A Natural Deodorant That Doesn't Stink

I’ve tried practically every brand of natural deodorant that I could get my hands on, and most of them stunk. They didn’t work, made me stink, and felt greasy or stinky. After many, many months and almost giving up my search for a safer deodorant that actually worked, I found one that I love. #saferskincare #naturaldeodorant #paleo #naturalliving

I’ve been on the cleaner/safer products bandwagon for awhile. I don’t share a lot of my story about how this came to be important to me, but it was a realization I had while my mom was battling a fatal autoimmune illness. As an athlete and a healthcare professional, I always care a lot about what I put INTO my body, but it wasn’t until I started thinking about how not to get an autoimmune disease that I really considered that what I put ONTO my body was also important.

It can be incredibly overwhelming to make the switch to safer products and is something that I work closely with my patients and clients on because it’s SO important. While what you put onto your body doesn’t necessarily directly impact your athletic performance, it does impact your overall health (especially your hormones) which does make a difference in how you perform over the long term.

I’m not one of those people who doesn’t sweat (that can actually be a sign of certain autoimmune diseases or some kind of autonomic nervous system dysregulation among other things), so just not wearing deodorant was never an option for me. I start sweating almost immediately when I workout. I have to wear gloves when I ride my bike because my hands get so sweaty that I can’t hold on very well (just being honest here). When I’m done running, you can almost always count on being able to wring my shirt out. Yep, sweat happens and that’s totally ok.

Ironically, sweating is the thing that prevented me from switching to a safer deodorant option. While I’ve never been a smelly sweater, I just wasn’t thrilled about finding something new that actually worked...especially since I spend a lot of my day very close to other people...and sweaty pits are the last thing my patients want me to have!

Antiperspirant vs. Deodorant

This is where things get confusing for people and where we need to readjust our societal standards to align with our health. When people first switch from using antiperspirant to using a safer deodorant option, they often complain that they are sweaty. But that’s actually how it should be!

Sweating is part of our body’s natural detoxification and cooling process, so stopping that process is actually harmful to your health. Antiperspirants work by clogging up pores and preventing your body from releasing sweat, which is a critical part of your natural detoxification process and necessary for temperature regulation. The ingredients that are used to make you stop sweating are actually harmful to your health as well. [1]

Deodorant is a product that masks or neutralizes body odor. Antiperspirant blocks your sweat glands to make you stop sweating. And despite what you might think, sweat itself isn’t was smells (it’s just a mix of salt and water), what creates body odor is when that sweat comes in contact with certain bacteria on our skin.

Ingredients to Avoid In Antiperspirants & Deodorants

ALUMINUM: Aluminum is found in most conventional antiperspirants because it blocks the gland under your arms and stops you from sweating. However, studies have shown that there is a connection between antiperspirants that contain aluminum and diseases like Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. [2,3]

Side note: Heavy metals are a big issue, especially when it comes to cosmetics. Federal regulations don’t require testing for heavy metal contamination in skincare products or cosmetics (and yet it’s illegal to put lead in paint....). Mercury and lead are often found in makeup (yes, even in high end brands). Avoiding heavy metal exposure is one of the reasons why I use Beautycounter cosmetics.

PARABENS: Parabens are stabilizers and preservatives that make products shelf stable for months. However, parabens have been linked to hormone (endocrine) disruption and breast cancer [4]

FRAGRANCE: This is a big deal topic. Most people think that “fragrance” is just a nice smell that has been added to a product. But the truth is that “fragrance” is considered a trade secret, so companies are allowed to put whatever they want into a product and label it as a fragrance. They don’t have to disclose what’s included under it either. Many companies will give you some information about what’s included if you ask them (especially those with nothing to hide), but most of the time this is a way for companies to hide things in their products and not tell you about them.

Ingredients that are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors can be hidden under the term “fragrance.”

PHTHALATES: Phthalates help to keep products from getting too hard and they help fragrances stick to your skin longer. If you still smell like your lotion, deodorant, or shampoo by the end of the day, there is a strong possibility that product contains phthalates.

Studies show that phthalates have estrogenic properties and can disrupt hormones. Disruption of your hormones is at the root of so many chronic health issues and can ultimately have a negative impact on your athletic performance. Thyroid issues, acne, fertility problems, fatigue, weight gain, etc. are all rooted in hormonal imbalances.

Finding a Natural Deodorant That Works

Now you know what to look for as far as ingredients go when you go shopping for deodorant, BUT be careful when looking at natural options because just because the label says “natural” or “organic” does not mean that it’s true (this is true for other personal care and beauty products as well, there are no labeling regulations for these items).

After learning all about these harmful ingredients, so I knew what to look for in a safer deodorant option, I made an effort to switch. But I’m an athlete who spends her working hours with her armpits in people’s faces...and I sweat, so the idea of making the switch was intimidating.

Natural Deodorant Bands That Let Me Down

Sometimes I feel like I’ve tried every natural brand out there - Jason, Toms, Native, DoTERRA, Schmidt’s just to name a few. At least one of them made me smell worse. It definitely took some time to get used to not having dry pits all day, but when you suddenly can smell yourself, that’s a problem!

The other problem I found with many of these brands was the texture. Some were sticky and greasy (I still have greasy spots on the armpits of a few shirts) and others were difficult to apply because they were so dry. It was especially hard to apply them during the winter because I live in Alaska where it’s cold and a few of them were definitely meant to be used under warmer conditions.

I know that everyone is different and there are plenty of people who love these brands. But for me, they just DID NOT work. Most of these brands were also not completely free from the ingredients I was trying to avoid (specifically aluminum and fragrance).

A Natural Deodorant That Actually Works

While this story definitely has a happy ending, it gets more uncomfortable (though not more stinky) before it gets better.

Primally Pure is a brand that I had heard a lot of people raving about so as a last ditch effort to find a natural deodorant that actually worked, I gave it a shot. I was really disappointed when my armpits broke out into an itchy rash (something they address on their website), but the deodorant worked so well that I actually stuck with it.

Now, I know that you’re probably thinking that having itchy pits isn’t a good trade-off for using safer deodorant, and it isn’t. I did find that the less I used it, the better the rash got and it DID eventually go away. I saved using deodorant for days when I left the house or had to go to work (because itchy pits are better for my patients than stinky pits).

Don’t worry, that’s still not the end of the story.

I do think that it says a lot about how well Primally Pure’s deodorant worked if I was willing to have itchy armpits instead of going back to a different brand. Fast forward several months to when they released their charcoal deodorant. I jumped onto that bandwagon quickly (because of my love for charcoal, especially Beautycounter’s Charcoal Cleansing Bar). Best decision I ever made! No more itchy pits, no stink, and it goes on easily and keeps me not smelling all day long.

Yes, I do still sweat because it’s not an antiperspirant, but I don’t smell and I don’t FEEL gross (it’s hard to describe how you feel when you’re wearing deodorant that isn’t really working well even if you don’t smell, it just feels gross). I also love that they choose essential oils that actually work to prevent odor rather than just trying to mask it with something else.

The scent of the charcoal deodorant is very subtle, it’s a little minty with a hint of a more woodsy smell. Even my dad loves it and he’s been through a similar debacle with finding a non-toxic, more natural deodorant that works for him.

Primally Pure has also reformulated their deodorant in to be more gentle because so many people had a reaction to the baking soda before (you can read about it in THIS post). So while I haven’t tried any other formulations since switching to the charcoal scent, my impression is that itchy pits are no longer an issue for most.

The Best Natural Deodorant For Athletes Who Train Hard

I have been using Primally Pure’s charcoal deodorant for well over a year and it has kept me stink free while training for triathlons, working out in the gym, and even through the insane, record-breaking heat wave we had in Alaska this summer (it was 90°F for many days).

sweaty workout selfie

Since making the switch (and getting the itchy pit situation sorted out), I’ve not had any issues! Honestly, I don’t always shower after every workout, something that my significant other likes to make fun of me for, but when I ask him if I smell bad, he always says no!

Primally Pure deodorant doesn’t stain my clothes and it doesn’t get goopy or gross under my arms when I wear a tank top. It feels a little silly to be raving about a product that you put under your arms, but I think most of us as athletes appreciate the power of a good deodorant (and bonus points if it doesn’t wreck your health).

My dad loves it too.

I have yet to get my significant other to make the switch (I’m working on him though), but my dad has been on a similar journey for safer deodorant. He always ends up going back to his conventional, aluminium-containing antiperspirant because he says, “they all make me stink.”

When I started using the Primally Pure charcoal deodorant and had such good luck, I asked him if he wanted to try it and it turns out that he loves it too!

natural charcoal deodorant

Primally Pure Promo Code

Use THIS link and the promo code MARTHAFLORENCE to save 10% off of your first order with Primally Pure!

Other Primally Pure products that I love

How to Switch to a Natural Deodorant

  • It’s a good idea to give your body a few days of not using any kind of deodorant or antiperspirant when you make the switch from conventional to safer. When you stop using antiperspirants with harmful chemicals, your body will do a little bit of detoxing (on its own) and adding a new deodorant into the mix might cause some underarm irritation.

    If you don’t feel like you want to go au naturale for a few days, apply a few drops of diluted essential oils such as tea tree and lavender under your arms. This can help you smell fresh while you are in the process of making this switch.

  • Stick with natural fabrics for your shirts while you are making the transition. Fabrics like cotton or wool don’t hold on to odors whereas things like polyester and acrylic trap smells or moisture from your body and can grow mold. No thanks!

  • Remember that this is not a one-size-fits-all issue (seriously, what is when it comes to health?) so it might take some time to find a deodorant and a scent that actually works for you. I spent several years of trial and error before I found a product that did all the things I wanted it to do. While it may be frustrating (and smelly at times), it’s well worth it in the end.

    Our body chemistry impacts the way scents smell, so while something may smell good on me, it might not smell the same on you. So definitely don’t quit the first time you try something and don’t like the way it smells on you!

  • Less is more when it comes to most natural deodorants, especially Primally Pure. You don’t have to gob it on, just one or two gentle swipes is plenty to keep you fresh all day long!

  • If you are struggling with body odor during this transition, try washing under your arms with a product like Beautycounter’s Charcoal Cleansing bar, this can help the detox process and control the bacteria that cause the unpleasant smell.

Please note that this post is NOT sponsored - Primally Pure did not pay me to write this. This is my honest opinion of their products. I do have an affiliate relationship with Primally Pure because I truly love the company and their products, so I make a very small percentage in commission off of any purchase you make (but it costs you the same amount no matter what). This relationship also allows me to get you a promo code!