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Natural deodorant isn’t exactly new to the market, but it’s definitely having a moment – and with no signs of slowing down any time soon. Given the fact that we’re living in an era of heightened wellness, that probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. But what, exactly, is natural deodorant? How does it differ from the regular stuff people have been dutifully applying for years? And, most importantly, does it get the job done? We’re breaking down all the above and throwing you some product recommendations while we’re at it.

Why Is Natural Deodorant So Popular RN?

Long story short: traditional deodorants contain a couple “no-no” ingredients that have consumers worried. This is because any topical ingredient we put on our skin is inevitably absorbed into the body.

Let’s dissect the three ingredients that have generated the most concern: parabens, phthalates, and aluminum.

“Parabens have estrogen-like qualities, but no study to date has linked them with breast cancer. They are, [however], known to cause allergic reactions and many people are sensitive to them. For that reason, you should probably avoid them,” says Dr. Peterson Pierre, a board-certified dermatologist based in Thousand Oaks, Calif. “As for phthalates, they have garnered a lot of attention because of their potential link to various diseases such as asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, autism spectrum disorders as well as male fertility issues. The studies have shown inconsistent findings here, as well.”

Aluminum – which is used specifically in antiperspirants to prevent sweating – is another ingredient that people have chosen to actively avoid. Dr. Pierre says, “There has been a major scare over the past several years regarding aluminum and its possible link to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, all studies to date have failed to demonstrate a link between aluminum and those diseases.”

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The bottom line is that there’s a lot of fear surrounding the above ingredients due to potential links between exposure and certain ailments. However, no studies have conclusively found an actual link – except for in cases where extreme exposure occurs (which you wouldn’t experience with topical products).

Still, Dr. Pierre says that if you’re concerned and want to minimize your risk to the aforementioned health issues, “it’s best to avoid these chemicals altogether and switch to natural deodorants.” It may also be a good move if you have allergies or sensitivities to those ingredients or if you want to simply put your mind at ease.

What Is Natural Deodorant?

Natural deodorants typically only contain natural ingredients. (Note that all brands have a different definition of natural, though, so read the ingredient list thoroughly if this is something important to you.) They are almost always completely free of aluminum, parabens, and phthalates, and many brands eliminate other potentially questionable ingredients, as well.

One downside to switching to a natural deodorant is that you will still sweat. For some, this is an undesirable side effect, especially if they sweat more than others. A natural deodorant’s primary mission is to instead target odor via a handful of natural ingredients. All brands have their own formulations, but common ingredients include starch, baking soda, essential oils, and natural oils or butters (like coconut oil or shea butter).

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Dr. Pierre says that some ingredients found in natural deodorants – particularly starch or baking soda – can help with sweating a bit. However, their end-goal is to target odor-causing bacteria. Essential oils are typically used for scent purposes (either to cover odor or simply add fragrance) though some do have antibacterial properties, such as tea tree oil. Oils and butters are used to moisturize and allow for easier application. Many natural deodorants do target odor effectively, says Dr. Pierre.

4 of The Best Natural Deodorants 

If you’re keen on trying a natural deodorant for yourself, start with one of the below picks.

Corpus Naturals Nº Green Bergamot Natural Deodorant, $22

natural deodorant Source: Corpus Naturals

In addition to eliminating aluminum, parabens, and phthalates, this chic natural deodorant is free of talc and baking soda. That means it glides on streak-free. The formulation itself is very silky, the packaging is dreamy, and the earthy bergamot scent is subtle and lovely. Other scent options include pink lemon, orange blossom, and cardamom.

Native Women’s Natural Deodorant, $12

natural deodorant Source: Native

One of Dr. Pierre’s favorite natural deodorants is made by Native, which boasts a broad range of scents (our favorites are Coconut & Vanilla, and A Dozen Roses). They also have an entire collection dedicated to sensitive skin types, and the $12 price point makes us happy.

Nala Care Free-From Deodorant, $29

natural deodorant Source: Nala Care

It was only a matter of time before bespoke natural deodorants were a thing, and Canadian-based Nala Care has proudly gone there. In addition to offering four different natural deodorants you can simply add to your cart, they offer a personalized deodorant option that allows you to customize the scent and strength to your liking.

Each & Every Worry-Free Deodorant, $15

natural deodorant Source: Each & Every

Each & Every has an expansive range of unique scents to choose from, including Rose & Vanilla and Sandalwood & Black Pepper (the two we’re especially fond of). If you’re curious about sampling, they have a mini bundle pack that includes four miniature deodorants for $20, or you can try a trial-size deodorant for $10.

For more deets on natural beauty, read our guide on buying organic beauty.