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Anything and everything clean beauty is having a moment, there’s no denying that. But among all of the various categories of natural offerings these days, none is more popular—or more talked about—than natural deodorant. At the heart (erm, armpit?) of the stand-off between natural deodorants and traditional antiperspirants lies one notorious ingredient: aluminum. The issue at hand is the possible correlation—or even causation—with breast cancer.
“The debate is still ongoing as to whether or not aluminum in antiperspirants causes breast cancer in women,” says clean beauty expert Jenny Duranski. A good amount of studies have been conducted over the past two decades questioning the safety of the ingredient. To date, the overarching consensus has been that results are inconclusive and more scientific data is needed. (Although one fairly recent 2017 study, found that using aluminum-based antiperspirants frequently, particularly before the age of 30, may increase the risk of breast cancer.) The bottom line? The jury is still kind of still out, but for many people, making the switch to natural deodorants is the preferred choice.
It’s important to keep in mind that aluminum is the active ingredient in antiperspirants that actually keeps you from sweating, so, no matter how great of a natural deodorant you find, “it will give you odor protection, but wetness protection isn’t always at the top of the list,” notes Duranski. Also worth noting: “Not every formula is going to be a perfect fit for everyone because everyone’s skin and microbiome is different and may react differently to various ingredients," explains Emily Koko, Assistant Buyer for Credo Beauty. "Sometimes it’s a matter of trial and error,”
Where to start? We suggest any or all of these best natural deodorants for women.
Best Overall: Kopari Coconut Deodorant
Byrdie editors have tried pretty much every natural deodorant, but few come close to rivaling this universally-beloved favorite. It relies largely on coconut oil (which is naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial), as well as sage oil, for odor protection that’s on par with that of antiperspirants. Also nice: It comes in four scents, plus an unscented version. A word to the wise, because of the coconut oil in the formula, it can get melty and runny if it gets too hot, so keep it in a cool spot.
Best Stone: Crystal Body Deodorant Stick
Looking for a minimal ingredient list? How about just one ingredient. That’s right, uno—you’ll only find natural mineral salts in this deodorant stone. They work by creating a layer against bacteria, which are what make sweat stinky. Also nice: One of these is guaranteed to last you at least a year. FYI though, it is unscented.
Best Splurge: Agent Nateur
Chic, chic, chic with a capital C. Everything from the minimalistic black and white packaging to the scent (derived from eucalyptus and lavender oils) screams sophistication. It truly defies every stereotype that comes to mind when you think of natural deodorant, a luxurious treat that’s worth every penny, particularly given how well it works, too.
Best Scent: Corpus Third Rose Natural Deodorant
“Corpus uses naturally-derived enzymes to balance bacteria and odor, and this has the most lovely citrus rose scent,” says Koko. Credit the perfect balance of floral (rose, violet) and citrus notes (Italian mandarin) that make this smell more like a perfume than a natural deodorant. It’s also another great pick for sensitive skin since it uses tapioca starch rather than baking soda.
Best for Workout Buffs: Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant
This will keep you feeling fresh through hot yoga or the sweatiest of spin classes; credit the addition of peppermint and eucalyptus. It’s also cooling upon application, making it great to use post-workout, too. Koko also gives it bonus points for delivering all-day protection and the inclusion of soothing aloe.
Best Personalized: Nala Personalized Deodorant
Not only do you get to pick your scent, but you also get to choose your level of odor protection. There are three different scents plus an unscented option, and you can select from sensitive (which is baking soda-free), regular, or extra strength. When it comes to natural deodorant one size does not fit all, so this is a great way to mix and match to determine what your body needs.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Kaia Naturals Sakura Blossom Charcoal Deodorant
Rather than using baking soda, which can be irritating for some, this relies on activated charcoal to help detoxify and neutralize odors, says Koko. It’s part of the reason it’s choice for those with sensitive skin (because irritation under your arms is really the pits). There’s also only natural fragrance in the formula, which has a springy floral scent.
Best Unisex: Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant
The founder of this brand started by making this formula in her kitchen, but now it’s one of the biggest natural deodorant players in the mass market, with a legit cult-following (including Byrdie VP/General Manager Leah Wyar, who’s a fan). That’s largely due to the non-greasy, non-sticky texture, not to mention the unique scents. There are over 20 different ones, all of which smell great but are never cloying and are completely unisex, ideal if you and your guy like to share.
Best Budget: Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Deodorant
A box of Arm & Hammer is one of the most inexpensive ways to freshen up your fridge, and it turns out the brand has your underarm needs covered, too. You get not one, but two, sticks for less than the price of your morning latte, not to mention excellent wetness absorption and a nice option of scents to choose from.
Best With Baking Soda: Humble Deodorant
Baking soda can sometimes get a bad rap in the natural deodorant world, and admittedly yes, it can be an irritating ingredient for some. That being said, it’s also one of the best odor- (and wetness-) absorbing options out there, so if your skin can tolerate it, go for it. Here, it’s in a formula that uses only three other ingredients—cornstarch, fractionated coconut oil, and beeswax. It’s one of Duranski’s top picks, and she also raves about the affordable price point.
Best Variety: Each & Every Aluminum-Free Deodorant
Variety is the spice of life, which is why we appreciate that this brand offers nine different scents, all ultra-sophisticated pairings, think juniper and mint and cannabis and green tea. But the choices don’t stop there. You can also choose sets of three full-size or four- or eight-count minis, and buy just once or sign up for an easy subscription model. Plus, the formula is so clean that it’s even verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an organization that monitors ingredient safety.
Best Paste: Routine Superstar Deodorant Cream
Paste deodorants are polarizing—think of them as the cilantro of the natural beauty world. (A weird analogy, we know, but just go with it.) If you can get behind the application process, which requires a scoop and a smear, pick up this guy. Both experts we spoke to are big fans.
“It’s chock-full of moisture-absorbing ingredients, such as kaolin clay, arrowroot powder, magnesium, and baking soda to keep you dry, plus activated charcoal to detoxify, says Koko. Duranski loves it too, lauding it for its, “supreme odor protection.”
Like any major change, there’s going to be a transition period when moving from an antiperspirant to natural deodorant; experts refer to this as a detox period. “As your body starts to flush out the barrier that was built-up from traditional antiperspirants, you may notice more sweat and odor,” says Koko. Duranski notes that this can last up to four weeks. But it will get better so ride it out, and then start testing different formulas, until you find the one that works best with your body chemistry, advises Koko.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Finding the best natural deodorant out there is a top priority in her continued quest to ‘clean up’ her beauty routine; she currently rotates through a new one weekly.
Jenny Duranski developed an obsession with green beauty after developing mysterious ailments while working as a nail technician. She’s a member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and the owner and founder of Lena Rose Beauty, Chicago’s first green beauty boutique and spa. Four of her favorite natural deodorants made this list.
Emily Koko is an Assistant Buyer for Credo Beauty, specializing in the body, SPF, and you guessed it, deodorant categories. She’s a natural deodorant advocate and switched over long before it was trendy to do so.