Looking to stay fresh without heavy metals? We found the best aluminum-free, natural deodorants and put them to the test.
Table of Contents
- Aluminum antiperspirant vs. natural deodorant
- Deodorant ingredients to avoid
- The best all-natural deodorant: our top picks
- Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant
- Pretty Frank Natural Deodorant
- LoveFresh Super Strength Deodorant
- Lavanila The Healthy Deodorant
- Native Deodorant
- Pure Chimp Natural Deodorant Balm
- Tom’s of Maine Antiperspirant
- Runners up for best eco-friendly, non-toxic deodorants
- Can I do without deodorant altogether?
Jeepers, it took me a long time to comb through ingredient labels to find natural deodorants that are truly non-toxic and eco-friendly. So many so-called ‘clean’ and ‘green’ toiletries greenwash by hiding their nasty chemicals behind a list of natural ingredients and focus on fancy marketing to throw you off the scent.
Not this nerd! In this LeafScore guide to natural deodorants, I have compiled my top picks, plus runner-ups, for aluminum free, natural deodorants.
Aluminum antiperspirant vs. natural deodorant
Aluminum based deodorants are actually antiperspirants and work by blocking sweat pores.
By contrast, most natural deodorants rely on baking soda, arrowroot powder, clay, or charcoal to absorb moisture. So, rather than preventing you from sweating, they help sop up your sweat quickly and neutralize or mask odor. For this reason, you have to read natural deodorant reviews with a grain of salt. When compared to products that use metals to block sweat pores they won’t work as well for some people. However, those of us who choose natural deodorants do so because we’ve made the decision to use a gentler product.
Nonetheless, too much baking soda can cause skin irritation, as can other ingredients in natural deodorants. We’ve included some baking soda free natural deodorant options in this list.
Almost everyone will need to engage in a bit of trial and error to figure out which natural deodorant ingredients work for them, as well as which scent, if any, works with their particular chemistry. And then there’s the application too, with natural deodorants taking the form of sprays, powders, putties, creams, gels, sticks, and more. My top tip (which applies to most natural deodorants) is to hold the deodorant under your armpit for a few seconds to warm and soften up before swiping.
Deodorant ingredients to avoid
Short of the natural ingredients above, look for deodorants that are free from:
- Proplyene glycol (in some cases)
- Polyethylene glycol (PEG)
- TEA and DEA
The more of us who choose these natural deodorants, the more we’ll get the message across to manufacturers that they need to take our concerns seriously. Eco-activism, it’s 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, right?!
The best all-natural deodorant: our top picks
With the exception of Tom’s of Maine’s recycled aluminum antiperspirants, the following are also aluminum-free. Click here to view our methodology, which at its core, is about voting with our dollars to fight climate change.
Highlights: Totally natural, gender neutral, super refreshing, effective deodorant from a great company.
Ursa Major’s Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant is made with baking soda and kaolin clay as the main absorbents and a whole heap of natural oils and hops to keep your pits feeling happy and healthy.
It also contains a Saccharomyces culture to fight odor-causing bacteria.
Ursa Major’s Hoppin’ Fresh is available as a deodorant stick but goes on more like a gel rather than a gritty clay. Ursa Major also have Forest Fix and Unscented (baking soda-free) versions of their deodorant.
We tested Ursa Major deodorant
We tested the Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant by Ursa Major. The scent is piney and pleasant, not floral or musky, making it a great choice whatever your gender. We found the product adequate for everyday use out and around town, however, the deodorant rolls on with a thin gel layer of protection which won’t be enough for those who tend to sweat more. One downside: reviews on Amazon complained frequently of skin irritation.
Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice*, Propanediol, Sodium Stearate, Tapioca Starch, Silica, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum, Shea (Butyrosperum Parkii) Butter (Community Trade), Sodium Bicarbonate, Kaolin (Clay), Tocopheryl Acetate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Glycerin, Royal Jelly Extract, Hops (Humulus Lupulus) Extract, Lemon (Citrus Medica Limonum) Peel Extract, Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolium) Root Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Matricaria (Chamomilla Recutita) Flower Extract, Saccharomyces Ferment, Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) Leaf Oil, Peppermint (Mentha Piperita) Oil, Grapefruit (Citrus Grandis) Peel Oil, Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globulus) Leaf Oil. *Organic Ingredient.
Highlights: Made in Texas, this mostly organic natural deodorant goes on great and looks fantastic!
If you like your deodorant to look good, feel good, and work great, Pretty Frank have you covered. Their natural deodorant is free from toxic chemicals, is made in Austin, Texas, keeps you feeling fresh, and has very pleasing packaging to boot.
The Pretty Frank deodorants use aluminum-free baking soda, organic arrowroot powder, zinc, and magnesium to soak up sweat and neutralize odors. These deodorants may also contain organic shea butter, organic coconut oil, and organic beeswax (except for the vegan options), so they glide on easily and don’t dry out your skin.
Pretty Frank natural deodorant also contains a simple essential oil blend for natural scent that works with most body chemistries. To apply, soften the stick against your skin for a few seconds and then swipe twice and allow to absorb for a few minutes before dressing.
Pretty Frank used to be called Primal Pits, and the company offers deodorants in Unscented, Rose, Lavender, Seaside, Orange Vanilla, Charcoal, Woodlands, Palo Santo, Jasmine, Matcha, and Coconut Lime. Before you even choose a scent, though, I highly recommend getting their Body Chemistry Kit which contains a mini tin of each type of natural deodorant. These include unscented versions of:
- Charcoal Deodorant – baking soda free and great for a daily detox.
- Baking Soda Deodorant – a good fit for most pits.
- Zinc Deodorant – baking soda free alternative for sensitive skin
- Magnesium Deodorant – their most sensitive formula
All of the Pretty Frank products are certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and most of their products are vegan-friendly (except for lip balms and deodorant sticks containing beeswax). They use predominantly glass containers that are naturally BPA-free and recycled/recyclable, and where glass isn’t feasible, they use BPA-free plastic that is recyclable. None of their products contain toxic chemicals and they’re also free from gluten, soy, and corn.
Organic Shea Butter, Non-Aluminum Baking Soda, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Arrowroot Powder, Ylang Ylang Essential Oil, Jasmine Absolute Oil, Gardenia Absolute Oil, Bergamot Essential Oil, Non-GMO Vitamin E derived 100% from Sunflowers.
We tested Pretty Frank deodorant
We tested one of Pretty Frank’s lavender scented deodorants. You can definitely feel the baking soda, but the deodorant rolls on drier than a product like LoveFresh, and we believe Pretty Frank is “pretty” close to the Goldilocks zone with the baking soda. Not too much so it feels slathered on, but just enough for a feeling of greater protection.
Highlights: Super absorbent natural cream deodorant perfect for a heavy sweater. Will have too much baking soda for some.
If you’re terrified that a natural non-toxic deodorant won’t keep up with heavy sweating, LoveFresh’s Super Strength Deodorant is the one for you. This 100% natural cream deodorant offers around twice the amount of baking soda as many natural deodorants, and arrowroot powder too. These are great for soaking up sweat to keep you from feeling swampy.
We tested LoveFresh deodorant
LoveFresh Super Strength is lightly scented with cedar and saffron and is handmade in Toronto. It is vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, and free from nasty chemicals. The product contains higher amounts of baking soda, which makes it much chalkier than a gel based deodorant like Ursa Major. Due the baking soda content, it’s also a good idea to do a patch test on your arm before using it wholesale.
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Natural Beeswax, Sodium Bicarbonate (Non-Aluminum Baking Soda), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Maranta Arundincea Root (Arrowroot Powder), Kaolin Clay, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Zinc Oxide, Essential Oil Blend.
Highlights: Innovative natural deodorant free from baking soda and available in lots of lovely scents!
Although we tested lavender, Lavanila’s The Healthy Deodorant is available in lavender, grapefruit, coconut, and vanilla, and is one of the more affordable options for natural deodorant.
This deodorant does not rely on baking soda to keep you dry and instead features corn starch, seaweed, and beta-glucans to soak up sweat and minimize odor. It glides on cleanly and has natural antibacterial ingredients such as tea tree oil and goldenseal.
We tested Lavanila deodorant
Lavanila is a nice happy medium between the gel like texture of Ursa Major, and the baking soda heavy LoveFresh formula. The formula feels like it provides a thicker layer of protection than Ursa Major, but it doesn’t bury your armpit in chalk either. This is one of our favorite all-natural deodorants.
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe Juice, Water/Aqua), Propanediol (Corn Derived), Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Sodium Stearate (Coconut Derived), Silica, Carrageenan (Seaweed Derived), Stearyl Behenate (Coconut Derived), Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon Peel Oil), Inulin (Artichoke Derived), Saccharomyces Ferment, Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide (Sugar Derived), Yeast Beta Glucan, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract, Valeriana Officinalis Root Extract (Valerian), Hydrastis Canadensis (Goldenseal) Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract (And) Water (Aqua) (And) Glycerin, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract (Goji Berry), Morinda Citrifolia Fruit Extract (Noni Juice), Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract, Vanilla Planifolia (Vanilla) Oil, Botanical Fragrance Blend.
Highlights: Well-known company with a wide range of scents and a great subscription option, so you never run out!
Native have really risen as the brand for natural deodorant in recent years, which isn’t surprising given the effectiveness and simplicity of their products. Native deodorants are free from aluminum, parabens, phthalates, and other worrisome ingredients and instead rely on baking soda and tapioca starch to soak up sweat and keep you feeling dry.
Other ingredients include coconut oils and shea butter, ozokerite (earth wax) to help stabilize the product, and cyclodextrin from corn to help release the natural scent throughout the day.
One quibble I have with Native is that despite their success, they don’t appear to have any corporate social responsibility policies, don’t donate to environmental or other charities, and aren’t a B Corporation. I hope they’re working on these things in the background and will launch something publicly soon, so if you work for the company and know something, I’d love to hear from you!
We tested Native deodorant
Of the three formulas we tested, our favorite Native deodorant was cucumber & mint. It wasn’t too heavy on the baking soda, and the scent was bright and fun. Very unique product that will look great in your medicine cabinet.
Caprylic/capric triglyceride, tapioca starch, ozokerite, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), magnesium hydroxide, coconut oil, cyclodextrin, shea butter, dextrose, L. Acidophilus (probiotic), natural fragrance.
Highlights: Truly eco-friendly, non-toxic deodorant in a recyclable glass jar at an affordable price!
Pure Chimp is a UK brand that makes fantastic eco-friendly, non-toxic toiletries. They are clearly committed to sustainable manufacturing that supports people and the planet, and their natural deodorant is no exception.
Pure Chimp’s Natural Deodorant Balm comes in a recyclable glass jar with aluminum lid and is vegan, cruelty-free, alcohol and palm oil free and great for sensitive skin. It features activated charcoal and arrowroot powder to soak up and neutralize sweat and odor.
Each jar lasts more than 60 applications (about a pea-sized amount), making this a really affordable way to have truly non-toxic and planet-friendly pits. The company donates 5% of profits to charity, is a member of 1% for the planet, and are a Living Wage Employer, so you can feel good about sending your cash their way.
Arrowroot Powder, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Sodium Bicarbonate, Activated Charcoal, Banana Extract.
Highlights: Non-toxic natural antiperspirant from a well-known and loved B Corp. Does contain aluminum.
If you’re OK with using an aluminum antiperspirant but really want to avoid all the other common toxic ingredients in conventional antiperspirants, check out Tom’s of Maine. This company, which is a community minded B Corporation, makes both aluminum-free deodorants and antiperspirants that are natural, cruelty-free, free from animal products (except some bee products), and help keep you smelling great.
Their Fresh Meadow and Lavender antiperspirant features recycled aluminum, originally derived from bauxite, along with palm kernel oil, stearyl alcohol and dicapryly ether from coconuts and palm oil, soybean oil, castor oil, natural plant oils, and olive leaf extract as well as maltodextrin from corn. The palm oil is derived from sustainable sources, as per the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
Both the deodorant and the antiperspirants glide on easily and have a subtle smell that isn’t cloying or overbearing. Personally, I’ve tried the deodorant and didn’t find it all that helpful, given that it has nothing in it that soaks up sweat, just the scent-masking oils. The antiperspirant is a great option though, especially if you’re more of a heavy sweater.
Tom’s of Maine has been around for almost fifty years (since 1970), and are a well-regarded socially minded company. They donate 10% of profits to charitable causes and encourage staff to use 5% of their paid time to volunteer in their communities. They are partnered with TerraCycle to help customers recycle packaging and have long demonstrated a strong commitment to the environment.
Typical antiperspirant ingredients: Aluminum hydrochloride (recycled), palm kernel oil (RSPO), stearyl alcohol, dicapryly ether, hydrogenated soybean oil, hydrogenated castor oil, natural plant oils, olive leaf extract, maltodextrin (from corn).
Typical deodorant ingredients: Propylene glycol, water, sodium stearate, organic aloe barbadensis leaf juice, glyceryl laurate, natural fragrance, humulus lupulus (hops) [CO2] extract, organic helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, ascorbic acid, organic cymbopogon flexuosus oil.
Runners up for best eco-friendly, non-toxic deodorants
Other excellent options for truly non-toxic, natural deodorants that work:
- Milk + Honey – another good option for super-sweaters (View on Amazon)
- Pretty Frank/Primal Pits Unscented, Lavender, or Coconut and Lime Deodorant Jar – excellent deodorant in a jar (View on Amazon)
- Farmacy Freshen Up – has a huge list of ingredients, but all are natural and non-toxic! (View on Amazon)
- Routine Deodorant Cream – made in Canada with non-toxic natural ingredients with 12 scents and 3 formulas (View on Amazon)
- Green Tidings Natural Deodorant – vegan, non-toxic, organic, and made in the USA (View on Amazon)
- Ben & Anna Natural Deodorant – vegan, cruelty-free, plastic-free, and 100% natural, this easy to apply deodorant works great but does contain naturally-occurring benzyl benzoate, so might irritate more sensitive skin (View on Amazon)
Can I do without deodorant altogether?
I’ve tried the deodorant-free lifestyle a handful of times and every time I’ve bailed before the week is out. I’ve also tried making my own deodorant and the results were, at best, messy and ineffective. I do know plenty of folks (including those very close to me!) who have long been deodorant-free, however, and I didn’t even notice when they made the switch. What I’m saying, then, is that if you want underarm freedom, go for it! After all, it’s the easiest way to avoid all of the chemicals in many conventional products.
If you like to use deodorant, though, I’d highly recommend making the switch from conventional to natural when you’re off work and staying home.
Why? In part, because using a natural deodorant can give your natural bacteria a chance to flourish and repopulate. In time, these good bacteria can help keep bad, odor-creating bacteria in check. So, if you can hack it, try to go deodorant free for a week or so, and see how your body adjusts.