It's gonna get sappy up in here.
In my lifetime quest to only use beauty products that are NOT tested on animals, I really do kiss a lot of frogs. By this I mean that I buy all sorts of “natural” products that don’t end up performing as well as they could. And nowhere are a product’s shortcomings more readily apparent than in the deodorant arena.
Finding a good natural deodorant is important from more than just the animal cruelty angle, although that’s what prompted my search. There have been numerous studies that question the wisdom of applying a harmful chemical such as aluminum directly to the giant open pores of your armpits. Even if these fears end up being unfounded, why take a chance? I also have a tendency to get a terrible rash in my armpits after using certain deodorants, which can't be a sign of anything good.
I didn't realize that there is an actual resource for determining the possible harmful side effects of chemicals in your makeup and beauty products until I started this deodorant rumspringa. There is, it's called the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, and it's curated by the Environmental Working Group. Completely worth checking out if you are somehow turning into a dirty hippie against your own free will.
This is what is actively happening to me. Some disgusting holistic creature is rising up inside my psyche and attempting to crush my inner trash and flash babe who only wants to own a Chanel bag before she dies.
I have spent summer 2012 in my boiling hot Craftsman house that was built in 1918, sweating out the merits of various “natural” deodorants, trying to determine which one was best. I have good news for once -- there are actually quite a few that I liked!
For the purposes of this post, I only tried deodorants, not antiperspirants. So none of the products listed here will keep you from sweating, but some of them sure will keep you from smelling.
This was my very favorite of all the deodorants I tried. It smells just hippie-dippy enough to be pleasing and make me feel like I’m an earthy babe without veering into patchouli land. Both my dude and I used it during our recent jaunt to Palm Springs, where the temp was 106 degrees. Neither one of us once smelled bad, and we were sweating balls the whole time. And let me tell you, my dude has a tendency to STINK. It also seemed to hold up through a pretty long dip in the swimming pool. I’d go so far as to say that this is my new deodorant.
This was my least favorite of all the deodorants I tried. The scent was way too strong and flowery for me. As a result, I don’t think I used enough of it to actually be effective. I had to give myself a whore’s bath in the middle of the day because I stunk. I ended up ducking into a Whole Foods at lunchtime to use a tester of another deodorant. GROSS, I KNOW. ARMPIT GERMS.
I am torn about adding Burt’s Bees to this list. Burt’s themselves does not test on animals, but they are still owned by Clorox, who does perform animal testing. They also have a dubious reputation for proclaiming their products to be “green” when they actually still contain harmful chemicals like ethyl alcohol.
It really ends up being a personal choice as to how strict you choose to be when purchasing cruelty-free products. I have tapered off buying Burt’s products, which makes me sad. Their Baby Bee Lotion brings back sweet memories of some of the very best times of my life.
The Burt’s Bees Herbal Deodorant works quite well, but the scent is rather strong for my tastes. I am realizing that I don’t particularly like spray deodorants that much, and that they then also spray into the air, intensifying the scent of the product.
It’s not the product’s fault -- I have been conditioned to smearing something on with a stick in order to really feel like it’s working for me.
I was too cheap to buy this, but I did covertly spray the tester on my pits while in Whole Foods and then proceed to drive around LA in 101-degree heat on the exact day the A/C died in my car. I didn’t stink, I’ll tell you that much. I did use a copious amount that I may not have used if I had been paying for it. I love rose-scented anything, and this test drive inspired me to splash out for a bottle of it when I finish up the 5 different ones I bought for this story. However, that will be sometime around the year 2026.
This deodorant was the other big winner in my search. It has no scent at all, and is 75% aloe vera. That makes me wonder how it can possibly keep you from smelling, but it does. I mean, if I just squeezed a bunch of aloe vera onto my pits straight from the plant in my yard, would it act as a deodorant too? I liked the Nourish Wild Greens Deodorant just a little bit better than the Alvera, but that's because I love smells. If you are a person who searches out unscented beauty products, this shit is your JAM.
Alba Botanica is my other go-to deodorant when I'm too lazy to go to a proper health food store to get the Nourish Wild Greens that I've become a total shill for. They sell Alba Botanica at Trader Joe's, and my dude picks one up for me every so often, as I haven't seen the inside of a grocery store in over a year. He does all the cooking. I am no prize pig in the wife sweepstakes.
It's a little sticky in the armpits, but it doesn't make me stink. So, it's doing its job, and it's one of the cheapest of all the deodorants I tried.
This is the ultimate classic, the original no-chemical deodorant. I don't know what it is about it that I don't like. Probably the roll-on aspect. I am always walking around the house flapping my arms like a goon trying to get it to dry.
I also cannot abide that ridiculous giant rock version that they expect you to swoosh around under your armpits. I am convinced it doesn't work. But it's what Howard Stern uses, so it can't be all bad. He's got to have pit stink problems. I do buy this when I am heading on vacation, as they make a neat travel sized version. That's the main problem with most "natural" deodorants: They don't come in a mini version for carrying on in your luggage.
This Lavanila stuff seems like the Rolls Royce of deodorants, and they are indeed cruelty free. I did not actually try it, as it’s $18 friggin bucks! But I can only imagine how good it smells, and all the Lavanila products I have tried in the past have been brilliant. Has anyone used this? Tell me if it works. Also, what in the hell do you do for a living that allows you be able to afford $18 deodorant?!
I think the trick to natural deodorants may be to apply them in the morning (duh) and then again in the middle of the day. So now in addition to all the junk I lug around with me on a daily basis, I guess I’ll be adding in a giant stick of deodorant.
Here are some helpful links to help you determine which companies are and aren't cruelty free, if that's your bag:
PETA's list of beauty product companies that DO NOT test on animals: http://www.mediapeta.com/peta/PDF/companiesdonttest.pdf
PETA's list of companies that DO test on animals: http://www.mediapeta.com/peta/PDF/companiesdotest.pdf
What do you stinky babes use?
(P.S. I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison)