7 Reasons to Consider Trying a Natural Deodorant

Updated: Aug. 10, 2020

Looking for a greener alternative to conventional deodorants and antiperspirants? Here's why you should consider using natural deodorants.

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close up of woman applying deoderant
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Do natural deodorants really work?

You’ve probably seen the word “natural” on food labels and even on beauty and skincare products, including deodorant. (Avoid these deodorant mistakes.) But what does going natural mean when it comes to body odor and reducing the growth of bacteria? It usually means opting for a deodorant that’s aluminum-free or free of chemicals that mask the smells and odors produced by sweat. So, why should you use a natural deodorant?

We spoke with several experts who weighed in on why going natural with deodorant could be beneficial. (Also, check out these dermatologist-approved deodorants and antiperspirants for women.)

Man holding deodorant

Antiperspirants and deodorants may contain potentially harmful ingredients

To be clear, both the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say that traditional deodorants and antiperspirants are perfectly safe.

However, a number of ingredients, including aluminum—the active ingredient in antiperspirants that keeps you dry—as well as parabens, propylene glycol, phthalates, and triclosan have been investigated over the years for possible harm, says Sophia Gushee, a non-toxic living expert and author of The A to Z of D-Toxing.

Ingredients on table

Natural deodorants are aluminum-free

As mentioned, aluminum keeps you dry, but let’s get scientific for a minute; it actually causing ducts to swell so the sweat can’t get out—effectively trapping it inside. Instead of aluminum, natural deodorants rely on plant-based powders and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to help absorb wetness without any of the controversial chemicals, explains Jaime Schmidt, founder and CEO of Schmidt’s Naturals. (These are the best natural deodorants on Amazon.)

A row of bottles

Natural deodorants are free of synthetic fragrance

“Scented deodorants typically contain synthetic fragrance, which can be created from any combination of thousands of chemicals,” explains Gushee. “Many of these chemicals are [potentially] linked to a number of serious health effects.” Instead of synthetic fragrances, natural deodorants use—safe and effective—pure essential oils to combat odor.

Man's face drenched in sweat

Sweating is healthy

A common complaint is that natural deodorants don’t keep you as dry as conventional formulas…but that might actually be a good thing. Antiperspirant doesn’t truly stop you from sweating. It clogs your pores and blocks your body from expelling sweat—that’s why you feel “dry.” A small study in Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology shows that perspiration may be a vehicle for some toxins to exit the body. “When you sweat, you’re actually releasing toxins and naturally detoxifying the body,” explains Jena Covello, founder of Agent Nateur, a natural beauty brand.

Woman stretching on couch

Your body may adjust to a natural deodorant

While some people remark that they notice an odor upon making the switch to natural, it’s not necessarily your new deodorant that’s to blame. “When switching to a natural deodorant, it takes time for your body to adjust to the product. Depending on your body chemistry, you may experience breakthrough odor and increased sweating during the first few weeks,” explains Mary Futher, founder and product developer of Kaia Naturals.

Woman holding deodorant

Contrary to what you may have heard, natural deodorants are effective

Want to stay fresh and dry sans chemicals? “The mechanism behind natural deodorant is really close to chemical deodorant…kill bacteria that causes the smell,” explains Audrey Christie, a nurse and wellness educator. “Instead of aluminum and parabens, many natural deodorants use a combination of coconut oil, cornstarch, baking soda, and essential oils. The coconut oil and essential oils are antimicrobial, the essential oil also provides some scent, the cornstarch, and baking soda change the pH of your armpits to a less friendly environment for the bacteria.” (This is what causes body odor.)

Woman in store buying deodorant

There are great natural deodorant options

“With a multitude of natural deodorants available, it’s a lot simpler to find something that’s not only effective, but also delivers peace of mind,” says Kasia Rothe, CEO of Rustic MAKA. Kaia naturals Takesumi Detox Deodorant is crafted with a blend of vegan-friendly, detoxifying ingredients, like bamboo, charcoal, and essential oils. Agent Nateur N°3 Deodorant contains only non-GMO, pesticide-free, food-grade ingredients (coconut, castor, and eucalyptus oils, sunflower and avocado butters, raw organic honey, lavender essential oil, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide).

Not only does it keep you fresh, but it’s great for even the most sensitive skin. Desert Rose Organics Homemade Probiotic Deodorant is formulated with seven ingredients—including live probiotics—to help balance skin pH.

Looking for a natural spray alternative? Boscia Charcoal Deodorant relies on purifying black and white charcoal to effectively absorb wetness and eliminate odor, sans talc (a common and concerning ingredient in many conventional spray formulas).

And if you  don’t want to buy any commercial product at all, you can use a homemade deodorant recipe and actually make your own.