The Best Natural Deodorant

The best natural deodorant fends off odor without toxic or irritating ingredients. After talking with a dermatologist, a chemist, and two natural deodorant creators, we tested 19 in-house to find our top picks: aluminum-free formulas with pleasant scents, goop-free application, and minimal residue.

The 6 Best Natural Deodorants

Best overall
Sam's Natural Deodorant
Sam's
Proven odor-blocking ingredients, no aluminum, and comes in an easy-to-apply stick.
Pros
Ideal ingredients
Effective design
15 scents

Cons
Spendier than typical deodorants

Why we chose it

Ideal ingredients

Sam's Natural Deodorant, hand-crafted in New Hampshire and vegan and cruelty-free, checked every box on our list. The product is free of aluminum, free of common irritants, and its first two ingredients (coconut oil and baking soda) are verified odor-blockers. As a bonus, Sam’s also includes shea butter as a moisturizer, and tea tree oil for its antimicrobial qualities. (More clinical research is needed to confirm tea tree’s efficacy, but our experts agreed that it certainly doesn’t hurt to have it included.)

Effective design

We found the circular stick easy to maneuver across our pits, and it left only a faint sheen on skin and minimal goop on clothes — one subject noted “almost nothing, no flaking or clumps” when he checked. Our testers generally preferred circular sticks over ovals — the shape seems to fit better.

Sams Collage 2 for Natural Deodorant

15 scents

We tested both its “Women’s” and Cedar options, but a quick look at ingredient labels confirmed the only difference is the essential oil used for scent. Of the two we tested, Cedar was slightly fainter, and Women’s had an herby lavender smell (although some of our testers described it as “citrusy”). Both scents were fairly unisex, pleasant upon first application, and held up well when we checked in two hours later. And if neither of these options appeals to you, Sam’s offers 13 more scents for you to explore.

Points to consider

Spendier than typical deodorants

Natural deodorant tends to cost more for a smaller portion than the typical drugstore variety. Sam’s is no exception to this rule, and will run you about $10 for a 3 ounce stick. That said, it’s in a reasonable range for natural options and therefore makes an easy gateway for anyone interested in transitioning to a natural product.

Most odor-blocking ingredients
For Pit's Sake! Natural Deodorant
For Pit's Sake!
Contains all three of our top odor-blockers and left little residue — but application isn't as easy.
Pros
Exceptional odor protection
Zero residue
Cons
Polarizing scents
Dry formula

Why we chose it

Exceptional odor protection

For Pit's Sake was one of only two natural deodorants we tested that contained baking soda, coconut oil, and zinc oxide — not just two of our wishlist ingredients like most of our other top picks. This combination is definitely a winning formula: Testers were unable to detect any body odor at the two-hour mark.

Zero residue

For Pit’s Sake did an outstanding job on our residue test. “Did I even put it on? I know I did because I can smell it, but wow there’s no residue at all,” noted one of our testers.

Sams Collage Labeled for Natural Deodorant

Points to consider

Polarizing scents

For Pit’s Sake features scents that proved more polarizing than other brands: One tester likened For Pit’s Sake’s Lime & Clove to “the musty scent of someone who had been out working in the woods,” not unlike citronella. If you agree with their diagnosis, know that the product line up also includes Unscented, Lavender, and Citrus.

Dry formula

Some testers also found For Pit’s Sake a little too dry, with one of our hairy-pitted testers complaining that it “wasn’t very giving” and that he had to do “repeated passes” to achieve full coverage. The stick also had a flat top, with edges that contributed to our discomfort.

Best organic formula
Green Tidings All-Natural Deodorant
Green Tidings
An ingredient list similar to our top pick, but organic (and a little pricier).
Pros
Certified organic
Mild scent
Textured but tidy application
Cons
Small and pricey

Why we chose it

Certified organic

If you’re looking for an organic deodorant, look no further than Green Tidings Natural Deodorant, which is our favorite of the six we tested that use ingredients that have been certified organic by the USDA. It’s also advertised as vegan, cruelty-free, and is made in a solar-powered facility.

The ingredient list is similar to Sam’s: Baking soda and coconut oil are at the top of the list, and shea butter is included as a moisturizer. One thing to note: There is a difference between a deodorant that has been USDA-certified organic and one that uses ingredients that are USDA-certified. We confirmed with Green Tidings that its ingredients are USDA-certified, but the company is still in the process of getting its actual deodorant certified (the process can be lengthy).

Mild scent

We tested Green Tidings’ lavender formula, although an unscented option is also available. Our testers thought the scent was fairly unisex, with a very mild herbal aroma that omits the citrus notes of Sam’s. While the smell didn’t last long, neither was it replaced by body odor. When we checked in at the two-hour mark, the smell was neutral.

Textured but tidy application

Green Tidings, which comes in our preferred circular tube, did feel a little gritty going on. One tester actually liked this, saying the grit made it so she could “really feel it in my pits” and know the product had applied. Application left no goopy clumps on our skin or hanging off the tube.

Points to consider

Small and pricey

Sustainable manufacturing practices aren’t always the most cost-effective, which may explain why a 1-ounce tube ran us about $8. Still, if buying organic is your top priority, we’d suggest Green Tidings.

Best Cream Formula
Fatco Women’s Stank Stop Deodorant
Fatco Stank Stop
A paleo-friendly formula with all three of our top odor-blockers, but it's messier to apply. It also comes in a men's scent.
Pros
Intriguing paleo formula
Pleasant scents
Cons
Cream application

Why we chose it

Intriguing paleo formula

Fatco Stank Stop Deodorant was the only other natural deodorant we tested that included all three of our wish-list odor-blockers. It’s also Certified Paleo: the formula includes beef tallow (a.k.a. fat) from organic grass-fed cow as a moisturizer. Odd perhaps, but Fatco promotes “looking to the past for fundamentals of healthy living.”

Pleasant scents

Fatco Stank Stop Deodorant comes in two scents: a Men’s Cypress + Coriander and a Women’s Lavender + Clary Sage. As with other gender-specific deodorants, the ingredients differed only by the scent of the essential oil. We really liked both and suggest Cypress + Coriander for something a bit more woodsy, and Lavender + Clary Sage if you want a gentle aroma reminiscent of a spa treatment.

Points to consider

Cream application

Fatco is a cream, which means you’ll need to dip your fingers into a (very small) jar to apply the product — a process our testers weren’t wild about. Fatco’s small jars forced some of us to dip our fingers in several times to get enough product, which seemed impractical for anyone with big hands. One tester noted that the scent also lingered on his fingers even after washing. But among the seven cream natural deodorant brands we tested, Fatco Stank Stop stood out.

The deodorant itself was very effective, with a pleasant smell and minimal residue. And the accepted rationale for using a cream deodorant is that this application method gives you more control — you can ensure you’ve got an even coating across your entire armpit.

Least Residue
Agent Natuer & Shiva Rose Holi Rose Deodorant
Agent Natuer
A very floral, feminine scent that leaves little residue.
Pros
Perfume meets natural deo
Beautiful inside and out
Cons
Expensive

Why we chose it

Perfume meets natural deo

Agent Nateur & Shiva Rose Holi (Rose) Deodorant seems almost like a combination of deodorant and women’s perfume and received a positive reception from our testers, who dubbed it “extremely feminine” thanks to its blend of rose and sandalwood. Like our top picks, this product uses baking soda and coconut oil.

Beautiful inside and out

It’s obviously geared toward women, with a white, pink, and gold package that feels reminiscent of department store cosmetics. But the appeal is more than superficial — Agent Nateur tied with For Pit’s Sake as a top performer in our fabric residue test.

Runners-Up Collage Labeled for Natural Deodorant

The company behind this product has a manifesto to “bring beauty and luminosity to women in a way that is nourishing and nurturing,” aka synthetic-, GMO-, and pesticide-free (although the deodorant does contain castor oil, which is on Whole Foods’ list of ingredients to avoid).

Points to consider

Expensive

At $25 for 1.7 ounces, Agent Nateur was our most expensive finalist. If you’re dressing for a special occasion or have a wardrobe dominated by dark colors or expensive, delicate fabrics, it could be a worthwhile investment.

Widest range of scents
Schmidt's Natural Deodorant
Schmidt's
Another favorite featuring baking soda and coconut oil odor-blockers, minimal residue, and seven scents to choose from.
Pros
Great formula
Crowd-pleasing scents
Cons
Application hang-ups

Why we chose it

Great formula

We nearly missed Schmidt's Natural Deodorant altogether since some of its other product lines, including its jar formulas and sensitive skin sticks, only feature one of our targeted ingredients. But Schmidt’s sticks for regular skin boast the same odor-busting coconut oil and baking soda as Sam’s (plus shea butter and arrowroot powder to help it glide), in a similarly flake- and residue-free formula.

Crowd-pleasing scents

If you like to shop around between different scents, Sam’s wins for sheer number — 15 to Schmidt’s seven. But you don’t really need a glut of scent options to choose from if you get it right with fewer. Schmidt’s newest addition, Charcoal+Magnesium, proved the ultimate favorite of everything we tested. The cool “freshly fallen rain” aroma is invigorating and clean. And if you like a pop of floral, Rose+Vanilla delivers.

Points to consider

Application hang-ups

The formula in its Natural Deodorant Sticks isn’t quite as creamy as Sam’s — we had to press it into our pits to warm it up for a few moments when putting it on. And it comes in a traditional oval applicator as opposed to our preferred round.

How to Find the Right Natural Deodorant for You

Decide if you’re okay with non-antiperspirant deodorant

While an antiperspirant stops sweat (typically via aluminum), a deodorant’s primary aim is to neutralize or mask body odor. Sweat is actually odorless when secreted from your body; the smell is a byproduct released by the bacteria that feast on sweat. You will still sweat with natural deodorant, but you can look forward to less pit staining on shirts.The aluminum found in most antiperspirants can coat fabric, giving sebum (an oil secreted by hair follicles) a place to stick.

Decide if you’re looking for “natural” or “organic”

If a deodorant is made with agricultural products that can meet USDA standards for organic production, handling, processing, and labeling, it may be eligible for certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program.

There are three possible tiers of certification:

  • “100% Organic” is limited to products comprised entirely (save for water and salt) of organic ingredients.
  • “Organic” refers to products comprised of 95 to 99 percent organic ingredients.
  • “Made with Organic Ingredients” can be applied to products made with 70 to 94 percent organic ingredients.

According to one expert, organic is better. “A cold-pressed certified organic unrefined coconut oil-based deodorant is going to be more effective,” said Morin, explaining that the refining process (which includes high levels of heat, bleaching, and deodorizing) can degrade the integrity of a plant-based ingredient, impacting its efficacy.

Experiment

The world of natural deodorants can be hard to navigate, largely because “natural” means different things to different people. We’d suggest choosing a product that omits aluminum (if nothing else, you’ll avoid yellow stains), and steering clear of fragrance, simple alcohols, propanediol, and propylene glycol.

We looked for baking soda, coconut oil, and zinc oxide in our top picks because we found ample research to back up their bacteria-busting properties. But those are far from the only ingredients that get touted. You might also see:

Arrowroot powder and cornstarch

Experts were torn on these two (very similar) ingredients. The team at Schmidt’s Deodorant described arrowroot powder, which shows up in Sam’s and Fatco, as a “star ingredient” and “an absorbent powder that can help to keep you dry without aluminum.” Morin, on the other hand, said that arrowroot and cornstarch only “help to a tiny degree with sweat” and that their “main reason for inclusion is to create a creamier texture — important, but not critical.”

Lichens

A composite organism of fungus and algae (aka the gray-green patches that grow on the sides of rocks and trees). Research shows that lichens can have antimicrobial qualities, but they haven’t made their way into many natural deodorants yet. Only 13 of the 155 formulas we looked at included lichen — none of our top picks — and Robinson acknowledged that while lichens do appear to protect from odor, he “had not seen any studies comparing them to other odor-fighting ingredients.”

Magnesium

Magnesium may act similarly to baking soda “by neutralizing acidic odor-causing bacteria,” said the team at Schmidt’s Deodorant. Magnesium oil shows up in Green Tidings.

Shea butter

A rich moisturizer that, according to Morin, helps a deodorant glide on smoothly. Coconut oil performs a similar function (but has the added benefit of bacteria-fighting lauric acid).

Tea tree oil

Both Robinson and Schmidt’s Deodorant mentioned the purported antifungal and antimicrobial qualities of this oil, derived from the leaves of an Australian tree. But while it does show up in Sam’s, our top pick, neither expert felt it was a must-have. (Remember, the research on the antimicrobial activity of tea tree oil mostly says that more research is needed to confirm.)

Witch hazel

According to Schmidt, this ingredient “can lead to uncomfortably wet, sticky, or skin-drying formulations, but does have deodorizing properties.” It doesn’t show up in any of our top picks.

Zinc ricinoleate

This ingredient “is a salt that is said to help absorb bacteria and ‘trap’ it so that the nose doesn’t necessarily smell it,” the Schmidt’s Deodorant team told us. “It’s also reputed by many to be an ineffective deodorizer that can trigger skin reactions.” Indeed, type the name into Google and two suggested searches will add “rash” and “safety.” It doesn’t appear in any of our top picks.

Natural Deodorant FAQ

What is “natural” deodorant?

When it comes to beauty and bodycare products, it turns out that neither the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the USDA regulates the term “natural.” “Natural means nothing,“ Morin asserts. “People misuse the term; people misunderstand it.” Case in point: “Hemlock is natural, but hemlock can kill you.” When it comes to deodorant, when most people say “natural” they simply mean “no aluminum.”

Why is aluminum in deodorant bad for you?

Research stretching back more than 50 years has suggested that aluminum exposure might increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and separate studies have also linked aluminum exposure to breast cancer. However, the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, and FDA all believe there’s not enough evidence to support either claim.

The FDA does require aluminum-based antiperspirants to come with a label advising anyone with severe kidney issues to consult with their doctor before using it (aluminum is eliminated from the body by the kidneys), but even here, the National Kidney Foundation indicates that risk is low.

Still, concern over the safety of aluminum-based antiperspirants persists, both from venerated news sources (including Scientific American and Time) and newer, “green”-centric blogs, like mindbodygreen and TreeHugger. For more, read our review on the best antiperspirant.

What’s the difference between men’s and women’s deodorant?

Not much. Research published in Experimental Physiology confirms that there are differences in how men and women sweat: Men sweat more and begin sweating at a lower body temperature than women. But sweat is essentially sweat, and the same research found that the salt and water content, regardless of sex, is pretty much the same.

So why are so many deodorants marketed toward a specific gender? When we reviewed antiperspirants, we spoke with Dr. David Pariser, senior physician at Pariser Dermatology, who told us: “In terms of active ingredients, there’s no difference between men’s and women’s products. The main difference is scent.”

After scrutinizing 155 deodorants, it became very obvious that lavender tends to be the go-to scent for natural deodorants marketed toward women. Other common “womanly” scents include jasmine, rose, and honeysuckle. But for natural deodorants, this distinction seemed a bit pointless. Our testers thought most of the scents we tried were pretty unisex.

The Best Natural Deodorant: Summed Up

Sam's
Schmidt's
For Pit's Sake!
Green Tidings
Fatco Stank Stop
Agent Natuer
Best overall
Widest range of scents
Most odor-blocking ingredients
Best organic formula
Best cream formula
Least residue
Coconut oil
Baking soda
Zinc oxide
Vegan
Cruelty-free

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