Natural deodorants have a reputation for being weaker and unable to keep sweat at bay, but these tried-and-tested environmentally-friendly favourites work just as well as their aluminium counterparts.
Deodorant’s part of pretty much everyone’s daily routine, but a lot of us are reaching for the antiperspirant without knowing what’s inside the can. Let’s get things straight: antiperspirants and deodorants are two different things. The former usually uses aluminium salts to plug pores and stop sweating, while the latter simply disperses or covers up body odour. For that reason, many aluminium-free deodorants don’t help with sweating, but they do help stop bacteria from breaking down sweat and releasing body odour.
It turns out there’s a lot of calculation behind creating an aluminium-free deodorant that’ll stop odour rather than simply mask it. “A number of different ingredients can help reduce sweating without stopping it completely,” explains Dr Simon Jackson, founder of botanical brand Modern Botany and creator of the first natural antiperspirant.
“Antibacterial essential oils like eucalyptus and lemon tea tree ward off bacteria, therefore eliminating odour. Astringents like witch hazel and tannins dry out the underarms and reduce pore size. Aluminium definitely isn’t necessary.”
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I grew up using aluminium-free deodorants. After rebelling in university and using antiperspirants that would see me through a sweaty student union night to an 8am lecture, my underarms turned dark grey.
It was bacteria reacting to the aluminium that my underarms obviously weren’t used to, so I hastily returned back to the aluminium-free life. I’ve finally found a number of deodorants and one antiperspirant that do actually work – and smell pretty amazing.
If I’ve learned one thing after years of trialling different formulas, my number one tip is this: apply twice the amount that you would normally for best results, and keep one in your bag/at your desk to top up once or twice during the day. If you can wash your armpits twice a day too, even better. It’s a small change to your daily routine and seems like a pain, but it’s more than worth it.
Best natural deodorants
The Natural Deodorant Co. Clean Deodorant Balm Orange + Bergamot
Posting on her Instagram Stories, Fearne Cotton captioned a picture of this deodorant, “I love this stuff!” If it’s good enough for her, then it’s good enough for us: free of parabens, palm oil and preservatives, it’s also cruelty free and vegan. Plus, the packaging is fully recyclable, and it comes in tinier sizes for transporting. Tick, tick, tick.
Shop The Natural Deodorant Co. Clean Deodorant Balm Orange + Bergamot at The Natural Deodorant Co., £12.50
Cowshed Deodorant Spray
It’s a little bit drippy after the first spray, but seriously keeps odour away all day long - plus the blend of peppermint, lemongrass and aloe vera smells unbelievably fresh.
Shop Cowshed Deodorant Spray at Cowshed, £12
Aesop Deodorant Roll-On
This alcohol-free formula uses zinc, wasabi and sage leaf to combat bacteria with an earthy scent. Aesop’s classic brown glass protects the product inside from UV rays, lessening the use of preservatives.
Shop Aesop Deodorant Roll-On at Cult Beauty, £23
L’Occitane Citrus Verbena Deodorant Stick
This sparkling, super fresh scent is enough to make you quit aluminium for good. And while it doesn’t last as long as the others, you won’t mind whipping it out a couple of times a day thanks to the rustic lemon yellow packaging.
Shop L’Occitane Citrus Verbena Deodorant Stick at L’Occitane, £17.50
Aurelia Botanical Cream Deodorant
Stylist’s beauty director Shannon Peter swears by this natural deodorant by Aurelia. “It takes a little while to get used to applying it with your hands, but honestly, it’s the best deodorant I’ve ever tried. It smells minty, herby and delicious and is just as powerful as its heavyweight drugstore equivalents.”
Shop Aurelia Botanical Cream Deodorant at Cult Beauty, £18
Modern Botany Deodorant
Modern Botany’s antiperspirant formula uses tannins (the stuff in red wine and tea that gives you a dry mouth) and witch hazel to simultaneously dry out your underarms, reduce pore size and carry the antibacterial essential oils straight to the site of action so they can ward off bacteria. Clever stuff.
Shop Modern Botany Deodorant at Modern Botany, £22
Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant
The eucalyptus in this is pretty potent in getting rid of bacteria (one slick at the end of the day sorts out any odour that’s built up) but it doesn’t smell too strong. It doesn’t feel sticky and weightlessly sinks straight into the skin.
Shop Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant at Space NK, £12
PiperWai Natural Deodorant Jar
This is hands down the best natural deodorant I’ve ever tried. Don’t hate me, though – it’s only available in the US. They do ship to the UK, and trust me – it’s worth the customs charge. Either use a tiny scoop from the jar (which lasts you for most of a year) or use their stick version. The activated charcoal neutralises odour and moisture, and spreads across skin easily with a dry touch.
Shop PiperWai Natural Deodorant Jar at PiperWai, £9.15
Ho Karan Detox Deodorant
Alum stone keeps this miracle rollerball from feeling too wet, plus cannabis sativa seed oil and aloe soothe skin and combat underarm eczema.
Shop Ho Karan Detox Deodorant at Harvey Nichols, £18
Agent Nateur holi(stick) No.3 Deodorant
With coconut oil, beeswax and avocado butter, you’d think this is a skin-soothing body butter - but sweat-absorbing baking soda and eucalyptus stop it from feeling greasy. Our underarms get shaved, scrubbed with harsh soap, and rub up against clothing all day, so the nourishing ingredients in this one work well as an overnight treatment that also keeps sweat under wraps.
Shop Agent Nateur holi(stick) No.3 Deodorant at Net-A-Porter, £19
Dr. Hauschka Sage and Mint Deodorant
There’s just something about mint that refreshes and awakens your skin and senses like nothing else. This liquid formula uses the herb to its full advantage, leaving a satisfying tingling sensation that feels like it’s actually cleaning you, and a subtle scent that lasts for hours.
Shop Dr. Hauschka Sage and Mint Deodorant at lookfantastic, £13
Schmidt's Coconut & Pineapple Sensitive Natural Deodorant
Nothing can really beat Schmidt’s in my opinion – not only does the formula truly, truly work, their range of scents is incredible. Whether it’s the rose and vanilla that got the brand famous, this tropical coconut and pineapple, lime and bergamot, or my favourite lavender and sage, there’s really something for everyone.
Buy Schmidt’s Coconut & Pineapple Sensitive Natural Deodorant at Asos, £8.50.