The Best Deodorant for Women

If you’re looking for the best deodorant for women, you’ve got two options: an antiperspirant that stops sweat, or a natural deodorant that neutralizes BO. We researched ingredients, talked to dermatologists, and tested 32 finalists to find products that applied smoothly and left little residue.

The 4 Best Deodorants for Women

Best Antiperspirant
Secret Invisible Solid Antiperspirant Deodorant
Secret Invisible Solid
Blocks sweat without feeling goopy or flaky
Pros
Long-lasting application
Subtly in scent
Cons
Noticeable residue

Why we chose it

Long-lasting application

Of Secret, one tester commented, “This went on perfectly. It didn’t feel wet or liquidy.” And Dove was lauded as “smooth, not chalky.” Where Secret pulled slightly ahead was its long wear. At the end of the day Secret still left no clumps in our underarms. Dove, by comparison, seemed to “get flakier throughout the day,” according to one tester.

Subtly in scent

Our testers found Secret’s fragrances the most pleasant out of the competition, and unlike some, it didn’t increase in intensity throughout the day. It smelled subtle and clean, the sort of scents our testers said they would be happy to have on all day. The formulas contains bacteria-fighting C12-15 alkyl benzoate and aluminum zirconium.

Points to consider

Noticeable residue

Though it left less white marks than other contenders in our T-shirt test, it’s residue was far from invisible. A long day in dark clothes will be marked by this deodorant. If you want a truly incognito deodorant, both of our natural picks left nothing more than a light dust.

Secret-Comparison-Labeled for Antiperspirant

Best Unscented Antiperspirant
Speed Stick Power Unscented Solid Antiperspirant and Deodorant
Speed Stick Power Unscented
Goes on smooth and leaves no scent and no BO
Pros
Balanced application
Truly scentless
Cons
Some residue left

Why we chose it

Balanced application

Speed Stick earned a slight edge when it came to application. It’s domed surface was pretty standard, but it went on dryer than most. Ban, by comparison, felt a little too wet, like it was melting into our skin, while testers described Speed Stick as “just moist enough for a smooth glide.” The deodorant will go on soft and dry quick.

Truly scentless

Based solely on the packaging, you might assume the Speed Stick is for men. But — as we learned — the main difference between men’s and women’s antiperspirants is scent. When you’re looking at unscented products, that difference becomes moot: We just wanted something that would work. And this deodorant is certainly scentless. Where other “unscented” antiperspirants had faint hints of musk or soap, the Speed Stick was waxy (if you really stuck a nose to it).

Points to consider

Some residue left

While it wasn’t the worst offender, the Speed Stick certainly left its mark during our T-shirt test. You’ll be hard pressed to find an antiperspirant that is truly invisible, and natural picks will be a better bet for that feature.

Speed-Stick-Comparison-Labeled for Antiperspirant

Best Natural Deodorant
Sam's Natural Deodorant
Sam's
Uses baking soda and coconut oil to prevent body odor
Pros
15 pleasant scents
Circular shape
Cons
A bit costly

Why we chose it

15 pleasant scents

Of its 15 available scents, Sam’s offers one marketed specifically for women, with lavender and clary sage essential oils. (The type of oil was the only difference between the men’s and women’s formulas.) Our testers loved the faintly herbal, faintly citrusy aroma and were pleased to find it lingered even after two hours of wear.

Circular shape

As for application, we liked Sam’s circular stick. After trying an assortment of natural deodorants — some circular sticks, some ovals, and some creams — we tended to prefer the rounder ones. They fit more snugly into our pits than ovals, and as a result left less gooey excess on our skin and on the rim of the stick (an especially important consideration for natural deodorants, which can have a creamier, softer texture than traditional antiperspirants). And compared to the creams — which required dipping your fingers into a jar, rubbing the product into your skin, and then washing your hands — sticks were much less messy and time-consuming.

Sams Collage 2 for Natural Deodorant

We preferred the circular shape of Sam's Natural Deodorant. It was easier to apply than the oval-shaped tubes we tested.

Points to consider

A bit costly

Natural deodorants typically run at a higher price point — its ingredients and manufacture process are more expensive. Sam’s costs about $10 for 3 oz., it’s triple the cost of our antiperspirant picks.

Best Organic Natural Deodorant
Green Tidings All-Natural Deodorant
Green Tidings
Baking soda, coconut oil, and all certified-organic ingredients
Pros
Organic through and through
Gentle in scent and application
Cons
Expensive

Why we chose it

Organic through and through

On the hunt for an organic deodorant? Look no further than Green Tidings. The rigors of sourcing organic ingredients (as well as manufacturing the product in a solar-powered facility) are impressive. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free. The deodorant uses baking soda and coconut oil to battle sweat and stink, with shea butter for moisturizer.

Gentle in scent and application

The gentle lavender fragrance of Green Tidings appealed to testers’ noses, especially when compared to AC Nature, which some of our testers likened to Play-Doh — and reported wore off entirely after two hours, revealing body odor. As for application, Green Tidings’ round stick felt perfectly sized for our underarms. Unlike products from North Coast Organics and Bubble and Bee, excess gooey product didn’t accumulate in our armpits or smear onto the edge of the tube’s rim.

Green Tidings Collage Labeled for Natural Deodorant

Points to consider

Expensive

Green Tidings is our most expensive deodorant pick, at about $8 for a one-ounce tube. It’s a costly product to make because of its sustainability standards. But if buying organic is a priority, Green Tidings can’t be beat.

The Difference Between Antiperspirants and Deodorants

Sweating needs an antiperspirants

Aluminum forms a gelatinous plug that stops up your sweat glands, preventing more perspiration from seeping out. Without sweat, bacteria have nothing to dine on — hence, no body odor.

Even over-the-counter antiperspirants are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In its final monograph, the FDA states that products marketed as antiperspirants must reduce sweating by at least 20 percent in user tests that the FDA has verified (Section IIC, Comment 9).

Odor is neutralized by deodorants

A deodorant, in the strictest sense, will not contain aluminum or prevent perspiration. Instead, deodorants mask and neutralize the odors that bacteria emit. The masking part is fairly simple: synthetic fragrances and plant-based essential oils can be used to cover up smell. As for neutralizing, products can rely on everything from the modern-day antimicrobial C12-15 alkyl benzoate to good old baking soda. Many products are labeled antiperspirant and deodorant, in which case they’re relying on a combination of both processes.

Some people fear that regularly applying aluminum to the underarms could cause it to accumulate in the bloodstream, leading to Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. The National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, and FDA have all examined the issue and concluded that aluminum-based antiperspirants are safe. But many consumers still opt for aluminum-free deodorants — often marketed as “natural” deodorants.

Men’s and women’s products are the same

Ad campaigns make it easy to believe that the sweat coming out of a man is different than what comes out of a woman. But according to a recent study led by Sean Notley, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Ottawa, that’s not the case.

“We found that sex could explain a maximum of about 5% of individual variations in sweating,” Notley told us. “A more active female may need a stronger antiperspirant than a male who sits at a desk all day.”

Notley’s research had us wondering: do men and women really need different deodorants? Dr. David Pariser, Senior Physician at Pariser Dermatology, told us, “in terms of active ingredients, there’s no difference between men’s and women’s products. The main difference is scent.” Cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson, of BeautyStat.com, seconded the notion. “It’s really about personal preference for scent and application style,” he said.

So consider our top picks for the best women’s antiperspirants and deodorants your starting point. We’ve narrowed a field of hundreds down to a handful of options. If you don’t like one, try another — and don’t rule out the possibility of going for a “men’s” product.

Women's Deodorant FAQ

Do you really need deodorant?

Not necessarily. There are many people who go without any kind deodorant or antiperspirant. Whether it’s genetics, diet, or habits, some people don’t produce underarm odor nor much sweat. There’s no medical reason you need to use deodorant, it’s a social practice done to minimize sweat and mask smell. Each person’s need is subjective.

Why do underarms smell?

Body odor is a result of bacteria that breaks down sweat. The apocrine glands in your armpit produce sweat that is particularly bacteria-friendly. When armpits have hair, it holds sweat and moisture, prolonging the bacteria’s work.

Why do men sweat more than women?

Sean Notley’s research found sweat correlates to body type more than it does gender. And men tend to have similar body types. Notley’s research team found less than a 5 percent difference between how much men and women sweat.

If you’re trying to understand what body type could possibly have to do with sweat, think of a cup of coffee. “If a coffee is half full, it will cool much faster than a full cup. We thought that those principles might apply to sweat,” said Notley. And sure enough, in his research, Notley found that larger individuals, whose bodies have a lower surface-area-to-volume ratio, tend to sweat more in order to release heat.

Of course, the biggest factor in how much you sweat is going to be how hard you’re working. “The greater our exertion, the greater the increase in body temperature and the greater the sweat rate,” said Notley.

The Best Deodorant for Women: Summed Up

Deodorant for Women The Best Price
Secret Invisible Solid
Antiperspirant
$2.50/2.6 oz.
Speed Stick Power Unscented Solid
Unscented Antiperspirant
$1.50/3 oz.
Sam’s Natural Deodorant
Natural Deodorant
$10/3 oz.
Green Tidings All-Natural Deodorant
Organic Natural Deodorant
$8/1 oz.