Unlike people in a lot of other cultures, Americans are super sensitive to body odor and perspiration. That’s probably why many of us use the strongest antiperspirant possible, even when we sweat or smell very little. And no matter how natural sweat and odor are (we sweat to keep our bodies cool and secrete odiferous chemicals called pheromones to help us attract mates), few of us are going to stop protecting our underarms from them.
Eliminate chemicals. We editors at Natural Health certainly aren’t ready to kiss deodorant or antiperspirant goodbye, but knowing that our readers are always looking for ways to use fewer chemicals we decided to test the latest generation of aluminum-free deodorants. Unlike antiperspirants, natural deodorants do not block sweat. Using ingredients like minerals and hops, however, they do help mask odor and prevent bacteria from growing.
Fight odors. To find out how well they work, we tested them during the hottest time of year (a sticky summer in New York City), but we recommend trying them when temps are cooler—and sweat is at a minimum.
BEST FOR … every day
SKIN BY MONICA DRY ANTIPERSPIRANT & DEODORANT IN LAVENDER ($10; skinbymonica.com). Creative director Kay Douglas was pleasantly surprised by this deodorant’s versatility. “It dried in 30 seconds, left no residue, and I didn’t need to reapply,” she says.
BEST FOR … all-day holding power
DERMALOGICA ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL DEODORANT ($18; dermalogica.com). “This lasted the entire day—I didn’t even have to reapply before going out for the evening,” says senior beauty editor Olessa Pindak.
TIP: If you sweat a little, don’t get discouraged. The sweat will dry and antibacterial ingredients will prevent odor.
BEST FOR … working out
KISS MY FACE ACTIVE ENZYME DEODORANT IN PEACEFUL PATCHOULI ($5; kissmyface.com). “The patchouli scent intensified when I went for a run, but my underarms stayed surprisingly dry,” says editor in chief Mary Bolster.
BEST FOR … odor control
DR. HAUSCHKA DEODORANT IN FRESH ($20; drhauschka.com). “This prevented odor better than my antiperspirant,” says senior articles editor Christine Richmond.
TIP: Wear natural fibers—synthetic materials trap sweat and odor.
BEST FOR … post-workout
ALBA CLEAR ENZYME DEODORANT STICK IN TEA TREE ($6; albabotanica.com). “The minty smell was refreshing after the gym,” says associate photo editor Devon Day.
BEST FOR … spraying on
WELEDA DEODORANT IN CITRUS ($11; usa.weleda.com). “This spray dried in seconds
and I loved that it comes in both a large and a small bottle—perfect for tucking into a purse for reapplication,” says Pindak.
TIP: Take advantage of the deodorant’s bacteria-fighting active ingredients by reapplying any time you stop feeling fresh.
BEST FOR … a sleeveless shirt
QUEEN HELENE ALOE DEODORANT STICK ($5; queenhelene.com). “It left no stains on my clothes or skin and the aloe scent lasted all day,” says intern Ivy Tan.
BEST FOR … fragrance
NATURE’S GATE ORGANICS DEODORAN IN TEA TREE & BLUE CYPRESS ($6; natures-gate.com). “I loved the unique composition of two scents—they both smelled good, but weren’t overpowering,” says intern Stephanie Eckelkamp.
TIP: After shaving your underarms, test the deodorant on a small patch of skin before applying—some ingredients can sting.
BEST FOR … soothing skin
LUSH AROMA CREME DEODORANT ($11.50; lush.com) has shea butter to soften and soothe skin. “It stayed put and kept my skin soft all day,” says senior health editor Lila MacLellan.
BEST FOR … drugstore purchase
TOM’S OF MAINE NATURAL LONG-LASTING DEODORANT STICK IN APRICOT ($5.50; drugstore.com). “The clean, apricot scent was divine and it acted just like a regular antiperspirant,” says Day.
BEST FOR … minimizing scent
EARTH SCIENCE LIKEN PLANT NATURAL DEODORANT ($6; earthessentials.com). “The scent was neutral and pleasant and didn’t transfer to my skin. And it dried quickly so I could dress right after applying it,” says Eckelkamp.
BEST FOR … sensitive skin
JASON ALOE VERA DEODORANT STICK ($6; jason–natural.com). “This didn’t irritate my temperamental skin and I only had to reapply after strenuous activity,” says intern Christy McCuaig.