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There’s nothing wrong with wanting to smell good. Unless you’re particularly lucky and have no body odor, you might rely on deodorant to do so.
The good news: it doesn’t have to be the traditional stick. There are other options out there if you want to be intentional about what you put on your body.
If you want to opt out of some ingredients while still smelling sweet, natural deodorant might be the choice for you.
Whether it’s a tried-and-true skin care regimen, how often you wash your hair, or the cosmetics you’re curious about, beauty is personal.
That’s why we rely on a diverse group of writers, educators, and other experts to share their tips on everything from the way product application varies to the best sheet mask for your individual needs.
We only recommend something we genuinely love, so if you see a shop link to a specific product or brand, know that it’s been thoroughly researched by our team.
Why go for a natural way to be smell-free?
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A 2013 study noted that aluminum found in breast tissue may cause oxidative damage, inflammation, and disruption of iron metabolism.
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Although more research is needed to understand the risks associated with traditional deodorants, there are plenty of natural alternatives that also prevent sweat and body odor.
You might be able to find some of the ingredients below in your kitchen cabinet, and they make great alternatives to deodorant.
It’s also a popular deodorant alternative because it doesn’t leave residue on the skin. Plus, it gets rid of odor fast.
The main downside to this method is that it wears off quickly and needs to be reapplied throughout the day.
How to use
Simply place witch hazel on a cotton swab or reusable cotton cloth and rub it on the underarm area.
Baking soda or cornstarch
These typical kitchen ingredients are used for more than just baking or cooking. They also make great natural hygiene products.
How to use
Mix 1/8 teaspoon with a little water and then rub it under your arms.
You can also use a mixture of baking soda and cornstarch to fight odor and perspiration. Mix one part baking soda with six parts cornstarch and dust the powder under your arms.
For those with sensitive skin, baking soda is known to cause possible irritation due to its high alkalinity and the
body’s natural acidity.
Make sure to conduct a patch test before using it as a deodorant.
When life gives you lemons … use it as deodorant?
You may be surprised to know that applying lemon juice to your armpits is a simple way to eliminate odor. Lemon juice is full of citric acid, which naturally gets rid of odor-causing bacteria.
How to use
Cut a lemon in half and squeeze out 1 teaspoon of juice. Dip a cotton ball and apply straight to your underarms. Keep the lemon in the fridge for an extra soothing effect.
Do not apply lemon juice directly after shaving. Lemon is highly acidic and will sting.
Rubbing alcohol kills bacteria, including the odor-causing kind. On top of that, it’s significantly less expensive than mainstream deodorants.
How to use
Fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and spritz onto your armpits.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a number of uses and benefits, such as being an alternative to deodorant.
How to use
Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 tablespoon of water. Use a cotton pad or reusable cloth to apply the mixture to your underarms.
Coconut oil is incredibly versatile for hair and skin needs. It’s also antibacterial and antiviral, meaning it can eliminate odor-causing bacteria in the underarm area.
How to use
Take 1/4 teaspoon of oil and rub it under your arms with a cotton cloth or your fingers. Let it dry completely before dressing, as oil can easily stain clothes.
Baking soda & coconut oil
Baking soda is one of the easiest ways to replace store-bought deodorants. It’s simple, effective, and inexpensive.
However, if you don’t want to use a straight powder deodorant, you can mix it with coconut oil. This will create a soft bar that can be applied daily.
How to use
Combine 4 tablespoons of baking soda and cornstarch each with 6 tablespoons of coconut oil. Place in the refrigerator to set and apply as needed.
Crystal deodorant has become more popular in recent years. It consists of mineral salts and nothing else. It works by creating a shield that purifies your sweat to prevent odor.
How to use
Apply the crystal deodorant onto wet skin, or dip it in water several times as you apply.
It’s best to apply a few coats and let dry before putting on any clothing. Either way, the deodorant won’t leave any white marks on your clothes.
Keep in mind
Sean Busch, CEO of the plant-based and all-natural home and hygiene brand Puracy, notes that it’s common for a new deodorant to not work as well right away when you switch to natural alternatives. Give your body some time to adjust to the new ingredients.
“When switching deodorants from a synthetic one to a natural one, we recommend giving it 2 weeks to a month,” says Busch. “This allows your body to flush out what’s been left on the skin and give time for your pores to come back. After this time, some people realize they don’t need deodorant at all.”
Deodorant alternatives offer a number of benefits over conventional brands.
Say goodbye to yellow stains
The aluminum in traditional deodorants can create a yellow pigment when mixed with sweat. The good news is these stains can be fixed by swapping a classic antiperspirant for an alternative that doesn’t contain aluminum.
Gentle for sensitive skin
Ingredients like alcohol and aluminum can irritate sensitive skin. Many deodorant alternatives are made from ingredients that are much gentler than conventional options.
Pro tip: “All-natural” doesn’t automatically mean safe. Check the individual ingredients on your deodorant label for irritants. You can also do a patch test to ensure your skin tolerates those ingredients well.
Reduce your chemical load
More and more, these ingredients are met with a skeptical eye.
There’s been a trend of “consumers moving away from ingredients that are less safe or petroleum-based, including silicone dimethicone, dyes, and perfumes,” says Busch.
According to Busch, consumers are thinking more critically about why their deodorants have fillers, fragrances, and other ingredients that don’t need to be there to do the job.
They may also have negative environmental effects. “Several traditional deodorants are petrochemical-based, and include things like silicone dimethicone, perfume, and things that don’t naturally biodegrade in the environment,” says Busch.
Making your own natural deodorant alternatives at home is one option that may be easier than you think.
You can experiment with ingredients and scents until you find what you really like, or you can change it up each time.
Try these quick recipes that require only a few ingredients.
Pro tip: Keep homemade deodorants in a cool, dry place to prevent melting. To use, place on a warm surface or run under warm water to soften.
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup absorbent powder (like arrowroot powder, charcoal powder, baking soda, or cornstarch)
- 1/4 cup baking soda (if you have sensitive skin, substitute with one of the above powders)
- 1/3 cup shea butter moisturizer (optional, but highly recommended)
- Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.
- Add the coconut oil to the dry ingredients. Using a mixer, combine the ingredients until smooth. Melt shea butter, and add it in.
- Pour the mixture into an airtight glass jar, and let it sit for one hour.
- Apply a pea-size amount of mixture to each underarm with a beauty spatula or popsicle stick. Use your fingers to rub in thoroughly.
Recipe # 2
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- 5 tablespoons coconut oil
- Combine the dry ingredients, mixing well.
- Add coconut oil to make a paste.
- Store in an airtight container.
- Apply under arms when needed.
- 3 tablespoons shea butter
- 3 tablespoons baking soda
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cocoa butter
- 1 tsp vitamin E oil
- Melt shea butter and cocoa butter.
- Combine with dry ingredients and mix well.
- Add in vitamin E oil.
- Place mixture into an airtight container and keep refrigerated.
- Apply as needed.
If there’s one thing most of us carry around consistently these days, it’s hand sanitizer. Just squirt some onto each armpit to remove bacteria and get rid of smell.
Maybe you forgot to put on your deodorant before you left the house, but you happen to have some skin-safe essential oils in your bag.
No problem! Blend up your favorites and apply to your underarms. You can keep reapplying throughout the day as it wears off.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils.
It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils. Be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products.
Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
Aloe has natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties, which means it can get rid of odor-causing bacteria.
How to use
Break off a small piece of aloe vera from your plant and apply the gel directly to your armpits. You can also use pure aloe vera gel from a prepackaged bottle.
You can buy natural deodorant at most natural food stores, where other natural skin care products are sold, or online. Here are some prodcuts to consider:
- Native Deodorant is effective, moisturizing, comes in several refreshing and fun scents, and made with only 14 natural ingredients.
- Schmidt’s Naturals Deodorant is a vegan, cruelty-free deodorant that people say works just as well as more traditional deodorant formulations.
- Green Tidings Natural Deodorant is fair trade, cruelty-free, and vegan.
- Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant is a crisp, clean, and cooling deodorant that eliminates underarm odor while absorbing excess moisture and soothing sensitive skin.
- Meow Meow Tweet Baking Soda Free Deodorant Cream is a natural deodorant cream for sensitive skin in a refillable jar with compostable packaging.
- Tom’s of Maine Deodorant is a great starter option from a well-known natural products brand.
- Crystal Mineral Deodorant Stick keeps odors at bay for up to 24 hours, lasts for about a year, and has only one ingredient (mineral salts).
- JĀSÖN Soothing Aloe Deodorant Stick is made of organic aloe vera gel, corn starch, vitamin E, and lavender oil.
Finding the deodorant alternative that works best for you is a personal process. It will also likely take a fair amount of trial and error.
Give it time, and experiment to find what works for you.
Ashley Hubbard is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, social justice, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. Visit her website wild-hearted.com.