It wasn’t actually the breast cancer diagnosis that first made me want to try natural deodorant. I’d heard friends raving about how much nicer it was to not have pores blocked by synthetic antiperspirant, and how much better for the environment it is to avoid aerosols. But it was after being diagnosed with breast cancer that I decided to actually give it a whirl. To be clear: I’m not here to say that deodorant gives you breast cancer. There is no evidence proving the link, but many of them use aluminium and parabens and things that I no longer feel comfortable spritzing under my arms now that I’m very aware of my lymph nodes. And a traditional antiperspirant works by preventing you sweating at all, which feels a bit wrong to me now. Your body is supposed to sweat, and the sweat itself doesn’t actually smell, it’s the bacteria on your skin breaking down proteins in the sweat that can lead to pungent pits. Natural deodorants tend to work by neutralising this odour, rather than preventing sweat, which takes a bit of getting used to - particularly since underarms accustomed to years of antiperspirant can feel preeeeetty sweaty as they adjust. In fact, it was this adjustment period that put me off making the switch initially. Now, having done several weeks with no deodorant at all (thanks to a combination of cancer and lockdown), I’m ready to make the change. So I started by asking Instagram for recommendations and was inundated - it turns out people have strong feelings about their natural deodorants. Every body is unique, and it’s a case of trial and error to find what works for you, but I have now tried many, and these all come with my recommendation.
A metal tin was pressed into my hand on the school run by a mum who’d seen my Instagram post. You melt a pea-sized amount under each armpit, she explained, adding: ‘I can’t believe I used to spray stuff on, this feels so much nicer.’ She’s right that applying it with your fingers does feel like you’re giving your underarms the same love that you give your face.
It’s slightly more time consuming and less convenient than spritzing on an aerosol so, a half-arsed job of rubbing it in, and it’s a bad idea to wear your cashmere jumper for that stressful Zoom call.
The OG of plant-based beauty, previously best-known for bath bombs, has two excellent deodorant bars. It feels weird to rub a bar of something that looks like soap under your arms but, once you get used to it, you’ll enjoy the smug feeling of being completely plastic-free.
Again, it depends on application - underarms must be clean and dry - but distribution is easy with the bar (particularly the Aromaco, which is less crumbly than the T’eo) so you should be fragrant all day.
The bergamot one smells exquisite, and uses probiotic enzymes to neutralise odour, as well as corn starch to absorb excess moisture. It’s straightforward to apply, since it comes in a twist-up, swipe-on tube. Not plastic-free, but it’s certainly convenient.
Like all natural deodorants, there is an adjustment period, so don’t expect to go straight to this from your Sure aerosol with no sweaty days in between. But, once you’ve adjusted, this feels just as effective as a normal roll-on.
The probiotic skincare brand’s botanical cream deodorant smells as dreamy as being in a luxury spa, thanks to eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint. It comes in a chic glass jar and is applied with your fingers.
As long as you use enough and cover the whole area, the cream-to-powder formula means that sweat is absorbed while the antibacterial essential oils keep you smelling fresh.
I love the grapefruit and mint fragrance, which comes in a minimally-packaged glass jar. You can even get a cute little reusable bamboo spatula, making application much easier than getting your nails in there.
They have an Active range for sporty days, but I found the Clean collection worked for me. There is also a Gentle option for those with sensitive skin.
The packaging may not be as chic as other brands (the screw-top tin looks more like hair wax than a shelfie-worthy moisturiser) but this organic, vegan and plastic-free brand came highly recommended by several friends.
Not unless you’re doing a morning triathlon, this is seriously effective deodorant.
This New Zealand brand is all about zero waste, and they plant a tree for every order. Their Rustic bar contains lime and eucalyptus and smells delicious, but they also do an unscented option for super-sensitive skin.
The bar is easy to rub on for good coverage and, with oil absorbing bamboo, will keep you smelling clean all day.
The pump airless dispenser of Ringana’s FRESH deodorant makes it feel more like a moisturiser, and the minimalist white bottle will look nice in your bathroom.
It’s lovely to apply, and smells very fresh, but I found I did have to reapply in the afternoon.
This crystal deodorant is made from mineral salts and, unusually for a natural deodorant, it’s available as a spray (pump action, not aerosol) as well as a roll-on. The fragrance-free spray is their biggest seller.
Having been making natural deodorant since 1995, these guys know their stuff so, no, you won’t.
With micro silver and coconut oil, in a squeezy bioplastic sugarcane tube, this unscented cream is applied with your fingertips and claims to keep you fresh for three to seven days(!).
Absolutely not, but I’m not sure I’d leave it a whole week without reapplication.