Do Natural Deodorants Actually Work? Exploring Aluminum-Free Deodorants

by Jessica Pigza

When it comes to the products we use on our skin I think we can all agree that we’re paying more attention to not only how the product works but what ingredients are actually in the product. The great debate now is whether to use a deodorant that has aluminum in it or to find one that is considered natural or aluminum-free. But do natural deodorants actually work? Before we get into that, let’s break down what a deodorant is and isn’t.

Deodorant vs. Antiperspriant

Deodorant versus antiperspirant, what’s the difference? According to, deodorant will mask the odor usually with fragrances. It also creates a more acidic base so smelly bacteria won’t take up residence in your armpits. An antiperspirant on the other hand will actually prevent the sweat from happening. This is typically accomplished by using aluminum-based ingredients to temporarily block the sweat pores. It’s also important to note that while most antiperspirants may also be deodorants, not all deodorants are in fact, antiperspirants.

Is Alumnimim Free better?

The great debate is that prolonged use of aluminum-based deodorants may lead to an increased risk of breast cancer. While there have been a few studies that investigate this theory, they have yet to cement an actual connection between the two according to the National Cancer Institute. The real harm may actually be in the synthetic substances called parabens. Parabens are a family of chemicals commonly used as preservatives in some cosmetics. Parabens include methylparaben, ethylparaben and propylparaben. Either way, the skin is our largest organ so it doesn’t hurt to pay extra special attention to what we are putting on it and what’s being absorbed into our bodies. One thing most researchers can agree on is that deodorants do not belong in your lungs so it’s best to steer clear of deodorant aerosol sprays.

How Do Natural Deodorants Actually Work?

Natural deodorants don’t use aluminum-based ingredients and parabens to help stop sweat and mask the odor so how do they work? Typically a natural deodorant will contain three types of ingredients. To help prevent sweat things like baking soda or arrowroot may be used. To help combat bacteria, natural microbial, like coconut oil or active charcoal may be used, and finally, some essential oils to add fragrance and mask odors.

How to Use Natural Deodorant

It may sound crazy but there is a right way and a wrong way to apply natural deodorant. In some instances, it’s necessary to warm the stick before use. Do this by holding it in your hands for a few seconds. Another method is to place the tip of the stick against your armpit for a few seconds. This also allows the stick to warm up, almost melt a little before applying. This is because ingredients such as shea butter or coconut oil occur in a solid-state. Trying to quickly swipe on natural deodorant may result in chunky, thick, or flaking application.

Also, it’s important to note that if you do decide to make the switch it may take some time and some trial and error before you find your perfect stick. Your armpits may go through a sort of detox when opting for an aluminum-free deodorant and this detox can last up to 30 days. Your armpits need to adjust to your new deodorant. The good thing is that there are now a plethora of natural deodorants on the market to choose from. We’ve polled the Pretties and listed their top favorites, plus a few others worth a try. So do natural deodorants really work? Are you an aluminum-free deodorant convert? What’s your favorite stick?

Pretties’ Favorites

1. Native Deodorant

This was the number one voted Pretty fav, Native Deodorant. It comes in both men’s and women’s but most of the scents cross over to bother categories. In addition to their classic scents, they also have limited edition ones as well as multipacks available. This natural deodorant does have baking soda as well as coconut oil, shea butter, probiotics, and Magnesium Hydroxide just to name a few of the active ingredients. In addition to the Native Website, it can also be found at Target, Walmart, and Amazon among other drug store retailers.

2. Lume Deodorant

Another Pretty favorite that received rave reviews was Lume Deodorant. This natural deodorant is baking soda-free. But what makes this different from other deodorants is that it is not limited to just your armpits. It’s able to be used on your feet and privates as well. How’s that for a hard-working deodorant? It comes in a variety of unisex scents. Lume deodorant is available on Amazon.

3. Tom’s of Maine

Also rated really high among the Pretties was the Tom’s of Maine brand. Tom’s of Maine comes in a wide variety of scents as well as deodorant formula types. Toms’ of Maine is available at Target, but to see their whole selection I recommend their website.

Alison’s Favorite

1. hey Humans

A few months ago Hey Humans deodorant in Lavender Vanilla took up a permanent residence in Alison’s beauty arsenal. This deodorant is aluminum-free as well as paraben-free and uses coconut oil, rosemary extract, and arrowroot powder as its main ingredients. It comes in six different scents and is available at Target.

Other Favorites

1. Schmidt’s

Schmidt’s is an all-natural deodorant that comes in two different formulas. Their Signature sticks use primarily magnesium and some baking soda to help neutralize odor. While their Sensitive sticks are baking soda-free, using only magnesium to help neutralize odor. Schmidt’s deodorant is available on Amazon as well as Target.

2. Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant

Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant is a natural deodorant that has a smooth, gel-like consistency. Some of its natural ingredients include hops, baking soda, aloe, eucalyptus, and kaolin, which is a type of clay. This deodorant is available at Ulta and Amazon.

3. Megababe Rosy Pits

Made with a blend of natural ingredients, including sage and green tea, it helps prevent odor-causing bacteria from forming on the skin. Megababe does not contain baking soda, plus it’s alcohol-free, paraben-free, and goes on smooth & clear. It also has a fresh rosy scent. Megababe is available at Target.

Honorable Mention

1. BeautyCounter

2. Cleo + Coco

3. Secret Aluminum Free

4. Pretty Frank (Primal Pits)

5. Ethique

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Have your tried a natural deodorant? Which one is your favorite?