Chris Plavidal

Health & wellness

We Put Six Natural Deodorants to the Test

One left us trashing our Dove, another left us with “spicy B.O.”

The National Cancer Institute says that there’s no scientific evidence to link the ingredients in antiperspirants and deodorants, such as aluminum and parabens, to breast cancer. But new research suggests that the human armpit, left to its own devices, provides a welcome refuge to a host of healthy microbes, and that the application of chemicals may negatively impact our immune systems and overall bacterial balance. So, in the spirit of making our pits a more attractive stop, our staff went chemical-free for a week.

Clean up your daily deodorant ritual by swapping your mainstream brand (and its potentially harmful chemicals) for a more natural option. To help you find your match, we put six sticks to the test for five days.

aesop spray deodorantShawn Shinneman

Online Managing Editor

 Product
Aesop Deoderant

Price
$35

Available at
Aesop

How does it feel going on?
It dries reasonably fast for a spray. You have to be mindful of accuracy, though, lest you be smacked in the face with an errant mist. I didn’t always heed the bottle’s warning to let it dry before clothing myself. I don’t have time, Fancy Deodorant!

If you don’t mind, maybe do a covert smell check from time to time. Report the scent.
I didn’t have to strain to get a whiff, but checking in as the day ticked on revealed some unpleasantness. After about 18 hours and a sleep without shower or reapplication, I had what my girlfriend lovingly referred to as “spicy BO.”

What happened when you worked up a sweat? Did you feel safe to be around people?
It wasn’t the best, but again, from a reasonable distance, everything was fine. The scent is strong enough and remains active enough that it can hide what you’ve really got going on. I wouldn’t load a top shelf in a crowded room, though. Minus the spicy incident, nah.

Will you stick with it?
I will not. At this price point, the bar for winning me over was exceedingly high, but I’d stick to my normal stick even without financial considerations.

schmidts ylang ylang calendula deoZac Crain

Senior Editor

Product
Schmidt’s Ylang-Ylang + Calendula Deodorant

Price
$9

Available at
The Greenway Shop

How does it feel going on?
It dried quickly but was super rough. Not quite as bad as if I had left the top on, but close.

If you don’t mind, maybe do a covert smell check from time to time. Report the scent.
The smell took some getting used to. It kind of reminded me of something I would wipe down a counter with, but it was also sort of pleasing? I don’t know. At first it was a bit too strong and astringently citrusy, but I suppose I got used to it.

What happened when you worked up a sweat? Did you feel safe to be around people?
It was fine. Maybe it even smoothed out the aroma a bit. In general, my approach to deodorant is that I should notice it only when it does not work. This was close to that, once I adjusted to a different smell than I’m familiar with, which, in fairness, is basically nothing (Degree UltraClear). The Degree smell is neutral, at worst a bit powdery, but generally absent. This was different. I noticed it more.

Will you stick with it?
Maybe. I wear the UltraClear because it isn’t supposed to stain black or white shirts, which is all I wear. If the natural stuff could hold up on that end, I’d think about switching.

corpus naturals deodorantChristiana Nielson

Managing Editor

Product
Corpus Naturals

Price
$22

Available at
Credo

How does it feel going on?
It feels pretty good going on. Moist, but dries quickly.

If you don’t mind, maybe do a covert smell check from time to time. Report the scent.
The woody scent stays there for a good amount of time, and I didn’t ever smell super bad. I didn’t hate the scent, but it wasn’t as fresh and light as I was used to.

What happened when you worked up a sweat? Did you feel safe to be around people?
I did a spin class and sweat a ton. I didn’t smell awful but couldn’t really gauge the sweat levels since I was wearing a tank top and was sweating a lot in general. I got brunch after, before showering, and no one fainted, so I guess that’s good. Yesterday it was a tad warm, and I do feel like my pits got sticky just walking around and running errands. Not a bad odor, but I didn’t enjoy being sticky while wearing normal clothes. Still felt safe to be around people, but half of the people at Half Price Books are hippies and no one cares what you smell like at REI.

Will you stick with it?
Sadly, probably not. I don’t like the scent enough to make up for the stickiness. But maybe if it comes in a different scent I might be persuaded.

ursa major deodorantNatalie Gempel

Online Arts Editor

Product
Ursa Major

Price
$18

Available at
Follain, Credo, DLM Supply, and The Greenway Shop

How does it feel going on?
Feels cool and minty, but slightly stickier than I’m used to.

If you don’t mind, maybe do a covert smell check from time to time. Report the scent.
It smells nice going on, but I did get BO after a couple of hours. One day I reapplied in the afternoon and that helped.

What happened when you worked up a sweat? Did you feel safe to be around people?
The first day I had a stressful morning, and I definitely smelled bad by noon. I felt safe around other people as long as they kept a distance. Honestly, I’m always working up a sweat. It’s unfortunate. But, yeah, I wouldn’t go on a date wearing this deodorant.

Will you stick with it?
No. I wish I could, but I’m too smelly.

native deodorant charcolMatt Goodman

Online Editorial Director

Product
Native Charcoal

Price
$12

Available at
Target and Amazon

How does it feel going on?
It was kind of like wet chalk? It was a little rough, but nothing more than a reminder that it is a natural product.

If you don’t mind, maybe do a covert smell check from time to time. Report the scent.
I wouldn’t wear this in summer, but the days I wore it, it was cool outside or climate-controlled inside. Even so, after a couple of hours, it could’ve gone either way. I’d reapply after work, especially if I was going out.

What happened when you worked up a sweat? Did you feel safe to be around people?
A spin class obliterated this stuff. I was embarrassed 10 minutes in because I could smell my stink cloud. A couple of hours after application, you’re walking a stinky tightrope. You don’t want to overexert yourself, because quick sniffs throughout the day point to it turning. You know a stench will break through if you start to sweat. It’s also not an antiperspirant, but this protected against sweat surprisingly well without physical activity. One problem: it’s dark, and it left a dark splotch under my arms that you could see in light-colored shirts. Defeated the purpose, sort of.

Will you stick with it?
Nope. Not worth paying triple with the risk involved.

white rock soap gallery deodorantKathy Wise

Executive Editor

Product
Activated Charcoal Deodorant

Price
$10

Available at
White Rock Soap Gallery

How does it feel going on?
Smooth and creamy with no caking, like stick body lotion.

If you don’t mind, maybe do a covert smell check from time to time. Report the scent.
I don’t usually wear perfume. With this, I feel like I don’t need to. The lemongrass is citrusy, grassy, and spicy—like sipping a gin and tonic at dusk near a freshly mown lawn.

What happened when you worked up a sweat? Did you feel safe to be around people?
By the time I get to my evening tennis match, my daily deodorant has usually given up the ghost. This one was warmed up and ready for every overhead. And I wasn’t afraid to hug my partner after our smashing victory.

Will you stick with it?
I’ve already trashed my old Dove standby, and my wife has already “borrowed” this one. It’s a keeper.

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