For such a hardworking beauty product, the humble deodorant rarely gets much press.
And why would it? Most of us have been using the same roll-on antiperspirant for years. Decades, perhaps. And it probably works perfectly fine. Job done, you might think.
Except that over the past couple of years, there’s been a quiet revolution in the… er… armpit area.
What is a natural deodorant, anyway?
In short, it’s a deodorant that doesn’t contain parabens or aluminium, which is the ingredient in most antiperspirants that stops you sweating.
Opinions are divided over whether aluminium is harmful. Some scientists believe it’s absorbed by the skin and can cause cancer; others (including The US government-run National Cancer Institute) say there is absolutely no evidence to back up such a claim.
What’s indisputable is that natural deodorants don’t stop you sweating; they simply mask the smell and absorb some of the moisture with natural ingredients like baking soda. (That’s why so many natural deodorants are pastes or sticks.)
Here’s our (honest) verdict on five popular natural deodorants…
Black Chicken Remedy Axilla Deodorant Paste, $18.50, reviewed by Daniela Elser
Natural deodorant and I, oh we go way back, all the way to the ‘90s when my adolescence coincided with a brief hippy-ish phase on my mother’s part. It didn’t work then and the numerous other versions that I have tried in the decades since then have all proven about as useful as an unwed Hemsworth brother turning up at a convent.
So, when I road-tested Black Chicken Remedies’ Axilla deodorant paste, I was expecting that the Sydney-based brand’s offering was destined to join the long list of ineffectual natural deodorants.
I was completely wrong. Instead, I found this stuff works perfectly.
The fragrance is subtle and the Axilla deodorant paste perfectly managed to keep me BO-free every day. It was not particularly sticky or gunky and easily rubbed into my skin, the only hassle being that using this product requires washing your hands after application.
It might have taken nearly 30 years but finally, I’m going to keep using this one, just don’t tell my mother she had the right idea all along.
Corpus Naturals (California), $38, reviewed by PRIMER co-founder Anna Saunders
This deodorant is best summed up as “peak California”. It’s the kind of deodorant that I imagine honey-limbed, blonde Californian influencers use. Not only is it vegan and manufactured using entirely renewable energy, but its key ingredient is something called “Diatomaceous earth”. (Yes, dirt – albeit a very particular, sandy type of dirt).
It is also sleek, fragrant (white musk, jasmine and bergamot) – and eye-wateringly expensive.
Reader, I loved it.
For someone who isn’t afraid to try a new sheet mask or moisturiser, I have paid very little attention – ok, actually no attention whatsoever – to the deodorant I wear every day (Rexona’s classic roll-on deodorant, $4 from Woolworths).
But I’ve tried Corpus Naturals (California flavour) for the past two weeks and to my surprise it’s been great. The coverage has been fine during the day, and exercising hasn’t proved to be an issue. (When I run, I sweat so much – everywhere – that, frankly, whether I’m sweating under my arms is neither here nor there.)
Will I keep buying a $38 deodorant which is – wait for it – nine times more expensive than my trusty supermarket option? No. I am not a Californian fashion influencer. But there must be a happy medium. (And if you can afford it, you should!)
ASUVI Angophora Deodorant, $22, reviewed by PRIMER beauty editor Lucy Adams
For some reason deodorant has been the last of all my natural beauty swaps.
Perhaps it was the smelly stigma around the old-school formulas, or that I somehow thought I’d need to reapply throughout the day (who has time for that?). But if anyone should know the benefits of natural deodorant, then – as a beauty editor and fan of natural ingredients – it’s probably me.
Happily, I haven’t looked back since discovering Australian natural deodorant brand ASUVI. I love the subtle scent, ease of application (it’s roll-on rather than rub-on which I prefer) and its longevity. I am obsessed with their new ‘Angophora’ variant, which is a fresh, light floral scent (some days I even skip fragrance) which keeps odour at bay all day. I still break a sweat occasionally– remember it is not an antiperspirant – but it keeps me odour free– even post-gym class.
I’m also a fan of its minimalist aesthetic and environmental responsibility – the nifty refills are 100 per cent biodegradable. It’s even managed to convert this natural deodorant sceptic.
Except that over the past couple of years, the deodorant category has been quietly undergoing a refresh. A new crop of “natural deodorants” has emerged – and the resulting products are chic, clean and effective.
Mukti Botanique Deodorant, $29.95, reviewed by PRIMER commercial director Anne-Marie Cheney
I converted to natural deodorants when I was pregnant five years ago (although this deodorant comes with a warning not to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding – possibly because it contains essentials oils such as sage). Since then, I have been on the search to find a natural deodorant, that’s aluminium-free and has no artificial fragrances or chemicals.
This one hits the mark! I gave it a good workout (pardon the pun), with a few decent sprays before I met my personal trainer for a weights session at the gym.
Natural deodorants don’t prevent perspiration, but this one masked any bad smells and I actually loved its subtle sage fragrance. Post shower, I sprayed it on again for the day running after two toddlers, and again, I was pleasantly surprised that by the end of the day it was still performing. I’ll definitely be keeping this one.
I’m a big fan of Drunk Elephant products. But, let’s be honest, $26 is a LOT to pay for a deodorant, particularly when my usual pomegranate Dove roll-on is $3.90 at Woolworths. So, as I handed over my credit card, me and my armpits had high expectations of this natural deodorant, and we weren’t going to be satisfied with anything less than total, day-long, desert-level dryness.
What’s more, the kind cashier at Mecca had imparted some concerning advice. The deodorant comes out quickly, she’d said, so I should twist the bottom carefully or I’d be dealing with a deluge.
But it was fine. After carefully twisting the container, a small amount of white paste emerged, which I applied to my skin like a roll-on. The paste smelled a bit like almonds, or marzipan, but dried quickly.
Yes, I smelled a tiny bit of perspiration at the end of the day, but I think it was probably only noticeable to me? That said, I haven’t tested the deodorant at the gym yet. Perhaps my gruelling workout (ha!) will prove too much for Sweet Pitti’s absorbent mandelic acid.
If only natural beauty was cheaper. Even though some reviewers claim Sweet Piti lasts four months, the cost-per-wear just isn’t justifiable for me. Not when I can smell like a synthetic pomegranate for less than the price of a flat white