Let’s pretend we’re on a Tinder date. I’m telling you about my family and how they shopped at wholefoods stores when I was a kid and had an obscenely expensive reverse osmosis water filter installed under the sink. I lamented being fed carob over chocolate, and thought all women had hair under their arms. On the bathroom sink there was ayurvedic toothpaste (the grainy aftertaste left little to be desired), next to a collection of natural deodorants – some that worked, some that didn’t. Arousing small talk, I know.
That was the Nineties…the golden dawn of a New Age.
Are you signing yourself up for date #2 yet?
What if I continued to talk about my armpits? Actually, let’s use the less offensive term, underarms, because we are, after all, on a date. What if I told you about my underarms and how I spent the last week rolling, spraying and rubbing natural deodorants onto them – going for runs and wearing woolen sweaters to work – only to sniff at them some hours later in the privacy of my bathroom, tapping notes into my phone.
I may or may not have done that for you (I definitely did that for you), and I believe I have some findings that may pique your interest and have you arranging a time to meet the parents.
Mainstream deodorants work great, but they are also full of heavy-duty toxins that not only go straight from your lymph nodes and into your bloodstream, but also inhibit the very natural bodily process of detoxification. And while links to cancer are inconclusive at worst and dubious at best, I personally don’t want to risk my breasts or my life in the name of damming up every last drop of sweat.
Side note: when you’re switching over to a natural deodorant for the first time your body is going to be working extra hard to relieve itself of all the chemicals you’ve been spraying there. So just give it a hot minute to adjust – three weeks at best. We promise it’ll be worth it.
Those duct-plugging culprits are, FYI, Aluminium and Titanium Dioxide, the lack of which tends to classify a deodorant as being “natural”. Some are less natural than others, of course, such as those that contain alcohol, and while you’ll want to stay away from them if you have super sensitive underarms, they’re probably not going to cause a great deal of damage in the long term. I mean, I frequently indulge in wine – what harm’s a few more sprays of booze going to do?
Here’s what came out on top.
Crystal Mineral Deodorant Spray
While I can’t confirm this as being the OG, I do remember it making an appearance in my parent’s bathroom many moons ago, and it’s maybe the only one that has lasted to this day. In short, it works, contains no parabens, alcohol or fragrance – though you can get scented ones too – and is possibly the gentlest and most effective thing you could reach for. Use the “roll on” version if you really want, but honestly, I find the process of wetting a crystal stick hard as a rock and then rubbing it into your armpits kind of laborious and gross, and, if you’ve got underarm hair, plain painful. Spray is simple. Use the spray.
Schmidt’s Coconut and Pineapple
Recommended by my Editor, this creamy formula not only keeps your underarms incredibly smooth and hydrated with coconut and jojoba oil, it also does a pretty impressive job at absorbing sweat (you can thank the magnesium hydroxide and arrowroot powder for that). The upside is that it smells like a tropical holiday, everyday. The slight downside is that it can leave white marks on your clothing if you don’t let it dry before getting dressed, but it will completely come out in the wash.
Aesop Herbal Deodorant Roll-On
I don’t think anyone ever has not wanted to give off that whole Aesop ambrosia that says “I’m an adult, a little zen with exceptional taste” and this one happens to pair up perfectly with my signature scent Hywl (also by Aesop). Bias aside, the spray formula did a profoundly good job at keeping everything dry and fresh, even after eight hours in a heavy woolen sweater. Although, be warned, the roll on can be a little gooey to start with. Again, spray is simple. Use the spray.
Weleda Citrus 24H Deodorant
If you’re happy to sweat a little, and want to encourage your body to detoxify the natural way, but just want something to neutralise the stank, Weleda’s Citrus 24H Deodorant is the one for you. It was the second one for me, coming in at close after Aesop. While the whole 24 hour claim seems a little far fetched, I do know that there was, again, close to zero body odour after repeating the eight hour woolen jumper test. This formula also comes in “Sage” and “Wild Rose”, but I prefer citrus for that ultra-snazzy burst of freshness.
Fresca Natural Deodorant Ocean
Fresca’s roll on contains aerated salts and essential oils, which are super effective at wicking sweat and combating the bacteria that produces unseemly odours. After reading reviews online, I saw that this formula was a winner among athletes and people who sweat a lot for work, so I rolled some on, left it for a minute to dry before getting changed and heading over to hot yoga. Suffice to say, by the end of the hour I was swimming in the sum of my efforts but still smelling and feeling fresh as a sea breeze.
Words, Rose Howard.