My 3-Step Aluminum-Free Deodorant Process is Stink-Proof

For me, scent is much more important than visible sweat, so I perfected this technique.
Publish date:
September 8, 2015
deodorants, shea butter, dr. hauschka, body odor, talc powder, Shiffa, Nubian Heritage, Anthony

I sweat lots. Lots and lots and lots. As a teen I remember coating my armpits with newly christened "clinical" formulas and all kinds of wipes and prescriptions to treat hyperhidrosis. The day I ditched aluminum-based formulas was the day the sun parted from the clouds and the abundant sweat stopped smelling bad and started smelling human. It also stopped irritating my underarms.

For me, scent is much more important than visible sweat, so I perfected this technique.

My smell-good process is dependent upon a few key steps. The key is not absolute dryness, but rath complementing my lotion and perfumes and letting it happen sweat-wise.

Step one is applying a balm after dousing my body in lotion and oil. This is basically like using primer for my armpits. I get a longer-lasting and less cakey result when my pits are thoroughly moisturized.

I love Nubian Heritage Shea Butter Infused with Patchouli and Buriti and Shiffa Healing Balm for this purpose. A tiny flake of balm warmed on the fingertips keeps skin supple and the hair soft under there. Shiffa’s balm is absolutely dripping with the sweet and grassy notes of chamomile and lavender and the most insane collection of high-end oils I have ever seen in a balm. It’s everything but the kitchen sink, from evening primrose oil to mango butter. The Shea Butter is a bit more straightforward and affordable, and Nubian Heritage offers many scents of infused shea, so this is a great option as well.

After the balm has settled in and my teeth are brushed and facial routine executed, I layer on step two. By using deodorants that use plant starches like these three options, you scent your now softened pits with essential oils while the starches begin to create a little bit of a sweat-absorbing barrier.

Dr.Hauschka Rose Deodorant is like the cadillac of aluminum-free) deos. Tapioca starch builds some wicking power while witch hazel acts as an astringent to tighten pores a bit. The scent is so lovely that I find myself wearing this at night, too; it's super-gentle and then I don't smell like a swamp thing in the am.

Anthony No Sweat Body Defense is a tiny bit more affordable and almost twice the product, which is great since you can apply this nearly anywhere to also help with chaffing. It has that nice "ocean" scent spiked with a bit of citrus.

Nubian Heritage Indian Hemp & Hatian Vetiver 24 Hour All Natural Deodorant uses a different plant starch—corn in this case—to add a bit of a dry feel to the pits. I love most of the things I have tried from this affordable and widely available brand, and this deo is really special. The scent is potent vetiver and it’s pretty complementary to most of the scents I like to wear. I did sweat a bit more with this formula, but it was fragrant well into the day.

Speaking of absorption, a quick swipe of my favoritest powder to ever grace this bod with a large kabuki brush is the final step. You can get a talc-free powder if you care, but I’m all about this old-school favorite: Mysore Sandal Powder. It’s got a true sandalwood scent from containing actual sandalwood oil, and it compliments my whole steez.

Using the brush, I swipe it on both pits and the excess under the tatas for a little boob-sweat insurance. I love this soft new Sonia Kashuk Grand Bazaar The Sultan brush—it’s affordable and feels luxurious.

It may seem like overkill, but this is the most effective combo I have ever used in my life, and I have stuck to it for many years.

  • What’s your smell-stopping routine?
  • Anyone else as hung up on rose and sandalwood as I am?

Photos: Maria Penaloza