My mother died from breast cancer in 2016. The cancer was first detected because of lumps in her armpits and by that time, it had spread pretty extensively. A year after diagnosis, she died and I was left wondering what had just happened to my world.
A couple of things kept running through my head. Her oncologists told me to never do hormone treatment therapy (her cancer was estrogen dominant) and to change my deodorant. Immediately.
To that point in my life (I was 30), I'd never thought much about deodorant other than it was necessary to stay fresh and dry. I really didn't know much about what toxins conventional deodorants contained, nor the connections they had to breast cancer. It was my mother's cancer that put me on a path to be as clean and natural in all products that I can be, and it all started with my search for a clean deodorant that worked.
Then, there weren't many options. But as more research continues to make us aware of the dangers of the chemicals in conventional deodorants, and the benefit (yes, benefit) of sweat to our body, we are seeing more clean and effective deodorants available.
Smells Great, Still Wet
The biggest thing you have to remember when using a natural deodorant that really works is that a deodorant is just that--a remover of odor. An antiperspirant is very different. Antiperspirants block your sweat glands and prevent them from producing sweat. If you don't sweat, you're not wet, and theoretically, don't smell.
But there is where the problem starts. Sweating is important for our bodies to detox and maintain temperature control, organ function and so much more. Additionally, most common antiperspirants contain aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium and those have both been linked to several diseases like breast cancer and Alzehimer's. They have also been linked to gene instability, and more research is being done regularly as more women are being diagnosed with cancers and other diseases earlier than ever before.
So what do you do? Well, you have to just give several the old college-try. There are many ingredients natural deodorants contain that help prevent wetness and odor by killing the bacteria that is creating the odor and absorbing the excess wetness so you don't feel so...pitty. Natural powders like baking soda, kaolin clay, arrowroot and corn starch are the main ingredients, but different bodies react differently. I have no issue with baking soda, but my husband definitely does. Our skins are living and breathing as well and you may have to try a couple to figure out what works best for you.
Don't despair, though, as we've polled moms, reviews and tried them ourselves so we could find the best natural deodorants that really work. We don't like having smelly, sweaty underarms any more than the next Mama, so you can relax since we've done the initial work for you. All you need to do is try them out to find out which is your best fit.
Top 10 Natural Deodorants That Really Work
1. Spirit Nest Lavender Moon
Spirit Nest Lavender Moon is non-toxic and made with only five ingredients--all 100% vegan. They make the deodorant in small batches in Indiana and are committed to being friendly to animals, people and the earth. It keeps you fresh and smell-free, and the baking soda inside helps keep wetness at bay. The lavender essential oil adds to the calm and pleasant feeling you get not being smelly and wet.
2. Clay Dry Organics Silk
So many mamas love this as an alternative to a baking-soda based deodorant because it uses clay, plants (Lichen) and witch hazel to absorb wetness. It rolls on smoothly, and the natural antiperspirant qualities of the clay and Lichen help keep you dry for hours. The Sandalwood scent is earthy and grounding and many mamas say they can go from dawn to dusk without even thinking about a reapply. That's probably because the ionic clay minerals are a group of more than 57 trace minerals that absorb odor and balance skin pH!
3. Play Pits Sonshine
In 2018, Chantel Powell picked her six-year-old son up from basketball practice and found he 'smelled like a grown man!' She didn't find a single thing in stores that she felt was safe enough for his precious skin, or that smelled good enough and was fun enough for her boy. That's where mama-ingenuity and love comes in. She created her own deodorant and her son, Kameron, loved it so much he told her she should make it for everyone.
She laughed that off at first, but after Kameron kept insisting his mama had a fab product under his arms, she offered it initially to other team moms and from there, word of mouth spread. Her Sonshine and Suga were so popular, she ended up creating products for the entire family, including the King and Queen line for adults. The best part is that each of the natural and vegan ingredients in Play Pits' products was personally hand-selected, tested and molded with the love of a mother. Chantel only wanted non-toxic ingredients that were safe for everyone, so that means no parabens, synthetic fragrances or aluminum. Instead, Play Pits' specialized formula is designed to kill odors, absorb bacteria and keep your whole family fresh all day and night. We love that this female minority-owned small business has taken the sweat world by storm!
4. Real Purity Roll-On
So this stuff really surprised some of our mamas who were trying it because they said they found they didn't even have to put more on the next day sometimes, the bacteria and odor were non-existent! It's full of essential oils that fight bacteria, and we mean FULL of them. It's got a strong smell, but we like it, and the wetness fighters like apricot and rosemary oils seem to do the job well. It's great for sensitive skin too, so a great choice if powders irritate you.
5. Primal Pit Paste
One of the firsts to come out as natural alternatives, they've moved up out of the jar (although they still have that and people swear by it) into roll-ons too. Primal Pit neutralizes odor by killing the bacteria and they use powders and essential oils to absorb wetness and keep you fresh. Plus they've added candelilla wax for heat stability and we love that they're still made with care right there in Austin, Texas, by a group of people who just want to take care of earth and their fellow humans. Win.
6. Earth Mama Organic Deodorant Mini-Pack
We've always loved Earth Mama (what's not to love?) and we adore this mini-deodorant set because you can get the best of all their deodorant worlds in one adorable box. Find your pit-fix and make it yours forever.
Earth Mama has worked super hard to make this the perfect deodorant for those with sensitive skin, and that INCLUDES baking soda. Yes, they know--they made it with just the perfect balance of magnesium and baking soda to make it work but not irritate. It's formulated especially for sensitive skin, pregnant mamas or breastfeeding mamas and the only fragrance comes from organic essential oils. The only non-vegan ingredient is organic beeswax, but even that was of course ethically sourced in a bee-centric manner. There's nothing bad like propylene glycol or parabens or aluminum and it's so good it was NSF/ANSI 305 certified by Oregon Tilth.
7. Charleston Bath Works Funk? No! Deodorant
When Shelby Parbel moved to Charleston, South Carolina in 2009, she learned that the hot weather and high temperatures meant that deodorant had to be ON POINT and really work. Especially if you're going to ever go outside. She tried every natural deodorant she could find, and was disappointed. Wanting to keep her friends by taking the stank away, she resorted to those chemical antiperspirants but she couldn't give up on the dream of a natural deodorant that worked. Hence...Funk? No! It has probiotics in it to eat those nasty, odor-causing bacteria that like to get up all in your pits, but is there funk? No! Because this stuff is awesome! All hand-made too!
8. American Provenance Fastballs and Fisticuffs
We know, we know...getting guys to try something GOOD for them can be tough. That's why we love American Provenance. This deodorant has no harsh chemicals, preservatives, artificial fragrances or anything else bad for you and every purchase helps the earth. Working with TerraCycle, for every deodorant tube you send in, American Provenance will give you $2 credit toward your next purchase. That means for ever five empty tubes you send in? You get a free deodorant and help the earth. Plus. the woodsy/herbal smell is super popular with the guys!
In 2010, Jamie Schmidt was pregnant and was experimenting with some pit recipes in her home kitchen. She actually was experimenting with lots of natural recipes, and she wanted to use good-for-you ingredients and essential oils. Creating Schmidt's, she helped fill a void in the natural deodorant department and worked toward changing the stigma behind natural deodorants not really working. Her plant-based product not only helped her family stay fresh and smell great, but it worked for everyone else who tried it too!
Schmidt's has two lines of natural deodorant--sensitive skin and signature--and they've won several awards. The signature line uses a balance of magnesium and baking soda to help neutralize odor from bacteria and to keep you feeling fresh. The sensitive line is made without baking soda, to give those who want effective odor protection that is gentle on skin an option. It relies solely on magnesium to neutralize the odor. There are never any artificial fragrances to prevent irritation, and all their deodorants are aluminum-free, vegan, cruelty-free, free of fillers and gender-neutral.
10. Botanik Fresh Evergreen
A lot of mamas love the scent of this because it really is fresh and clean, but guess what? A lot of the guys love it too because they say it is earthy and more like what they're 'used' to. While it's more uncommon for men to get breast cancer than women, it does happen, and men don't need junk in their bodies any more than women do. That's why this is a great unisex option that will do the job, even if your man says he just sweats too much for anything else (or is that just mine?). It has arrowroot, baking soda and scotch pine to fight odor and wetness, among other things, and goes on in a convenient stick that even 'looks' more like a conventional deodorant. If you're looking to get the men in your life to try something better, this is a great first start.
11. Thirsty's Naturals
We're all about using good bacteria to fight bad bacteria, and that's why we love that Thirsty's Naturals! No aluminum or baking soda, but Saccharomyces Ferment--an active that breaks down bad bacteria and reduces body odor. The bergamot, spearmint, sweet orange combo is intoxicating, and it also has Diatomaceous Earth to help battle odor and absorb moisture. Bones? It helps draw heavy metals and toxins from the body. Winning!
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