood and vetiver. 

I loved this scent because it reminded me of the Le Labo Santal 33. I tried this on while in San Francisco with a friend and then went into a Starbucks to which a male next to me said “are you wearing Le Labo Santal 33?” It was an immediate bond and turns out we were both just killing time in Starbucks waiting for a pilates reformed class. So maybe that is why I associate such amazing memories / NOSEtalgia with this smell, so I was quite eager to try it. The first time I wore it, the smell was so overpowering that it was indeed almost like wearing perfume. I busted out an Insanity workout and was smelling no scent (deodorant equivalent of feeling no pain). I definitely did sweat while wearing it, and the smell is quite strong (wore it during Christmas and one of my younger cousins, with his unsophisticated nostrils, asked who was chewing on potpourri. To note, it does not smell like potpourri; it smells like sandalwood as the bottle claims. By the end of the week, the B.O. started creeping up into the smell of the sandalwood, which is when I decided this one wasn’t for me. I still wear it is a body spray, tho. Harkening back to the time I met a man who loved his pilates reformer in a starbucks with smelling capacities as keen as a bear (just typed into google: animals with best sense of smell and that is what it told me.)

13. FATCO Stank Stop: Coconut Oil*, Arrowroot Powder*, Shea Butter*, Tallow from Organic Grass-fed Cows, Baking Soda, Non-Nano Zinc Oxide, Beeswax, Lavender Essential Oil, Clary Sage Essential oil. *Denotes An Organic Ingredient.

I tried the lavender + clary sage smell. The ingredients are amazing and it goes on quite smooth. I wasn’t a huge fan of the smell, and unfortunately it did not make my stank stop. Vegans beware. This does contain tallow from grass-fed cows.

14. Meow-Meow Tweet: *manihot esculenta (arrowroot) root powder, magnesium hydroxide, *cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, *butyrospermum parkii (shea) fruit butter, *simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil, euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax, *lavandula angustifolia (lavender) & *melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf essential oils. *certified organic ingredient

This one came highly recommended PLUS no baking soda, so I didn’t experience any irritation. The scent is light and fresh – a happy hybrid of lavender and tea tree oil. It goes on very smooth with minimum chunks. I found I had to apply more than once a day. In the beginning it worked really well, but after lost its efficacy after a sweaty dance class. For individuals who don’t do anything too sweaty / are sensitive to baking soda, this is a good one!

15. North Coast Organics Death by Lavender (FAVORITE STICK): Coconut Oil*, Carnauba Wax*, Arrowroot*, Shea Butter*, Aluminium-Free Baking Soda, and Essential Oils (Lavender, Lemon, Cypress, Rosemary)* . *Certified Organic

This humble stick conquered four hot yoga classes, a night of margarita drinking, and 4.5 out of 6 hours of grueling and sweaty dance audition. It was my favorite stick that seemed to work the best for me. After a week of using it, I started noticing a rash again. I did another ACV and bentonite clay mask and this alleviated most of the pain and redness. I’m still using it now as my fingers voraciously type away. No smell in sight. Or in in smell, rather.

16. Schmidt’s Bergamot + Lime: Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), Maranta arundinacea (arrowroot) powder, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, Essential oils, Tocopherol (vitamin E)

This one smells like a mini lime tootsie roll. For me, this conjures amazing memories of Halloween. I loved those little flavored tootsies. My tootsies (new name I just came up with for my armpits), however, didn’t totally love this. Comes with a scooper but is a bit flaky. Once on, though, and warmed by your tootsies, it’s easy to smooth out. Lasted a few hours before needing reapplication.

17. Schmidt’s spruce + spice stick (SECOND MOST RECOMMENDED): Maranta arundinacea (arrowroot) powder, Cocos Nucifera (coconut) Oil, Euphorbia Cerifera (candelilla) Wax, Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (fractionated coconut oil), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Natural fragrance, Tocopherol (vitamin E)

I loved the smell of this one. Super earthy with a hint of sweet. After a few hours, the smell wore off, but there were no hints of onion to replace it. This was one of the most recommended, is an award winning formula, smells awesome, and is a stick applicator for those who don’t like to get all up in their own pits for application. 

**note: re-visiting this post a few years after writing it, I picked up a stick of Schmidt’s. And it works wonderfully! I love the lavender scent. I usually have to re-apply once in the middle of the day but otherwise all system’s a go with no BO!

***Schmid’ts were some of my most recommended

18. Bali’s Natural Secrets (FAVORITE ALCOHOL BASED): seaweed extract, aloe vera gel, natural mineral salt, water and a little alcohol, pure essential oils, tender love care

This was my favorite alcohol based deodorant. The aloe smell was my favorite and lasted all day. It’s an easy roll-on applicator with no fuss. I really have nothing more to say because I have no complaints.

19. type: A.

diisopropyl adipate, glycerin, beeswax, dimethicone, heptyl undecylenate, arrowroot powder, baking soda, sorbitan oleate, corn starch, carnauba wax, triethyl citrate, glyceryl stearate, coconut oil, tapioca starch, aloe vera leaf extract, caprylic/capric triglyceride, mandarin orange peel oil, linalool, lavender oil, geranium flour oil, elettaria cardamom seed oil, dimethyl heptagonal, zinc citrate, water, bisabolol, titanium dioxide, silver chloride.

I received this recommendation when I went in to a local natural beauty store (Credo) in Boston. It was recommended by a gentleman who had been wearing natural deodorants for a long time. This one, in fact, worked best for him. To my dismay, it didn’t work for me at all! The smell faded throughout the day, and I found I had to bring it with me wherever I went and apply upwards of 5 times a day! I also found the scent (clean crisp citron) to resemble Purell hand sanitizer. Not for me.

20. Jason.

water, glycerin, sodium stearate, zinc ricinoleate, polyglyceryl-3 caproate, lavender oil, grapefruit seed extract, allantoin, behenyl alcoho, ethylhexyglycerin, glyceryl stearate, silica, sodium bicarb, sucres cocoate, tocopherol acetate, corn starch, benzyl benzoate, butyl phenyl methylpropiaonal, citral, eugenol, hydroxycitronellal, limned, linallol, fragrance

This was a desperation buy. After being so confident the above would have worked (and it didn’t), I quickly ran to Whole Foods and grabbed something else. Jason: calming lavender scent found itself in my cart. It touted “clinical results” and “all day odor protection.” LIES, JASON, LIES. This truly only “lasted” for about 30 minutes. While I didn’t necessarily have a “B.O.” scent, it most definitely wasn’t pleasant. Thank u, next, Sir Jason.

21. Native. 

caprylic/capric triglyceride, tapioca starch, ozokerite, baking soda, magnesium hydroxide, coconut oil, cyclodextrin, butyrospermum parkii butter, fragrance, dextrose, lactobacillus acidophilus.

Okay you guys, I really fell into the being influenced trap with this one. This deodorant has sponsored many a photo that has shown itself in my feed lately. Me, the vulnerable consumer, had to give it a try. You guys. I’m not even being dramatic here, this may have been the worst yet. All of the above that I claim “didn’t work” simply meant that seemed to have worn off. I didn’t experience actual stank. This one I felt like a pre-pubescent teenager on the cusp of major hormonal changes. Like ONIONS!!! I even had a friend smell my pits and she was shocked, as I can’t remember smelling like that possibly ever? Anyways! Be careful what you see on instagram is the moral of this story. As always, this is only my personal experience. I didn’t crowd source to see if others reacted differently.

***none of the above companies provided sponsorship or input for this article. The brands chosen were entirely recommended and self-directed. Some where self-purchased, and others were donated by the company., based off of popularity, personal suggestions, or online reviews.

If you’re prone to red rashes / alternative remedies:

When making the switch to natural deodorant:

The tally of recommendations! I was floored with gratitude regarding how many people reached out with their suggestions. I tried to keep a running tally, and this was the best I could do!!  This long list just goes to show that different deodorants work for different people based on their hormones and biochemistry. The one that ended up working best for me had only 1 recommendation! So this post is not to say that the one that worked best for me will work best for you, but to at least have some sort of guideline for new ones to try!! xo

  • @hollyskeepinitreal brand: too many to count (code lemons for 15% off)
  • schmidt’s: 11
  • Primally Pure lemongrass: 9 (code lemons for a free lip balm when added to your cart)
  • Piperwai: 6
  • Meow Meow tweet: 4
  • Soapwalla: 4
  • Lavanila sport The Healthy Deodorant – Vanilla Breeze: 3
  • Agent Nateur: 3
  • Bare Bones: 2
  • lone deodorant: 2
  • primal pit paste stick: 2
  • Fatco’s stank stop cream: 2
  • blossom by Herban Cowboy: 2
  • Aloe ever-shield: 1
  • NativoSkincare underarm potion: 1
  • Bali secrets: 1
  • North Coast Organics – Death by Lavender: 1
  • E Plus High C: 1
  • Uncle Harry’s – vetiver + sandalwood: 1
  • Undercover Agent True Organics of Sweden: 1
  • Soul Sunday – 1
  • Native Co – 1
  • witch hazel – 1
  • lemon / lime – 1
  • coconut oil – 1
  • Seed Farm’s Natural Deodorant
  • pH 2.5 water – 1
  • Kiss my face liquid rock – 1
  • Marties essentials – 1


Darbre, P.D. (2005). Aluminum, antiperspirants and breast cancer. Journal of Inorganic Biochmestiry, 99(9), 1912-1919. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2005.06.001

Darbre, P.D. (2016). Aluminium and the human breast. Morphology, 100(329), 65-74. doi: 10.1016/j.morpho.2016.02.001

Fakri S, Al-Azzawi A, Al-Tawil N. (2006). Antiperspirant use as a risk factor for breast cancer in Iraq. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 12(3–4):478–482.

Lange, C., Kuch, B., Metzger, J.W. (2014). Estrogenic activity of constituents of underarm deodorants determined by E-Screen assay. Chemosphere, 108, 101-106. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.02.082

Mandriota, S.J., Tenan, M., Ferrari, P. & Sappino, A.P. (2016). Aluminum chloride promotes tumorigensis and metastasis in normal murine mammary gland (NMuMG) epithelial cells. Molecular Cancer Biology, 139(12), 2781-2790. doi: 10.1002/ijc.30393

Maya, S., Prakash, T., Madhu, K.D., Goli, D. (2016). Multifaceted effects of aluminum in neurodegenerative diseases: A review. Biomedical Pharmacotherapy, 29, 746-754. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2016.07.035

McGrath KG. (2003). An earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis related to more frequent use of antiperspirants/deodorants and underarm shaving. European Journal of Cancer,12(6), 479–485.

O’Connor, S. & Spunt, A. 2010. No More Dirty Looks. Lifelong Books: Cambridge.

share this post


You might also like these...

34 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I have made the switch to natural body care a little over a year ago and have had tried so many different deodorants…still haven’t found the perfect one, so this post is perfect!

  2. I had the exact same results with Tom’s and primal paste lavender. I’m going to give the north coast brand a try! Do you know what causes the rash though? Because I did get one using the primal paste as well…wondering if that will happen with north coast?

    1. For me it was usually the baking soda. Once I did the ACV rinse and bentonite clay mask a few times, the rash pretty much disappeared and the North Coast didn’t cause sensitivity. If I feel a rash return, I do the rinse and mask again and then it feels better.

  3. Thank you for writing such an honest, helpful post Katie! I am definitely going to check out Death by Lavender, Holly’s and Schmidt’s. I’ve loved following along with this journey on your IG stories, too. Thanks so much!

    1. Haha a very long and arduous journey that I’m happy is over. Glad you enjoyed, Hannah! Good luck finding one that works for you!! xo

  4. Such a thorough and mindful post. Thanks for taking time and money to investigate all these brands. I will be referencing next time I need a new deo.

  5. Thank you so much for putting yourself through this experiment. My current natural deodorant is no longer cutting it and I was lost as where to turn next. I’ll be trying some of these. 🙂

  6. Thank you for doing this! I’ve been following your experiment on Instagram and it led me to discover the North Coast Organics Death by Lavender, which I am obsessed with! I don’t think it smells like lavender (I don’t think it smells like anything really) but I remain neutrally scented all day, even after work/yoga/stressing and I love it.

    1. Totally agree! Doesn’t smell like lavender for me either – honestly just a hint of coconut oil when things get sweaty and then I don’t smell anything at all. Glad it works for you too!!

  7. Great piece, thanks for doing the testing. I’ve had issues with the red rash as well and was wondering if you have had to do the ACV/ clay masks regularly or once you have done it, the deodorants were fine. I had a horrible reaction that sent me to the doctor and get mis-diagnosed that only made it worse. On the mend now but want to stick to natural products and the mask seems like the best bet to stop or reduce the rash, but wondering if this is a regular action that needs to take place. From what I gathered for you, the cause is the Baking soda. I guess I will have to give it all a try and hope for the best. My cabinet looks like a deodorant aisle, lots of trial and error. Thanks!

    1. Hi Tara! I probably did the rinse 10 times and the mask 3-4 times and found my pits were much less inflamed after that. I haven’t done it again for the past few weeks and my rash hasn’t returned. And I totally feel you on the cabinet looking like a deodorant aisle. I call mine the deo graveyard.

  8. Thanks for doing the dirty (or should I say stinky?) work for us! I’ve been looking for a Tom’s replacement and now I have a good starting point.

  9. Love this summary! I use Green Tidings and find it to be the best natural one I’ve tried.. out of a list as similar as yours 🙂

    1. Haha my pleasure! It was hard to choose a favorite and PIT brands against one another, but Holly’s was by far the most recommended!

  10. I feel a bit stuck here. I’ve tried numerous natural products and I thought I had finally found one, to only find out it’s full of aluminum (sneaky ingredients list). Schmidt’s absolutely destroyed my underarms and now I’m near terrified to try anything with baking soda. To me, if my body reacts with an awful rash then it’s a no and a way my body is telling me to quit. Back to the drawing board!

    1. Hi Caitlin! Did you try the ACV wash and bentonite clay mask? I too had horrible rashes and they only stopped once I did the ACV rinse 5-7 times and bentonite clay mask 2-3 times.

  11. Excellent post! I’ve now been using this as a reference for purchasing natural deodorant. I think my pits are a little less sensitive than yours. Primal Pit Paste (Lavender) worked wonders for me, until I lost it on a recent trip. I thought I would try something new, so I went for Schmidt’s, which my boyfriend is hooked on. I find that it leaves marks on my clothing, which I never had issues with when I used PPP. Have you also had this problem?

    1. I’ve been using North Coast Organics and I haven’t had this issue so far. When I was using others (Fat and the moon, for example), the yellow stain was pretty severe.

  12. Hi!! I have sensitive skin and I am terrified of getting a rash when I switch away from my dove antiperspirant. Would you suggest doing the ACV cleanse & mask a few times before you even begin with the new natural deodorant? I’m hoping this would combat the reaction issues!?

    Thank you!!

    1. Yes!! Definitely! I wish I did this first, honestly. After doing the ACV rinse probably 5-7 times and the mask 2-3 times my sensitivity with deodorants virtually disappeared.

  13. I absolutely LOVE the Stinkbug Brand!! You can sometimes find it at TJMaxx/Marshalls, Whole Foods, or Amazon!! I have tried most of these brands but this is the one that works best for me. I prefer the Tea Tree Oil and the Tangerine Spice scents!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.