What are you favorite offbeat or non-aluminum-based deodorants?

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61uadRVg7AL._SL1500_I was wondering if we could talk about deodorant?

I sweat a lot, but I try to avoid aluminum-based deodorants/antiperspirants. I like Tom’s of Maine for non-sweaty days. But I’m a teacher and I usually resort to Secret or something else standard on the days that I’m teaching (teacher pit stains are the worst!).

Sometimes even that doesn’t cut it, but I really hated the “clinical strength” over-the-counter deodorant that I tried.

I would love to hear about other Homies’ antiperspirant solutions — particularly of the offbeat or non-aluminum based variety. -Maryanna

Comments on What are you favorite offbeat or non-aluminum-based deodorants?

    • I came here to say pretty much exactly this. I bounce between the lavender and the no-scent. (I’m the worst hippie, with my patchouli-hating ways.) It’s the only one that’s ever worked for me.

      It’s a deodorant, not an anti-persperant, of course. :/ I’ll have to read through the other comments, but I was always under the impression that you couldn’t get non-aluminum anti-persperant.

  1. I have honestly never found a natural deodorant that keeps me from sweating. I’ve heard other people say good things about Crunchy Betty’s recipe, but I have yet to make and try it. I use Kiss My Face deodorant roll on, the salt based kind, and it works to keep me from being smelly but I still sweat.

  2. There’s this list of products from Adria Vasil, Ecoholic: http://www.nowtoronto.com/columns/ecoholic.cfm?content=193175 I’ve been meaning to try out some of the better rated ones, but haven’t yet, so I can’t speak from personal experience, but I DO love her books on homecare and bodycare, and many of the homecare product reviews were right on the mark. I trid plain baking soda, which I thought was working great until I looked and realized I’d broken out into a rash 🙁 Guess my skin`s too sensitive.

    I’ve also tried one from JĀSÖN that’s not too bad, but it’s also a non-sweaty-day kind of protection. I found a Soft-N-Dri that`s aluminum-free that I’ve been using for sweaty days this month, but the fragrance is really heavy for me (I have allergies) so I need to try something else. Might finally try out some of the ones in those reviews!

  3. I know you already mentioned it… but I ONLY use Tom’s of Maine and I specifically look for the ones containing hops. It withstood the test of 2 hour rowing practice on ergs and kept me smelling good through that. I have to rub it over a few times, though. Also, for me personally, if I don’t shave my pits every other day, I start to stink no matter the deodorant.

    • I gave up shaving years ago, and I’ve found that to get unshaven underarms clean when they have a sweaty smell I need to wash them more than once when bathing. Preferably with a couple of different types of soap or body wash. (Varying the type seems to help for some reason.)

      • I shave and I have to scrub so hard. I often find that I scrub my pits with a nail brush and soap for 60 seconds, maybe even 2 minutes, and get out, dry myself off, and an hour or two later, without sweating, I stink. It’s a nightmare.

        • Maybe 1 or 2 of these tips will help?

          I believe it’s certain types of bacteria that make your armpits actually stink. (Not to be gross, but everyone’s entire body is covered in bacteria, and most of it is good for you. So don’t feel bad!)

          Harsh scrubbing might actually make tiny breaks in your skin which can be places where bacteria can hang on, so maybe don’t scrub as hard? Let the soap sit on your skin for several minutes though to give it time to work. And use different types of soap- I alternate between a couple. And after exercise I tend to use an a harsher soap with antibacterial agent in it- read the label and look up the ingredients. The hippie in my doesn’t want to use soap with an antibiotic in it, but the nose on my face doesn’t want me to stink, so I compromise and use it every couple of days instead of every day.

          After showering, make sure you give your armpits time to dry. And remember that your towel can have bacteria on it, so if you have a particularly stinky day, get a fresh towel. If you wear a robe, make sure you wash that as often as you wash your towel. It’s also better to put the deodorant on and let it dry for a bit before you put on your clothes. Sometimes I take a tissue and wipe off the top layer of deodorant on the stick so anything from my skin doesn’t sit on the deodorant.

          And sometimes it’s your clothes that the odor and bacteria stick to that makes your clean armpits stink. I sometimes soak my shirts that have deodorant residue or armpit stinks residue in water with detergent plus a little Borax for several hours to days. That really gets the odor out.

          Those are all things that have either worked for me or my friends, so hopefully a couple of them are new for you and will work for you.

          • Thanks. I have noticed it sometimes seems like it is the clothes even more than me. It’s not all their fault, but clearly partly sometimes. It’s like my sweat reactivates some stink in them. I’ll get some borax and give that a try.

            I had notice if I leave the soap on for several minutes, it helps. I’ll keep trying that. I’m not comfortable with anti-bacterial soap, but maybe a tea tree or lavender or thyme oil soap would work. Thanks!

        • I have noticed that I have much less in the way of armpit funk since I stopped shaving, though I realize that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I was also way smellier when I used conventional deodorant, especially if I’d forget to put it on after having used it the day before. And during what I figure was a “detox” period between using “regular” deodorant and the all natural hippie kind…whew, man, that was rough.

          I agree with the other commenter that you’re probably scrubbing too hard. Shaving already creates little tiny cuts, and the armpit is a pretty delicate area, so I think going at it with a nail brush might be part of your problem. (Making things cozy for bacteria instead of scrubbing it away.) One thing that I know works is to use alcohol or witch hazel on your armpits both before and after you shower. My dad and my significant other both use this method, wiping down with alcohol (SO uses witch hazel) in the morning before the shower, after the shower and at night before bed. Neither of them wears any kind of deodorant at all. Both of them work physically demanding jobs. And neither of them has armpit funk. This was also what my mother did when she was on chemo and told no deodorant at all…and it worked for her too, though she’s back on the Toms of Maine now that she’s done with treatment.

          I’ve also found that Tea Tree oil is great for killing any kind of odor causing bacteria. They sell a tea tree cream in the feminine hygiene section of most health food stores that is pretty amazing for under the arms. I use it before deodorant in the summer, let it sink in and dry, and then use my hippie roll on and it works very well. I wouldn’t put the straight up oil on your pits, since it can be harsh, but if you mixed it with a carrier oil (or even tried tea tree soap) that might help you out.

          • My deodorant actually has witch hazel as a primary ingredient, along with baking soda. But I will give wiping my pits with it a try.

            Tea tree oil is a good idea. I’ll see if I can get/make some sort of tea tree treatment for my pits. Maybe tea tree soap also.

            I didn’t realize scrubbing would be making things worse. I was just trying to scrub the stink away, but it hasn’t been working, so I’ll try stopping.

            Not shaving my pits isn’t an option for me. My partner is really not a fan of really hairy pits, and since I prefer it that way too, I’m happy to indulge his request that I keep my pits shaved.

            I think it’s funny how much it depends on body chemistry. My partner used to work construction, and works out a lot, and he can come home from work or a workout not smelling at all. If he smells, it’s someone else’s sweat from wrestling. I don’t think he owns deodorant, and he really doesn’t need it. He just doesn’t get stinky and sweaty.

            Thanks for the advice!

  4. Most mainstream products (like Secret)are antiperspirants and deodorants meaning no smell and no sweat. With natural deodorants, you will still sweat but there shouldn’t be any staining or smell.

    Personally, I have found that Jason’s Tea Tree scented deoderant works pretty well. It lasts all day without multiple applications. Yeah, I was still sweaty (which is natural) but I wasn’t smelly at all.

    2 things though: After showering and shaving, pat dry the armpits, then apply lotion. Let dry for 2 or more hours before applying the natural deodorant. If not, it can result in a really bad rash (which sucks… I’ve had it).

    You can also make your own deodorant. Check out this vid for instructions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DhdkO49TfY

  5. I’ve found that only the lavendar Tom’s deo works best for me, with a combination of not shaving every day. ALSO I recently shot a wedding and a girl told me that she’s allergic to one of the chemicals used in air conditioning — when she’s not around A/C, she doesn’t sweat a ton. When she is, she does. I noticed that when I was in the room with the A/C I was sweatier, but when I was outside I was fine. I have NO CLUE if that’s something worth investigating, but it’s worth noting that I am always sweatier indoors with A/C — I used to live in Alabama, and it would be soooo incredibly embarrassing. I have noticed since moving to Oregon (and living in a home that doesn’t even have A/C) I don’t have the same problem. I don’t know if it really comes down to A/C or not, but could maybe be worth looking into..?

    • very interesting about the A/C thing… I am also more sweaty in air conditioning than I am in just the normal outdoor air – hot or not. I’ve generally attributed it to acclimating myself to the temperatures, I try to spend a lot of time out doors so I get used to the ambient temperatures as the seasons change. Throw in the sudden ‘shock’ of stepping into 70 degrees from 90, and my body doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do for temperature regulation – so I get cold and clammy.

      But of course, that doesn’t really help the original poster with being a teacher… as for that, I have no real suggestions other than being mindful of natural fabrics vs polyester/acrylic/rayon – chemical deoderants tend to make me sweat more than if I were to put nothing on my skin.

    • I’d think it might have more to do with your body temperature being all confused than an allergy that manifests itself by sweating…but who knows. A/C makes me feel miserable. My sinuses hurt, I’m almost always too cold, even if it’s set at a temp like… 72 degrees, which is what I put the heat at in winter. When we had A/C I only ever used it to get the house down from 95 to like, 83. I think human bodies adapt themselves to the seasons to some extent, and when your body knows it’s summer and suddenly you’re freezing, it gets all confused. (I handle cold badly in general though… as soon as it’s down to about 60 degrees, I’ll be fine when I’m out and about, but when I come into a nice warm building I will immediately want to go to sleep. I figured out one year that my body temperature actually goes down a notch or two whenever I’m out in cool weather. I’m like a friggin turtle.)

      • Agreed. AC is bogus. And where I live, it is pretty much impossible to live without it. All summer long it’s a miserable switch between HOT outside and FREEZING inside wherever I go, and it does seem to make me sweat more. Also, I’m that person who sits in the AC at home in sweatpants and a blanket, while everyone else walks around in shorts and complains because I have the thermostat set too high.

        • This is me too!! I’m always wearing two jackets at work because I’m ALWAYS freezing – no matter the season I’m cold!! I was starting to think there was a problem with my blood pressure or circulation – but all’s well according to the doctor…

          Glad to know I’m not the only person who’s always cold!!

          • Being cold all the time CAN be a sign of a wonky thyroid gland…but I think it’s also just one of those things that some people have to deal with.

    • I’m the OP, and yes, my natural tendency to sweat is definitely exacerbated by the switch between hot outdoor weather and cold indoor AC. I don’t know if it’s from the AC itself or from the fast temperature shift, but I am definitely thankful that things are cooling off outside and the AC is off these days in my neck of the woods.

  6. It depends so much upon your own, individual body chemistry. I use a salt/mineral deodorock followed by a dash of essential oil with pheromones. It keeps me smelling good all day and I don’t sweat noticeably. The biggest problem I had was during the “detox” period after going off of conventional anti-perspirants. It took about a week for my pits to stop being super funky and sweaty, but now I don’t have a problem at all.

  7. You could try a body powder, basically with 2 parts cornstarch, 1 part baking soda and some essential oils or herbs to make it smell nice. Tea tree oil is especially awesome.

  8. If you’re looking for antiperspirants specifically, they’re all going to have aluminum in them because that is what prevents you from sweating. If you want something without aluminum in it then you’re just looking at deodorants so you’ll likely still sweat. Though good deodorants can still help a lot with the smell, staining etc.

    I use Tom’s of Maine myself, the deodorant is OK but I occasionally need to use their antiperspirant on bad days.

  9. I’ve been using this recipe to make my own for a while. I like it, when I do sweat I do not stink. http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/2009/08/natural-homemade-deodorant/

    If I haven’t gotten around to making a fresh batch I use this: EO Organic Lavender Hand Sanitizer Spray
    Which cuts the funk right out and can also be used as… hand sanitizer. I rarely use hand sanitizer, but I bought mini bottle of this kind to take to Bonaroo 4-5 years ago. During a real funky day I sprayed some on my pits and it worked shockingly well. 🙂

  10. Here’s the thing – there is a sizable difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. Most conventional products that you’re buy in a drugstore are both – they actually prevent you from sweating and provide a pleasant odor. However, your initial question seems to be about doing both. A purely deodorant product probably is not going to keep you from sweating – so those pit stains will likely still be there. Deodorants are largely geared towards preventing the odor that can go with sweat. Natural antiperspirants usually rely on “mineral crystals” to provide the anti-sweat properties. However, many of those crystals contain some degree of aluminum as well – so if you are particular about trying to avoid aluminum in all its incarnatons, you need to be very careful. Some natural antiperspirants also are basically astringents. They work off the theory that closing the ducts basically prevents sweat. However, these tend to be pretty harsh and drying on skin, so they have their own issues.

    I’ve had a lot of sucess with dusting powders. Some people swear by cornmeal and/or baking soda for helping them not sweat as much. But if you think you’re sweating excessively, you might want to consider talking to a doctor about possible options. Excessive sweating can be a medical condition, so it’s not something to be ashamed over. I consider myself a heavy sweater, and I had to get over it pretty quickly.

    • I’m one of those baking soda people. Tom’s of Maine and another random Whole Foods (lemon scented!) brand kept leaving me sweaty and smelly. There were days I felt like the deodorant initiated the sweat! So I checked online and decide to give baking soda a try. I don’t sweat nearly as much when I pat soda onto my pits, and there’s almost never a smell.

    • My hubby sweats a lot. So much he brings extra shirts when driving longer than an hour because his back sweats up. He went to the doctor and got prescribed some deodorant which it’s primary ingredient is Aluminum Chloride, second being alcohol. I assume it is just as bad for you as Aluminum, but I can say the prescribed amount is VERY VERY MINIMAL! My husband uses just a dab the night before, and when he does that he usually doesn’t bother with deodorant the next day.

  11. I use Dr. Organics Manuka Honey deodorant… I have tried their Aloe Vera one but I find that I can sometimes smell (when sweating heavily) however the Manuka honey one smells of honey when I sweat.
    As Ashley said, I would be cautious of using Salt deodorants as most are made from Alum salt, they contain aluminium. So it may have the same (not 100% proven) negative effects as standard aluminum deos.

    On a similar topic: I’ve found that since I switched from the standard deo/anti to a more natural one, I no longer suffer with swollen glands in my armpits. I think its due to my glands not being blocked up by the anitpersperant

    • Exactly your last sentiment. Trying to stop yourself from sweating isn’t actually healthy. It’s a naturally occurring bodily reaction to heat. It’s bacteria that causes the smell, hence why things like tea tree oil work so well. Using something powder based helps to soak up the excess moisture, but anti-persperants really aren’t that good for.

  12. I make my own deodorant with coconut oil/baking powder/shea butter/cornstarch, and it actually works wonderfully to keep me from stinkin’, but it’s not an antiperspirant at all. Honestly though, I haven’t noticed sweating *that* much more than when I was using Secret, which tells me the Secret sucked anyway. The only thing that actually worked well for me was Certain-Dri and that’s pretty powerful stuff. I’m pretty sure that the aluminum is THE ingredient that prevents sweat, so I don’t think there’s really much of a good way to make an antiperspirant without it, sadly :-/ I settle for a deo and shooting a hair/hand dryer at my armpits periodically. (Gotta watch the coconut oil though, it’ll stain certain fabrics if you put too much on. Little dab’ll do ya. Overall though, it stains less than regular storebought deodorant, so that’s nice. Doesn’t yellow white shirts either- apparently that’s caused more by the deo ingredients than the sweat. Who knew?)

    • It’s actually the antiperspirant/aluminum that causes yellow staining! If you use commercial “just deodorant” you don’t get staining even with sweat.

  13. I have tried them all and found arrowroot powder to be the best for absorbing moisture. Nothing is as good as aluminum, so you have to decide if you can sacrifice that.

    1/4 cup arrowroot
    1/4 cup baking soda
    5 tbs coconut oil
    20 drops essential oil (try orange, Eucalyptus, thyme, lavender or tea tree)

    Mix it all together, It is easier if the oil is melted down and then pour into a mold or an empty deodorant container that you can reuse. Or even just a glass jar like a baby food jar and apply with your fingers.

    IMHO this recipe works better than Tom’s or any other natural brand at the health food store.

  14. Not a deodorant suggestion, but a clothing one as you are trying out new deodorants:

    Have you seen the styles of bat or dolman sleeves? There’s lots of extra room for ventilation, and it’s almost impossible to get pit stains on them. Other things that work for me are black or other dark tops. You can also wet the fabric as a test to see how noticeable the color change is. And a very light weight jacket will also hide it without being too hot, most of the time.

    I don’t teach very often, but when I do I try to wear one of those styles. It’s kind of hard to reach up and write on the board if you are worried about pit stains, so I get your problem!

    • I second the dark tops sentiment, and add trying tops that have prints in multiple colors. It’s much harder to see pit stains when there are flowers (or shapes) competing for your visual attention.

  15. Tom’s doesn’t work for me, and I tried making my own for a while with mixed success. Most recently I ordered some Funk Butter from Oyin Handmade, which is an awesome company mostly focused on natural kinky/curly hair products and I am loving it. I got the black cedar fig scent -it smells amazing, and is working very well. Plus it’s called FUNK BUTTER. awesome.

    • This looks great, as does the Crunchy Betty deodorant and a couple other hand-made brands. I am simply not equipped to make my own (at the moment), and this seems to have most of the ingredients that people have recommended mixing together. I read an article that said Oyin Handmade is going to have a small line in Target in 2014 (while retaining full control over their products and ingredients).

  16. I was worried about the effects of aluminum, so I switched to a natural deodorant and broke out in the worst itchy rash ever. I tried switching natural deodorants and had the same problem. Now, I was training for a triathlon in the summer heat, but as soon as I resolved the rash with some corn starch, I switched back to regular ole antiperspirant and the problem went away. If I forget to put it on one day before working out, same problem. So there are some great natural products out there, but if you’re working out and have sensitive skin, at least I found I needed to stick with the aluminum stuff.

    • I definitely second this comment. I tried being a good hippie and trying out several natural options, but after several rashes I just gave up. Plus I still stank while using them. I guess everyone has a different chemistry. So I still use good ole commercial deodorant/antiperspirant (Degree). Is it offbeat? Is it environmentally friendly? No. But I find it more important to be courteous to those around me. I’m all for the ethics of the natural movement, and I do my best. But I don’t beat myself up for drawing the line at deodorant and toothpaste (as an aside on toothpaste, I work in the dental field. Say what you will about fluoride, but I’m sick of seeing kids whose parents don’t let them use it come in with all their teeth rotting. Not trying to be disrespectful to the anti-fluoride opinion, but that’s just my direct observation).

    • This is really interesting to me! (Sorry, I enjoy making natural products at home and kinda geek out about these things…)

      Sometimes people react to baking soda, so that could also be it. Maybe that is what happened? It also seems odd that witch hazel would cause irritation, as it is usually very calming to the skin. Maybe some sort of processing changed it’s properties.

      I have also heard of people almost “detoxing” when they switch away from conventional antipersperants to natural ones. Your pits job is to carry out all sort of pollutants from your body, and when those holes are “plugged up” with aluminum lots of crap is going to build up in your skin. Here’s a great post on switching to natural deodorants and detoxing:

      “It’s counterintuitive to many that doing something good could cause something bad to happen – and it would still be a good thing. Detoxing is often like that though. You’re trying to fight body odor with a new deodorant, and instead of smelling good you smell worse. Maybe you get a little rash or irritation on your armpits.
      That’s usually the nail in the coffin of a new product: “It’s just not for me; it didn’t work; it caused problems.” People give up (raises hand…and catches a whiff!)

      In the case of underarm detox though, most say you should just “work through it.” Additional stink is your body getting rid of toxins via the exit ramp of your armpit, and often times even a little rash is either detox as well or the body adjusting to the pH of the baking soda, rather than your body saying, “This is not working for me!”

      I’ve read many blogs full of comments about how homemade deodorant caused red bumps. People think it’s just an irritation issue and that baking soda is the culprit. It’s likely a temporary armpit detoxing response because of the baking soda drawing out the gunk your ‘pits have been accosted with for years, or potentially a pH problem, which can be balanced out by simply sipping ACV mixed with water internally and/or misting it directly on the ‘pits. (Wardee solved it by reducing the baking soda in her DIY deodorant, but who knows? Maybe time and detoxing helped too.)”

  17. Crystal Essence has a roll on with scent which I’ve been happy with for several years now. My Rite Aid only carries the Lavender White Tea scent, so that’s the one I use. I’m not super sweaty or stinky, but I’d never been happy with a natural deodorant until I found this one. I’m allergic to something in conventional antiperspirants. I’ve never figured out what, but I get a rash every time I try to go back.

    • I just switched to the Lavender White Tea Crystal Essence a couple weeks ago! I was looking to move away from conventional deodorants and found that Tom’s didn’t work for me (and the variety I’d purchased STILL contained aluminum). So far I’ve been really really pleased with the Crystal Essence. Like the person in the original question, I’m also a teacher so I was really concerned because high schoolers have no filter, but so far so good!


      The Crystal Essence lavender has been my favorite deodorant for over a year now. I tried making the switch away from aluminum deodorant in 2010… I tried the Trader Joe brand, Tom’s, and Arm and Hammer. They all worked for minimal sweat conditions, but wouldn’t last. The Crystal Essence is the BEST. I sweat a TON, even though I live in California (hello, dry heat), and even when I took this baby to New Jersey in July, I was fine (just had to re-apply more often). The unscented flavor (with the pink lid) is not as nice as the lavender flavor, IMO, but the lavender scent works great and I highly recommend it!

      • I just wanted to post a PS for anyone wanting to try Crystal Essence– I do find that it works really well (it can even hold up during most of my workouts), but I HAVE to start with clean armpits for it to work. If I skip a shower and just put on the deodorant in the morning, I will be a little bit smelly by the end of the day. Washing with actual soap and water before application seems to be the trick for me.

    • I lived in South Carolina 7-8 years ago and concluded that no matter what antiperspirant I wore, I would still sweat and I would still stink. It’s just too hot and humid there. I switched to a salt rock like the Crystal Essence, and it has worked well for me since then. Several months after I changed, I began looking for a new job and my mom gave a small container of Secret because she was afraid that I would get stinky during job interviews. Interestingly, I found that wearing the Secret again made me more sweating and more stinky.

      If I ever worry that I may not smell great, I swipe my underarms with rubbing alcohol. The odor is from bacteria, as noted above, and the rubbing alcohol kills it.

      Try the salt rocks or roll-ons. It’s worth it! As a bonus, the actual salt blocks last nearly forever.

  18. I don’t know if this is of concern to you but Tom’s was bought by Colgate Palmolive in 2006. I personally don’t use any of their products. Anyways, I use and have loved for a long time now Kiehls tubed lotion deodorant.

    And now I feel like a dummy because I see its also marketed as an antiperspirant and does have Aluminum Clorohydrate :-/ dag nabit
    Well, if you’re into making your own (which I’m now going to do) this Kiehls stuff has some good starters (minus the stupid aluminum- grrr) like linseed and orange extracts. Man, I swear it wasn’t always an antiperspirant.

    That’s it, I’m making my own from now on.

    • This post is so helpful that I had to come back for a follow-up. I switched from Lavilin roll-on (the container is small and runs out quickly, plus the cost was a bit high considering how frequently it needed to be replaced) to Lavanila (http://www.lavanila.com/Deodorant-_c_57.html). It’s also all-natural, smells great, and even longer lasting than Lavilin. The vanilla scent is subtle and for me, the stronger scent is the one featured on the label. I’ve tried the blackberry one and I’ve been really impressed by how strong it is for a natural deodorant.

  19. I’ve just started using Sanex Zero in the UK: http://www.sanexzero.co.uk/ or http://www.sanex.co.uk/sanex-zero-extra-effective-0

    It seems to do the job, although I think it’s more of a deodorant rather than antiperspirant. I’ve been sweaty today so I got paranoid, but when my fiancé sniffed my pits he said I don’t smell at all 🙂

    It’s aluminium chlorohydrate free, which I’ve heard is potentially breast cancer causing. Here’s the relevant medical journal: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16045991

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