Aluminum-Free Natural Deodorants That Actually Work for Me

I am on a seemingly never-ending search for the perfect aluminum-free, natural deodorant. And while I haven’t yet found my holy grail of armpit freshener, I have found some pretty damn good options that I want to share with you guys because who knows, one of them could end up being your holy grail. As with all skincare products, there isn’t a single concoction that’s going to work perfectly for everyone. We all have different skin types, hormonal balances and genetics, so you kinda have to treat any product search like you’re a human science experiment.

Skincare, hair care, anything beauty related–not my forte. I stalk follow countless wellness and beauty influencers on social media and am honestly just completely overwhelmed by their seemingly endless supply of all-natural, superfood-charged products. They’ve got under eye cream made from the organic nectar of rare indigenous plants plucked off the peak of Mount Everest by a world renowned Shaman and I’m over here using some clumpy-ass mascara I found on sale at CVS that probably expired in 2013.

Womp. Womp. Wommmmmmmp.

Rather than be overwhelmed by replacing every single product in my bathroom with all-natural versions at once, I like to focus on the stuff I put on my body every single day. Just like eating a Twinkie once in a while isn’t going to give you cancer, wearing red lipstick with artificial dyes in it once a year on New Years isn’t going to kill you. It’s the day-in-day-out stuff that makes a difference. Like deodorant. I wear it every day so I do really care what’s in it.

A few notes about my experience finding a good-for-you deodorant…

  • Embrace sweat. I feel like a bit of an a-hole preaching this because I work from home and at a fitness studio–two places it’s perfectly acceptable to be sweaty. I also have never had an issue with excess perspiration which I know is an extremely frustrating condition for a lot of people. In general though, sweating is a healthy bodily function and very few aluminum-free natural deodorants are also anti-perspirants (I think Tom’s has an anti-perspirant option?).
  • Be patient. When you try a new product, it takes time to truly know how it works with your body. And especially if you’re switching from an aluminum-containing anti-perspirant to an all-natural deodorant–there’s going to be a serious adjustment period. For me, things got worse before they got better. I felt like I sweat more and smelled worse for the first couple weeks after I ditched the “bad” deodorant. And Joe made sure to remind me of it every day (LOL). Eventually everything balanced out and I could accurately gauge if the natural deodorants were working for me.
  • Baking soda isn’t my favorite. Not because baking soda is bad, but because I hate what happens when I sweat. If I’m wearing deodorant with baking soda in it and I start sweating during a workout, I get these crusty white streaks down the sides of my body (so hot right now). Does this happen to anyone else?? Baking soda also causes a lot of people to get rashes. I notice some minor red bumps occasionally but nothing too bad.
  • I avoided pastes. There are a lot of paste deodorants out there but I don’t like the idea of needing to wash my hands after applying deodorant. I’d rather use a stick or spray than have to rub something under my pits each morning with my fingers.

Ok now on to my recommendations!

Aluminum-Free Natural Deodorants That Work for Me

These are the two brands (+one other “homemade” deodorant) I’d currently recommend. They each have one thing I wish I could change (I’ll elaborate on that below), but all things considered, they’re fabulous.

Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant ($7-10)

Schmidt’s is the bomb dot com. Their deodorant is free of aluminum, phthalates, parabens and propylene-glycol, and is certified vegan and cruelty-free. AND IT WORKS. All day. I put it on in the morning, teach three classes, come back home and work a full day and have no issues with body odor. It absorbs fully so that you’re not left with sticky pits and it contains plant-based powders that help absorb wetness. I don’t think you’ll really get a true anti-perspirant without aluminum, but I definitely notice a reduction in sweating with Schmidt’s versus other natural options.

I’ve only tried the Bergamot + Lime, but there are lots of other scents as well:

The one downside: Causes some mild skin irritation for me. I’m not sure if it’s the ingredients or just that it goes on a little rough, but I get red bumps and some minor irritation under my armpits every once in a while when I use Schmidt’s regularly.

Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant ($18)

I love love loooove Ursa Major. I use their face wipes and face lotion regularly and it was no surprise I’d become a fan of their deodorant as well. First off, it smells amazing. My four-year-old niece always makes me give it to her before I put it on in the morning so that she can sniff it when I visit (haha). It goes on smoothly (way smoother than Schmidt’s) and feels fresh and cooling. It absorbs fully, too, so that you don’t feel sticky. The $18 price tag is high, but the stick is big and lasts me three months.

The one downside: It doesn’t last all day. I find I have to reapply this multiple times throughout the day and end up carrying it around in my bag. On super active days when I teach multiple classes and then do my own workout I can understand that, but even on rest days I typically reapply 2-3 times to stay fresh.

Limes

No seriously. My mom has been using limes as her deodorant for years (like straight up just rubs lime wedges on her armpits), and while I thought it was just another thing to add to the Weird Things Mom Does list, I gave it a try and it really does work! You cut off a wedge (1/4 lime covers both pits for me), give it a little squeeze to get it juicy, and then rub it on gently. Sometimes little pieces of pulp rub off and you have to pick them off, but other than that you just let it dry and are good to go. It doesn’t feel sticky or anything and it’s really effective at preventing body odor–I was shocked!

The one downside: The logistics. You need to have your kitchen stocked with limes at all times which isn’t so bad but what about bringing your “deodorant” with you to the gym? What about when you travel? It was just getting to be a hassle bringing around my little lime wedges with me in baggies. I was testing out this method while traveling to Palm Springs for my friend’s bachelorette party and I’m pretty sure TSA thought I was insane when they looked in my carryon.

Also, a little tip if you’re going to give limes a try: Don’t apply them immediately after shaving–it stings!

This deodorant works SO WELL but…

Weleda Deodorant ($14)

Weleda products are made in Switzerland and are all free of synthetic preservatives, synthetic fragrances and synthetic chemicals. The deodorants come in a glass spray bottle and I find 3 pumps per pit is enough to do the job. I like the spray application and it absorbs and dries quickly and then really does last ALL day. I used Weleda for a couple months, but its main ingredient didn’t sit well with me: alcohol.

The smell of the citrus reminded me of flavored vodka (aka bad flashbacks to high school) and the smell of the wild rose reminded me of perfume. Scent issues aside, I had heard products containing alcohol aren’t good for your skin. I didn’t know much more beyond that, so I decided to do a little research on the topic.

Fatty alcohols (common examples are cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol) are A-OK. They’re non-irritating to the skin and serve to keep ingredients stable in products. Simple alcohols (common examples are methanol, ethanol/ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and denatured alcohol), which give products an anti-bacterial property, can dry out the skin and therefore weaken its role as our protective barrier. Weleda uses organic grain alcohol which is ethyl alcohol. Bummer.

From what I’ve read, I don’t think it’s the worst thing you could put on your skin, but also definitely not the most nourishing. This article and this article were helpful in explaining the different alcohols for anyone interested.

Other Natural Deodorants I’ve Tried That Didn’t Work

During this deodorant mission, I’ve also tried out a few that didn’t work well at all (for me anyway). They’re worth mentioning because who knows–maybe they’ll be your perfect fit!

  • Tom’s of Maine – I smell worse when I wear Tom’s than I do when I wear no deodorant at all. How is that possible?! I want to like this product because I think Tom’s is an amazing company but it just does not work at all for me.
  • Agent Nateur – I kept seeing this marketed as the “it” deodorant in LA (probably code for: Gwyneth wore it once lollollol) but while I love the scent, it doesn’t absorb well. I’d put it on and then feel like I had a sticky paste under my armpits the rest of the day. No thanks. And at a whopping $19 … Awww HELL to the muthafukkin no thanks.
  • Nourish Organic – I love the smell of their Lavender Mint stick and the formula definitely works for me but OUCH. It is so rough going on! The texture is like an exfoliating scrub and I just couldn’t get over that which is a bummer because the smell is uh-mazing.

Ok your turn! Have you tried any of these brands? Which work and don’t? Any suggestions for other brands I should try? Let’s talk deodorant! 

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