Why Is It So Goddamn Hard To Find A Natural Deodorant That Works?


Only Los Angeles can make natural deodorant seem not only necessary, but cool. 

I’ve been a Dove Powder Fresh ™ devotee since puberty, but I decided to kick my name brand deodorant habit to the curb and go natural due to mounting pressure from LA Instagram influencers. No more aluminum in these pits, thank you very much.

I began my all-natural adventure with a vegan formula from a local shop in LA’s Glassell Park neighborhood called No Tox Life. A fan of their Desert Rose lip balm, I thought their Desert Rose deodorant stick would be a “natural” fit for me (eh? EH?). And it was! I actually loved this product — especially the scent — but ended up feeling a little stinky after workouts. When I ran out, I resorted back to my trusty Dove stick until I had time to pick up a new natural formula to try. Bad idea. 

After two days back on the ‘lum, my armpits broke out in a gnarly rash that included dry patches, peeling, and sore-to-the-touch welts. (All of which I would gladly trade in for a little post-workout stank.) Clearly, in just a month of using a natural version, my body had detoxed from all the harmful chemicals found in name-brand deodorants, and it was not happy about getting back together with them. 

Those “harmful chemicals,” by the way? They include parabens (which mess with your hormones, among other things), the aforementioned aluminum compounds (which absorb into your skin, clog pores, and have been linked to breast cancer), and triclosan (a pesticide and possible carcinogen that causes contact dermatitis). 

And thus began Mission: Impossible: Find an all-natural deodorant that won’t fill my body with cancer-causing chemicals and will keep the B.O. at bay.

After No Tox Life’s Desert Rose and Valencia Orange Deodorant, I tried Schmidt’s Lavender + Sage stick. The smell was nice and I felt fresh all day, but the formula was so dry that it further irritated my broken armpit skin. 

Alaffia Deodorant with Activated Charcoal was next in line. The stick is really wet and my armpits took forever to dry — which I could deal with if Alaffia did anything about body odor. But it didn’t.

I was hoping Desert Essence’s Tea Tree Oil Deodorant would strike a nice balance between the previously too-dry and too-wet versions, but this one was still to wet for my liking, and had to be applied at least twice a day. (NOTE: This article is making it sound like I’m a super-smelly person. I’m not. I’m average at most, I swear!)


 At LUSH, I found something that looked promising: The Guv’ner, a powdered mix of “sage, lavender and ... a super absorbent charcoal.” LUSH’s deodorant was actually my favorite B.O.-blasting formula of the bunch — I mean, it really works. However, using it involves smearing BLACK POWDER ALL OVER YOUR UNDERARM AREA, and this stuff doesn’t fade. With Guv’ner on, I couldn’t wear tank tops without looking like a chimney sweep. And forget feeling sexy. This formula is only good for when you’re wearing an oversized, cable knit fisherman’s sweater with no opportunities for sex in sight. (So, almost none of the days.)

And then I found the cutest roll-on deodorant I’d ever seen from Living Libations, complete with an adorable name (Poetic Pits) and a ridiculous product description (“Saturate senses and emanate the aromatic glow of your royal nature with this resplendent odorant”). It was $35 for a 5ml bottle (ugh, I know), but I couldn’t resist taking it home. 

The first day with Poetic Pits was promising, but after a while I found that it just added a sweet layer to my natural scent — which, honestly, was not a good mix for me, but might work for you!

So now, I’m back to my original. No Tox Life’s Desert Rose deodorant stick is almost perfect, and you know what? I’m fine with feeling a little smelly after yoga. It’s only natural.

BODYJessica DeFino3 Comments