I love a good, sweaty workout. What I’m not a fan of is how stinky my underarms get when I sweat. It’s not cute. However, my skin has become increasingly sensitive as I’ve gotten older, and I’m tired of using antiperspirant only to get massively itchy pits, clogged pores and red, bumpy skin. I’ve decided to forego antiperspirants and use deodorants that don’t contain typical irritants like parabens or so-called “natural” fragrances. After all, sweating is actually good for you! Fitness Magazine points out that perspiring helps the body rid itself of toxins, clear congested pores and cool down during a workout, so I’m glad to sweat it all out. I just don’t want to smell like a landfill while all this magic occurs.
The best way to know what is in your health and wellness products is to make them yourself, so that’s exactly what I did, using a homemade deodorant recipe from Traditional Cooking School by Gnowfglins. Live Strong reports that coconut oil, the base for many natural deodorant recipes including the one I used, contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that make it a great ingredient for deodorant. If you want to test this recipe and not waste a bunch of coconut oil, halve the recipe and use it for a few days to make sure it works for you.
My first attempt was scented with lavender essential oil, which I adore. I didn’t notice any major stink during an entire day of errand running, but in the evening, I smelled like a weird mix of herbs and funk. I melted the concoction again and added around five drops of peppermint essential oil for a second test run, and the scent lasted much longer, even helping my pits stay fresher through a major workout. This deodorant is moisturizing and cost-effective. But it's a deodorant that I would have to reapply throughout the day, and it’s not portable. Imagine a tin of coconut oil in the summer heat. The blog Becoming Peculiar has a deodorant recipe that adds beeswax to the usual recipe to prevent melting, but I’m still wary about carrying it around in my bag on a hot day.
Tom’s of Maine makes natural deodorant that is available at most drugstores. I have used Tom’s in the past during some very high-intensity exercises, including hour-long ballet classes, but I would always apply it not long before class and still be kind of stinky when class was over. Frankly, I don’t mind of bit of post-workout muskiness, but there is a fine line between musk and body odor that I’m not willing to cross. Tom’s deodorants are comparable in price to many traditional drugstore brands, and, unlike the DIY deodorant, you can tote this one around. Since I had already gone the lavender route with my coconut oil deodorant, I tested Tom’s Long Lasting Deodorant in Natural Powder, and it was doing well throughout the day until I actually worked up a sweat. Forty minutes of high energy boot camp exercises and I smelled as if I hadn’t applied deodorant at all. It was like puberty all over again. I really liked the powder scent, but it just didn’t last.
LaVanila Laboratories, creator of natural perfumes and body care products, has created The Healthy Deodorant, a vegan deodorant in a variety of scents, which you can order online or pick up at your local Sephora. The two-ounce Healthy Deodorant retails for $14, but if you want to test it out before committing to a full stick, go with the Mini Deodorant, which is $8 for just under an ounce. LaVanila’s deodorants are made with ingredients derived from natural sources such as corn, artichokes and sugar, and the Pure Vanilla scent is divine, not at all cloying or overbearing. I could not stop sniffing my armpits after putting this on. Even better, it maintained its scent long after intense workouts. The mini is a great size for throwing in your gym bag, but this bad boy powered through the day, no reapplication required. It even passed the sniff test. I’m kind of obsessed. We have a winner.
I was pleasantly surprised by the homemade coconut oil deodorant and will continue to use it at home and for less active days. Tom’s is a decent option for touchups or in a pinch, but I was disappointed by how quickly it faded during my workout. For busy days, group workout classes and when I need to feel glamorous, I’m going with LaVanila. Overall, my armpits are smoother and much happier.
Tell us: what are your favorite natural deodorants?