I made the switch to natural deodorants a few years ago but I have really struggled to find one that keeps me feeling fresh and confident all day long.
I’ll admit, I’m a sweaty girl who needs a deodorant that works hard to keep me from smelling like fermented death during a workout…or on hot days…or when I’m anxious and my armpits practically become paddling pools.
If you’re not already on the natural deodorant bandwagon, here’s why you should be ↓
WHY YOU SHOULD USE NATURAL DEODORANTS
Standard deodorants contain a cocktail of potentially harmful toxic ingredients that are absorbed via your skin into your body.
Most standard deodorants are anti-perspirants, meaning they work to prevent your sweat glands from releasing sweat. But sweating is a completely normal and natural thing that your body is supposed to do to cool itself down, and excrete trace amount of toxins (most toxins are dealt with by your liver and kidneys).
It’s also important to note that chemicals in your skin/ hair/ body care could be harming aquatic life too. When you wash, the ingredients in your products are washed away down the drain where they will eventually end up in the ocean and may harm sea life.
6 DEODORANT DEMONS i.e ingredients to avoid
- ALUMINIUN. It’s commonly used as an anti-perspirant, it blocks sweat glands to prevent sweating. Some research has suggested that once absorbed aluminium can cause mutations in the body such as cancerous tumour growths and potentially breast cancer, but the evidence is not conclusive. However, aluminium is definitely of concern for anyone with poor kidney function as aluminium has to be filtered out of the body via the kidneys.
- FRAGRANCE. An ingredient labelled as ‘fragrance’ could contain hundreds of ingredients that don’t have to be listed. Unless otherwise stated, i.e ‘from a natural source’ or ‘by product of essential oils’, fragrance is usually made up of a whole host of chemicals.
- PARABENS. These act as preservatives but worryingly they can mimic estrogen once absorbed into the body, which could potentially disrupt hormone balance.
- PHTHALATES. These chemicals may disrupt your endocrine system (a collection of glands that produce hormones), potentially leading to hormone imbalance. In fact, some studies have linked it to reduced male fertility.
- PROPYLENE GLYCOL. Originally developed as anti-freeze, this is a petroleum based substance that helps increase the absorption of other ingredients. In other words, if there are other nasty ingredients in your deodorant, PG is going to increase the amount that is absorbed into your body. Furthermore, this ingredient is linked to increased skin sensitivity and is a common skin allergen.
- TRICLOSAN. This is used as an anti-bacterial element in deodorant but it has been shown to disrupt hormone signalling and high exposure has been linked to lower levels of thyroid hormones.
Occasional exposure to the above ingredients would probably be safe. BUT you use deodorant EVERY SINGLE DAY of your life. If I was you, I’d make the switch to natural deodorant A.S.A.P.
TESTING THE NATURAL DEODORANTS
Every deodorant has been put through its paces. I’ve worn them all for at least one week, and every single one has been tested during an intense workout.
Each deodorant has been given a score out of 25 based on how it performs for:
- DRYNESS /5: Did it keep my pits dry, or were they wetter than a British summer?
- ODOUR PROTECTION /5: Did it keep me fresh, or did people avoid me like the plague?
- APPLICATION /5: How easy was it to apply? Did the texture feel comfortable?
- VALUE FOR MONEY /5: Considering the size, ingredients and amount of time it lasts, is it reasonably priced?
- ECO INITIATIVE /5: Is the packaging biodegradable or could I reuse or recycle it? What’s the companies ethos and are they helping the planet/ their workers?
FINAL SCORE: /25
DISCLAIMER: Deodorant preferences are subjective; what works for me might not work for you. All opinions are my own and every deodorant was bought with my own money.
- DRYNESS 3/5: Not bad, not great. On warmer or busier days things got a little sweaty.
- ODOUR PROECTION 2/5: After a few hours I definitely started to smell ripe for the
pickingwashing and I often had to reapply.
- APPLICATION 4/5: This twist stick was smooth and super easy to glide on (as with most stick formulations, the more you use it the smoother it gets), but you have to dig out the last bits.
- VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5: I bought it for £2.99 in TKMaxx, the RRP is $7.19 (approx. £5.50) which is good value for 75g of deodorant (if it works for you).
- ECO INITIATIVE 3/5: Alaffia use all non GMO and fair-trade ingredients and have a foundation who’s “mission is to empower African communities through the advancement of Fair Trade, education, sustainable living and gender equality.” However, the case, lid and stick holder are all made from virgin plastic and aren’t always recyclable.
FINAL SCORE: 16/25 Would I buy again? No.
- DRYNESS 4/5: I was pleasantly surprised by how well this held up during an epic 45 minute workout that had more burpees than is acceptable.
- ODOUR PROECTION 4/5: I have been wearing it the past few days and thus far I’m liking it; I haven’t had to reapply and my family (who are brutally honest) have made zero comments about me being (as my sister so kindly says) “a smelly little girly”. Perusing their website makes me want to try the vanilla and rose scent.
- APPLICATION 3/5: The deodorant was a little loose in the tube so I had to hold it whilst I applied. It’s supposed to melt and glide once it comes into contact with your warm skin but as it’s currently winter in the UK, and I’m usually cold, it tended to crumble which made smooth application a bit challenging.
- VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5: Its RRP is $10.99 NZ (approx. £5.65) which is good for a natural deodorant that works. Due to import tax etc it costs a bit more in the UK, £6.99 in (you guessed it) TKMaxx.
- ECO INITIATIVE 5/5: This company is founded by two New Zealand mothers who want to create nourishing, safe products for their growing families. All their packaging is 100% plastic free, home compostable and is certified FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) which promotes “responsible management of the world’s forests”. All the deodorants are handmade in New Zealand.
FINAL SCORE: 20/25 Would I buy again? Yes.
WHERE TO BUY: Aotearoad (NZ), I can’t find it anywhere in the UK so I pray I see it again in TKmaxx
- DRYNESS 3/5: On hotter or busier days I was a bit tacky but overall, it did the job.
- ODOUR PROECTION 4/5: This did a good job at stopping me from smelling but the lemon peel oil stung a little (I am sensitive to lemon oil).
- APPLICATION 3/5: The push up stick goes on fairly easily, it’s a little hard and grainy at first but after a few uses it becomes smoother and glides more easily. For daily use it works fine, however, when I wear it during a sweaty workout a sort of Ross (from Friends) paste pants [pits] situation happens and white liquid trickles down my arms.
- VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5: £7 for 60g is good value in my opinion and should last a couple of months.
- ECO PACKAGING 5/5: It’s 100% plastic free and is instead housed in a biodegradable cardboard tube. Plus, 10p from every sale goes to The Marine Conservation Society.
FINAL SCORE: 19/25 Would I buy again? Probably not.
- DRYNESS 4/5: Whilst I still sweated (because perspiration is normal and healthy) I didn’t feel wet or embarrassed by sweat patches.
- ODOUR PROECTION 5/5: I’ve worn this during many workouts including an absolutely brutal 1 hour cardio session at Orange Theory Fitness and although I was dripping with sweat I didn’t smell (I’m 99% certain the distancing was due to Covid not me smelling). It also held up on a hot summers day “beach walk” a.k.a a 4 hour hike to nowhere with my dad.
- APPLICATION 4/5: The twist up stick was easy to apply. My only issue is that when you get to the end of the stick you have to use your fingernails to dig the remaining deodorant out.
- VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5: Considering it actually works for me and lasts longer than others, I think it’s good value for money. RRP is $7.99 (approx. £6) And if you can find it in TKMaxx for £2.99 it’s a bargain.
- ECO PACKAGING 3/5: The stick and lid are both plastic but are labelled as recyclable. But what’s impressive is that Lafes are a certified B corp company which means they “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance”.Plus, according to their website their production is wind powdered.
FINAL SCORE: 20/25 Would I buy again? Yes.
Note: this one is not 100% natural as it does contain alcohol and perfume.
- DRYNESS 3/5: It did keep me pretty dry thanks to bamboo powder but it also dried my skin out (probably due to the alcohol). I ended up with what was essentially dandruff of the armpits.
- ODOUR PROECTION 3/5: It worked ok. I didn’t smell horrendous but I definitely need to reach for the soap at the end of the day.
- APPLICATION 3/5: The powdery stick scrolls up and glides on pretty easily but it leaves white marks on dark clothes.
- VALUE FOR MONEY 2/5: My biggest bug bear with this one is that you get the TINNIEST amount of deodorant. The stick is only ¼ full, so it doesn’t last that long. You get 40g (although it seemed less) for £4.50.
- ECO PACKAGING 1/5: It comes in a plastic tube, with a plastic lining and a plastic lid. It states it’s recyclable (depending on your local recycling rules). Because it only lasts a few weeks, you’d end up going through a lot of tubes. I couldn’t find any information on Mitchum’s sustainability policy.
FINAL SCORE: 13/25 Would I buy again? No.
Note: this one isn’t vegan as the formula contains beeswax
- DRYNESS 5/5: This is one of my favourite deodorants I have tried, I felt super fresh all day and felt confident during workouts.
- ODOUR PROECTION 5/5: Thus far I haven’t noticed any bad smell when wearing this all day, on busy days, whilst working out or whilst sleepy in my duvet cocoon. I also kinda liked the minty fresh scent that’s reminiscent of fresh minty breath. They have lots of scents and I’m tempted by mango coconut.
- APPLICATION 5/5: The smooth twist up stick was far less grainy than other formulas and never stung or irritated my skin, even when I applied after plucking (yes, I pluck my underarm hair). On super cold days it crumbled a little but it didn’t really bother me.
- VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5: I picked it up in TKMaxx for £4.99 which makes it excellent value for money. It’s RRP is $11.99 (approx. £9.30) so it’s a little pricier than others but you get more grams (78g) than the standard 50 – 60g. According to their website on average people purchase every 10 weeks. I’d be willing to pay a little extra for something that actually really works.
- ECO INITIATIVE 4/5: Whilst the product I tested was in plastic (100% recyclable including the label) the company have started making plastic free tube deodorants. None of their manufacturing is outsourced so everything is made by a small team based in California. Plus, 1% of sales goes to breast cancer research (the founders mother had Breast cancer which inspired her to start making effective aluminium free deodorant).
FINAL SCORE: 23/25 Would I buy again? Yes.
WHERE TO BUY: Smarty Pits (US) they no longer sell the scent I tested & I can’t find it in the uk *sobs* so if I see it in Tkmaxx I will be stocking up!
THE NATURAL DEODORANT CO
- DRYNESS 4/5: As the formula contains bicarbonate of soda, arrowroot powder and clay it kept me dry, even during a 40 minute dance cardio workout.
- ODOUR PROECTION 4/5: I felt confident wearing this all day, the only negative feedback was from my mum who said “you whiff a bit” but that was after 30 minute HIIT and a 10 minute ab blaster. I also enjoyed the scent which reminded me of orange creamsicles.
- APPLICATION 3/5: If you don’t like applying deodorant with your fingers then this one isn’t for you. However, I didn’t mind taking a pea sized amount and rubbing into my underarms. It was easy to apply and quickly went from a white cream to clear and dry. The formula is a little grainy so it might irritate the most sensitive of underarms. Note: do not apply this to sore, shaven or broken skin as it stings!
- VALUE FOR MONEY 3/5: The sells for £11 -£12.50 depending on where you purchase it. I’d say the price is mid-range for a natural deodorant and I think a jar would last around 6 weeks on average. There are a whole host of scents and formulas to pick from and you can purchase mini trial sizes from their website.
- ECO PACKAGING 5/5: Their delivery packaging is paper free and biodegradable, their jars are made from glass with a metal lid and are reusable. They’re a partner of CoppaFeel who campaign to help people stand the best chance of surviving breast cancer.
FINAL SCORE: 21/25 Would I buy again? Yes.
- DRYNESS 1/5: It took a couple of minutes to dry before I could dress, that dryness lasted for about 5 minutes; as soon as I started to perspire my armpits got very wet. I don’t usually get massive sweat patches but with this deodorant I did.
- ODOUR PROECTION 1/5: Initially the scent is lovely (I’m a sucker for anything lavender) but that freshness does not last long. According to the packaging this natural deodorant is a “clinically proven natural active deodoriser”. I don’t know who was involved in this trial but they must have either: sat still all day /been constantly fanned /not possessed armpits, because the moment I moved I started to smell. Thankfully I worked out from home when I wore this because I smelt like something had died under my arms and been left to rot for 6 months.
- APPLICATION 3/5: The roll-on formula is easy to apply and resembles a standard roll-on formula. You just have to wait a minute or two for it to dry before you dress…and you may have to repeat this a few times a day.
- VALUE FOR MONEY 3/5: It didn’t really work as a deodorant for me at all, so in a way it was a complete waste of money. I’m very glad it only cost me £2.99 from TKMaxx (RRP is approx. £6). If this does work for you then it is reasonably priced.
- ECO INITIATIVE 3/5: According to their website Tisserand are committed to a “sustainability journey”. Their bottles are made from recycled plastic and both the label and bottle can be recycled. Again, this somewhat depends on your local recycling policies.
FINAL SCORE: 12/25 Would I buy again? NO.
WHAT I’VE LEARNT FROM TESTING NATURAL DEODORANTS
Formulation is king! From now on I’m ensuring my natural deodorants contain these 3 things:
- Something to absorb wetness: sodium bicarbonate, arrowroot starch, corn starch, clay etc
- Something to prevent odour & bacteria: coconut oil, pre & probiotics (e.g inulin or saccharomyces ferment that encourage healthy bacteria and discourage bad odour forming bacteria)
- A scent: essential oils of lavender, tea tree, mint, bergamot etc further help prevent odour and make pasting your pits a little more enjoyable.