Prim & Prep’s Guide to the Best Natural Deodorant for Men
Men: we sweat; we stink—end of story. Body odor is a serious problem for many men, which is why more than 85 percent of us use some form of deodorant on a daily basis—whether that be a spray, stick, gel or cream. If you happen to be of East Asian descent, then you’re in luck, as these people contain a genetic mutation that makes them lack the chemical in their sweat that bacteria feed off of to cause the underarm stench. However, if you’re of European or African descent, you’re left to try to find a solution to your smelly pits, as only 2% of these groups have the anti-armpit stink gene. This means using deodorant is a simple fact of life for most of us. In fact, a 2013 study performed at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom showed that around two-thirds of the people who were genetically predisposed to not having body odor still use deodorant on a daily basis—showing just how widespread deodorant use is, even amongst those who don’t actually need it. So why do we need to research the best natural deodorant for men? What’s wrong with unnatural?
The only problem is that most deodorants contain a variety of harsh chemical ingredients that could be seriously harming our bodies. Quite a few of the common ingredients found in most deodorants are known carcinogens (i.e. cancer causing agents), while numerous others have been linked to a variety of other health problems. And yet day after day we still continue to slather these products under our pits day, despite all of the verified scientific evidence that these deodorants may be doing much more harm than good.
Of course, our reasons are nonetheless good ones. After all, no one wants to wander around all day worried about lifting our arms due to the unpleasant, often downright offensive odors that emanate from our pits. There’s no doubt that body odor can be an incredibly embarrassing problem, but what’s a man to do when the majority of deodorants out there contain carcinogens and other harmful chemical ingredients?
The answer? Toss out those cans of Axe or sticks of Old Spice and instead go out and buy yourself an all natural deodorant as it is the best deodorant for your skin. Just as is the case for shaving cream, shaving soaps, beard balm, chapstick, or any other product you apply to your skin or hair, while many of the most popular deodorant products contain harmful chemicals, there are a growing number of companies who are answering the calls for more natural, less harmful products. And guess what? The best all natural deodorants actually work and won’t leave you smelling like a dirty hippy. So, unless you want to go around smelling like a gym locker for the rest of your life, you should definitely consider purchasing one of the products on our list of the best natural deodorant for men.
Ingredients to Avoid in Deodorant (Or Any Other Health & Beauty Products)
- Aluminum Compounds. Aluminum-based compounds (such as aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum zirconium and aluminum chloride) are one of the more common ingredients in many antiperspirant deodorant products. These compounds basically act as a plug on your sweat ducts, causing you to not produce any sweat. While this may sound like a good thing, studies have linked these compounds to Alzheimer’s, kidney problems and cancers; especially breast cancer, as aluminum compounds act as a synthetic estrogen when they are absorbed into the body.
- Parabens. Like aluminum compounds, parabens are a group of chemicals that function as synthetic estrogens when absorbed by the body and have been linked to a variety of different cancers. While the U.S. FDA continues to insist parabens are safe, numerous countries and international regional organizations around the world including the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have banned some or all parabens from cosmetics. Some of the ones commonly found in deodorants and cosmetics include butyl, methyl, ethyl, propyl and benzyl parabens—all of which should definitely be avoided, not only in deodorant, but in everything.
- Triclosan. Although it is classified by the FDA as a pesticide, for some reason many companies continue to use triclosan in deodorants and other cosmetic products. The reason it is so common is that triclosan kills bacteria (which is the primary cause of underarm stench), but it does so indiscriminately—killing both the harmful, smell causing bacteria and the beneficial ones. This chemical is known to be a skin irritant and to cause rashes and other skin problems, which is obviously not a good thing to have in your deodorant. However, the more worrying problem is that triclosan is also classified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.
- Propylene Glycol. The good news is that propylene glycol isn’t thought to cause cancer. The bad news? It is a known neurotoxin that can lead to severe kidney or liver damage. Not only that, but it may also lead to a variety of delayed allergic reactions. In short, it’s another one you should definitely stay away from.
- Steareth. You’ll usually see this one listed as steareth followed by a number, such as steareth-3, steareth-5, steareth-8, steareth-21 and so on. They are used in cosmetic products as an emulsifier, helping to bind certain ingredients together. Without steareth, many deodorants or other products would be a runny paste, or so the manufacturers tell us. However, there are many natural emulsifiers out there that are not made using ethylene glycol, which happens to be a known carcinogen.
- Silica. Like propylene glycol, silica is a fairly strong skin irritant, which has also been linked to allergies and immunotoxicity. And like most of the other ingredients to avoid, it has also been linked to causing cancer, as much of the silica found in cosmetics and other products may be contaminated with crystalline quartz—a known carcinogen.
- Colorants. There is absolutely no reason that your deodorant needs to be colored, and yet many of the products out there contain a variety of different chemical colorants for some reason—many of which have been linked to various health problems.
- Chemical Fragrances. Chemical fragrances (of which there are a great many) commonly cause skin irritation and many have been linked to allergies and organ damage. They may also cause serious damage to the environment when not disposed of properly. Still, this doesn’t mean you can’t find a nice smelling all natural deodorant. Just make sure to get one that uses natural essential oils for fragrance instead of chemicals.
- Anything Labeled as an Antiperspirant. Again, this is one where there is quite a bit of debate, but there is plenty of evidence out there that suggests antiperspirants may be one of the leading causes of cancer. Sweating is your body’s way of ridding itself of a variety of toxins, which may stay in the body and be stored elsewhere when you block your sweat ducts with antiperspirant. For this reason, we’d recommend only using deodorant, not antiperspirant. In fact, there really is no such thing as an all natural antiperspirant. Although some scientists dispute these claims of antiperspirants being harmful, there is still enough evidence out there to suggest that you should definitely stay away from any products claiming to be an antiperspirant.
Is That Natural Deodorant Really All Natural?
In some places in the world, people are lucky enough to know that if a product is labeled as “natural” it actually is. However, those of us who live in the US are not so fortunate, as the FDA doesn’t currently have any regulations as to what companies can actually call natural. So without this important consumer protection mechanism, you could easily find yourself using a product with a number of potentially harmful chemical ingredients even if the label claims otherwise. This means that it is up to you to do some research in order to protect yourself, beginning with reading the ingredients to see whether or not your so-called all natural deodorant contains any of the substances on the above list of ingredients to avoid. However, that list is really only a starting point, as there are so many different chemical compounds used in cosmetics that it would be impossible to list them all here. So if you really want to protect yourself and stay safe, I’d recommend avoiding any and all chemical compounds if possible. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is, don’t use it!
History of deodorants
Before we were able to make unnatural deodorants, what would we use instead? Well, it’s believed by some anthropologists that very early man actually benefited from stinking. They wouldn’t have cared less about our suggestion for best natural deodorant for men. Cave life doesn’t smell good, and there are some theories that early humans would allow themselves to smell as bad as they could as a defence mechanism. Anything attempting to treat them as dinner would hopefully be so disgusted by their smell they would assume what they were about to consume would be bad for them. When mankind first started being concerned by body odor, they were of course all natural ingredients. The Egyptians had a couple of ideas; they would clog their armpits with a type of porridge. As it dried it blocked everything up and sweat wouldn’t be an issue Apparently. Egyptian women would also stick blobs of scented wax in their hair; as it melted it covered them in a pleasant(ish) odor throughout the day. You would just have to ignore the sticky residue all over you. The Romans took a different approach. Rather than try and prevent body odor, they would bath regularly. Like, loads in fact. When the substances became available to make an unnatural deodorant, early versions weren’t great. ‘Everdry’ was dabbed on using swabs. Made from aluminum chloride it took a very long time to dry and would sting a lot. In fact, it was just painful. Not only that, it would more often than not burn through clothes. Which I suppose increased ventilation to the armpit. Maybe that was the idea.
Best Natural Deodorant for Men
#1 The Best Deodorant on Earth! by RazoRock
Containing only three ingredients—natural soda, organic vegetable glycerin and non-GMO corn starch—this one is about as natural as it gets. Of course, it wouldn’t be worth a spot on our list of the best natural deodorant for men if it didn’t actually work, but luckily this one also works like a charm and should keep you free from pit stink all day long. Still, it may take some of you a while to get used to, as it is not a deodorant stick like most use, but a deodorant cream. It’s similar in consistency to a lotion and requires you to rub a small amount into each pit. However, it dries quite quickly, and although not quite as convenient as a deodorant spray or stick, it is still one of the best we’ve yet to come across. While calling it the Best Deodorant on Earth is a very bold claim, in our opinion it might just be.
With RazoRock, you have the choice between an unscented version, or tea tree or citrus fragrances—both of which are scented with natural essential oils. The citrus is my personal favorite, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
#2 Primal Pit Paste Natural Deodorant
While I am definitely partial to RazoRock’s Best Deodorant on Earth, Primal Pit Paste has to be another one of my favorites—and not just for its cool name. In fact, Primal Pit Paste actually has one up on RazoRock, as it contains organic arrowroot powder that helps to keep those pits dry throughout the day.
Primal Pit Paste is available in an unscented version, plus a wide variety of scents like Patchouli (for the hippies out there), Lemonade, Orange Creamsicle, Thyme & Lemongrass, and Jacked Up Jasmine. Like RazoRock, this is actually a deodorant cream, made using only natural and organic ingredients, such as baking soda that helps to neutralize odor causing underarm bacteria. Still, if you’re not wild about using a deodorant paste, the company also makes the same formula in a stick version. Handmade in the USA, Primal Pit Paste really is great stuff.
#3 Green Tidings All Natural Deodorant
With ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda, naturally occurring tapioca starch, candelilla wax (a vegan alternative to beeswax), Green Tidings definitely makes the grade as all-natural. Still, some people wonder about this product as it does contain magnesium chloride. This really shouldn’t be a concern though, as not only is this inorganic compound naturally occurring, but it has never been shown to have any harmful effects on either the body or the environment. So don’t confuse it with aluminum chloride.
In terms of effectiveness, I personally don’t find this one to work quite as well as the creams and pastes on this list. Nonetheless, there are many who would obviously disagree with me, considering the fact that Green Tidings Deodorant has received a 4.5 star rating on Amazon from more than 3,400 reviews—making it one of the best reviewed all natural deodorants we’ve come across. It also happens to be one of the best selling natural deodorants on Amazon—so don’t let me convince you, instead try it out for yourself and see how it does for you.
#4 Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant
Another paste/cream deodorant, Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant contains shea butter, arrowroot powder, cocoa butter, vitamin E and hop extract. This means that you can rest assured that this one is actually all natural and perfectly safe to use. Although it is available in five different scents, we definitely prefer either the unscented version or the Cedarwood & Juniper fragrance (most of the other scents are more feminine). All in all, another one of the best natural deodorants for men on the market.
#5 Jungleman All Natural Deodorant
Containing only baking soda, palm oil, organic corn starch and tea tree oil, Jungleman All Natural deodorants are just that—all natural. My personal favorite of the bunch is the Junglemint, which has a nice light mint fragrance. However, the unscented version, Junglejuice orange-scented and Junglewoman lime scented versions all work equally as well and are highly recommended.
#6 RazoRock Aloe Alum Spray Deodorant or Alum Roll-On Deodorant
If a spray or roll-on deodorant is more your thing, RazoRock still has you covered. Both the company’s spray and roll-on deodorants use naturally occurring alum mineral salts to kill bacteria and eliminate odor (check out our article on the best alum block to learn more about what alum is and what it does). Both products also contain aloe vera to help soothe and soften the skin, which is a good thing as alum can otherwise cause the skin to feel extremely dry and tight. That being said, some people will probably still experience skin irritation or rashes from the alum, so this one is not for everyone.
Honorable (And Not So Honorable) Mentions
Herban Cowboy Deodorant
No aluminum, triclosan, parabens or propylene glycol, and yet Herban Cowboy still doesn’t quite qualify as all natural. Still, the reason it is on here is for its quality, as this stuff really works. It is made from 100 percent vegan ingredients, is non-staining, goes on clear and dries fast—but more than that, it will keep your pits from stinking. However, what we really like about this product is that it also works to help keep your pits dry, despite not being an antiperspirant. Available in a wide variety of scents, including Forest, Sport, Wild and Mountain, many men swear by Herban Cowboy. Nonetheless, all of these products contain chemical fragrances and also a number on other questionable ingredients like sodium stearate, ethylhexylglycerin oryza sativa starch (made from rice) and paradeniol (made from corn), meaning I wouldn’t necessarily classify these products as all-natural. On the other hand, Herban Cowboy deodorants are still way better than most products on the market, and their popularity means we couldn’t leave them off our list. Just be aware that there are definitely more “natural” deodorants out there.
Tom’s of Maine Moisturizing Bar Deodorant
If you’re familiar with the natural health and beauty market, you’re almost sure to have heard of Tom’s of Maine as it has been one of the leading companies in this market for many years now. Conversely, it is also one of the more controversial companies in its field as well. As I previously stated, there are a number of companies out there that call their products all natural despite the fact that they some of them contain non-naturally occurring, chemical ingredients and Tom’s of Maine belongs to this list.
I have personally used Tom’s Natural Toothpaste for years, as it is still much better than most other products out there—even if it isn’t the most natural product on the market. That being said, the reason I chose not to include Tom’s Deodorant sticks on this list is fairly straightforward—they simply don’t work that well at eliminating pit odor. Not only that, but the unscented Tom’s deodorant stick often causes skin irritation and rashes in quite a few people.
Still, I know many people who have experienced quite good results using the Tom’s Moisturizing Bar Deodorant. The only issue is that this is actually a soap—not a true deodorant—and as such, I would still be a bit skeptical about how well it works or how long it lasts. Nonetheless, I’ve read enough good things about it that it definitely deserves a mention—although if your pits are normally quite smelly, you’d probably be better off combining this product with one of the other actual deodorants on this list.
Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Deodorant
Arm & Hammer seems to be one of those companies trying to capitalize on the natural trend, without actually caring whether or not the products it labels as “natural” are actually that. While the company has only recently finally made the decision to stop using triclosan in its so-called natural deodorants, these products nonetheless contain a variety of other chemicals, including both propylene and dipropylene glycols (which we’ve already said you should avoid). They also contain several other questionable chemicals, such as ethylhexylglycerin, octenide HCl and tetrasodium EDTA—meaning there is no way you can really classify this product as all natural. Nonetheless, it is easy to find in your local store and many people swear by its effectiveness. Plus, it is still far and away from the worst products in terms of harmful chemicals, so I guess it would do in a pinch. Still, I would personally steer clear of this one.
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