The first time that I ever tried a natural deodorant was at Girl Scout Camp. It was during the early 2000s, the summer going into fourth grade.
While there are a lot of terrible and traumatic memories associated with this pre-adolescent experience—I nearly died when my group decided to steer our canoe at the edge of the lake’s waterfall, for example—none could top the horror of smelling my natural body odor for the first time at Camp Inawendiwin.
Several hours after rubbing a strawberry scented Tom’s deodorant stick under my armpits, a fishy odor started to clog up my nostrils as I attempted to make myself comfortable in my cabin for the night. When all the girls realized that the stench was coming from my armpits, I instantly became a social pariah at the bonfire.
Not even the smell of burnt marshmallows could disguise my stinky pits. When my mom finally arrived to pick me up the next day, I cried the whole way home and demanded to make a pit stop at CVS so I could purchase a new deodorant.
Ever since then, I swore off any deodorant sticks with a smell that didn’t remind me of a science lab. I did everything in my power to prevent underarm perspiration and wouldn’t leave the house without slathering my pits in Secret’s Clinical Strength Antiperspirant and Deodorant. A few months after I graduated college in 2015, I started to notice my armpits were always dry and itchy; and the more I scratched them, the more they peeled.
Turns out, that this was because of all the toxic ingredients like aluminum, alcohol and baking soda that were in my deodorant. Desperate to find a solution, I knew that it was time to get over my insecurity and revisit some all-natural formulas. Once I officially made the switch, I never went back.
Nowadays, natural deodorants come in all different forms—sticks, sprays, creams, gels, and rocks—it’s important to take the time to find one that is in tune with your body. Over the past few weeks, I have been testing out a shelf-full of new and improved natural deodorants.
In the end, only 14 of them came out on top. Here are the that products kept my pits in pristine condition all summer long.
Kaia Naturals, The Takesumi Detox$21
This is the deodorant stick you’ll want to start with, if you’re switching to natural deodorants for the first time. Kaia Naturals recommends going on a full 30 day detox, but I didn’t follow this guideline religiously.
The cold-pressed rose scent is faint, but enough to mask your natural BO. Because the deodorant contains activated charcoal, it may leave a black residue on clothing that makes contact with your armpits. Definitely don’t wear white.
WILL, 02 Natural Deodorant$18
This deodorant has a great scent thanks to the tea tree oil, but your pits will feel moist, if you ever start sweating profusely. I’d recommend this stick for running a quick errand in climates that aren’t overheated.
Meow Meow Tweet, Grapefruit Citrus Baking Soda Free Deodorant Stick$14
The fact that this deodorant is baking soda-free is a huge win. Before you rub it on, I highly recommend using the Underarm Primer.
On a hot day, you might feel some moisture under your pits but they won’t ever reek of foul BO.
Journeymen, Natural Deodorant Spray$18
Even though this is labeled as a deodorant for men, BO doesn’t discriminate based on gender. Sprays aren’t my usual go-to, but I wear perfume regularly so it’s a natural transition.
The scent has hints of smoky red cedar and cypress leaves so it feels more like a fragrance for your pits. The spray also has aloe vera, witch hazel, organic chamomile, and essential oils. Yum!
Violets Are Blue, All Natural/Non Aluminum Deodorant$16
This deodorant does indeed have baking soda in the ingredients. I was hesitant to use it because I thought that my pits might get irritated, but surprisingly had zero problems.
It lasted through a long, sweaty commute on New York City’s MTA subway so it’s a safe bet.
Susanne Kaufmann, Deo Stick$62
Without a doubt, this is the most expensive deodorant I have ever come across. So is it worth it? Well, sort of. At first, it smells like laundry detergent but after a while, that goes away. Would I actually buy it? Debatable.
PiperWai, Natural Deodorant – 2.7oz Stick Applicator$16.99
I’ve used the deodorant cream before, and now it’s even better because you can roll it on with a stick. I’m a firm believer in the power of activated charcoal, so this gets two thumbs up from me.
Ursa Major, Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant$18
This smells like the great outdoors, but in a good way. It’s refreshing, like those iconic cardboard pine tree air fresheners that people used to hang in their cars during the ‘90s.
Whish, Deodorant Gel$18
This was a whole new deodorant experience for me. Luckily, you can also stock up on Whish’s deodorant wipes to keep your pits fresh throughout the day if you feel like the aluminum-free gel is losing its touch.
Aurelia Probiotic Skincare, Botanical Cream Deodorant$23
Creams can be messy. The less you use the better. This has a light, subtle scent due to the assortment of essential oils—eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint and tea tree.
Should you break a sweat, the kaolin will absorb the moisture. Shea butter is a godsend and there is plenty of it in this jar so your pits will stay hydrated.
Folie Apothecary, Deodorant Cream$28
This deodorant cream is hard to find because Nikisha Brunson doesn’t whip up batches of it too often, but when it’s finally available, you have to stock up in bulk.
Folie is my absolute favorite deodorant cream—the combination of oils makes for a delicious scent, the shea butter gives it a smooth texture, and it lasts all day long. It’s worth every penny.
Soul Sunday, The Pits Natural Deodorant$16
This all natural, vegan deodorant cream smells like a newborn baby. You can thank the geranium essential oil for that. If you’ve got sensitive pits from one too many razor burns, the lavender oil in the cream will comfort that skin inflammation.
What really makes this deodorant work is the combination of organic coconut oil and arrowroot powder, though. There are also no parabens, dyes or sulfates in this either which is a huge relief.
Malin+Goetz, Eucalyptus Deodorant$22
Nothing feels better than walking around smelling like you’re fresh off a eucalyptus tree. I spent a few days out in Portland, OR and this deodorant lasted through the hottest hours in the afternoon.
Sadly, this isn’t a 100 percent all-natural deodorant. While the formula contains eucalyptus extract and globulus leaf oil, it also has acids like citronellyl methylcrotonate, sodium stearate, and sodium hydroxide.
I knew that my armpits were in good hands with this fragrance brand, especially since this deodorant stick is highly recommended for people with sensitive skin. The main ingredients in this cruelty free, vegan deodorant are natural sugars, chamomile, vitamin E, witch hazel water, castor oil, bitronellol, geraniol, and linalool.
What it doesn’t have is paraben, sulfate, phthalate, phosphate or gluten. Oh, and it has recyclable packaging which is great. Not only did it make my pits feel dry all day, but they smelled fresh from the light fragrance too!