Natural Deodorants: The Truth About If They Work

Natural deodorants: here’s my truth about my year-long experiment with aluminum-free deodorants.


natural deodorants

Guys.  We need to talk about natural deodorant. It’s a thing.  And there’s a lot of kerfuffle about whether or not natural deodorants work.  I’m sure you’ve read about how terrible regular deodorants are. How your aunt’s mom’s sister got breast cancer from using deodorant with aluminum.

I’m not here to dispute any of the aluminum arguments.  I’ve read all the research.  Aluminum isn’t awesome for you to ingest or apply topically, or to absorb into your skin.  It’s aluminum.

HOWEVER.  Some of us sweat like banshees.  Some of us being me, and me, and me.  Like ugly crying, but from my sweat glands.


soapwalla deodorant

So.  About a year ago I ended up in bed for a month with a life-threatening Lupus flare-up.  It was really bad. And the long and short of it is that my body basically reset itself while I was down.  I hardly ate, or opened my eyes for that matter, for a whole month, and of course, I didn’t wear deodorant.

As I came out of my illness, I decided a couple of things: I hadn’t had caffeine for an entire month, so I decided I was going to quit caffeine, and start drinking only water, (goodbye, beloved Diet Dr Pepper!) and I was going to try natural deodorant.

I’d been curious about the deodorant thing for awhile, so it was a perfect time to go for it, with a fresh start.  As for the caffeine, I don’t drink it anymore, and I can honestly say I don’t miss it, at all.

But the deodorant is another story altogether.


primal pit paste

I did all kinds of research on the best natural deodorant and landed on two heavily recommended brands: Soapwalla’s Deodorant Cream and Primal Pit Paste.  Both brands have rock-star-level-fervor love from their users.  I ordered both from Amazon and started using Soapwalla immediately.

I smelled bad, but I figured my body would eventually find an equilibrium and I would stop sweating, or at least stop smelling terrible after a few weeks.


I figured I’d try some cheaper grocery store brands in-between to see if either of those would cut through the smell.  Both Soft & Dri and Tom’s failed me.  They melted off my skin and left a faint trace of B.O. and essential oil on their way out.  No bueno.

I went back to Soapwalla and tried it again for a few months, to no avail.


toms natural deodorant

Next I went to Pit Paste.  It didn’t work, but I used it for about 9 months, hoping eventually my body would figure it out.  What happened is that by about 10 a.m. every day, I smelled like a pubescent teenager.   I asked my husband if I smelled okay, he told me I smelled fine.  I asked my son if I smelled good, he lied and said I smelled lovely.  Then I asked my teenage daughter; I should’ve started with her.  She told me I’d smelled like B.O. for almost a year and it was time to go back to my regular deodorant, and she was totally right.



So after a year, 2 very highly recommended natural deodorant brands and 2 grocery store brands later, I’ve switched back to my “regular” deodorant, and together we smell just fine.  Like baby powder, actually.

“Natural” deodorant might work great for you.  And if you’re that person, I congratulate you.  But odds are, if this stuff works for you, you probably don’t sweat a whole lot normally, with or without deodorant.  It’s always worth a shot to see if you can incorporate chemical free, natural deodorants into your life.  But if you end up smelling like B.O., don’t feel bad about going back to the regular stuff.  We’re all human.

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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. Margit :

    Love this – thank you for the intel!

  2. Jessica Reed :

    Ah! I’ve totally been there. I tried 2 different kind of “natural” deoderant (one home made, and the Tom’s stick). The Tom’s stick did not work at all. The natural one works (it’s basically baking soda in coconut oil), but left a weird reside on my skin by the end of the day (like pilled up balls of the cream), plus you end up getting your hands dirty putting it on, which is a pain. Now I just use a regular deodorant, but not the anti-perspiration kind.

  3. Jenny :

    This makes me laugh. My mom decided to go off deodorant, so she wouldn’t get Alzheimer’s, the day she began packing up her home to move. My sister was helping her with the move that whole week and said it was a real bummer.

  4. Anne :

    Yes! I bought several natural deodorants when we were in Europe. It results are I either smelled like flowers and BO, or like fruit and BO.
    I tried some with baking powder and it literally burned my armpits. So then I was stinky and chafing.
    If I die from aluminum poisoning, at least I’ll go out powder-fresh.

  5. Jane :

    A couple times over the past 30 years I’ve developed a sensitivity to deodorants. I’ve usually gone to the crystal-type, even though they are messy to put on as you have to get them wet. They have worked, no odor. Recently I bought some Native deodorant and, so far, I like it. You can get it unscented or with some different scents (I bought the lavender one. It’s a little thick or sticky (it’s a stick) to put on but so far so good. You might want to give it a try.

  6. Laura :

    Allison, I LOVE that you posted this today because just yesterday, I was at Sprouts checking out their sales on natural deodorant. I’m glad I decided to hold off on buying one! I think I’ll probably end up sticking to my regular old Lady Mitchum for the foreseeable future.

  7. Barb :

    Interesting! I’m going aluminum free, too, and found similar results. However, in doing more research, I’ve heard that doing an armpit detox first (like with a clay mask or something?) can help your body do better on natural deodorants. Summer is coming so I’d better hurry up and try it!

  8. Cathy :

    I’m glad your daughter was honest with you. I work with a lot of women who use natural deodorants and they all smell like pigs by 10am. They will tell you it works….how can they not smell themselves?? I’m sticking with the aluminum and smelling good!!

  9. MadhuB :

    Loccitaine has a Al-free deodorant that works great. It’s a bit expensive, but totally worth it.

  10. donna :

    Hahaha! Thank you for the laugh this morning talking about important things! I’d love you to try some deodorant in a humid clime! I have to switch to super deodorant when I go somewhere humid.

  11. Jen :

    About 5 years ago, I decided to start making my own deodorant to eliminate aluminum. I sweat. A lot, and it doesn’t smell nice. My body did an initial detox. It was gross. I found that once I started using my homemade deodorant that I didn’t sweat as much. I still sweat, and I live in Africa, so sweating is normal (as is the smell of BO). Sometimes I have to apply deodorant 2 or 3 times a day in the Summer but I’m pretty happy with my homemade stuff!

  12. Maria Garcia :

    Totally agree wşth you about Al-free product. I have bought several different product but I got similar result. Thanks for informative reviews.


  13. Amber Amos :

    I’m on several medications that increase sweat production, so I sweat ALOT. Like drink 4L of water a day so I stay hydrated even during winter. I have to use clinical strength deodorant/antiperspirant or I stink. So when I brought up natural deodorant during my annual checkup my doc looked at me and shook his head. He told me that, while not good for you regular deodorant isn’t bad for you either. And in my case the pros outweighed the cons for using the good ol’ clinical strength Dove.