Natural deodorant. The term initially gave me visions of beauty ‘hacks’, like rubbing half a lemon in your armpit or washing with malt vinegar. But in truth, natural deodorants are the same as the mainstream deodorants we’re used to, just without all the bad stuff.
So why aren’t more people switching to natural deodorants? Well, convenience for one, (there are few mainstream shops stocking them yet), the lack of natural antiperspirants, and the transition period. As I mentioned in the shampoo bars blog post, it’s difficult to break habits with the products we swear by, especially when it affects how people see us and smell us. Anxieties around how others perceive us can keep us from trying something new.
I swear that’s as philosophical as this deodorant post will get.
Hopefully, reading the reviews below will help convince you to take the plunge. This will be a living blog post, which means I will update it as I try more natural deodorants, so be sure to bookmark this page or sign up for updates!
- Transition period
Natural deodorant pros
There are several convincing arguments for switching to natural deodorants. Depending on the brand you choose, this could include a lower cost, greater effectiveness, and supporting local businesses. Two of the biggest advantages, though, are for the reduction of damage to the environment and the potential health benefits.
The more consumers that switch to lower impact products, the more industries are shaken up. There’s a tendency recently to believe that individuals can’t make a difference to the climate crisis and that it’s all on the big companies, but this isn’t completely true. In changing our habits and choices, we can force these businesses to look into improving their processes and products to retain their customer base.
Although aerosol tins are usually recyclable, the process isn’t straightforward. The sprays must be entirely empty and clean, and if you’ve ever tried to remove the nozzle from an aerosol deodorant, you’ll know that’s not always possible.
Worse still, the compressed gases in the spray contribute to CO2 emissions. Two sprays per day may not seem like much, but with over 600 million spray deodorant bottles used each year in the UK alone, this number quickly adds up.
Deodorant packaging usually contains one or more types of plastic. A combination of materials with different recycling requirements makes every element of the packaging difficult to recycle at all.
Roll-on deodorants in glass containers, for example, may at first glance seem better for the environment, but this isn’t the case. The plastic part of the roll-on isn’t easy to separate from the glass and other types of plastic used, meaning one of the most recyclable materials available ends up in general waste.
This difficulty separating elements also increases the cost of recycling, making it more economical for businesses to just keep making new ones instead.
Aerosols usually contain water, which requires the addition of chemicals to ensure longer shelf life. In fact, several potentially environmentally harmful ingredients are used in high street brand deodorants and antiperspirants, often for mass production and cosmetic purposes. These ingredients are there to benefit the product and not your skin, but are applied daily to one of your most sensitive areas of skin.
The properties that chemicals are used for in deodorants can in most cases be attained from natural sources. For example, simple alkaline ingredients such as baking soda can neutralise body odour’s acidity. This negates the need for particular chemicals in a deodorant, which is why switching to natural is not only better for you, but for the planet.
For your health
Even if you don’t switch to a natural deodorant, there are several chemical nasties you should be wary of:
Many mainstream antiperspirants contain aluminium salts that block up your pores and stop sweat from leaving your body. It’s a misconception that sweat smells – it’s actually odourless! The bacteria living on your skin that eats your sweat causes the smell as a byproduct. Where antiperspirants focus on stopping sweat, deodorants focus on this bacteria.
Traces of the metal salt in antiperspirants can remain and collect in your fat tissue, particularly in the breast and underarm areas. There are multiple hypotheses that this aluminium build-up can potentially lead to cancer, kidney disease, bone disease, reproductive issues, and more, although none of these have yet been proven.
However, Heather Patisaul of North Carolina State University explains in this Time article that deodorant chemicals have the potential to enter your bloodstream and affect your reproductive and developmental hormones.
Parabens can also mess with your hormones, in particular the estrogen in breast tissue, affecting reproduction as well as potentially promoting cancer growth. Parabens in deodorant will be easy to spot – they all end with ‘-paraben’.
Use of silicas and alcohol in deodorants can cause irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin. These ingredients are not uncommon either.
Triclosan is used for its antibacterial properties, which is fine in small quantities, but when it’s in your toothpaste, your shower gel, hand soap, and deodorant, you increase the risk of issues like skin irritation and contact dermatitis.
There are more undesirable chemicals in deodorants than in this list. If in doubt, try to research into them. You should only need to do your research once to know which products to avoid!
Natural deodorant cons
Of course, natural deodorants aren’t perfect either, though it depends entirely on your lifestyle and preference. Below are some of the cons that may affect you:
- They can be awkward to apply. Some need to be warmed by your body to use, some need to be rubbed in, some don’t stick well with pit hair, others need wetting, some take a while to dry… It’s all about experimenting and finding the best fit for you.
- Natural deodorants are not antiperspirants. They won’t stop you from sweating, but they will stop the smell, which I think is the most important thing. We need to start normalising sweat!
- They can be less cost-effective, depending on the brand you choose.
- There will be a transition period.
The transition period
You will probably go through a transition period from your current deodorant of choice as your body gets used to the new one. Think of it as your skin’s version of a detox, purging all the crap we ignorantly feed it. This does likely mean, however, that your body odour will be prominent for a while.
Around a year ago, I swore by antiperspirant spray, so I moved onto a Dove deodorant stick in preparation for switching to a natural deodorant. Even this required a small transition period, but I think it was easier than going from one extreme to another.
Once that ran out, I took the plunge and began the transition process to natural deodorants. I had some smelly days for about three weeks, but a silver lining of lockdown meant that only my poor partner had to suffer the pong!
However, a transition to a natural deodorant won’t set you up for life. If you decide to go back to antiperspirants for a while, say, for an important week at work, you will probably have another transition period to contend with when you switch back. This will likely be shorter than the initial transition period though, depending on how long you abandoned natural deodorants for.
I must stress that you shouldn’t give up during the first few weeks of trying them. Your body needs time to adjust, and in my opinion, it’s totally worth it.
Below are my experiences of using Pit Putty, ‘Ku.tis, Earth Conscious, and Himalayan salt. I am in no way affiliated with these brands or products – all opinions are my own.
I am only trying deodorants that are under £10 and sold by UK companies. This post will be updated as I try more.
Please remember that these are only some of the many options out there, and that my experiences with these deodorants may not reflect your own. I recommend doing your own experimentation to find the right natural deodorant for you.
100% natural, organic ingredients | aluminium free | no palm oil | recyclable, plastic-free packaging | vegan | cruelty free | made in Ireland
Pit Putty is a fun deodorant brand from Ireland. The story behind the brand is a fascinating, yet terrifying one. After one of the founder’s work colleagues was diagnosed with cancer and told by her doctor to avoid skincare products with certain chemicals, the founding couple decided to make their own products. The ‘For your health’ section of this article explains more about the potential dangers of deodorant chemicals.
I tried the Pit Putty sample pot (15g), which lasted me almost two months! Although, I think I used too little to begin with, so it probably should last a little less. This deodorant is also available in a 65g tin, which should last several months, with the small tin perfect for providing discreet top-ups while out and about or travelling.
At first, Pit Putty didn’t stop me from feeling sweaty or smelly, but this was my first natural deodorant and was subject to my transition period. I tried the Lemongrass and teatree option and wasn’t particularly keen on the smell – it seemed to enhance the smell of sweat, so sometimes I’d think I smelled sweaty and then sniff and realise it was just lemongrass. My cat oddly liked the scent though, so there’s one seal of approval!
I also bought tester pots of the Rose and geranium, and Cinnamon and cedarwood scents. These smell nicer to me and hide the stink better, but it’s mostly down to personal preference.
Towards the end of the tin, however, me and Pit Putty were getting along fine. My underarms felt perfectly hydrated, unlike the dryness some other natural deodorants are rumoured to feel.
- Lemongrass and teatree
- Lavender and lemon
- Rose and geranium
- Lime basil and mandarin
- Cinnamon and cedarwood.
Applying this is pretty straightforward, and one of the benefits of tinned deodorant is that you can control how much you put on, whereas deodorant sticks sometimes leave too much behind. It also avoids transferring underarm bacteria and odour to the deodorant as sticks do, especially if not washing between deodorising.
According to Boobalou’s product listing, you should apply ‘a small bean sized amount’ of Pit Putty and allow your underarm to absorb it. Unfortunately, there are many sizes of beans, and the putty was actually quite hard to begin with (pictured). I tried warming it with my finger and applying it bit by bit to my underarm. This, of course, takes longer than applying a standard deodorant, and you also have to wash your hands afterwards.
Application can be more difficult if like me you like your nails long. Each morning I had crescent moons of putty in my fingernails, which is an extra inconvenience for the 8am coffeeless grumbler.
Overall though, these are only minor inconveniences that you quickly get used to, and if the origin story is anything to go by, a small price to pay for harmless ingredients.
Ingredients (Lemongrass and Teatree)
- Organic unrefined shea butter
- Arrowroot powder
- Baking soda
- Organic coconut oil
- Candelillia wax
- Jojoba seed oil
- Vitamin E oil
- Sunflower seed oil
- Lemongrass oil
- Tea tree oil
- Calendula flower extract
Branding and packaging
Both the packaging and the aesthetic work well with the business values: a recyclable metal tin, colour coordinated to the scent of the deodorant, and funky chunky lettering. The Pit Putty website is a little amateurish, but it does the job, and they provide plenty of information about their ethos.
In short, Pit Putty is a simple and fun brand, so long as you don’t mind people seeing something called Pit Putty in your purse!
‘sustainably sourced from reputable and ethical suppliers’ | natural and ‘mainly’ organic ingredients | no palm oil | plastic-free, recyclable or biodegradable packaging | vegan | cruelty free | made in Wales
I love this brand. Everything about it is my vibe – from the pared back packaging to the company ethos and the product itself.
When this first arrived, I couldn’t help but laugh at the size of it. It fits in the palm of my hand! But as with most non-aerosol deodorants, you’ll be surprised how long it lasts.
I went for the grapefruit and mandarin scent. It’s very subtle, but that’s quite nice, especially if you also use a complementing body mist like me.
And I can honestly say I’ve rarely felt or smelt sweaty while using ‘Ku.tis. It was great during mild exercise, and even during a proper workout in 25 degree heat. It didn’t stop the sweat from pouring, but I think it did reduce it, and it stopped almost all odour.
‘Ku.tis is made in Wales too, so has the lowest transportation impact in this list (when ordering from mainland UK).
To be honest, I’d say the main problem with this brand is that it’s already a popular choice and is often sold out at online eco shops.
- Grapefruit & Mandarin
- Lavender & Geranium
- Cedarwood & Rose
- Bergamot & Sage
After using Pit Putty, it was nice to return to a stick applicator. I had to press the stick to my pit to warm it up before it would spread. It then became like salty butter, and sometimes it didn’t stick to my underarm so I had to rub it in, but that was no big deal after several months using Pit Putty.
However, sometimes ‘Ku.tis leaves a very noticeable sort of putty-like residue in your pits, which I assume is trapping the moisture, but it’s not particularly attractive to look at it – it’s like an armpit sneeze. The salty butter can flake off as you put the lid on or take it off, which often falls to the floor. This deodorant also isn’t great if you’re wearing a black vest top – it can smear over the arm holes and leaves the dreaded white marks as you get dressed.
It also started to get a bit awkward to apply towards the end – the deodorant is attached to a cardboard disk which is prone to popping out once you’ve used enough of the product. But again, this is a small sacrifice for a better product. I still think the benefits of this deodorant outweigh some of the awkwardness around applying it.
Ingredients (grapefruit and mandarin)
- Coconut oil
- Cocoa butter
- Sunflower wax
- Arrowroot powder
- Bicarbonate of soda
- Grapefruit oil
- Lemon oil
- Sweet orange oil
- Peppermint oil
Branding and packaging
The packaging is minimalist and pleasing to look at with an uncomplicated three-tone colour palette. The push-up tube is 100% biodegradable, and it fits nicely alongside my other ablutions. The website is neat, intuitive, and honest too, just as it should be.
100% natural ingredients | aluminium free | Plastic-free and recyclable packaging | Percentage profits go to Marine Conservation Society | Vegan | Made on the Isle of Wight
The couple behind Earth Conscious created their deodorant after having children made them more eager to limit their damage to the planet. Cute.
The Isle of Wight brand has won several awards in both green and non-green categories. They also donate 10p per sale to the Marine Conservation Society, which is lovely.
Earth Conscious’ natural deodorant is available in stick, bar and tin form, so there should be an option to best suit your preferences.
I chose their Jasmine and rose scented stick, which was a nicely neutral choice. I was pleasantly surprised with the effectiveness of this deodorant, as the packaging doesn’t really sell it to me, but otherwise this brand is almost on par with ‘Ku.tis in every other aspect.
- Grapefruit and lemon
- Lavender and tea tree
- Jasmine and rose
- Lemon and rosemary
Unlike ‘Ku.tis, Earth Conscious doesn’t remotely need warming to use. At first, I got on quite well with it – the scent is neutral and the stick is easy to apply, but eventually I started to notice the same downsides as ‘Ku.tis.
After wearing for a few hours on some days, the balm started to clump up under my armpit, which could then fall off and looked awful if I wasn’t wearing sleeves. It was bad for leaving white marks too, and did often make my pits feel quite dry. I found that this was less of an issue when my underarms were shaved.
It also made life difficult when I reached the end of the tube. With perhaps an inch left of the stick, the cardboard circle the deodorant is attached to came out. The deodorant itself was warm, so smushed against my fingers when trying to put it back in the tube and eventually I gave up and put the lid back on it, which it then got stuck in…
In the end, I had to resort to smearing it in my pits like with Pit Putty. Which is fine, but I might try one of their other products next time.
Ingredients (jasmine & rose)
- Coconut oil
- Arrowroot powder
- Shea butter
- Sodium bicarbonate
- Sunflower seed wax
- Jasmine extract
- Rose extract
- Ylang ylang oil
- Sunflower oil
- Benzyl benzoate
- Benzyl salicylate
Branding and packaging
Like the other brands, Earth Conscious’ packaging is wonderfully plastic free and recyclable, and made with recycled cardboard. However, I find the packaging design quite boring; it’s a plain white tube with one side displaying several different fonts. Perhaps white cardboard is more eco-friendly than coloured cardboard?
On the flip side, though, I love the aesthetic and use of white space on their website. Although their website matches the product, I feel like it doesn’t work as well on their packaging. This is only a minor downside though, and the products more than make up for it.
100% natural ingredient | Little or no packaging | vegan
I bought my bar from MyLittleEcoShop, but they don’t seem to stock Himalayan salt bars anymore.
I was sceptical about this one – who would think rubbing a block of salt in your pits would be an effective sweat-buster? It feels like witchcraft, like I should be muttering enchantments and burning sage for this smell-busting spell.
And it actually worked! However, when you read the ‘Application’ section of this review, you’ll understand why I’ll never use Himalayan salt as a deodorant again.
There are some environmental implications too.
Of course, the lack of packaging and purity of ingredients are fantastic, but you have to consider the use of natural resources and the impact of transportation.
Himalayan salt is currently in plentiful supply and supposedly expected to last up to 550 years or more. The salt is mined by hand in Pakistan, producing minimal pollution from the process and supporting the ongoing sustainability of the supply. However, this is still a finite resource that is used for other applications such as food and those weird lamps, and just because we have an abundance now doesn’t mean we should steam on ahead and use it up faster.
Then there’s the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting it nearly four thousand miles from Pakistan.
On the plus side, though, you know exactly where the ingredients have come from, which can’t be said for most other products.
At first the salt bar seemed to be working; I wet the block as instructed online and then rubbed it in my armpit, which left a grainy residue behind, so I assumed it had done the trick.
However, before the end of the work day I was smelly. It hadn’t been a particularly strenuous day sat by my desk either. I gave it the benefit of the doubt – this could have been a transition period from the other natural deodorants. So I washed and applied it again, this time rubbing it in for longer. When I finished and had let the water dry, my armpits were actually sore. For around half an hour after it felt like I’d suffered a hundred underarm papercuts.
I used it three times, then gave up after the third application the next day was equally bad. Although it worked better as a deodorant the third time, it’s so not worth the pain and potential skin damage.
- Himalayan salt. That’s it.
Branding and packaging
No packaging or branding. It came in a nice heart shape.
|Pit Putty||‘Ku.tis||Earth Conscious||Himalayan salt|
|Lasted me (approx).||1 month (15g tin)||2-3 months||2-3 months||–|
|Forms||Tin||Stick||Stick, tin, bar||Bar|
|Made in||Ireland||Wales||Isle of Wight||Pakistan|
|Ease of application||Okay||Good||Best||Worst|
|Ingredients||11, all natural||11, all natural||17, all natural||1, natural|
|Packaging||Tin||Cardboard tube||Cardboard tube / tin||None|
My favourite natural deodorant so far has been ‘Ku.tis. From the deodorising efficiency and range of neutral scents to the beautiful branding and packaging. It’s also the best for manufacturing location, as it doesn’t have to travel overseas.
Other natural deodorant brands I’ll test and add to this review are:
- Ben & Anna
- Your Nature
- Salt of the Earth
Thanks for reading! Do you have a favourite natural deodorant that’s not on this list? Are there any you’d like to try but want me to review first? Drop a comment below! And if you’ve tried a natural deodorant, let us know how you got on.