Natural Deodorant: For When You're Worried That Antiperspirant Is Trying To Kill You

My 4 favorite aluminum-free destinkifiers.

Have you guys ever seen A Fish Called Wanda? I watched it for the first time in years the other day, and I was dying.

Kevin Kline’s character, Otto, is such a trip. In addition to performing one of the funniest orgasm scenes on film, the hot-headed American con man is known to sniff his armpits from time to time. In moments of insecurity or embarrassment, he takes a big old whiff of his own musk to reassure himself of his masculine superiority. Pretty ridiculous right?

I wish some of us could take a page from his book. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not impervious to B.O. But sometimes I think we’re doing ourselves more harm than good in trying to suppress a bit of natural odor that, for some people, isn’t even a real issue on a daily basis.

And the harm comes in the form of antiperspirants. Recent studies have discovered a possible link between breast cancer and the aluminum compounds in antiperspirants, which temporarily plug the sweat duct of the armpits to prevent moisture from reaching the skin’s surface. Sounds super-safe, right? The theory is that these compounds cause hormonal effects (like those caused by estrogen), which may promote the development of breast cancer cells.

While more research needs to be done to verify these findings, when you think about it, using antiperspirant or even its less-offensive cousin, deodorant, is putting yourself in a vulnerable state. On a daily basis, you are applying a synthetically formulated product to an area near your breasts and leaving it on all day long. Plus, this sometimes occurs after shaving, when skin may be nicked, exposing the blood stream directly to said product. And exactly when did you first start using deodorant? Imagine the accumulated pounds of product that adds up to. Blech.

OK, you probably think I’m a conspiracy theorist now, but I believe this is a case of better safe than sorry. Which leads me to the point: Natural deodorants really are a great alternative. They’re available in a variety of formulas and scents, from major manufacturers to indie producers, and--like the ones below--most are free of aluminum, parabens, petrochemicals and other suspect ingredients. AND THEY ACTUALLY WORK.

I tried these four recently, in the middle of summer, in Florida no less. I like to think of it as a personal scent experiment. Here are my findings.

As the saying goes: a little dab will do ya. Just massage a dime-sized amount of Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant Cream into each armpit, and let the natural formula go to work. Clay and arrowroot powder prevent wetness, while organic coconut and baking soda provide antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties. The lavender scent is light and fresh, while essential oils soothe skin.

Desert Essence Lemon Tea Tree Deodorant harnesses the antiseptic nature of tea tree oil--along with witch hazel and other botanicals--to prevent underarm stank. And it works pretty well. The lemony scent is fresh (although it borders on Lysol) and it can withstand moderate perspiration conditions (read: fine for your average workday, but you might want to reapply before the gym). Some might find the balm-like consistency a bit sticky, but it blends in well without leaving white flakes on clothing.

Let’s face it: You eventually wind up smelling your deodorant. Whether it’s a subtle whiff here and there or a constant fragrance that hangs around like a cloud all day, doesn’t it make sense that said scent be something you enjoy? I was already hooked on Lavanila's Fresh Vanilla Lemon fragrance when I decided to try The Healthy Deodorant, and it’s amazing. Made with essential oils and antioxidants, the formula lasts long, doesn’t sting even freshly shaved skin, and layers perfectly with the matching perfume. Swoon.

Soapwalla Deodorant Cream is something of a cult classic. Lavender, peppermint and tea tree essential oils combine with superfine vegetable powders and clays to keep you dry and your personal bouquet in check. The frosting-like consistency is a little tricky to distribute evenly, but once you get used to it, the natural formula absorbs quickly and works quite well.

All in all, I would say that the Lavanila is my favorite. But, hey, I’m a Cancer, and I like things to match and be neat and tidy, so I’ll probably go buy the coordinating lotion and body wash now, too.

What do you think? Have you used any natural deodorants? Which are your favorites? Or would you never give up your tried-and-true antiperspirant?