We discreetly sniffed our own armpits for weeks to find natural, aluminum-free deodorants that work for runners. You’re welcome.
Why go natural?
At one point, there was an email rumor floating around that claimed aluminum compounds, the active ingredient in antiperspirants, are absorbed through the nicks in your skin after underarm shaving, and that they cause changes to the estrogen receptors of breast cells, making you potentially more likely to develop breast cancer. However, the American Cancer Society reports that there’s no research or evidence to directly link aluminum-containing antiperspirants to breast cancer. Still, many women are looking to rid all artificial chemicals from their homes—many traditional deodorants and antiperspirants do contain artificial scents and (weak) estrogen-mimicking chemicals called parabens—which can help you cover up smells naturally, but won’t clog your pores or keep you as dry as antiperspirants will.
Pit Pro Tips
If you want to go natural, follow these tips for your best chance at success.
Swipe just once or twice—more than that and there’s a chance it won’t work—and you could leave oily residue on your shirts.
If you have sensitive skin, test the deodorant on the inside of your wrist for a few days before applying under your arms to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction.
Be aware of a potential “pit detox” period if you’ve been used to aluminum-containing products. While this detox period has no concrete evidence (all anecdotal), you could experience things like itching or extra-smelly pits for a few days or even weeks before things get better.
Primal Pit Paste Natural Deodorant Stick, $11 For 2 Oz.
The jasmine scent of this clean-feeling, handcrafted deodorant provides a perfectly feminine floral smell (jasmine and gardenia), which seemed to leave armpits more “neutrally scented,” according to testers, even after the flower smell wore off. Made with shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax, it has a slightly harder texture that needs to warm up on your body for a few seconds to apply easily. It’s made to both nourish your skin and take away the stink; however, because it uses baking soda to neutralize scents, it doesn’t work for more sensitive skin (the brand offers baking soda–free deodorants as well).
Thinksport Natural Deodorant, $8.99 For 2.9 Oz.
We loved the unique scents in this line of deodorants—our favorites are chamomile citrus, and aloe and tea flowers—because they’re pleasant and feminine without smelling “hippie-ish,” as one tester put it. Made with a mix of coconut oil, candelilla wax and beeswax, it has a texture that’s slightly crumbly, but it applies easily if you hold it to your skin for a few seconds. The scent lasts all day, and a little goes a long way.
Ursa Major of Vermont Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant, $18 For 2.6 Oz.
This round deodorant stick is very “strong yet fresh” smelling, as one tester put it, thanks to a blend of scents including peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary and grapefruit. It glides on easily without staining clothes, and it utilizes ingredients such as hops for neutralizing odors, aloe to moisturize and soothe skin, and kaolin (a clay) and baking soda for absorbing moisture. The scent doesn’t last all day, but it does help neutralize body odor. Note that some skin types are sensitive to baking soda, so the brand also offers a “No B.S.” baking soda–free variety as well.
Underarmed Active Botanical Luxury Deodorant, $17 For 1 Oz.
This deodorant is made with only natural and organic ingredients, including coconut oil, beeswax, avocado butter and sunflower oil, which are mixed with lavender and eucalyptus essential oils and raw organic honey. The stick applies surprisingly smoothly, and the scent is fresh and a little sweet. Each stick is handmade, and even though the price is a little steep, a small stick can last a long time. The brand also offers a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, so you can return it within 30 days for a full refund.