Do You Know What's in Your Deodorant? 5 Natural Deodorants Put to the Test!

by Shannon Gierl Wintheiser

It's heating up out there (I mean really heating up) and now is about the time when many of us might be applying, reapplying, sniffin' and checkin' just to make sure that oh-so-distinctive odor isn't going to be traced back to yours truly.

But when you're applying your Dove Fresh, you're probably not thinking about what's inside that pretty little stick that you're so liberally rubbing all over.  Stick with me today for a brief rundown on the ingredients commonly found in our traditional antiperspirant/deodorants (and why you might not want them there).  Then, to get you started on the path to pure, I've reviewed and graded five different natural deodorants I've tried over the past two years.

A few weeks ago I did an overview of non-toxic beauty products and why they're so so important for us to consider (you may remember the gist: anything you rub on your skin pretty much gets absorbed straight into your bloodstream).  Deodorant is one of the most popular categories picking up steam currently in the natural beauty realm, and with good reason. Here are some of the ickies in that sticky:

  • Aluminum - aluminum compounds in antiperspirants are what keep you from sweating. They also have been proven to interfere with estrogen hormones in women, and have been linked to breast cancer (since deodorant is applied so frequently in that region)
  • Parabens - these are used as preservatives, and are also endocrine (hormone) disruptors that can lead to early puberty in children, and hormone-related cancers in women, as well as organ toxicity
  • Triclosan - classified as a pesticide by the FDA but used as a preservative in our deodorants, it reacts with tap water to create chloroform gas, a potential carcinogen (read: causes cancer). And since tap water is pretty much guarantee to be on your armpit at least once a day, it's a sure bet that this bad reaction is gonna happen. The chemical is also (shocker) another endocrine disruptor.

Yeesh. That's enough scare tactics for one blog post. But really, after reading about this a couple years ago, I decided that it was just too high of a price to pay for guaranteed rose-smelling pits all the time. So I went natural. (Not au naturel - I still wear something!).  

I'm not going to lie and say that all natural deodorants work just as well as your standard antiperspirant - they simply can't, by definition! Natural deodorants are free from aluminum, which is the "anti" in "antiperspirants", so you're going to sweat some if you switch from regular to natural.  But our bodies were meant to sweat. And sweat itself doesn't stink (it's just saltwater). It's the bacteria that collects under the armpit that starts to emit colorful odors after awhile. And most natural deodorants contain at least one ingredient to combat this smelly bacteria!

Before we move on to my reviews of 5 natural deodorants I've tried, I wouldn't be keeping it real if I didn't provide the following disclaimer: 

WARNING: IF YOU ARE SWITCHING FROM A REGULAR DEODORANT TO A NATURAL PRODUCT, YOU NEED TO GIVE IT AT LEAST 3 WEEKS. THE FIRST TWO YOUR BODY IS ADJUSTING TO THE CHANGE AND - SORRY - YOU MIGHT STINK. BUT THE BODY IS ADAPTIVE, AND YOU SHOULD BE GOOD TO COME OUT OF QUARANTINE SOMETIME IN WEEK 3!

Ok so here are five different natural deodorants I've tried over the past year and a half - and I mean really tried (at least 2-3 months a piece, if not more!).  Click through the slideshow for a quick view of all the products, which are listed and reviewed below in the same order.

Five Natural Deodorant Reviews

Alba Botanica Clear Enzyme Deodorant     Price: $4.85 - $7
Alba was on of the first natural deodorants I tried because it was fairly cheap at my local Whole Foods. However, it was also probably the worst I've tried in terms of quality. It leaves a very sticky residue, and I found myself having to reapply every 3 or so times a day (or more realistically just smelling a lot more fragrant than I would have liked).
GRADE: C -

Schmidt's Deodorant     Price: $9 - $11
So as you can see, Schmidt's is a lotta-bit more expensive than Alba, but it is also quite a bit more effective.  It doesn't come in a stick like ordinary deodorants, so you have to apply with your fingers which can get a bit messy (and crumbly). So if you're all about convenience, this one may not be for you. Also - I don't know if it was just certain fragrances, but I tried a few and if I applied right after I shaved, my armpits would sting for a couple hours. If it wasn't for these two things, Schmidt's would get an A.
GRADE: B -

Every Man Jack Men's Deodorant     Price: $4.99 - $6
Yes, I am reviewing a man's deodorant. Why? Well, turns out I sometimes am to lazy to go to the store for just one thing. So when I ran out of my lady's natural deodorant, I just started using my husband Anthony's. I kind of liked the smell (it has a very pleasant masculine fragrance - yum), and I just assumed it would be more effective than my lady versions.  Turns out I was kind of right.  It's in a convenient stick form, and the price is right. I will say it's not 100% effective all the time for Anthony (sorry babe), so I'm dinging the grade a bit.
GRADE: A -

Herban Cowboy Deodorant     Price: $5 - $7.79
So this brand is probably my favorite so far available in stores - they come in a lot of different, non-offensive scents, and the stick is convenient and the deodorant durably formed (I even left it in my car for a couple hours in 95+ degree heat and after returning it to the A.C., it was perfectly intact!). Plus, more importantly, it works!  Way more effective than Alba (and Tom's which I haven't reviewed here but tried briefly). Sometimes it doesn't last all day (I reapply after working out), but for the most part, it keeps me smelling so fresh and so clean (clean).
GRADE: A

Homemade Coconut Oil Deodorant with Young Living Essential Oils     Price: cost of ingredients varies, but fairly inexpensive
In my non-toxic beauty product post last month, I profiled a couple homemade natural beauty products sent to me by a friend - and this deodorant was one of them. I'm happy to report I'm still using this jar, every day, and it is hands down the most effective natural deodorant I've tried! I don't even need to reapply after my workout usually (ew, I know). Plus it is probably the most natural of the bunch! The ingredients include only baking soda, arrowroot starch powder, coconut oil, and lavender and tea tree essential oils. You can buy the essential oils here.  The full recipe and instructions on how to make are on my blog post.  The only drawback is because of its consistency you have to put it in a jar, like Schmidt's, so you have to apply with your fingers.
GRADE: A 

So there you have it! This list is by no means comprehensive, these are just the products I've tried extensively so far.  Plus, I have a theory that what works for one person in the natural deodorant realm may not necessarily work for the next person. Our bodies all have different chemistries, so if you try my favorite deodorant and people are still backing away from you and/or sniffing their pits after a month: don't be afraid to try another on my list, or any other natural ones from your health store aisle! They just might work better for you.

I hope you found this post helpful! I want to hear from you: what natural deodorants (if any) have you tried, and loved or hated? Or are you thinking about trying natural deodorant and ready to take the plunge? Let me know! Also, feel free to "like" this post below and use the "Share" icon to share to your favorite social media! Thanks from me to you for your support and love!