The Best Natural Deodorant
Well, you know you’re a hippie when . . . Yes, I’ve crossed the last threshold into the world of natural living. However, I don’t fancy smelling badly. I’ve had my eyes water on more than one occasion while talking to someone who had fully embraced the natural life. I don’t want to be that person. I do love natural living and I often don’t wear deodorant when hanging out at home, but today we have far too many options for natural body odor control to leave the house with an offensive odor filling the space around us.
What’s Wrong With Conventional Deodorants and Antiperspirants?
Conventional personal hygiene products contain a lot of junky ingredients. Although they may be considered safe in small amounts, I’m concerned about the build up of these problem ingredients over time. The most common offenders in popular deodorants are parabens, propylene glycol, phthalates, aluminium, BHT and fragrances.
- Parabens — Parabens prevent bacteria growth in cosmetics. I’d say that’s pretty important. However, parabens are xenoestrogens. Xenestrogens mimic estrogen in the body and wreck havoc with your hormones. (source)
- Propylene glycol — While generally regarded as safe, propylene glycol can cause skin irritation for some individuals. In addition, it been found to cause cell mutations. Prolonged or repeated use of propylene glycol has toxic effects. (source)
- Phthalates — Phthalates are everywhere. They are in the plastic containers that hold our favorite cosmetics and they are in the cosmetics themselves. Phthalates disrupt testosterone like parabens mess with estrogen. They’ve been linked to male genital birth defects. (source)
- Aluminium — Aluminium, which is used in antiperspirants to stop the sweat glands from producing sweat, is a known neurotoxin. We get it from other places in our environment and our food. We don’t need it in our deodorant, too. (source)
- BHT — BHT can disrupt hormones and cause oxidation via free radicals in your body. It’s used as a preservative in cosmetics. (source)
- Fragrances — Fragrances in conventional personal hygiene products are made from petrochemicals. These petrochemicals accumulate in the body and disrupt hormones. (source)
In addition to containing harmful ingredients, antiperspirants keep us from sweating. Sweating is one of the body’s ways of releasing toxins. Sweating is a good thing!
I have no problem with sweating, but I’m not fond of the odor produced by the bacteria in sweat. Since most natural deodorants don’t prevent sweating, but instead help to absorb sweat and/or diminish the smell of sweat, they allow the body to perform it’s natural cooling and detoxifying processes.
My Top Five Picks for the Best Natural Deodorant
5. Tom’s of Maine — Tom’s of Maine was the first natural deodorant that I used. It was the first deodorant that each of my boys used, as well. It’s been around a while and was all the rage in my natural-mama circles a decade ago.
Tom’s of Maine is super-convenient and packaged just like the conventional deodorant that we’re all used to. It comes in fragrance-free varieties and doesn’t contain aluminium. Unfortunately, it does contain propylene glycol.
The Amazon reviews on this particular product are mixed, with some users saying that it gave them a terrible rash. I have sensitive skin and get rashes from other natural deodorants, but Tom’s of Maine has never caused me nor my children any problems in this regard.
This is not a natural deodorant that I would recommend for everyday use, which is why it is #5 on my list. I’d use this when traveling or as a backup if I ran out of my preferred natural deodorants.
Pros: It stops the odor; it’s inexpensive for a natural deodorant; it’s conveniently packaged
Cons: Contains propylene glycol; may cause a rash; some natural deodorant formulations may prevent sweating
4. Primal Pit Paste — I first fell in love with Primal Pit Paste a couple of years ago when it was introduced to me by some other natural living blogger friends. I was still on the fence about going totally natural, but I wasn’t completely happy with the deodorant I was using at the time. They promised me that Primal Pit Paste worked very well, so I gave it a try.
I was amazed at how well it worked when I tried it. Once I got used to the feel of a paste on my underarms after application (it dries quickly), I was happy to find that it kept me odor free, even on a hot summer day.
Unfortunately, a few days later, my underarms were red and burning. I assumed it was because I applied the paste after shaving, so I allowed the rash to heal and was careful not to apply the paste right after shaving. Regardless, within 2-3 days of use, the painful rash returned.
As it turns out, the baking soda in the mixture is what caused my rash. Not everyone has this problem. In fact, my husband uses Primal Pit Paste without any issues at all. It’s #4 on my list because of the baking soda rash factor, but it’s still a great choice for anyone who has no reaction to baking soda.
Pros: Natural ingredients; works very well; doesn’t prevent sweating
Cons: Contains baking soda and may cause a rash; more expensive option
3. Homemade Deodorant — When I discovered that baking soda was the cause of my terrible armpit rash, I was sad. I really, really liked Primal Pit Paste and wanted to continue to use it. Instead, thought I would try making my own homemade deodorant. That would allow me to control the amount of baking soda in the mixture.
Baking soda is a pretty critical ingredient when it comes to preventing odor from sweat. Most natural and homemade deodorants contain baking soda. Baking soda kills the bacteria that makes sweat smell bad.
There are a lot of great recipes online for homemade deodorant. Making your own deodorant is pretty easy and inexpensive, too. I was very excited to make my own deodorant the first time. I used half of the baking soda called for in the recipe and it still prevented odor perfectly.
Unfortunately, two days later, I developed a nasty armpit rash. Sigh. After it healed, I tried once more, without any baking soda at all and I was left without any odor protection either. Because I’m stubborn, I tried a third time, with even less baking soda. Sadly, the odor protection was diminished and I still got a rash.
Pros: It’s inexpensive, you can control the ingredients, it really works for odor control; doesn’t stop sweating
Cons: If you don’t like DIY, this probably isn’t for you; it could cause a rash; recipes without baking soda might not offer odor protection
2. Single Ingredient Deodorants — In the past, I have used several single ingredient deodorants. These are deodorants that you can use to mask the smell of sweat. I’ve used lemon juice, magnesium oil and essential oils, specifically.
Lemon juice is an old natural deodorant remedy. You simply cut a lemon and rub it on your underarms or squeeze lemon juice on your fingers and apply it to your underarms. It really does work to prevent sweat odor, but I don’t recommend doing it right after shaving!
Essential oils work hard to mask odor. In fact, I still use them on my feet when I wear shoes without socks or footies. Either use a roll-on bottle with diluted essential oils or mix the essential oils with a carrier oil in glass jar. When you’re ready to apply, dip your fingers in the mixture and apply to underarms. This option is wonderful for those who like scented deodorant.
Magnesium oil works to prevent sweat odor, as well. It’s made from magnesium flakes and water and isn’t actually an oil. To use as a deodorant, simply spray it onto your underarms. This is another deodorant option that I wouldn’t apply just after shaving.
Pros: Each single ingredient deodorants works for at least several hours to prevent odor; none of them prevent sweating
Cons: Each may sting if used after shaving; it seems as if people receive varying degrees of effectiveness for odor control; each could possibly cause a rash in sensitive individuals (but seems less common than the rash caused by baking soda)
1. Crystal Deodorant — Crystal deodorant is by far my favorite natural deodorant. The natural crystal deodorant that I use and love is made from Potassium Alum. There are synthetic crystal deodorants available that are made from Ammonium Alum. I, personally, use the crystal deodorant from Norwex. (If you know a Norwex distributor, ask them about it.)
Wait. What?! Isn’t aluminium one of the ingredients we want to avoid in a deodorant?
Actually we want to avoid specific types of aluminium. Aluminium Chlorohydrate is what we find in common antiperspirants. It actually works to block sweating. Remember, we want to sweat because sweating is one of the ways the body eliminates toxins. It’s the smell of the bacteria in the sweat that we want to stop. Potassium Alum doesn’t stop you from sweating, but it stops the bacteria in your sweat from proliferating, thereby keeping odor away.
I have had great success with crystal deodorant. It prevents odor extremely well. It is only slightly less convenient than a solid form natural deodorant because you have to wet your underarms or the crystal itself before applying. My husband came up with the idea to keep a small spray bottle of water on hand just for this purpose. Even he loves natural crystal deodorant. He’s a soccer coach and sweats heavily without even a hint of smelliness!
Crystal deodorant is the most frugal choice of natural deodorants. It lasts for a very long time. I’ve been using my Norwex crystal deodorant for several months now and it still looks new.
While I did experience stinging the first time I used my crystal deodorant after shaving, the stinging went away within minutes and I had no rash. After several months of use, it no longer stings when I apply right after shaving.
Pros: It prevents odor well; it’s inexpensive; it’s convenient for travel; it doesn’t cause a rash
Cons: Requires water for use; can be difficult to find for purchase; can only be used on clean underarms (can’t be used for freshening up unless you wash your underarms first.)