How to find a natural deodorant that works for you, according to dermatologists

How to find a natural deodorant that works for you, according to dermatologists
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  • Natural deodorants, made from ingredients like plant oils, botanicals, and baking soda, offer an alternative to antiperspirants.
  • While they don't stop you from sweating, they can help prevent unpleasant odors.
  • They work by neutralizing bacteria and absorbing sweat. Here are the ingredients to look for in an effective natural deodorant, according to dermatologists.

People are increasingly aiming to cut out industrial chemicals from their daily lives, and hygiene products are no exception.

Natural deodorants swap manufactured additives for recognizable plant and mineral ingredients like plant oils, baking soda, beeswax, and botanicals for fragrance. They're formulated without chemicals commonly used in traditional deodorants and antiperspirants, like aluminum and parabens, which some people claim have a risk of side effects (there's no evidence that these compounds are harmful for health).

These natural products can be effective for helping stop body odor, but they won't prevent you from sweating, according to dermatologists.

"Deodorants are designed to neutralize odor but do not address wetness," Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, told Insider.

Sweating a lot isn't a bad thing; it's your body's natural means of keeping your core temperature stable. But if you find it to be a problem, consider using an antiperspirant, which blocks the sweat glands to prevent dampness.


Natural deodorants work in several ways, said Dr. Marisa Garshick, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York Presbyterian-Cornell and chief medical correspondent for antiperspirant company Certain Dri. They may reduce odor-causing bacteria, absorb sweat, balance the pH of the area, add stronger smells to cover up unpleasant ones, or some combination of these.

Here are the ingredients to look for, according to the experts.

Magnesium can help kill odor-causing bacteria

The first step in stopping underarm stench is eliminating the bacteria that thrive on your perspiration. Natural ingredients can act as disinfectants and antibacterials to reduce the number of these microbes, and by doing so, lessen the smell they're associated with.

Magnesium is one such ingredient, according to Garshick. The natural mineral product reduces bacteria on the surface of the skin, helping to protect your armpits.

Coconut oil is another common ingredient with antibacterial properties.


Other plant essential oils, like tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, and lemon oils not only provide fragrance but also have antimicrobial benefits.

Certain types of tea and other naturally acidic products can balance your pH

Other ingredients can help fend off bacteria by balancing the pH level of your skin, making it harder for microbes to thrive there.

"Acid based deodorants lower the pH of the skin making it an environment that does not allow odor causing bacteria to grow," Zeichner said. Again, fewer bacteria means fewer stinky smells.

Tannic acid, found in certain types of tea, is one example of an ingredient that serves this purpose. It's also astringent, which means it can make sweat glands and pores contract, helping to reduce the amount of perspiration produced.

Baking soda, cornstarch, and arrowroot can absorb sweaty smells

Other ingredients in natural deodorant can help absorb sweat from your skin to prevent it from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria.


Cornstarch and arrowroot powder are two plant-derived products that can soak up sweat before it cultivates malodorous microbial colonies.

Some ingredients, such as baking soda, can fight body odor in mutiple ways, making them common go-tos in natural deodorant.

"Baking soda can help to absorb excess moisture, can balance pH and reduce odor," Garshick said.

Native Deodorant, Bulldog Natural Deodorant, and Ursa Major Deodorant are a few examples of products with these ingredients, she said.

Natural deodorants affect everyone differently, so it may require experimentation to find the product and scent that's best for you.


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