3 Organic Deodorants That Actually Work

Organic deodorant: closeup on a woman's underarm

If you're like most people, you probably assume that organic deodorants don't actually work. You might be thinking the only thing that will keep away the stink is the super-powered, hard-core, scented antiperspirants. But it turns out that there are some fantastic organic deodorants out there that work really well if you use them correctly.

Is there a particular reason to use organic or natural deodorant over the standard deodorant sticks from the drugstore? Well, if you're concerned about your exposure to harsh chemicals or questionable ingredients like triclosan, then yes.

Natural and organic deodorants tend to be aluminum-free and nontoxic, using natural antimicrobials instead of the harsh stuff. Just like with other natural and organic beauty products, the best ones have a base of natural and organic ingredients that you’ll recognize, which will help give you peace of mind about what you're putting on your skin.

Some of the best ingredients in natural deodorant are already in your kitchen cabinet, so you could even try making one yourself to see how it works. We'll go over the most common ingredients in natural deodorants and offer some suggestions on brands and types that might work best for you.

Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant

Organic deodorant: Woman leans with one arm up

Deodorant is all about removing and concealing smells. Body odor comes from the mixing of bacteria and sweat that accumulates in the warm, enclosed area of your underarm, so deodorant's main function is to cut or mask that odor. The main tools for doing that are fragrances, drying agents, and possibly some antimicrobial ingredients.

Antiperspirant takes it a step further by blocking the sweat itself, usually by including aluminum chlorohydrate in the antiperspirant formula. The main difference is that one masks or cuts the odor, while the other blocks the sweat glands entirely.

Antiperspirants and Breast Cancer

You've probably heard about claims that aluminum-containing antiperspirants are linked to breast cancer. You might have also heard similar claims about parabens and possibly other chemicals found in conventional antiperspirants. According to the American Cancer Society, these concerns are largely unfounded, but the rumors remain.

These rumors likely emerged because most breast cancers occur in the outer, upper quadrant of the breast, close to the under arm, and the lymph nodes there are often vulnerable.

Additionally, women are much more likely to shave their armpits, which could result in nicks and cuts, through which antiperspirants and deodorants can enter the bloodstream. The American Cancer Society explains that even this fact doesn't mean that using antiperspirants increases your chances of getting breast cancer.

All this being said, there are some experts who advise against prolonged aluminum exposure due to potential neurological ill-effects. So if you’d prefer to be cautious, you can stick with aluminum-free deodorant rather than antiperspirant for extra peace of mind.

Main Ingredients in Organic Deodorant

Organic deodorant: Woman sits with both arms up over her head, revealing her armpits

Makers of organic and all-natural deodorants turn to nature to find the best ingredients. Like we said, many of these ingredients are probably in your kitchen or bathroom cabinet right now. Baking soda, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter are all commonly found in natural deodorants.

Other ingredients you might find include organic arrowroot powder (great for those looking for a baking soda-free formula), tallow (rendered cow fat), and organic essential oils like antibacterial tea tree oil or other fragrant oils. Ingredients like these perform the functions we mentioned above – deodorizing and killing bacteria.

Baking soda, arrowroot powder, kaolin clay, and cornstarch soak up moisture and block the odor associated with it. Think about why you put an open box of baking soda at the back of your refrigerator. It's so that it will suck up any undesirable smells if food starts to go bad. It’s the same idea in deodorant. The other options provide an alternative for those with sensitive skin who might have a reaction to baking soda.

Coconut oil, tallow, shea butter, and cocoa butter all soothe, moisturize, and provide the bulky substrate that holds stick deodorant and deodorant creams together. Some companies use vegetable glycerin, beeswax, or candelilla wax to thicken up the blend as well.

All of these oils, butters, and waxes are saturated at room temperature (although coconut oil has the lowest melting point), so they work well in the more substantial stick deodorant formulas. Coconut oil has the added bonus of being antimicrobial and antifungal, so it can do double duty in a deodorant.

Essential oils perform the task of masking body odor with something more pleasant, in addition to offering antimicrobial properties. We mentioned tea tree oil, but other organic oils that can work include:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemongrass
  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint
  • Bergamot
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Clove
  • Basil
  • Rosemary

You've probably notice that many of the deodorants at your local health foods store feature these natural ingredients in their varieties.

What About Those Crystal Deodorants?

Organic deodorant: Woman performs a plank pose on a yoga mat

The clear, crystalline rocks and roll-on deodorants you see in the natural section seem like a pretty decent solution, but what are those things made of? Crystal deodorants are mainly made up of a mineral called potassium alum, technically a natural ingredient. (Remember, just because something is a natural product doesn't automatically mean it's good for you. Arsenic is natural, yet highly toxic.)

If you're concerned about aluminum exposure, you'll probably want to skip the crystals.

3 Best Natural and Organic Deodorants

The best organic deodorants are the ones that work for you. While we can't guarantee that any particular brand will have everything you ever wanted in a natural deodorant, we've found the ones that are most likely to work for daily use. We recommend that you apply your all-natural deodorant to clean, dry under arms just after a bath or shower.

Weleda Deodorant Spray

This product uses alcohol and essential oils as the main antimicrobial and odor-fighting ingredients. It's baking soda-free, aluminum-free, and holds up over time. Just be careful if you're freshly shaved, as the alcohol might sting. Weleda deodorant spray comes in three different fragrances: sage, citrus, and wild rose. They also offer a number of roll-on deodorants.

Primal Pit Paste

Primal Pit Paste offers a uniquely effective solution for natural deodorant. With eight fragrances to choose from, it comes either as a stick deodorant or a deodorant cream and is made with a base of coconut oil and shea butter. Primal uses aluminum-free baking soda and organic essential oils for fragrance. Our favorite fragrance is the coconut lime. It’s fresh and keeps you feeling clean all day.

Stank Stop by FatCo

Besides having the best deodorant name and most hilarious marketing campaign, this organic deodorant emphasizes effectiveness and purity. Featuring tallow from grass-fed cows, coconut oil, arrowroot, baking soda, and organic essential oils, this deodorant is hands-down the best natural deodorant on the market as far as we're concerned.

The only difference between the women's formula and the men's are the essential oil-based fragrances, so you can decide for yourself which fragrance you prefer and how you want to apply it: a spray or a cream? This stuff is amazing but a little pricey, so if you're curious but don't want to spend the full $21 right away, you can give their 1-ounce deodorant cream a try to test it out.

Your Organic Skincare Routine

Organic deodorant: Woman flexes her arm muscles after a workout

Organic deodorant is only one part of your lineup of organic body care. Whether you're searching for organic shampoo, organic lip balm, organic makeup, or organic face wash, you've come to the right place to find the skinny on the best products on the market.

We understand how important it is to use clean skincare products — especially in the delicate and sensitive areas like your underarms, lips, and face — so we're dedicated to sharing our favorite brands and products, in addition to creating our own line of amazingly clean skincare that will leave you feeling fresh and ready to face the day.

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