The Best Deodorant for Men

Sweat stoppers and odor blockers ​
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Philip Palermo

By Philip Palermo Lead Senior Editor – For the Home

Philip Palermo leads the For the Home category at Reviews.com, including smart home and home security services. Since November 2015, he’s worn a number of hats at Reviews.com, but these days, Philip helps manage the day-to-day editorial content workflow. He’s worked at Engadget, The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Big Think, and several local/regional newspapers. Philip’s also been known to use a lot of spreadsheets to gauge how much value he’s getting out of his various services and subscriptions.

The Best Deodorant for Men

When it comes to the best deodorant for men, there are two camps: antiperspirants that stop wetness and natural deodorants that fight BO. We did deep dives on each, scrutinizing ingredients lists, and talking to dermatologists and chemists, before testing 37 finalists to find which glided on the smoothest and left the least residue.

The 5 Best Deodorants for Men

The Best Deodorant for Men: Summed Up

Men’s Deodorant The Best Price
Speed Stick Power Fresh
Best Antiperspirant
$3/3 oz.
Speed Stick Power Unscented Solid
Best Unscented Antiperspirant
$6/3 oz.
Dove Men+Care Clean Comfort Clinical Protection
A Clinical Strength Option
$7/1.7 oz.
Sam’s Natural Deodorant
Best Natural Deodorant
$10/3 oz.
Green Tidings All-Natural Deodorant
Best Organic Natural Deodorant
$8/1 oz.

Speed Stick Power Fresh Antiperspirant Deodorant

Best Scented Antiperspirant
Speed Stick Power Fresh Antiperspirant Deodorant
Speed Stick Power Fresh Antiperspirant Deodorant


Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

Pros

  • Comfortable application
    Lack of residue

Cons

  • Some strong scents

Why we chose it

Comfortable application

When it came to application and residue, all the Speed Sticks emerged as frontrunners. They have wide, domed heads that molded nicely to underarms, and one tester said Speed Stick Power felt “smooth, not wet or gritty.” After two hours, the same tester noted his armpits still felt dry.

Lack of residue

Where Speed Stick really pulled ahead was our residue test: It left no clumps or flakes on underarms, even on hairy pits where goop might easily cling. And when we wiped our armpits with t-shirt swatches, Speed Stick left only a slight chalky streak. Dove and Axe performed respectably but received slightly lower marks from our testers.

All three results were in stark contrast with options like Gillette Endurance and the Old Spice Wild Collection, which left so much product on the T-shirt fabric that we questioned how much had adhered to our skin in the first place.

Speed-Stick-Power-Unscented-Comparison

Points to consider

Some strong scents

The slightly fruity Speed Stick Power Fresh was ultimately our top pick, but we’ll note that we didn’t love all of the brand’s other formulations (namely, we found Irish Spring a bit too Irish Spring-y, and the musky Gear Drycore sent a few of our testers reeling). If your scent-sensitive try the unscented option. Otherwise, the Power Fresh should be mild enough for most users.

Speed Stick Power Unscented Solid Antiperspirant and Deodorant

Best Unscented Antiperspirant
Speed Stick Power Unscented Solid Antiperspirant and Deodorant
Speed Stick Power Unscented Solid Antiperspirant and Deodorant


Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

Pros

  • Truly unscented
    A balanced application

Cons

  • A bit of residue

Why we chose it

Truly unscented

Turns out, without a scent to differentiate them, a lot of antiperspirants are very similar, and Speed Stick is about as scentless as it gets. If you put your nose really close to the package, you might catch a faint waxy whiff, but even that is a stretch. Its closest runner-up in our testing, the Ban Invisible Solid Antiperspirant Deodorant, is also unscented, but is a bit muskier — it includes some barley and sandalwood extract low on its ingredients list that the Speed Stick lacks.

A balanced application

Speed Stick and Ban both performed well in our application and residue tests, though Speed Stick earned an edge. Testers found that Speed Stick struck just the right balance between wet and dry, and after two hours, they’d forgotten it was even on. Speed Stick also left a slightly fainter trace in our residue test.

Speed Stick Unscented Comparison for Men's Antiperspirant and Deodorant

Points to consider

A bit of residue

Though the Speed Stick Power Unscented left less residue than some of its competitors, it’s still a noticeable mark. Our natural deodorants left nearly no white smudges and may be a better choice for the purveyor of a black wardrobe.

Dove Men+Care Clean Comfort Clinical Protection Antiperspirant

A Clinical-Strength Option
Dove Men+Care Clean Comfort Clinical Protection Antiperspirant
Dove Men+Care Clean Comfort Clinical Protection Antiperspirant


Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

Pros

  • FDA-approved
    Effective

Cons

  • Slow to dry

Why we chose it

FDA-approved

The FDA does not set standards for products labeled “clinical strength,” so it’s hard to say whether these antiperspirants actually provide the superior results they claim.

However, there are products like Dove Men+Care Clinical Strength, which is labeled “extra effective.” The FDA does set standards around this language. A product can be labeled an “antiperspirant” if it reduces sweating by 20% in user tests; products that reduce sweating by 30% can be labeled “extra effective” (Section IIC, Comment 9).

Effective

The product includes 5% more aluminum zirconium than its non-clinical Dove counterparts, topping out at 20%, the most of any men’s antiperspirant we tested. With this kind of antiperspirant strength, the Dove deodorant has a great chance at combatting odor and sweat.

Points to consider

Slow to dry

Dove’s clinical-strength formula has a lot going for it from a stats perspective, but our testers weren’t super impressed once they actually applied it. While packaged in a regular-looking tube, the product itself clicks out as a lotion, and one tester noticed it took longer to dry. Dealbreaker? Not if it works. If you perspire more than you’d prefer, this may be a good option. But there is one last caveat: It’s twice as expensive for about half the product (over $6 for 1.7 ounces).

Sam’s Natural Deodorant

Best Natural Deodorant
Sam’s Natural Deodorant
Sam’s Natural Deodorant


Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

Pros

  • Odor-fighting natural ingredients
    Circular design
    Minimal residue

Cons

  • Costly

Why we chose it

Odor-fighting natural ingredients

Our top pick for a natural deodorant is aluminum-free and contains coconut oil and baking soda, two of our three top odor fighters. It also includes shea butter as a moisturizer. Sam’s comes in 15 scents, 14 of which are marketed “for men.” We tried the Cedar (derived in part from cedarwood essential oil) and found it to be pleasant and not too intense. After two hours, we could still catch a faint hint of it — but not of BO. (We also tested Sam’s one “woman’s” scent, which was on the lemon-citrus spectrum, and found it, frankly, pretty unisex.)

Circular design

Among the natural deodorants we tested, some came in circular tubes, like Sam’s and AC Nature, while others, like For Pit’s Sake and North Coast Organics came in ovals, similar to what you’d expect from a traditional antiperspirant. We actually preferred the circular design, which plugged right into our pits. Natural deodorant can have a softer, creamier texture than traditional antiperspirants, often resulting in excess goop on the rims of oval sticks that don’t fit quite as nicely.

Minimal residue

But as a great all-around option, we recommend Sam’s. It glided smoothly onto our pits and left minimal residue in our T-shirt test. One tester was pleased to see “almost nothing, no flaking or clumps” when he checked.

Natural Deodorant Comparison Comparison for Men's Antiperspirant and Deodorant

Points to consider

Costly

A 3-ounce stick will cost you around $10, which puts Sam’s below the median price of our top 26 natural deodorants (which ranged from $6 to $24), an impressive feat when you consider the brand is hand-crafted in New Hampshire.

Green Tidings All-Natural Deodorant

Best Organic Natural Deodorant
Green Tidings All-Natural Deodorant
Green Tidings All-Natural Deodorant


Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

Pros

  • Organic, vegan, and cruelty-free
    Soft scents
    Circular stick

Cons

  • Expensive

Why we chose it

Organic, vegan, and cruelty-free

In addition to being organic, Green Tidings is vegan, cruelty-free, and made in a solar-powered facility (which could explain that higher price tag). Like Sam’s, it’s free of aluminum and harsh irritants and contains baking soda and coconut oil, plus shea butter as a moisturizer.

Soft scents

Green Tidings comes in both lavender and unscented formulas. Our testers described the lavender-scented stick as smelling more herbal than floral, with a scent that was “subtle, not overpowering,” so it’s still a fairly universal option. Either way, Green Tidings easily outperformed certified organic finalist AC Nature Natural Deodorant Stick, which testers said smelled “gross” and “like Play-Doh.”

Circular stick

As a bonus, Green Tidings uses our preferred application method: a circular stick. This set it apart from products from North Coast Organics and Bubble and Bee, which, as with other ovals, left excess goop on our skin and along the tube’s rim. Green Tidings felt a little gritty going on, but not in a bad way. Testers said they liked being able to feel it applying, and the gritty feeling didn’t linger once the product was on. Green Tidings also killed it on our residue test. It left way less residue on T-shirt fabric than our other organic contenders, again outperforming North Coast Organics and Bubble and Bee.

Points to consider

Expensive

Compared to Sam’s, Green Tidings’ $8 1-ounce tube may feel like a steep price hike. It’s our most expensive pick, but it’s ingredients and manufacture methods warrant a higher market value.

How We Chose the Best Men’s Deodorant

Between antiperspirants and deodorants, we began with a list of over 200 formulas marketed for men — products that were widely available online and in drug and grocery stores. We weren’t just looking for wetness-fighters. Worthy underarm protection should also be kind to your skin.

But since the goals of antiperspirants and deodorants are different, we looked for slightly different sets of ingredients to narrow in on our top picks.

Antiperspirant ingredients

  • The best form of aluminum. To be precise, aluminum zirconium. We spoke to five dermatologists and examined a 2015 study. All named ZA more effective than older formulations (like aluminum chloride and aluminum chlorohydrate) when it comes to stopping sweat. It’s also “less irritating to the skin,” according to Dr. Whitney High, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado.
  • No skin irritants. We nixed formulas that included simple alcohols and hydrogen peroxide, which can cause dryness (and occasionally contact dermatitis). Keeping people with sensitive skin in mind, we also looked for a subset of products without fragrance/parfum: This single term can actually mask a slew of chemicals, many of which cause skin irritation.
  • Bacteria fighters. Specifically, we looked for formulas that included C12-15 alkyl benzoate. “It’s generally considered to be safe and provides emollient and antimicrobial benefits,” said Dr. Audrey Kunin, dermatologist and founder of DERMADoctor.

Natural deodorant ingredients

  • Zero aluminum: Many natural deodorants were launched in response to consumer concerns about the safety of aluminum. So we began our cuts by nixing all forms of it. This included potassium alum, which is often used in products marketed as natural deodorants (including offerings from Tom’s and Crystal).
  • No skin irritants: Similar to our search for the best antiperspirant, we struck out anything that contained fragrance/parfum and simple alcohols. We also omitted propylene glycol and propanediol, two preservatives that can cause the itchy, red, and tender symptoms of contact dermatitis. Whole Foods has included both on its list of unacceptable ingredients for premium body care.
  • Effective odor blockers: Again and again, our experts pointed us to three key ingredients for preventing BO: coconut oil, baking soda, and zinc oxide.
    • Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which outperforms other fatty acids when it comes to fighting bacteria.
    • Baking soda affects the pH of your armpit, making it inhospitable to sweat-eating bacteria.
    • Zinc oxide neutralizes odor by converting the smells released by bacteria into odorless zinc salts. (No wonder it’s been used in deodorants since the 19th century.)

Tested for scent, application, and residue

Scent test: First, we popped off lids and took a whiff of each product in its package. Subtle and fresh, or way too intense? We gave higher marks for products that veered toward the former. Then it was time to see how the products smelled on our bodies. Our testers applied each one, then carried on with their day and waited for it to set in. After two hours, we took another whiff. Was the scent still there? Had it worn off, or — worse — been replaced by body odor? Application test: We rolled on each deodorant or antiperspirant to assess how easily it covered our pits. Did it clump or crumble? How was it holding up at our two-hour check-in? We preferred products that our testers nearly forgot were there. Residue test: Our aim was to single out the products that stayed on the skin, rather than rubbing right off. After we’d worn each contender for two hours, we took a swatch of black T-shirt fabric and rubbed it on our pits to see how much came off — aka, what was likely to wind up on your clothes at the end of the day.
Group Shot Men's Deodorant

What’s the Difference Between Deodorant and Antiperspirant?

If you’re trying to figure out whether you need an antiperspirant, a deodorant, or a combination of both, it helps to understand why armpits are so smelly in the first place.

The culprit is actually bacteria, not sweat. Sweat is odorless when released by your body — but the bacteria living on your skin will feast on it, producing odor as a byproduct. Antiperspirants and deodorants each tackle this problem in a different way.

Antiperspirants prevent wetness

The main goal of an antiperspirant is to stop sweating, keeping your armpits dry and starving the bacteria. Antiperspirants rely on aluminum to achieve this. When combined with acids in your sweat and on your skin, aluminum forms a jelly-like plug that stops up your sweat glands.

Deodorants fight odor

A deodorant doesn’t attempt to stop sweat. Its aim is to neutralize the odor caused by bacteria when they digest sweat — or to just kill the bacteria. These goals can be achieved through the use of fragrances, antimicrobials, and other ingredients that curb any bacterial activity.

A product that’s advertised only as a deodorant doesn’t usually contain aluminum. And this is actually a selling point: Some people avoid aluminum due to concerns that it could be linked to Alzheimer’s disease or cancer — although the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society state there’s not enough evidence to support either claim.

Men and women sweat the same stuff

You’re reading a review of men’s deodorants, which begs the question: Do men sweat differently than women? One study from 2010 found that yes, they do. Men start sweating sooner (e.g., at a lower body temperature) and release more sweat. But then we spoke with Sean Notley, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Ottawa, and the lead author on a similar, but more recent study, published in 2017.

“In our tests, we found that sex could explain a maximum of about 5% of individual variations in sweating.” The bigger factor in how much you sweat? According to Notley, it’s body type.

There’s also no evidence that the content of sweat differs by sex, and Notley tipped us off that there’s little evidence to show that men (or women) have more sweat glands, or different ones. So do men and women truly need different deodorants? Probably not.

“In terms of active ingredients, there’s no difference between men’s and women’s products. The main difference is scent.”

In fact: “In terms of active ingredients, there’s no difference between men’s and women’s products. The main difference is scent,” said Dr. David Pariser, senior physician at Pariser Dermatology. Cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson, of BeautyStat.com, agreed. “It’s really about personal preference for scent and application style,” he said.

With this in mind, consider our top picks for the best men’s antiperspirants and deodorants as your starting point. If you don’t love a particular scent or application experience, shop around until you find one that works. Keep in mind: It could be a product marketed for women.

Men’s Deodorant FAQ