October 14th 2017
In the past we've been reluctant to try natural deodorants for fear of them not performing as well as we need and being left sweaty and smelly by the end of the day, but with many of us now staying in the confines of our home, it seems the perfect time to give natural deodorants a whirl.
Both aerosol deodorants and roll-on antiperspirants contain ingredients that have caused controversy and worry for some, be they parabens, preservatives or even aluminium salts which block the sweat glands from producing sweat. Natural deodorants don't block the sweat glands (so you might still be wet under your arms) but instead use ingredients such as bamboo to absorb the sweat to keep you drier. They also include anti-bacterial ingredients to neutralise bacteria and prevent odour from forming. Some natural deodorants use strong natural oils instead to mask the smell of odour.
If you're looking to go plastic-free with beauty, natural deodorants often tick this box and they come in a variety of formulas from cream and gel to liquid sprays.
Here are the ones we've put through their paces and can honestly say actually work.
Fearne Cotton sang the praises of this deodorant on her Instagram Stories, saying “I love this stuff”. The 100 per cent natural formula is cruelty-free, vegan and is in zero-waste packaging. Parabens, alcohol, aluminium, palm oil, mineral oils and artificial fragrances are banished too, instead it’s made with antibacterial magnesium, sodium bicarbonate, white clay, shea butter and coconut oil to keep odour at bay. You apply this with your fingertips and it dried instantly - perfect for when you’re in a rush.
Mitchum is a deodorant name we know we can trust - and the fact that all three versions of their natural deodorant are currently sold out in Boots is testament to how good this is. It launched in 2020 promising to neutralise odour with botanical extracts and absorb wetness with bamboo powder and we were impressed from our first try. It comes in coconut, cedarwood and eucalyptus scents, all without aluminium and glides under our armpits with no trouble at all. Until Boots restocks the shelves you can find this in Sainburys in the eucalyptus fragrance.
If you're looking for plastic-free beauty Wild needs to be on your radar. They sell chic aluminium cases for your deodorant (aqua, coral or silver) and you choose the fragrance of natural deodorant to go inside. They're packaged in paper so there's no plastic at any stage of this product and the refill itself will fully compost within six months and biodegrade within 12. Our editorial director Victoria likes the Orange Zest scent but other options include Mint Fresh, Rose Blush, Bergamot Rituals, Orange Zest and Coconut Dreams. Sodium bicarbonate controls odour and citric acid helps stop the growth of odour causing bacteria while tapioca starch absorbs moisture to keep armpits dry. There's also a plethora of moisturising ingredients in the mix to keep armpits soft such as sunflower seed wax and shea butter.
Aesop’s fine, quick-drying mist will appeal to spray-on deodorant fans with the fresh, zesty and subtly herby scent. This alcohol and essential oil-based formula kept us smelling aromatic in day to day wear, but the gym on the other hand, is clearly the toughest test for any deodorant and unfortunately this didn’t take the edge of extreme spinning sweats. For the daily grind, it feels like a luxe and safe alternative to more dubious antiperspirants, with the emphasis on the ‘luxe’ element; £23 for deodorant is seriously steep for a basic personal care item. If money’s no object and you prize your pits, go right ahead. Otherwise, use sparingly on special occasions, although that suggestion seems more apt for an eau de parfum than a deodorant. Your call.
Coconut oil neutralises bacteria to prevent unpleasant smell, tea tree fights bacteria and charcoal removes pore-clogging bacteria. We smeared a pea-sized amount on our underarms and it worked like a charm. No embarrassing moments, no sweat marks, no sticky feeling when you get off the tube, in fact, the only thing we did notice was how un-intrusive it was, which quite frankly is exactly what you want from a deodorant.
With a pleasing coconut and vanilla scent, this natural deodorant keeps you odour free with magnesium which safely neutralises odours for up to 24 hours. It also allows magnesium to be absorbed transdermally (through the skin) for your daily dose of the anti-inflammatory, blood-pressure-lowering mineral.
"The only ingredient in this is ‘ammonium alum’, AKA mineral salt so our expectations were very low; the packaging isn’t particularly impressive and we assumed that without all those controversial yet trusty chemicals it wouldn’t work very well.
We could not have been more wrong. Applying after the shower when skin is still wet (or wetting the stick first), this is the only tricky bit - it doesn’t feel like you’re putting much on and as it’s completely clear it’s hard to tell whether it’s working. The benefits far outweigh any odd application though; there are no white marks when putting clothes on, it dries super fast, and even after a day of a long walk, shopping and cleaning the house we still smelt shower-fresh despite the fact we'd definitely worked up a bit of a sweat. Even our clothes had no tell-tale unwanted scents at the arms when we undressed at the end of the day.
Originally created for men but with a big unisex following, this refreshing natural deodorant is scented with rosemary, eucalyptus and sage, neutralising bacteria (and thus odours) with diatomaceous earth (a sedimentary rock often used in beauty products). Tea tree essential oils reduce odours with clary sage controls sebum levels and eucalyptus sanitises the skin. All the odour neutralising powers make this a great choice for the gym, but if you do choose to wear it under your best clothes rest assured that the gel formula doesn't come off onto your clothes and keeps yellow marks at bay.
We really put this through its paces, wearing it in personal training sessions, in a double back-to-back run/HIIT session, on a 90m minute bike ride and to some very hardcore spin sessions and you know what? Absolutely no smelly armpits. Amazing. How it works we're not quite sure (it's a concoction of natural ingredients including natural mineral salts, organic aloe vera and baking soda) but it is fragrance, aluminium, alcohol and paraben-free, it doesn't leave marks on your tops, is suitable for vegans and has won many awards. I can see why. You can even spray it on your feet as it feels like you are just spraying on water. The only pitfall is that we got through whole thing in a month because you need quite a few spritzes to cover your whole armpit.
Natrual deodorants won’t stop you sweating like an antiperspirant (they contain no pore-clogging aluminium) but where they score is their ability to zap whiff-causing bacteria with natural ingredients, rather than simply masking them with artificial scents that clash with your perfume.This unisex gel stick formula by this sensitive skin-friendly brand is up there among the best. It has a subtle, fresh smell from eucalyptus extract – known for its antiseptic and antibacterial qualities and odour-neutralizing citronellyl.
It felt smooth, moisturizing and not at all sticky to apply. We trialled it over several hours on a crowded tube commute and a school run under an armpit-hugging T-shirt. We perspired a bit, but there was no eau-de-bacteria, just a pleasant and barely-detectable piney smell. It says not to use on broken skin, but we used it an hour or so after shaving without a sting. And we learned something new from their website, which says: ‘If transitioning from a pore-clogging antiperspirant, please allow two weeks as your body adjusts. When pores are “unclogged”, your system may overcompensate, producing more water as the “flood gates” open. Your body will soon reach a natural equilibrium, allowing our deodorant to perform effectively, eliminating odour.' It’s on the pricey side for a deodorant, but apparently lasts months, so worth the investment as it performs highly.
If you like a strongly scented deodorant for extra reassurance, the botanical scent of this roll-on will be right up your street. It's formulated with natural liquorice root extract, known for its soothing, antimicrobial properties, and natural astringent witch hazel distillate, which helps to calm the skin/ If you're not a citrus fan, there's a pomegranate fragrance and a sea buckthorn scent too.
Potassium is the main ingredient in this natural roll-on deodorant, used for its antimicrobial properties (i.e. it kills odour creating bacteria). The scent is fairly delicate and while it doesn't prevent sweating it's effective at keeping odour at bay.
LA brand Agent Nateur, famed for their natural deodorant, teamed up with supplement brand Aime for this subtly citrus-scented roll-on. It has a slightly powdery feel but goes on clear. While we wouldn't wear this on days we're exercising, it's good for a chilled day. It contains probiotics that help regulate skin flora to work against the breeding of bacteria that cause unwanted odour.
Created using superfine, powdered botanicals such as arrowroot and pure kaolin, this cream deodorant that you rub on like a face cream works by sitting invisibly on the skin, ready to absorb your natural perspiration throughout the day. Not only does it keep your armpits dry, but Teatree, Eucalyptus and Peppermint also inhibit bacteria. Along with other natural fragrances such as Lavender and Bergamot, it promises to keep you super fresh and limit unwanted stinkiness. We tested it on plenty of sweaty workouts and were still odour free at the end of the day - a pot lasts about six months, generally.
Another favourite of Victoria's, this fuss-free roll-on is great for sensitive skin despite the fact it has a fragrance - which is actually very pleasant. It refreshes the underarms with aloe vera leaf juice, while zinc oxide minimises bacteria growth.