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We tested 7 natural deodorants—here’s what happened

Aluminum-free deodorants can be intimidating (and potentially disastrous). See which ones actually work.
By Isabella Biedenharn  Published on 07/24/2018 at 12:43 PM EST
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Have you ever pondered getting out of the aluminum-based deodorant and antiperspirant game? With so many natural deodorants on the market, it can be hard to know where to start—especially if you don’t want to waste your money with a product that will leave you a sweaty, smelly mess.

That’s where we come in. We wanted to dive into the world of paraben- and aluminum-free natural “deos,” as they’re called, and see what all the fuss is about. So you don’t have to, we tested seven natural brands during an extremely hot summer in NYC to learn which products work the best, smell the best, are easy to apply, and most importantly—last the longest. Several options are vegan and cruelty free.

Click through the gallery below to see which were most effective—and be sure to tell us in the comments below if there are any natural deodorants you’ve tried!

Best Application (tie): type:A deodorant

If you’re used to using a traditional stick-type deodorant, it can be strange to dip into the world of natural deos, many of which come in a paste you apply with your fingers. In my trials, I ended up having a tie for “Best Application.”

Type:A has a great application: It’s in a squeezable tube with a rounded head, where the product comes out of three small openings. Easy and comfortable to apply, and no need to wash your hands after!

This aluminum-free deodorant uses ingredients like baking soda and zeolite (a naturally-occurring mineral compound) to fight odor, and organic, vegetable-derived glycerin and arrowroot powder to keep moisture at bay. We tried it in “The Visionary,” a delicious scent type:A describes as “clean crisp citron,” which almost smelled like something I wanted to eat. The cruelty-free company also makes an unscented version, though personally, I’m looking for my deodorants to pull double duty: hide B.O. and give me a fresh, subtle scent.

I wore type:A on a particularly active and stressful workday, and by about 6 p.m. I started to smell a little… ripe. But to be fair, my normal deodorant (Old Spice men’s) is usually done by that time, too.

Purchase The Visionary on typeadeodorant.com starting at $6.

Best Application (tie): Kopari

I tried Kopari’s Coconut Deo on a beach vacation, and I can’t think of a more perfect product to have brought along—with vegan ingredients that include coconut oil, coconut water and sage oil, the scent made me feel like I wasn’t in New Jersey but actually on some glorious, hidden beach in Hawaii. The product has a half-spherical head (basically like a rollerball that neither rolls nor is a ball), which allowed for such an easy application I wondered why all deodorants aren’t made in this shape (and I’m still wondering). While some natural deodorants feel a little sticky after application, Kopari’s left me feeling soft and smooth.

When I tried it again back in the real world (read: my office), Kopari’s deodorant didn’t last quite as long as the others: By 4 p.m., I didn’t smell bad, but my pits failed the Mary Katharine Gallagher-esque finger-test. Still, for a product that donates $1 to the Fuck Cancer organization with every online order, it might be worth a mid-afternoon re-application.

Purchase Coconut Deo on koparibeauty.com for $14.

Best for Sensitive Skin: PiperWai Activated Charcoal Deodorant

Activated charcoal has been a hot ingredient in the beauty and skincare world for quite a while: If you’re plugged into that scene, you’ve seen everything from charcoal face masks to the very freaky-looking charcoal toothpaste. Turns out your underarms can benefit from activated charcoal as well: It absorbs wetness and fights odor. PiperWai’s vegan, cruelty-free product is also specifically formulated for sensitive skin, with ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter and pure vitamin E to soothe skin.

I used PiperWai’s product before an extremely sweaty run, and was pleasantly surprised by the lack of underarm sweat and smell after. The paste itself has a very spa-like scent—minty with a hint of citrus. The only downside is that you apply it with your fingers (which have to be washed afterward), so it’s definitely not the product to grab when you’re rushing out of the house, or to keep in your bag for a midday freshening. However, PiperWai does make the product in stick form as well, so if these things bother you, there’s a very easy fix.

Purchase PiperWai Activated Charcoal Deodorant on Amazon for $16.99.

For those who want an intense fragrance: Agent Nateur No. 3 Deodorant

Agent Nateur’s range of products boasts appealing packaging and fragrances that smell luxurious. I tried their best-selling, aluminum-free Holi(stick) No. 3 deodorant, which contains coconut oil, beeswax, baking soda, avocado butter, castor oil and organic honey (among other ingredients). The product felt a little greasy on application, and it didn’t last all day for me, but if you’re looking for a more intense scent, Agent Nateur might be for you. And if you want a vegan option, you could try the brand’s Sensitive Stick.

(For what it’s worth, my husband started using their men’s product, No. 5, and can’t get enough—even though the sandalwood makes it smell a little too much like incense to me.)

Purchase Agent Nateur Holi(stick) No. 3 deodorant on Nordstrom for $21.

For those who want to pretend they’re wearing regular deodorant: Native Deodorant in Coconut and Vanilla

Native consistently shows up on all best-of natural deodorant lists, and for good reason: It applies in a standard deodorant tube like your Dove, Old Spice, or Secret, and the day I tried it, I found myself lying in bed at 10:30 p.m. and realizing I still smelled nice and fresh. (This was their Coconut & Vanilla scent. I tried to use their special edition Rosé scent a different day, and it smelled so much like a Yankee Candle that I actually took another shower right after I applied it just to get it off.)

Paraben-free, aluminum-free and cruelty-free, Native’s products contain, like many others on this list: arrowroot powder, baking soda, shea butter, coconut oil, hydrogenated castor oil and beeswax. The product itself is a little firmer than some of the others on this list, so I felt like it hurt a bit on application. But other than that, no complaints.

And as a bonus, it’s worth noting that Native has the absolute best customer service emails in the game. A sample of the email you receive after you place an order:

“It was just another mundane day at our office when suddenly, Jackie took a look at the computer and her eyes widened. “We did it,” she exclaimed! “We got an order from Isabella!”

Laura jumped out of her chair and ran to Jackie’s desk. She didn’t even read the entire email—she just saw “Isabella” and started screaming in delight! “O.M.G.” Laura shouted. “This is real! We have an order from Isabella!”

Purchase Native Deodorant on nativecos.com for $12.

For those who hate goo of all kinds: Crystal Body Deodorant Stick (Unscented)

I really think whether or not you like Crystal’s Body Deodorant Stick comes down to personal preference. Crystal is made of mineral salts and is cruelty-free, vegan and hypoallergenic. Perhaps best of all, the product is good for a very long time (this is the first beauty product I’ve ever seen to have a shelf life of “48 months,” according to the packaging).

Application is a little weird—you have to moisten the top of the stone before you apply it, but it still feels strange dragging a wet block of salt across your armpit. The mineral block is much better than Crystal’s deodorant stick products (the Lavender & White Tea wore off midday for me, and it was bad enough that I felt like I had to apologize to coworkers for my stench). The mineral stick kept me relatively B.O. free, but since it’s unscented, I didn’t exactly feel “fresh” wearing it.

Purchase Crystal Deodorant on Amazon for $12.75.

Best All-Around: Soapwalla Deodorant Cream in Citrus

Made by hand in Brooklyn with vegetable powders, clay, and essential oils, Soapwalla’s Citrus Deodorant Cream has a scent that reminds me of a mix between Trix cereal and something from Bath & Body Works’ old aromatherapy line—so suffice it to say I feel instantly soothed with this stuff on. In my three weeks of testing, Soapwalla’s product was the one I went back to the most because I just liked it. You do have to apply it with your fingers, but it absorbs more easily than the PiperWai Charcoal deo, so it’s easier to wash the excess off after. (Though PiperWai’s spreads more easily, so this may come down to personal preference.) And like many of the others, it’s both vegan and cruelty-free to boot.

Purchase Soapwalla Deodorant Cream in Citrus on soapwallakitchen.com for $16.

Plus, enter to win a prize package from type:A deodorant! 

type:A Giveaway

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