The first deodorant in the United States came out in 1888 when wearing deodorant wasn’t common. Today, putting something on your underarms is part of the routine. However, before you reach for that stick, you may want to consider switching to a natural, aluminum-free product. We’ve looked into several companies and what they offer.
To save you time, we’re going to share the top five picks and tell you why going aluminum-free isn’t a tinfoil hat idea. When it comes to choosing the best aluminum-free deodorant, there are several benefits to going au natural without leaving off this essential hygiene product.
Organic Versus Regular Deodorants: How Do They Work?
Sweat doesn’t smell, but the bacteria on the skin reacting with it does. These bacteria are responsible for turning that mixture of water and salts acidic, which causes an unpleasant smell or odor to emanate from your body. Regardless of whether your deodorant is organic or regular, in order to prevent or lessen the smell, deodorants must reduce the number of microorganisms available to gobble down your sweat. This is done by killing bacteria or reducing the amount of sweat produced for bacteria to eat. So, how do organic and regular deodorants work?
Traditional deodorants use aluminum to kill off the colonies of corynebacterium residing in your armpits that help make you stink. Aluminum and triclosan react with electrolytes in sweat to create a gel layer that blocks or shrinks the pores where sweat comes out. By reducing the amount of bacteria and how much sweat is available for the bacteria to eat, traditional deodorants make armpits less hospitable and less stinky.
Aluminum-free deodorants use natural ingredients such as baking soda, vitamin E and essential or plant oils to reduce bacteria and maintain a pleasant odor. Some natural deodorants use alum, which is a mineral salt that reacts with sweat to create an antibacterial gel. Alum is not an antiperspirant nor is it an artificial ingredient that needs to be chemically suspended in the deodorant to work. Natural choices don’t clog or reduce the size of the pores in your armpits to achieve a neutral or pleasing aroma.
The Search for the Best Brands
With more and more natural options out there, how did we come to decide which was the best aluminum-free deodorant on the market? We performed extensive research, starting with top-selling products, then moving on to unbiased customer reviews and beauty-insider insights. While we couldn’t submit our pits to every product out there, the ones we did try were judged on scent, performance and price. Of course, we made sure each one was completely natural because of the positive health benefits of not having aluminum on your skin.
Our Top 5 Aluminum-Free Picks
Taking care if your body is important, and aluminum-free deodorant helps you do that thanks to their all natural formulas. Listed below are what we consider to be the best aluminum-free deodorant brands on the market.
The Winner: Every Man Jack Deodorant
Every Man Jack Deodorant comes as a clear, 3.0-ounce stick. It comes in a familiar deodorant packaging with a dial at the bottom for turning to dispense the product. The natural odor-fighting property stems from lichen extract. Dampness is combated with cotton extract and witch hazel. The fresh scent is from rosemary and sage essential oils. One of the benefits of sage oil is its antimicrobial properties, which help keep the stink-causing bacteria at bay. This deodorant contains no parabens, phthalates or dyes. Along with zero aluminum, Every Man Jack is not tested on animals and its ingredients are vegan.
Made in California, Every Man Jack deodorant got the top spot because of its reasonable price point, pleasing scent and long-lasting protection. The reason we dinged half a star is that some gentlemen found the fresh scent too closely resembled baby powder and others noted that lichen extract caused skin reactions in a very small subset of users. Many women found the fresh scent pleasing and admitted to borrowing or using their partner’s Every Man Jack, or EMJ as its aficionados call it.
Most users felt the scent and odor protection lasted all day. For those who felt Every Man Jack wasn’t strong enough or didn’t continue throughout the day, experienced aluminum-free deodorant users recommended reapplying midway through the day until the body’s biome adjusts to the natural alternative to traditional aluminum. This adjustment period is a process that can take several days or a few weeks. Many complimented the deodorant on not staining dress shirts, which is what aluminum does when it reacts with your sweat. While we highlighted the fresh scent, there are other options available, such as cedarwood or sandalwood. For the price and amount of deodorant, Every Man Jack is a great introduction to organic deodorants.
The Runner-Up: Schmidt's Natural Deodorant for Sensitive Skin
Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant for Sensitive Skin is fragrance-free and comes in a 3.25-ounce stick. The formulation behind this aluminum-free option has won awards for its eco-friendliness and long-lasting power. Because it is for sensitive skin, this deodorant does not contain baking soda. Furthermore, it is non-greasy, does not leave a sticky residue and has no phthalates, parabens or propylene glycol. The secret behind how Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant fights pit odor is by using coconut oil and arrowroot powder. Certified vegan and cruelty-free by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, this product is made in Portland, Oregon.
Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant for Sensitive Skin was a close second, falling out of contention for first place because of its significantly higher price point. For folks looking to try aluminum-free deodorants, the high price tag could easily prove to be a barrier to switching to a healthier option. At more than $14, this organic choice was one of the most expensive we reviewed. However, users swore by Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant for Sensitive Skin. In particular, many pointed out that they loved the luxurious feel and how long the deodorant lasted. Several reviewers complimented the unscented option for being unisex. Those who used the product because of their sensitive skin enjoyed the baking soda-free formulation.
Many said the stick form was more convenient than the similar jar version offered by the same company. However, one complaint was that the product took a few seconds in contact with the body to warm up and start to spread. Other users found that the stick of deodorant tended to crumble when the stick was too cold to go on readily. Another concern was noticing marks on dark clothing from the product, but other reviewers did not observe marks. This discrepancy in the reviews on whether or not the product leaves stains could be from how the natural product reacts with an individual’s biology.
Good-Smelling Bargain: Own Beauty Deodorant
Own Beauty Deodorant is ideal for sensitive skin. Packaged as a 2.3-ounce stick, this aluminum-free deodorant is made from naturally derived ingredients and certified organic. With 100 percent pure and natural extracts like cotton and witch hazel, wetness is absorbed without blocking pores. Other key ingredients are chamomile and aloe, which moisturize and refresh the skin. Odor-causing bacteria are blocked by using lichen extract. Certified organic and cruelty-free, this deodorant has a pleasing scent of lemon and sage. Other key ingredients are orange and apple extracts. The product should be applied in the morning to underarms with unbroken skin.
The combination of lemon and sage made Own Beauty Deodorant a pleasing option. Many users considered the scent unisex. Some described the deodorant as citrusy with a woodsy undertone. With its budget-friendly price and lack of baking soda, Own Beauty Deodorant is a great choice for those looking for a hint of perfume with their product without the skin irritation caused by baking soda and aluminum allergies. The feel of the product was comfortable and not sticky.
Although deodorant does not block sweat like an antiperspirant, many users said they felt the cotton extract and witch hazel absorbed underarm sweat and kept them dry throughout the day. One reviewer called it the “best natural deodorant I’ve used.” The organic aloe helps soothe skin, particularly after shaving. Chamomile extract calms and soothes skin as well. However, some users with extremely sensitive skin noticed irritation, most likely from the perfumes in the deodorant. Others complained that the formula didn’t mesh well with their body and caused an unpleasant odor. Otherwise, reviewers enjoyed how their armpits felt moisturized after using the product. We picked this as our good-smelling, budget-friendly option because overall it’s a bargain compared to other natural deodorants on the market.
Well-Known and Reliable: Tom's of Maine Natural Deodorant Stick
In business since 1970, Tom’s of Maine is one of the most recognized names in natural products. It offers a Natural Deodorant Stick in 2.25 ounces of lavender-scented goodness. The secret to this aluminum-free product’s smell-fighting power is hops, the same ingredient that makes beer. This antimicrobial ingredient keeps body-odor bacteria at bay. Organic aloe leaf juice soothes the skin and helps moisturize your armpits. With no artificial fragrance or preservatives, this unisex deodorant provides all-day odor protection. Additionally, with no animal ingredients and zero animal testing, this product is perfect for vegans and other socially conscious individuals. Furthermore, Tom’s of Maine Natural Deodorant Stick is certified kosher and halal.
Made in Maine, this Natural Deodorant Stick has many fans who love the pleasant smell and odor protection. Many reviewers commented on the longevity of the product and how it didn’t leave stains on their clothing. Several agreed that they enjoyed how the deodorant went on clear and how it worked with their body chemistry. Reviewers were drawn to Tom’s of Maine because of the company’s reputation in the natural-product space, with many coming over to aluminum-free deodorant after starting with toothpaste from Tom’s of Maine.
As one of the lowest-cost options we tried out, it fell short in the rankings because several reviewers had to reapply the product throughout the day and felt their body odor was significantly worse than going through the day without putting anything on. Another reason why Tom’s of Maine Natural Deodorant Stick fell short in our rankings was because it contains propylene glycol. While this ingredient helps make the deodorant slick and easy to apply, it’s also known to cause skin reactions and some folks do not consider the ingredient to be organic. Several reviewers complained that their armpits had rashes and hives when using this natural deodorant. Additionally, after a reformulation with an “improved fragrance,” many users noted the lavender scent seemed more synthetic and less pleasing.
Didn't Math Insider Hyper: Jason Dry Spray Deodorant
Started in California, Jason Dry Spray Deodorant goes on dry to leave your skin feeling fresh. This spray deodorant offers all-day protection and doesn’t use chemical propellants. The main ingredients to combat odor are orange and lemon peel. There are no artificial fragrances, aluminum, butane, parabens or phthalates in the formula. Awarded Allure’s Best of Beauty 2017, Jason Dry Spray Deodorant is a natural option that many of the magazine’s readers love. Never tested on animals, this product offers rigorously tested formulas to provide safe and effective beauty products. The company is committed to safe and wholesome personal care solutions.
As the only spray deodorant to make it to our Top 5, Jason Dry Spray Deodorant had a lot of hype to live up to. Many reviewers found they preferred a spray to a stick because there was no chance it could crumble onto their clothes. Several pointed out that any unusual smells that didn’t match the label dissipated when the deodorant dried. However, despite the product getting a major shout-out in Allure as a top organic deodorant, many users felt it did not live up to its promise. A few users experienced reactions to the alcohol that is used to help the spray dry faster. Although Allure’s deputy beauty director raved that “it doesn’t feel wet or sticky going on,” other reviewers complained it was nearly impossible to get the nozzle button to work. Yet others were frustrated that the aerosol button was hard to aim, particularly with their non-dominant hands. Other people who sampled the spray said the cucumber label didn’t match the smell and noted there was a touch of sage instead. This difference in opinion on scent might be from how natural deodorants work by using plant and essential oils. Much like perfume, they will react based on an individual’s body chemistry.
The Health Benefits of Going Organic
Lower Your Risk of Alzheimer’s
While the studies on the link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s haven’t been able to determine if patients with Alzheimer’s disease have more aluminum because of exposure or the nature of the illness, it’s still an environmental hazard scientists are encouraging people to avoid. Think of it this way: Skin is your body’s largest organ. Putting something on top of your skin means it will be absorbed. Even though the link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s isn’t definitive, you can switch to a natural deodorant that works just as well without the possible risk caused by unnecessary aluminum exposure. Deodorant is a product you use every day, so eliminating aluminum from your morning routine is a small step in the right direction.
Reduce Skin Sensitivities and Allergies
Many people experience contact dermatitis when exposed to aluminum. Contact dermatitis, also known as contact eczema, is a skin irritation where something comes in contact with your skin. Armpits with itchy, red rashes are nothing to look forward to going about your daily routine. Outright allergies to aluminum are rare, but people become sensitive to the metal over time when they use antiperspirants with aluminum in them. Repeated exposure to allergy-causing substances can result in hives and splotchy skin. Even if you haven’t found yourself scratching at irritated pits yet, it’s not a bad idea to reduce the amount you expose yourself to a potential and known allergen.
Contribute to Less Pollution and a Better Environment
Aluminum is an element. In order to get this key ingredient for traditional deodorant products, it takes a lot out of the environment. In fact, it took decades for chemists to be able to suspend aluminum in non-organic deodorants so that they wouldn’t turn clothes and skin red. Extracting those types of raw materials from the earth takes quite a toll on the environment. By removing an unnecessary metal and ingredient from your deodorant choice, you are helping reduce your impact on the earth. If more consumers choose to go natural instead of traditional, then more companies are likely to change their deodorant formulas to reflect those preferences. When the world is less polluted, it will be more beneficial for you to live in.
Improve the Health of Your Lymph Nodes
Aluminum-based deodorants have been linked to the formulation of granulomas. Granulomas are areas of swelling caused by inflammation in tissues, particularly the lymph nodes. Another term for a granuloma is a nodule. Different from contact dermatitis, granulomas are below the skin and filled with cells inside your body fighting off infection. Many people who use aluminum deodorant notice their lymph nodes around their armpits and chest swelling. In part, this irritation is caused by how traditional deodorants work, which is by shrinking or blocking the pores where sweat comes out. The average person sweats about one liter a day, so blocking one of the exits isn’t always the best idea.
Protect Your Kidneys
Have you looked at the fine print on a package of traditional deodorant? You might have missed the “Ask your doctor if you have kidney disease” warning on the label. The reason for this FDA-mandated advisory is that additional exposure to aluminum if you have kidney issues can cause serious health problems. In part, this is because people with kidney disease can’t filter out that element from their body as quickly. If people who know they have kidney concerns shouldn’t use aluminum deodorant, then why make your kidneys work harder than they have to? Save your kidneys the extra filtering work and switch to organic.
Selecting the best aluminum-free deodorant isn’t always easy. Each person will have different reactions with the natural ingredients. Much like perfume, the process of selecting an organic deodorant for yourself takes time. Because of how natural deodorants work, not every product will work for every person. Start with some of the lower-cost options, as it can take a few tries to find the right natural deodorant that works for you. The organic variants of deodorants are often as good as traditional ones, but you have to let your body adjust to the aluminum-free product. Keep the tinfoil for the kitchen and get the aluminum out of your armpits ASAP.