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I tried 5 natural deodorants — here’s what stunk (and what didn’t!)

I’ve tried multiple natural deodorants and some stunk, which meant I did too. Primally Pure deodorant is the one that actually worked (even during marathon training!). Be sure to get the Primally Pure promo code at the bottom of the post!

I’ve been on the clean skincare and makeup train for a while but deodorant is one of those things that took me a while to switch to safer. Why? BECAUSE I SWEAT.

You know how some people just don’t sweat much? That is NOT me. When I was in high school and I was a cheerleader, I was so embarrassed by my sweat that I made my mom take me to the doctor to get a prescription anti-perspirant. Yep.

I always finish a run or a peloton ride with soaked hair and clothes. I’m not a person who can skip washing my hair. And don’t even get me started on my CrossFit days. I would drop wall balls because I was so sweaty. I’m just a heavy sweater and that’s fine.

But, my heavy sweat levels prevented me from switching to a safer deodorant option for a LONG time. I just wasn’t willing to walk around smelling terribly with wet underarms. But I finally made the switch and it didn’t stink as much as I thought it would. (After I found the right deodorant anyway!)

So, let’s dive into the best natural deodorants (and the worst ones!) and how they different from anti-perspirants!

As a note – I have to switch deodorants every 9-12 months (since our body chemistry changes over time, every so often a clean deodorant stops working for me!) and there are three I rotate among: Primally Pure, Agent Nateur, and Beautycounter. This post contains my review of Primally Pure!

Deodorant vs anti-perspirant

First, let’s talk about the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant. Many people complain about sweating when they try a natural deodorant after using an anti-perspirant their whole life. But that’s how it SHOULD be. Remember, the body’s natural process is to sweat! You should sweat!

Deodorant masks or neutralizes body odor. Antiperspirant, on the other hand, blocks your sweat glands to reduce sweating. Hence… anti – perspirant. Let’s talk about how those work and what ingredients to avoid — and why. You can read more about drugstore deodorants and antiperspirants here.

Ingredients to avoid in conventional antiperspirants


Aluminum is the VAST MAJORITY of drugstore anti-perspirants. Why? Because it blocks your pores to prevent sweat and it keeps you dry, BUT there have been studies that show it’s connection to diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Side note: Heavy metals in general are a big issue, particularly in makeup, since federal regulations don’t require testing for heavy metal contamination. Mercury and lead are commonly found in makeup… even the “fancy” brands. Avoiding mercury and lead exposure is another reason I use Beautycounter makeup.


These ingredients act as stabilizers and preservatives to make your products last for months or years. But, parabens have been linked to breast cancer and endocrine disruption.


This is a HOT button for me. Here’s the thing about “fragrance” – it’s not necessarily a nice scent added to your skincare products. “Fragrance” is considered a trade secret so companies can put WHATEVER THEY WANT in their products and they don’t have to disclose what’s in it. (That’s why “fragrance” is on Beautycounter’s Never List.)

Over 3,000 ingredients can be used to create a fragrance, and you don’t know the identity of any of them. Ingredients that are known carcinogens and hormone disruptors can be hidden under the term “fragrance.”

When you’re reading ANY labels, if you ever see the words “fragrance”, “perfume”, “parfume”, or “scent”, DITCH IT. You have no idea what ingredients might be hiding in it.


Phthalates are ingredients that help products become more pliable and help fragrances to stick to your skin and last longer. If you can still smell your body lotion, shampoo, hair spray, etc. at the end of the day, that product likely contains phthalates.

Why should you avoid it? Studies show that phthalates have estrogen-like properties and they act as hormone disruptors. Hormone imbalances can lead to a number of health issues, e.g. thyroid problems, infertility, acne, birth defects, fatigue, and weight gain.

Do antiperspirants cause cancer?

Many people switch from an anti-perspirant to a natural deodorant because of breast cancer concerns. However, if you asked an oncologist, they may tell you there isn’t enough data to conclusively show that anti-perspirants cause breast cancer. You can find articles online that support both sides. For example, says that some scientists suggest that aluminum does contribute to the development of breast cancer. But the same article also states that at 2013 review concluded that no studies have confirmed the link. The EWG, however, states that a more recent study from 2017 does show that women who used antiperspirants were at “a higher risk for breast cancer and had higher aluminimum concentrations in their breast.”

So, what do you do? Like all things that have two sides (like nearly everything in live), you have to evaluate and make the decision for yourself. If it makes you feel more comfortable to use an aluminum-free option or you simply prefer the natural option, then of course, go for it. Just don’t skip taking care of yourself in other ways or skip the treatment your doctor prescribes, if you do find yourself in that scary situation.

I personally feel more comfortable using a natural deodorant without aluminum for more peace of mind, and actually find I don’t smell as much as I did with an antiperspirant, ironically.

The hunt for the best natural deodorant

Okay, so now that you know what to look for, make sure you read labels when shopping for natural deodorants (or any “natural” beauty or personal care product really). Even if a brand is labeled “natural” or “organic” or whatever, but they still have those four ingredients on their label, think twice.

I’m especially wary of fragrance since the lack of transparency really bothers me. So, after learning all of that about conventional anti-perspirants, I made a real effort to switch to a safer deodorant option. But, I run 40-60+ miles a week (well, when I’m not pregnant anyway). And, as I mentioned, I SWEAT. So the idea of switching deodorant was nerve wracking — what if I stunk? Well, I did for a bit.

The natural deodorant brands that failed me

I tried a lot of brands — Schmidt’s, Toms, Native, DoTerra, Pure Haven — to name a few. Three of them made me smell worse. I’ve never had that nasty B.O. smell in my life. Sweat, yes. Super stink, no. Then, I started using natural deodorant and holy crap, I smelled awful. And two brands, while they didn’t necessarily make me me reek, felt awful on my skin. One felt like I was rubbing oatmeal under my arms. Another left me feeling sticky all day.

But, there is one natural deodorant that DID work without irritating my skin or leaving a sticky residue: Primally Pure. And I haven’t heard of anyone who has had issues with Primally Pure, if they knew what to expect, i.e. a little sweat.

Now, keep in mind, everyone’s body is different and I know plenty of people who like these other brands. But for me, they were a DISASTER. Plus, not all of them are free from ingredients I personally avoid, including aluminum and fragrance. I can’t wait for the day that Beautycounter launches a deodorant (and I think it has to be someday soon since I know they’ve been working on it for years!).

natural deodorant for women

Primally Pure Deodorant Review

While stinking up a storm trying other brands, I saw a few of my friends rave about Primally Pure. I decided to try it. GAME CHANGER. Yes, I still sweat since it’s not an anti-perspirant, but I don’t sweat much. And I do not smell.

Plus, I actually like the Primally Pure deodorant scents. I always hated the icky fake smell of the conventional anti-perspirants I used, but Primally Pure deodorant smells clean and fresh. First, I started with the Lemongrass and then I switched to the Charcoal since I was jealous of Tommy’s deodorant (more on that below).

natural deodorant

Primally Pure has an entire blog post about why their deodorants actually work, but in short, the ratio of ingredients they use is key to the efficacy. And the essential oils they select work with your body to neutralize B.O. vs trying to mask something.

I started using Primally Pure in December 2018, right about when I started training for the 2019 Boston Marathon. My weekly mileage averaged anywhere from 45-70 miles and I used only Primally Pure deodorant during all of my training. And I never had B.O. issues. I even asked my husband, Tommy, to confirm after many runs. 😉

I used the charcoal deodorant the day I ran the Boston Marathon and had no concerns raising my arms or hugging people post-race.

Best natural deodorant for men

While many women will more readily switch to a natural deodorant, most men hesitate or refuse. So, I bought the charcoal deodorant in attempt to get my husband to use it. Why charcoal? Because I thought he’d like the packaging more than the other scents. But, after I smelled the charcoal deodorant, I wanted one for myself. Plus, charcoal has detoxifying benefits that also help deodorize and disinfecting. It looks dark gray, but it goes on clear.

He has been using this deodorant for nearly 1.5 years and loves it. He’s completely ditched his Old Spice.

all natural deodorant

I use the Beautycounter charcoal bar to wash my pits in the shower (more charcoal to pull out impurities!) and then use the charcoal deodorant and I feel so clean. It’s a weird way to put it but that’s the bet way I know how. I feel clean and fresh.

Primally Pure Promo Code

I hope this post is helpful! You may need to try a few brands before you find one that works for you, but if you decide to try Primally Pure deodorant, use this link & promo code TERILYN10 to save 10% off your entire first order!

Other Primally Pure products I love that I’d suggest adding to your cart:

  • lip balm – I buy the set since my husband and I both use it, and I keep one everywhere (purse, office, makeup bag) but they sell them individually too
  • dry shampoo
  • body butter – a must for dry skin while pregnant!!
  • extra deodorants – I like to have a back-up on hand

NOTE: This post is NOT sponsored – they did NOT pay me to write this post. All of this is my honest opinion on their products.  I do have an affiliate relationship with Primally Pure since I reached out to them after falling in love with the brand, so I make a very small percentage off any purchase you make. (But that doesn’t cost you any more.) It also allows me to get you a promo code!

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  • Reply

    I just bought the charcoal deodorant and really just need to give it time. I sweat big time – especially when running. I need to keep reminding myself that sweating is good…..

  • Reply

    Let me start by saying, I don’t sweat a ton. Never really have. But no one likes to smell. When switching to something more natural I started with Native. I didn’t love the texture but I was willing to stick with it. But I noticed at the end of the day I had BO. No one likes cuddling up to their significant other worried about BO. I almost gave up on natural deodorant. But you posted about Primally Pure and after thinking about it a lot, I gave it a shot. Love it. I don’t stink at all! I’m using the charcoal and I’m so glad you shared it. Thank you!

  • Reply

    OMG, SO true – some of the natural deodorants made me smell terrible. Lume was a total fail… and a horror story. I have resigned to using Schmidt’s because at least it does not make anything worse… I am excited to try Primally Pure, so thank you so much!

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