We Tried $128 Worth Of Natural Deodorant — Here's What Worked

Erika Stalder

Every time we question whether a personal-care product is truly safe or not, the "answer" we're given is so ambiguous, we might as well be shaking a Magic-8 Ball: "More research is needed." (So much for living in the information age.) Deodorants and antiperspirants that contain aluminum salts are the perfect example. The ingredient, which is used to plug up sweat glands, is brimming with controversy — and vastly differing opinions.

On one hand, nascent studies have detected high levels of aluminum in breast tissue, and researchers continue to look into how absorption of these compounds may cause estrogenic effects, something that can trigger the growth of breast-cancer cells. On the other, the National Cancer Institute says that there’s no connection between breast cancer and antiperspirants, while the Alzheimer's Association points to 40 years of research that shows aluminum not to be a significant health risk.

Raja Sivamani, M.D., a dermatologist and adjunct associate professor of clinical dermatology at UC Davis, has a more nuanced view. ”The current evidence is not conclusive and does not prove that aluminum-based antiperspirants increase the risk for breast cancer," he says. "This leaves us in an area where a connection between aluminum salts and breast cancer is neither proven or disproven at this point."

So how does Dr. Sivamani advise his patients best stay fresh without the salts? First, he acknowledges that antiperspirants are generally more effective at reducing sweating and body odor than straight-up deodorants. But if you're concerned about potential side effects, there are plenty of aluminum-free options to be had. See some of the newest formulations that help us keep our cool through long work days and even exercise, ahead.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

Secret Aluminum Free Invisible Solid Deodorant

The stuff you used to keep in your middle school locker just got an aluminum-free upgrade. Plus, it goes on totally clear — which is good news for your clothes.

Secret Aluminum Free Invisible Solid, Rosewater Scent 3-Pack, $, available at Amazon

Kopari Beauty Deodorant

Many aluminum-free deodorants do a fine job of neutralizing body odor, but this stick somehow manages the additional trick of making our underarms smell like young coconut milk and gardenia. Bonus: It doesn't contain baking soda, which can irritate more sensitive skin.

Kopari Beauty Original Coconut Deodorant, $, available at Ulta Beauty

Nala Care Free-From Deodorant

This Canadian deodorant brand, founded by a mother and daughter duo, is quickly garnering fans for its ability to perform as well as conventional formulas, but without phthalates, potential carcinogens, aluminum, and other questionable ingredients. We put its strongest formula to the test — a sandalwood and bergamot blend that smells like an earthy perfume — and were equally impressed.

Nala Care Free-From Deodorant, $, available at Nala Care

Kai Deodorant

Applying deodorant is one of the most mundane things about our a.m. routine. But make that deodorant a non-staining, crystal-clear stick from Kai — that smells like actual roses, not a sad imitation — and suddenly, swiping the stick under our arms feels like a luxury on par with spritzing fragrance.

Kai Deodorant, $, available at Anthropologie

type:A Deodorant

Love the scent of fresh laundry? This new option from Type:A is for you. But it does more than just smell nice: The formula is made to release odor-fighting ingredients when it comes in contact with sweat. Also key is that the cream doesn't dry up over time, thanks to an innovative squeezable tube that dispenses just enough product for every use.

type: A Deodorant in The Dreamer, $, available at Credo

Dove 0% Aluminum Cucumber & Green Tea Deodorant

Dove's first foray into aluminum-free deodorant gets a lot right: The formula applies clear, its collection of four fragrances don't overpower, and the stick's oblong shape ergonomically fits where it needs to go (unlike so many perfectly-cylindrical sticks that puzzlingly dominate the aluminum-free deodorant landscape). The deodorant's drugstore price is also a welcome reprieve in an otherwise costly category, but most importantly, it did a fine job of fighting back body odor as we schlepped through a sweaty afternoon of moving boxes.

Dove 0% Aluminum Deodorant Cucumber & Green Tea, $, available at Walmart

Schmidt's Naturals Deodorant, Waves

The clean scent of saltwater faintly sweetened with coconut is what drew us to this new stick from Schmidt's — but it's the formula's performance that made it a keeper. This deodorant didn't leave a rash on our skin like some baking soda-based versions (likely thanks to arrowroot inside) and the stick kept our underarms smelling fresh through a day at the office.

Schmidt's Waves Natural Deodorant, $, available at Schmidt's

Megababe Rosy Pits Daily Deodorant

There's a reason this deodorant sold out in eight minutes before racking up a 13,000-person wait list last summer. The formula — made without aluminum, alcohol, or baking soda — uses corn starch to soak up sweat and sage, sandalwood, and horsetail to minimize bacteria.

megababe Rosy Pits Daily Deodorant, $, available at Ulta Beauty
Think of this powder deodorant as dry shampoo for your pits. Just like with powder-based dry shampoo, the method of application has proven divisive: Online reviews show people either love or hate the aerosol-free "spray." But we're fans — after pumping puffs of the baking soda, charcoal, and food-grade starch blend onto skin, it not only minimized sweat but stickiness, too.

Boscia Charcoal Deodorant A Natural Talc-Free Powder Spray, $, available at Sephora

Myro Deodorant

The heavy plastic casing that houses most aluminum-free deodorants may look chic, but they can't be environmentally kind. This version is sturdy enough to survive weeks of being knocked around in a gym bag without spills, but is made to be refilled with one of five scents.

Myro Deodorant Kit, $, available at Anthropologie

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