I've Been Using Natural Deodorant For Over A Year: Here's What I Think


Three Popular Natural Deodorant Brands

In January of 2019 I walked through the aisles of Target and picked up my first two sticks of natural deodorant (along with several other things I didn't need, I'm sure). Advertisements for new aluminum- and paraben-free deodorants had been all over my social media feeds for months. It seemed like lifestyle and beauty influencers from all across the Internet had a stick of natural deodorant in their medicine cabinet, smiling and proselytizing about the products' more "natural" and "healthy" qualities. No more nasty, pore-clogging, potentially cancer-causing chemicals, ladies! One day on my commute home from work, I even saw I gigantic billboard off the freeway advertising Native deodorant.

After months of advertising and subliminal messaging, I finally gave in and decided to see what all the fuss was about.

The Natural Beauty Revolution

At the time, natural deodorant was the latest craze in a beauty revolution that was a long time coming. For years, customers cared little about the compounds and ingredients that cosmetics companies put into their products. No doubt, the majority of people didn't even know that questions needed to be asked. This all changed as increasingly scrupulous and health-conscious consumers began questioning the ingredient lists of many beauty and personal hygiene products. This wave of customer empowerment has sparked revolutions in the production of everything from household cleaners and detergents to textiles.

While I am 100% here for more clean, natural, and sustainable products (especially when it comes to products that come in contact with your body), the question must nonetheless be asked: Is all the fuss really warranted? Does natural deodorant actually work?

In terms of the fuss over aluminum in traditional antiperspirants, well... It's too soon to say. There is little scientific data at this point to actually prove that ingredients and preservatives like aluminum and parabens are linked to breast cancer or exist in a high enough concentration in antiperspirants to cause any actual harm. There have been suggestions from early studies about possible links to breast cancer due to these ingredients' estrogen-mimicking qualities if absorbed through the skin, but more studies need to be done. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, Allure magazine has a nice little summary of some of the top controversial beauty ingredients here. As to whether or not these new deodorant sticks really work? Well, read on!

Native and Love Beauty & Planet Natural Deodorants

First Impressions (& the Dreaded Transition Period)

I'm just going to go for the hardest question right up front and not drag it out. Is natural deodorant effective? Is it worth the hype? Well...
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Not really, no. I mean kind of? But no. The natural deodorants I've tried so far just do not hold up quite as long as my old stick of Dove antiperspirant.

That being said, it doesn't mean that there is absolutely no reason to make the switch. Whether or not you will actually use natural deodorant inevitably comes down to your own personal preferences and your unique individual microbiome. There is currently no actual proof that any of the ingredients in traditional deodorants are harmful, but there is also not yet conclusive proof that they aren't. I'm not going to frame it like a life or death roll of the dice, but it's something to keep in mind and a reality that you must decide if you're comfortable with. Additionally, some people's bodies just DO NOT mesh well with natural deodorants. I've heard of people getting rashes or having uncomfortable itching reactions to certain products. Some people also naturally sweat more than others and have more powerful body odors that require a more heavy-duty product, and that is 100% okay! These products simply will not do the trick for everyone. For me, they work fine enough that I still use it.

So now that that's out of the way, let's talk about my first impressions.

The first two sticks I picked up were Native's coconut & vanilla deodorant and Love Beauty & Planet's rose-scented deodorant (both of which smell great on their own). Now, when I bought these I knew absolutely nothing about this little thing called a "transition period." In short, it is a period of time following the switch away from aluminum-laden antiperspirants where the communities of bacteria located on your underarms undergo a change in makeup in response (some refer to this process as a "detox" although I don't know if I'd go that far). This process results in a spike in odor that typically lasts 2-4 weeks (although for me I honestly felt like it lasted 2-3 months) before the bacteria naturalize and the odor recedes.

When I read a lot of negative reviews of natural deodorant or hear people say "it doesn't work for me, it makes me smell worse," what people are usually describing is this transition period. It's funky. It's not cute. Your pits will be damp, you'll probably need to reapply throughout the day to avoid excessive odor, and you'll need to wash your armpits really well when you shower. You'll simply have to ride it out. Once you get through this period though, things start to get much better.

I've been using natural deodorant for over a year now and my armpits don't get damp anymore like they used to in the beginning. Even when I work out the sweat and moisture are nothing crazy, so antiperspirant isn't something I feel like I particularly miss. I do, however, find myself needing to reapply sometimes still. In this regard, the deodorants I have tried don't hold up as well as Dove when it comes to all-day odor prevention.

Below I break down all 3 natural deodorants I've tried to far.

Love Beauty & Planet

My favorite deodorant so far has probably been the murumuru butter and rose stick from Love Beauty & Planet. Of the three, it actually has the lowest customer rating online, something I'm a bit surprised by. The predominant complaint seems to be that this deodorant doesn't "dry down" very well, and while the formula is a bit slicker than others I haven't had a problem with lingering dampness. The formula of this particular stick is actually one of the things I like most about it. It rolls on very smoothly and easily and doesn't leave behind any messy residue, something I can't really say for the other deodorants I've tried.

Another thing I like about this particular product is the odor protection. Of the three, Love Beauty & Planet lasted the longest and it was rare that I had to reapply in the middle of the day. I don't know if I'd grant it the full 24 hours of odor protection that the product claims, but it still does pretty well. It became my go-to deodorant whenever I was traveling, camping, or hiking, and I will probably be repurchasing it in the future.

My biggest critique is that I would not recommend buying this as your very first natural deodorant. The transition funk is real, and in the beginning I relied much more on the stick of Native deodorant that I bought at the same time. This formula isn't quite robust enough to really be able to handle all the extra odor and wetness that occurs when trying out natural deodorant for the first time, another reason why I think this deodorant actually rates a little lower than others. I actually put this deodorant away in a drawer at one point, not really satisfied with its initial performance (and on the verge of giving up on natural deodorant altogether). When I later brought it out again (the craziness in my armpits had settled down at this point), I actually found that I really liked it and took back my initial reservations.

A stick of this goes for about $6.99 for 2.95 oz, making it the most affordable option of the three listed here.

Schmidt's Natural Deodorant

Native

While Native can't really claim the title of "The Original" natural deodorant (that title would probably go to Schmidt's), I do think the company had a strong hand in popularizing natural deodorant and bringing it into the mainstream. Founded in 2015 in an apartment in San Francisco, it was purchased by P&G in 2017 for $100 million and has been occupying grocery and department store shelves ever since. I had pretty much already made up my mind when I was making the switch that I was going to pick up a stick of Native deodorant (the Love Beauty & Planet deodorant was more of an impulse buy), and as a popular brand, it definitely commands a steep price. At about $12 for 2.65 oz, it is both the most expensive and comes in the smallest size.

My opinion of this product is a little biased as I was going through a gross time for my underarms when I was using it. While the coconut and vanilla scent is divine (it's their bestselling scent), this deodorant never really seemed to hold up for an entire day and I always felt like I smelled a little less than fresh by the evening. In comparison to the Love Beauty & Planet deodorant, this formula didn't go on nearly as smoothly and often left a sticky, balmy residue on my underarms (and made a mess of the canister). Admittedly, I should probably try this deodorant again in order to get a more fair opinion, but the high price and the availability of tons of other natural deodorant brands means that it probably will be a little bit before I come back around to this one. 

Schmidt's

Schmidt's is a brand that consistently makes lists for the best natural deodorants (and also the brand I am currently using in the jasmine tea scent). Born in a kitchen in Portland, OR in 2010, this company is rooted in modest beginnings and opened the door for what is now a thriving market. It was purchased by Unilever in 2017, around the time that natural deodorants really began to take off and become widely available. At about $10.99 it's not that far behind Native in terms of price, but it also comes in the largest size on this list at 3.25 oz. 

I have been using it for about four months now and while I think I like this brand better than Native, it still doesn't really hold up all day. The formula also has an unfortunate habit of clumping and drying. I can literally lift my arms several hours later and brush off tried clumps of deodorant (although to be fair, I might just be applying too much). That being said, this deodorant does still smell pretty good and is a great bet for anyone with sensitive skin for whom other brands have given them rashes or other skin breakouts. I have also seen many positive reviews claiming that this deodorant is one of the best for transitioning into using natural deodorant. 

Final Thoughts

Is natural deodorant for everyone? No. If you are especially prone to sweat or body odor, natural deodorant probably will not provide the barrier or protection you need to stay fresh and odor-free all day long. At least not based on products I've tried so far (but there are literally dozens out there). Natural deodorants also tend to cost a little bit more than their aluminum-based counterparts (I had a little bit of sticker shock with the Native deodorant).

One thing I can definitely say that I don't miss about my old Dove deodorant is the white residue stains that always transferred to my clothes. Even brands that claimed to be transfer-resistant still inevitably caused buildup in the underarms of my shirts, a problem that I haven't once encountered in any of the natural deodorants I've tried.

Have a favorite natural deodorant brand? Which one should I try next? 

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