Back in 8th grade, I remember sitting in science class discussing the chemical properties of various everyday items. The teacher recommended that we think about some of the chemicals in the items that we consume, or apply to our skin, one of which was deodorant. He specifically mentioned aluminum chloride, which is often used in antiperspirants to prevent sweat. It works by creating a gel-like substance when combined with sweat, which effectively blocks your sweat ducts. This combination of sweat and aluminum is also widely understood to be the cause of those yellow underarm stains.
Proposed side-effects of antiperspirant use range from a potential link with Alzheimer's to an increased risk of Cancer (particularly Breast Cancer). However, major medical research institutions have been unable to confirm or refute these claims. Most experts and researchers will agree, that there is still more research that needs to be done before we continue to apply deodorants containing aluminum and other parabens to our bodies daily.
Currently, the National Cancer Institute takes the stance that any claims linking Cancer to antiperspirant use are not founded on sound science. They cite multiple studies which were deemed inconclusive.
While generally regarded as safe, the FDA does have regulations that require warning labels on antiperspirants. The FDA required labels must include the following warnings.
- Do not apply to broken skin
- Stop use if rash or irritation occurs
- Ask a Doctor before use if you have Kidney disease
The unclear effect on our bodies caused by these chemicals is enough for some of us to search for alternatives. In an effort to find the best natural deodorants we've been browsing the internet in search of potential candidates. We've distilled the options down to 10 brands, which will be put through a simple test.
We evaluated the following 10 deodorants. Excluding one brand (Baxter's), all of them market themselves as natural deodorants. Each brand was tested for one week as we put them through their paces and rate them in the following categories:
Somewhat subjective, but an important metric when determining your deodorant. This rating is constructed from the number of scent options available, and the general consensus on the pleasantness of the scent. For what it's worth, we also included our SO's opinions.
Throughout the week, we made notes on how often we needed to reapply the deodorant, and whether or not it was able to mask or prevent unwanted body odor.
Each one of these deodorants claims to be a better alternative to antiperspirants. We consult the ingredients list and EWG when available. With some of the brands, we reached out to them to provide clarity on their ingredients. We typically docked a quarter point for containing baking soda, while not explicitly bad or unnatural, it is known to be a skin irritant, according to the Material Safety Data Sheet.
We see a wide range of prices, from $5-18 dollars a stick. To be fair, we also considered potential subscription options which often lower the price.
We were really excited to try this product, some of that can be attributed to the order confirmation email...but we won't spoil that for you.
Native is currently offering three scents for men, as well as an unscented option. Eucalyptus & Mint was the crowd favorite, while a few of us preferred the Citrus & Herbal Musk. There are also options for sensitive skin, for which we found the scents a little too emasculating for our nostrils.
Unfortunately for some of us, this product contains alcohol. Alcohol in deodorants has been known to cause rashes in the underarms of some. I should mention that personally, I did not experience any rash or irritation with this one.
Scent(s): 3/5 - 3 options for men, plus an unscented
Effectiveness: 4/5 - Solid performance
Ingredients: 3.75/5 - Contains alcohol (-1 point) and baking soda (-0.25)
Price: 3/5 - Higher than average price at ~$12
This one was a bit of a surprise as a last minute entry into the competition. Someone stumbled into an ad online, and we ordered some. The ingredient list is surprisingly simple, with only 5 ingredients and various essential oils used. Unconfirmed, but I think it's fairly safe to say that this is also the only 100% edible deodorant in this list. According to the website, this is a small-batch operation, with each tube being hand-poured.
Each tube is available in a twist-up or push-up tube. We purchased twist up tubes even though it was slightly more expensive. All told, Sodawax offers 7 different scents, with Logger's Friend being our pick of the bunch.
Scent(s): 4.5/5 - Some scents (subjectively) better than others, with 7 options, there's plenty to choose from
Effectiveness: 5/5 - Surprisingly effective, minimal reports of reapplication
Ingredients: 4.75/5 - Six simply ingredients is tough to beat, half point docked for baking soda
Price: 4/5 - Midrange price at ~$9 ($2.5/oz)
This isn't the first time we've covered Ursa Major. Comes in two different variations, one with baking soda (Hoppin Fresh) and one without baking soda (No BS). Ursa Major's offerings are the second most expensive on our list at $18 per stick. On the company's website, you have the option to subscribe to repeat deliveries and get 10% off. The "No BS" option is unscented, while Hoppin Fresh has a fresh peppermint/eucalyptus smell. We generally preferred Hoppin Fresh, as the scent seemed to help mask any body odors a bit better. If your skin is sensitive, you might want to try the No BS option.
This natural formula includes one "moderately hazardous" (3/10) ingredients according to EWG: Tocopheryl Acetate. This ingredient shows strong evidence of being toxic to our skin, and has been shown to cause tumors in animals in high doses. While not a major hazard, it still bears mentioning.
Scent: 3.5/5 - Refreshing scent for Hoppin' Fresh, while No BS is unscented
Effectiveness: 4/5 - No BS version required more reapplications
Ingredients: 4.5/5 - Natural ingredients w/ a no baking soda option, with one questionable ingredient.
Price: 2/5 - On the high side of the spectrum, at $16-18 per stick ($6.9/oz)
The hands-down favorite scent was the Oars + Alps Natural Deodorant. Unfortunately, we found that it was no match for our [potent] body odor, and needed to reapply too frequently. This brand is relatively new, and we hope the effectiveness of the deodorant will improve over time.
The one ingredient that caught our attention was the Steareth-100. According to EWG, this ingredient poses a "moderate hazard". However, we should mention that there is limited data available around this ingredients.
Scent: 5/5 - Our favorite scent, no question
Effectiveness: 1/5 - Least effective of all tested
Ingredients: 4.75/5 - Natural, no alcohol, no baking soda. One quarter point deducted due to Steareth-100.
Price: 2/5 - Above average price at $14 per stick ($5.40/oz)
Schmidt's offers quite a few scents, so we opted to try three of the ones that sounded a bit more masculine. We tried the Tea Tree, Charcoal and Magnesium, and the Cedarwood Juniper. The Charcoal and Magnesium was a bit too floral for our liking, and we opted not to use it. The Cedarwood Juniper scent was somewhat underwhelming, as the scent just didn't seem strong enough. On top of that, the stick wouldn't twist up any further after a couple days of use, we think that the product may have partially melted in the mailbox rendering the twist non-functional. The third scent, Tea Tree was by far the best option. It has a gender-neutral odor and a better texture than the other Schmidt's options we tested.
Scent: 3/5 - Tea Tree was nice, other options lackluster
Effectiveness: 2/5 - Multple broken sticks, and lackluster performance
Ingredients: 4.75/5 - Contains baking soda, but no aluminum, propylene glycol, parabens, or artificial fragrance
Price: 3/5 - These will run you ~$8-12 per stick
The first natural deodorant that we reviewed here on the site. Some of us have been using this brand for a while. The company offers a plethora of options which should be amenable to our just about anyone's olfactory. Some interesting scents here, such as the tobacco and leather offerings. Most of us stuck to the outdoor scents, such as theOriginal, Bay, and Ravine scents.
Sam's Natural contains one ingredient which we aren't entirely sure about. It contains Aloe Barbadensis which is commonly referred to as "Aloe Vera". This ingredient is a potential carcinogen only in a "Non-decolorized" form, but data is limited. Upon reaching out to the company, we received a response pointing us to the "Use Restrictions" guidelines on EWG. They point out that this substance has been determined to be safe for use in cosmetics, and said the following:
"Our usage in our base formula for our deodorants is only 0.04%.The aloe powder that is used primarily in the cosmetic industry is freeze dried aloe gel, from the inner part of the leaves"
Scent: 5/5 - 17 options, there is something for everyone.
Effectiveness: 4.5/5 - Great performance, docked a partial point as some of the strong scents worked a little better than others
Ingredients: 4.5/5 - Ticks all the boxes, but contains baking soda and a potential carcinogen
Price: 4/5 - Around $9 for 3oz
One of the lesser known brands scored very well in this competition. The company has a product promise related to the ingredients going into their product. Primal Pit Paste (or P3) was started by a mom when she realized she needed a product safe for her daughter, who was in grade school at the time. The product comes in a number of scents, and we reviewed two of the more masculine ones: Royal & Rogue and Spice. Most of us prefer the Royal & Rogue, but both are solid options.
While not a part of this review, it's worth mentioning that Primal Pit Paste comes an option with a lower concentration of baking soda. The paste was also not a part of our tests, but may be preferable to some.
Scent(s): 5/5 - Two great dude scents
Effectiveness: 5/5 - Performs great, rarely required reapplication
Ingredients: 4.75/5 - All natural, Non-GMO, Natural and Organic. Contains baking soda in stick form
Price: 2/5 - Higher than average price at ~$12 ($4.65/oz)
According to EWG this one gets pretty good marks on the ingredients list. For many of us, this is the product that gets us on an initial foray into natural deodorants. The masculine scents are Deep Forest, Mountain Spring, and North Woods. Each has a slightly similar scent, which some of us indicated smelled "soapy". Despite that, the scents are pleasant and masculine.
Scent: 3.5/5 - Some decent options, a few of us thought each had a distinct scent
Effectiveness: 3/5 - About average for the natural deodorants, which means...not that effective
Ingredients: 4.5/5 - Natural ingredients, and scores well on EWG. Surprisingly, no baking soda. Docked a quarter point for [Aloe Barbadensis], although this is listed as organic.
Price: 5/5 - Cheapest natural deodorant we tested, can be found as low as $3.50 on Amazon
This one has an extremely smooth roll-on application. We tried a few of the masculine scents and found each of them to be a little too subtle for our liking. While the options smelled great, our body odor easily overpowered the scent in these deodorants. It looks like this product may have may have contained Silver, but no longer appears to be in the product. As such, we give this high marks for ingredients, but not so great marks for effectiveness.
Scent: 3.5/5 - Some decent options, maybe just a tad too weak
Effectiveness: 2.5/5 - One of the least effective options in our sample
Ingredients: 5/5 - All good stuff, no baking soda
Price: 4.5/5 - Second cheapest option, at $5-8 on Amazon
This one is not really all natural, but we needed to round out our top 10 and this one came recommended to us. Baxter's Deodorant is aluminum and paraben free. The smell is pleasant, without being overpowering. In terms of effectiveness, this one is about average, and we found ourselves needing to reapply throughout the day. This product is the most expensive of all of the contenders, coming in at $19 for 2.65oz. On Amazon, you can "Subscribe & Save" to bring the price down 5-15%, but even then, it's about 2x more expensive than most on the list here. Decent product overall, just too expensive and not all natural.
When contacted for clarification about which ingredients were natural vs. artifical, we received a boilerplate response without any of our questions answered.
Scent: 4/5 - Smells nice, but only a single option
Effectiveness: 3.5/5 - Average effectiveness, required reapplication
Ingredients: 2/5 - Aluminum Free, Paraben Free, but actually isn't all natural
Price: 1/5 - Most expensive, even with subscription discount ($7.16/oz)
Everyone was surprised with this one, prior to this evaluation this brand was unknown to all of us. From analyzing social media, it looks like SodaWax began selling deodorant online earlier this year. I'm sure we will hear a lot more from this company, and we look forward to trying any new scents Tony and co. may come up with. Thanks for making a simple, yet great product.
You don't have to take our word for it, order your own stick now.
We have a couple other entries worth mentioning here.
Runner Up #1
Sam's Natural was just barely edged out by SodaWax in our competition. In terms of effectiveness, it's on par with the best natural options available. What makes Sam's stand out, is the number of scents available. With 17 scents at the time of writing, Sam's provides the most extensive set of options for you to find the scent that you identify with most.
Interested? Give it a shot, and order a stick from Amazon.
Runner Up #2
Primal Pit Paste (or P3) was our second runner up, which we found performed exceedingly well among natural competitors. P3 was started by mom looking for a product safe for her daughter. When she couldn't find a product she trusted, she created her own! The only thing that really held this brand back in the rankings was the price tag. Each stick will ring you up for $4.65 per ounce, and each stick only comes with two ounces. Full disclaimer: I've been using this deodorant for years, and have no negative experiences to report. I also really like the Royal & Rogue scent.
Let us know on social media if you have any other brands you would like us to evaluate, and we would be more than happy to oblige.