Active ingredient in deodorant


Deodorant Stick


Antiperspirant/deodorant (APD) sticks are used to reduce underarm wetness and control body odor. These products are made by blending active ingredients with waxes, oils, and silicones and molding the mixture into stick form.

Body odor is primarily generated in the area under the arms where there is a high concentration of sweat glands. While sweat from these glands is initially odorless, it contains natural oils, called lipids, that provide a growth medium for bacteria living on the skin. These bacteria interact with the lipids, converting them into compounds that have a characteristic sweaty odor. Isovaleric acid, for example, is one chemical compound that gives sweat its smell.

There are two primary types of products used to control body odor. The first, deodorants, reduce body odor by killing the odor-causing bacteria. These products do not affect the amount of perspiration the body produces. Antiperspirants, on the other hand, inhibit the activity of sweat glands so less moisture is produced. In addition to avoiding unpleasant wetness, these products also decrease odor because there is less sweat for the bacteria to act upon. While deodorants are considered to be cosmetic products because they only control odor, antiperspirants are actually drugs because they affect the physiology of the body. Although the exact mechanism of this physiological interaction is not fully understood, theory has it that antiperspirant salts form temporary plugs in some of the sweat gland openings so that moisture is not secreted. While this moisture reduction is not severe enough to interfere with normal body metabolism, it does noticeably lessen underarm wetness.


Products to control body odor and wetness have been used for centuries. Before bathing became commonplace, people used heavy colognes to mask body odor. In the late nineteenth century, chemists developed products that were able to prevent the formation of these odors. Early antiperspirants were pastes that were applied to the underarm area; the first such product to be trademarked in the United States was Mum in 1888. It was a waxy cream that was difficult to apply and extremely messy. A few years later, Everdry, the first antiperspirant to use aluminum chloride was developed. Within 15 years, a variety of products were marketed in a number of different forms including creams, solids, pads, dabbers, roll-ons, and powders.

In the late 1950s, manufacturers began using aerosol technology to dispense personal care products such as perfumes and shaving creams. In the early 1960s, Gillette introduced Right Guard, the first aerosol antiperspirant. Aerosols became a popular way to dispense antiperspirants because they allowed the user to apply without having to touch the underarm area. By 1967, half the antiperspirants sold in the United States were in aerosol form, and by the early 1970s, they accounted for 82% of all sales.

However, later that decade two technical issues arose which greatly impacted the popularity of these products. First, in 1977, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the primary active ingredient used in aerosols, aluminum zirconium complexes,

Antiperspirant sticks are packaged in hollow tubes with an elevator platform inside that moves up and down to dispense the product. In some packages, this platform can be pushed up by hand, in others it is elevated by turning a screw that causes it to travel up along a central threaded post. due to concerns about long term inhalation safety. (This ingredient remains safe for use in stick form.) Next, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strictly limited the use of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellants used in aerosols due to growing concerns that these gases may contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. CFCs were preferred as propellants for antiperspirants because they gave a soft dry spray. Although the industry reformulated their products to be safe and efficacious, it was too late. Consumers had lost confidence in aerosol antiperspirants. By 1977, sales of the reformulated versions dropped to only 50% of the market, and by 1982, they dipped below 32%. While some brands still offer antiperspirants in aerosol form, today these account for a very small percentage of the total market.

As the popularity of aerosols waned, antiperspirants in stick form became increasingly popular. In 1974, sticks held only about 4% of the market and they were considered to be wet and aesthetically unpleasing. Such products were generally associated with deodorants for men. Because of breakthroughs in ingredient technology that allowed for drier, more efficacious products, sticks gained acceptance between 1974-1978. Consumers embraced sticks as an alternative to aerosols and their market share swelled to over 35% by the mid 1980s. Today, sticks are the single most popular antiperspirant form.

Raw Materials

Antiperspirants consist of the active drug ingredients that control perspiration; gelling agents that form the stick matrix; and other ingredients, such as fragrance or colorants, that make the product aesthetically pleasing.

Active ingredients

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) controls the active ingredients used in antiperspirants because they are legally classified as drugs. The FDA publishes an Over the Counter (OTC) Drug monograph that lists which ingredients are approved for use. The ingredients on this list are limited to aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum chloride, aluminum sulfate, and aluminum zirconium complexes. Of these compounds, the most commonly used is aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex glycine. Most of these materials are supplied as powders, and they are typically used at levels of 8-25% based on the weight of the finished product.

Gelling agents

The bulk of the formulation consists of waxy or fatty materials that are gelled to form a solid stick. Common examples include stearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, hydrogenated castor oil, and glyceryl stearate. These waxy materials are blended with lubricating oils and emollients such as cyclomethicone, which is a volatile silicone compound. These silicones are liquids at room temperature, but they quickly evaporate and are used because they leave the skin feeling smooth and dry. In addition, talc, starches, or other powders may be added to control stick consistency and to give the product a dry feel and a smooth payoff.

Other ingredients

Fragrance and colorants may be added to the formula to improve its odor or appearance. Some brands have fragrances that are time released. Other brands may add featured ingredients that contribute little functionality but are designed to increase consumer appeal.

The Manufacturing


  • 1 In the batching process, ingredients are combined in a jacketed stainless steel kettle. Steam heat is applied to melt the ingredients while the batch is being mixed. During the blending process, the temperature must be carefully controlled to avoid scorching the waxy ingredients. Once all the ingredients have been added to the batch, it is blended until uniform.


  • 2 Stick packages are typically hollow tubes with an elevator platform inside that moves up and down to dispense the product. In some packages, this platform can be pushed up by hand, in others it is elevated by turning a screw that causes it to travel up along a central threaded post. These empty containers move along a conveyor belt where the molten product is dispensed through a filling nozzle. The exact process varies depending on whether the package is designed to be filled from the top or bottom. In general, the product is filled slightly above its congealing temperature so that it flows easily. If it is filled too hot, the dispersed solids may settle to the bottom; if it is filled too cold, air bubbles will be trapped in the stick.

Finishing operations

  • 3 Sticks may then go through subsequent finishing operations to ensure the surface is smooth and that they are free from trapped pockets of air. These operations usually involve heating the tops of the sticks slightly by passing them under an infrared lamp.
  • 4 A probe is then stuck into the center of the stick to allow air to escape and the surface is heated again to remelt the product, allowing it to flow into the void.
  • 5 At the next station, the sticks pass through a refrigeration tunnel that rapidly lowers the temperature and forces them to solidify. Depending on the package design, a top or bottom piece is put into place to seal the container.
  • 6 Finally, the sticks may pass through cleaning stations before they are placed in cartons for shipping.

Quality Control

Safety testing

Safety testing guidelines are recommended by the Cosmetics, Toiletries, and Fragrance Association (CTFA), the primary trade organization for the cosmetic industry. While these guidelines are not absolute rules, they do give manufacturers an indication of the minimal level of testing that should be done to ensure their products are safe. These tests include evaluation of the irritation potential (for skin and eyes), contact sensitization (where contact with the product can result in a chemical delayed reaction), photodermatitis (where light interacts with the product to cause a reaction), as well as toxicity (both ingested and inhaled.)

Efficacy testing

According to the OTC monograph, antiperspirants must reduce the amount of perspiration by at least 20% and a variety of test methods are used to ensure formulations meet this requirement. One method, known as the visualization technique, shows the action of the sweat glands via a color change. This is done by first painting the skin with a mixture of iodine castor oil and alcohol. After drying, the skin is then whitened with a layer of powdered starch. When sweat droplets are exuded, they appear as very dark spots against the white background. Another method involves painting a silicone polymer painted onto the skin to form a film. The subject is made to sweat by exposure to elevated temperature or by physical exertion and the film is peeled off and examined for tiny holes formed by the sweat drops. A relative measure of the amount of sweat produced by the body can be obtained by counting the number of holes in the film. Sweat production can also be measured using infrared gas sensors that detect moisture loss. In this process, a constant stream of gas is passed over the subject’s armpits and is subsequently analyzed for moisture content. Gravimetric techniques are also used to measure the amount of sweat collected on cotton balls.


During the filling process, overfilling or spillage may occur, resulting in scrap product. This can usually be returned to the batch tank and remelted. Depending on the quantity of material involved and the degree of reheating, the batch may have to be assayed to ensure it still meets quality specifications. Additional solvent or fragrance may be added to replace that which was driven off during the reheating operation. The product can then be filled into the packages. Any waste material that is contaminated or otherwise unsuited for refilling must be disposed of in accordance with local regulations.

The Future

Clear APD sticks have gained popularity in the 1990s. Although the first clear stick products appeared as early as 1979, these early products had stability problems and did not have a significant impact on the market. Since the late 1970s, chemists for various companies have struggled to advance clear APD stick technology. It wasn’t until 1993, when Bristol Myers introduced Ban for Man, that clear stick products achieved significant commercial success. It is also interesting to note earlier that year Gillette began spending millions of dollars in advertising for the launch of its Cool Wave clear APD gel-stick. This product was actually a gel, but it was dispensed from a stick-type package. The long term market impact of clear APD sticks and gel-sticks remains to be seen.

Where to Learn More


Laden, Karl. Antiperspirants and Deodorants New York: Marcel Dekker, 1988.


“Flexibility is the hallmark of fluid packag ing.” Drug & Cosmetic Industry (June 1996): 98.

“Gillette deodorants are fit to fill upside-down.” Packaging Digest (September 1993): 54.

Kintish, Lisa. “A Clear Advantage. The emergence of clear technology has given a much-needed boost to the antiperspirant and deodorant market.” Soap-Cosmetics-Chemical Specialties (July 1997): 29.

Springer, Neil and Helga Tilton. “Staying Power. “Chemical Marketing Reporter (August 9, 1993): SR12.

Strandberg, Keith. “Antiperspirant & Deodorant Update.” Soap-Cosmetics-Chemical Specialties (April 1993): 30.

— Randy Schueller

Making the switch to natural deodorant can be a bit like taking a driving test: If you’re not fully prepared for the road ahead, there’s a strong chance you might fail before you succeed. At least, that was my experience when I first tried to convert 15 years ago. I was persuaded to ditch my drugstore antiperspirant by a yoga teacher friend. “Don’t you know that stuff is full of poison?” she said when I whipped out a stick of Dove after an Ashtanga class. Admittedly, I had no idea that aluminum, the active ingredient in most antiperspirant, is potentially harmful, with studies having raised questions about its link to cancer. And given that my mother is a two-times breast cancer survivor, that potential truth, whether conclusive or not, hit a raw nerve. “You should use this stuff instead,” she said thrusting a clear phallic object into my hands—a deodorant made from crystallized rock salt. This, she assured me, was Mother Nature’s answer to odor-free pits. “Layer up with a little perfume and you’ll be good to go,” she said.

What she didn’t tell me, though, is that no amount of salt can fully substitute for antiperspirant. Therein lies the fundamental difference between what you’ll find at the drugstore and the natural alternatives. Antiperspirant prevents you from perspiring, just as the name suggests. Deodorant, on the other hand, functions by zapping the bacteria that causes body odor; it won’t stop your sweat glands from doing their thing—and that’s kind of the point. So if, like me, you decide to go au naturel during one of the hottest New York summers in recent memory, then you’ve got to be prepared to sweat—a lot—at least in the few weeks that it takes for your body to adjust.

My interactions with other people became fraught with anxiety almost immediately once I made the switch. Even a friendly handshake held the potential for disaster. What if my outstretched arm revealed an unsightly wet patch? Or worse still, a putrid whiff of BO? (Sadly, my fragrance-free salt wand had usually stopped working by noon.) Hugging and high-fiving were now completely out of the question. I remember one particularly steamy morning emerging from the subway like I’d literally gone swimming in the East River in my vintage silk dress. (Note to all natural deodorant newbies: Never wear silk in the heat; it’s almost as insulating as a puffer coat.) In that moment, I felt so defeated, I would have willingly drowned myself in a pool of my own sweat. Needless to say, I was back to my Dove-using ways within a week.

“It’s really a matter of finding what works best for you. Not every natural deodorant works for every body,” says Katie Sturino, founder of Megababe, a body-positive beauty line. “I tried all the ones people were raving about when it first became a thing. A lot of them had baking soda, which I’m allergic to, so I ended up with pits covered in rashes.” Sturino, whose mother is also a two-times cancer survivor, decided to make nailing the perfect aluminum-free deodorant her personal mission. Megababe’s recently launched Rosy Pitts deodorant was a year in the making, part of a new generation of products that bring the science of natural deodorants up to speed. Her brand replaces popular, natural deodorizing agents such as baking soda and alcohol that can be irritants to sensitive skin with a blend of antibacterial ingredients that includes sandalwood and sage, as well as skin-nourishing coconut extract and antioxidant-rich vitamin E. Where traditional natural deodorants tend to pull from a repertoire of heavy herbal scents—eucalyptus springs to mind—Sturino’s has a light, floral note. “We went through a lot of roses—grandma, sugary, you name it!—before I found the right one,” she says of her fragrant pick, Moldova rose. “Now, when I open it, I just want to stick my face in it because I love the scent so much.”

What’s the deal with natural deodorant?


There’s no doubt about it — cancer and Alzheimer’s are terrifying diseases. In the search to make sense of these horrible afflictions, many turn to investigating products they use in everyday life to try to uncover if they could be the culprit.

One such rumored cause is the aluminum in conventional antiperspirant, which is said to cause abnormal cell growth that turns into cancerous tumors. In response to these widespread fears, brands like Native, Schmidt’s and Tom’s are selling natural, aluminum-free deodorants that have likely taken over the shelves of your local Target or drugstore. These products are typically also made without parabens — preservatives that are said to indirectly cause cancer.

With all of the confusing and conflicting information swirling around aluminum-based antiperspirant, I wanted to give you the rundown on what’s true, what’s hogwash, and if there’s any compelling reasons to switch over to natural deodorant.

Deodorant vs. antiperspirant

First, I want to clear up some confusion around the terms “antiperspirant” and “deodorant.” The defining feature of antiperspirant is that it contains aluminum, which blocks the sweat glands and keeps anything from coming out. Deodorant just neutralizes the bacteria in sweat, helping with the bad smell. So, aluminum-free antiperspirant is a misnomer, and these products are instead called natural deodorant.

What does science say about aluminum-based antiperspirant?

You’ve likely heard all sorts of claims on why you should use natural deodorant. Let’s debunk some of the most common arguments.

Tom’s of Maine has been making natural deodorants for decades.

Getty Images

There’s no conclusive evidence showing a link between cancer and aluminum-based antiperspirant.

Although almost all scientists are in agreement with the absence of a link, some fringe users of the Internet say that there exists a definitive relationship between aluminum-based antiperspirant and cancer, specifically breast cancer. The rumors spread by word of mouth and email chain, and before you know it, thousands of people are wary of antiperspirant.

Breast cancer does occur most commonly in the upper outer tissue that’s geographically very close to where people apply antiperspirant. The logic is that the tissue absorbs the chemicals, which can’t be sweated out (because duh, you’re wearing antiperspirant) and then it causes cell mutations, which then turns into cancer. However, a systematic review of the relationship between breast cancer and antiperspirants discovered that there was no evidence for this link.

People are also worried that if they nick themselves shaving then apply antiperspirant, the aluminum will be more easily absorbed into the lymph nodes, causing cancer. Fortunately, the American Cancer Society reports that this claim is unfounded.

No, the aluminum probably won’t give you Alzheimer’s either.

Some studies from the 1960s found increased levels of aluminum in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, leading people to postulate that antiperspirant could be a cause of the condition. However, this as well, as there is no consistent and reputable science to back it up.

Parabens are preservatives found in most cosmetic products.

Getty Images

The parabens in antiperspirant are most likely not of concern.

Parabens are in most cosmetic products, like lipstick, lotion and sunscreen, acting as preservatives. Some studies have shown that they have weak estrogen-like properties, so some people fear that they can contribute to the increase of breast cell division and eventually breast cancer. However, the estrogen made in the body is hundreds or even thousands of times stronger than parabens, so this is also most likely not a significant cause of breast cancer..

In fact, the American Cancer Society reports that there’s no clear evidence of a direct link between parabens and any particular health problems.

What are some reasons to try natural deodorant?

OK, hopefully I’ve put your mind at rest: there’s no compelling evidence that wearing aluminum-based antiperspirant will cause you to develop cancer or any other horrible disease. However, there’s a number of anecdotal and cosmetic reasons that may convince you to give natural deodorant a try.

Put your mind completely at rest.

Although there’s no evidence that proves any sort of link between aluminum and breast cancer, Alzheimer’s or any other significant health problem, it’s also hard to demonstrate that such a relationship is impossible. If you’re already at a higher predisposition to any of these illnesses and wearing natural deodorant helps you sleep better at night, by all means use it.

Neutralize your sweat in a more natural way.

It’s false to say that natural deodorant contains no chemicals — everything you touch is made out of chemicals, including the apple I’m eating as I write this. However, a lot of people feel better using products with ingredients you can actually pronounce or recognize. Instead of using aluminum chlorohydrate and aluminum zirconium to block your pores, natural deodorants use coconut oil, cornstarch, arrowroot powder and other recognizable components.

These ingredients neutralize bad-smelling bacteria, and different powders can help absorb excess wetness. They’re recognizable, generally regarded as safe, and it’s always comforting to know what you’re putting on your body.

However, just because a product is made of “natural ingredients” that doesn’t mean your body won’t react to it. If you have sensitive skin, look for natural deodorants that are free of dyes and scents.

If you don’t mind a little bit of sweat, natural deodorants can be effective at keeping you smell fresh.

Getty Images

Natural deodorants may be easier on your skin.

Although the chemicals in antiperspirant don’t pose a serious health risk, if you already have sensitive skin, they may simply be irritating. CNET’s Sarah Mitroff said that she switched away from aluminum-based deodorant years ago after realizing it was bothering her skin. I have a family member that is slightly allergic to most fragrances, and the smell-free natural deodorant works best for her (along with fragrance-free laundry detergent and a whole host of products).

Fewer yellow stains on your clothes.

It’s been demonstrated that when your sweat mixes with the aluminum in antiperspirant, it can cause those dreaded yellow stains on your shirts. Switching to an aluminum-free deodorant can help avoid them.

You might not sweat as much as you think

Once I stopped wearing clear gel deodorant and switched to vanilla Dove, I started sweating a lot less. Sometimes our bodies just respond differently to separate products. If you are afraid of making the switch to deodorant because you feel like you already sweat too much, it’s worth giving it shot.

Natural deodorants to try out

These products and services are independently chosen by our editors. CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

Arm and Hammer

Some people swear by baking-soda-based deodorant. It doesn’t contain aluminum, parabens, colorants or animal-derived ingredients, and you can buy an unscented version. It also claims to not stain your clothes, so say goodbye to those awkward yellow marks on the armpits of your shirt.


Shark Tank popularized this activated-charcoal deodorant, and I have to say it looks pretty cool. It has organic coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and pure vitamin E oil, so it’s great for sensitive skin. While wearing it you’ll smell like a spa, so there’s really a lot to love with this natural product.


If you still want something scented, here’s an aluminum-free product that smells like lavender. It’s also gluten-free, if you’re into that.


Some people encounter skin rashes when they use deodorants with baking soda. If you’re one of these people but still want to avoid aluminum, there’s a magnesium-based deodorant that could fit your niche. It’s also alcohol- and paraben-free.


If the idea of aluminum in your pores is freaking you out but you still love the deodorant you wear, there’s a solution for you. Many popular brands, like Old Spice and Dove, now sell aluminum-free versions.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

The Deodorant Ingredient Glossary

Take a glance at the back of your deodorant stick — do those lengthy ingredient names with too many consonants start to look like a whole lot of Klingon? Here, find out what those words mean, as top experts explain the functions behind the daily deodorant swipe.

The Basics

Antiperspirant: Categorized as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug by the FDA, an antiperspirant uses ingredients (see several examples below) that interact with sweat glands to target and prevent wetness, says cosmetics chemist Ron Robinson, the founder of

Deodorant: Let’s clear up a big misconception — the purpose of a deodorant is solely to mask underarm odor, not to prevent wetness. “Deodorants often contain fragrance along with an active deodorant called triclosan,” says Robinson, “which prevents odor-causing bacteria from growing.”

Conventional-Deodorant Terms

Aluminum salts: The active ingredient in antiperspirants, common forms are aluminum chlorohydrate (in roll-ons and aerosols) and aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY (in solids). These compounds plug the sweat glands, temporarily preventing perspiration, says Jim Hammer, a cosmetics chemist and the owner of Mix Solutions product consulting in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

Controversy has emerged in recent years as some studies have suggested that aluminum may mimic estrogen, potentially increasing the risk of breast cancer of users — though many experts claim these studies were flawed. The FDA has issued a statement, saying, “Researchers at the National Cancer Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer.”

Cyclomethicone: A silicone base in aerosol deodorants that holds ingredients together, “it’s used as a substitute for alcohol,” says Hammer, “since it doesn’t create the stinging sensation on freshly shaven areas.”

pH-Balanced: The pH is a measure of acidity and alkalinity. Deodorants labeled as pH-balanced “are usually close to the natural pH of the skin, which is slightly acidic at 5.5,” says Robinson. A pH-balanced product helps guard against irritation, making the deodorant more easily tolerated.

Talc: Used in many products, including foundation powder and dry shampoo, talc is no stranger to the world of beauty. “It’s a natural mineral — magnesium silicate — and it’s useful for absorbing moisture and reducing friction,” says Hammer.

Triclosan: An antibacterial and antifungal agent, triclosan prevents the growth of the bacteria responsible for body odor, says Robinson.

Natural-Deodorant Terms

Baking soda: Add to the infinite uses for the popular household multitasker that it’s an odor neutralizer and a wetness absorber.

Essential oils: While some essential oils, like lavender and tea tree oils, are naturally antibacterial and fight odor, says Hammer, others may be added to deodorants simply for their pleasing scents.

Hops: More commonly known as a bittering agent in beer, hops are also used in deodorants to help curb the growth of underarm bacteria.

Mineral salts: Mined from the earth, mineral salts form a temporary layer over skin, preventing bacteria from growing and causing odor.

Witch hazel: A popular skin care astringent that gets its name from the North American shrub it’s made from, witch hazel absorbs oils and constricts the size of pores in the armpit.

List of deodorants without aluminum brands

In this article we have put together a list of deodorants without aluminum:

The issue of aluminum chlorides in deodorants has been discussed among manufacturers, scientists and consumers for a couple of years, now. There are different points of view in the interpretation of scientific research. One group of industry representatives and scientists sees no potential health hazards caused by the regular use of aluminum salts in deodorants.

The other group, mainly scientists, warns of the potential risks that can be caused by the aluminum compounds. Clear scientific evidence that the aluminum compounds present in deodorants cause, in particular, breast cancer does not yet exist. However, consumers are already alarmed and are consciously looking for deodorants or antiperspirants that do not contain aluminum chlorides. And the offer is growing!

Below you find a list of deodorants without aluminum. For sure, the list can never be complete. If you have discovered an aluminumfree deodorat that is not on the list, please contact us through at [email protected]

Deodorants and antiperspirants without aluminum are available from both the conventional brands, the private labels of drugstores and supermarket chains; as well as the Natural Cosmetics brands.

The products from the natural cosmetics producers are usually based purely on herbal ingredients, which are primarily organic and renounce animal testing.

List of deodorants without aluminum

As not all products are available in the UK, we have put together a special list for the UK here:

Aluminium Free Deodorants in the UK

All-natural and organic Cosmetics

  • AC Nature Natural Deodorant
  • Annemarie Börlind
  • All Good Deodorants
  • Arbonne Pure Mint Deodorant
  • Aubrey Organics: E Plus High C Roll-On Deodorant, Men’s Stock Natural Dry Herbal Pine Deodorant
  • Bali Secrets Natural Deodorant* – Organic & Vegan
  • Best Deodorant Ever from Hygieia LLC: all deodorants
  • Botanik NaturalDeodorant for men
  • Bubble & bee organic deodorants
  • Burt’s Bee’s Herbal Deodorant and Natural Skin Care for Men Deodorant
  • Caitlin’s Super Natural Deodorants: Sandalwood & Olive Leaf, Bergamot & Cypress, Lavender & Currant
  • Close To Me – Uplifting Deodorant Spray
  • Coconut Snow All Natural Deodorant*
  • CocoPits Deodorants
  • Dirty Kids Organics
  • Dr. Hauschka Fresh Roll-on, Floral Roll-On (For Sensitive Skin)
  • DeodoMom Deodorants
  • East Creek Organics Rustic Roots Deodorant
  • EO Organic Deodorant: Citrus, Lavender, Vetiver
  • Every Man Jack Deodorants: Cedarwood, Citrus, Signature mint, Sandalwood
  • Explore Naturals – Natural Deodorant
  • Fresh Kidz (Natural Deodorants for Kids)
  • Freedom Stick Deodorants
  • Greenbody Natural Deodorants
  • Green People Natural Deodorants
  • Green Tidings All Natural Deodorant
  • Good For Girls
  • Jungleman All-Natural Deodorant
  • Junior Varsity Naturals (Natural Deodorants for Kids)
  • Just 4 Kids (Natural Deodorants for Kids) UK
  • Human Heart Nature (Philippines)
  • Herban Cowboys Deodorants
  • Hippy Paste by Earth Conscious
  • InstaNaturals
  • Kaia Naturals: The Takesumi detox made from bamboo charcoal
  • Kopari – Coconut Oil Deodorant
  • Lafé’s Natural Deodorat Spray
  • Lavera Deodorants
  • Lavilin Deodorants
  • Lavanila The Healthy Deodorant-Pure Vanilla
  • Lavender Moon All Natural Deodorant
  • L’Occitane Deodorants
  • Logona Deodorants
  • Louis Widmer Deodorant Aluminumsalts-free
  • Lush Deodorants: Aromaco, T’eo, The Greeench, Guv’ner
  • Madara Bio Active Deodorant
  • Malin+Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant
  • ManCave Eucalyptus Deodorant
  • Mirai Travel Deodorant
  • Nalani All natural deodorant
  • Natio – Natural Australian Beauty: Aluminium Free Roll-On Deodorant (Australia, UK)
  • Native Deodorant – Coconut & Vanilla
  • nasanta Magnesium Deodorant Men* (made in Australia)
  • Natural Aid Magnesium Roll-ons (Australia)
  • Nature’s Gate (Sticks and Roll-ons) all deodorants
  • Noosa Basics Alley Oop Deodorants (Australia)
  • Nubian Heritage Deodorants: Coconut & Papaya, Honey & Black Seed, Indian Hemp & Haitian Vetiver
  • Nutrexin Alum-Free Deodorant
  • Oars + Alps Natural Deodorant
  • Organic Fields of Heather: Organic & Natural Deodorants*
  • Ozone Layer Deodorants
  • O’Deo Liquid Silver
  • Primal Life Organics Stick Up
  • Primal Pit Paste Natural Deodorant
  • Primavera Life Ingwer Limette
  • Purefy Deodorant Spray
  • Purely Lisa Pure Pitz Natural Deodorant
  • Real Purity Deoroller
  • Rose Natural Deodorant
  • Sam’s Natural Bay Deo
  • SANTE Deodorants
  • Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant
  • Speick Deodorants
  • Solfood VEGAN Sol Free Natural Deodorant
  • SoapMe
  • Stinkbug Naturals Deodorants
  • Storm & Leif Deodorants
  • Tom’s of Maine deodorants
  • Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil Deodorants
  • Truly’s Natural Deodorant, Truly’s for Kids
  • Three Mamas Natural Deodorant Paste (AUS)
  • Underarmed Active botanical luxury deodorant
  • Ursa Major* No B.S and Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant
  • Weleda Deodorants
  • Yves Rocher Deodorants

Handcrafted Deodorants

  • Bella Organics Deodorants
  • Clean Pits Deodorants
  • Fat and the Moon Deodorant Cream
  • Grandlee Cottage Soap Deodorants (Australia)
  • Indigenous Beauty Deodorant Cream (UK)
  • Handcrafted HoneyBee – Natural Probiotic Deodorants*
  • Mary Ann’s Naturals Organic Handcrafted Deodorants
  • Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant Creams
  • Moody Sisters Cream Deodorants
  • Native Deodorants
  • North Coast Organics handmade deodorants
  • Organic Islands Deodorants
  • Pachy Deodorants
  • Primal Pit Paste Deodorants
  • Sam’s Natural Deodorants
  • Soapwalla Deodorant Creme
  • SoapMe – Don’t Sweat It! All-Natural Handmade Deodorants
  • Spinster Sisters Natural Solid Deodorants

….OR Make your own natural homemade deodorant

Medical Body Care

  • Avene Regulating Deodorant Care Roll-on
  • La Roche-Posay Physiological Deodorant 24h Stick, Spray and Roll-on
  • Louis Widmer Deodorant without Aluminum
  • Sebamed Deodorants
  • Uriage Roll on Deodorant 24hr Aluminum Free

Conventional Deodorant Brands

  • 8×4 Deodorants
  • Adidas Cotton Tech Aluminum Free Women*, Cotton Tech Fitness Fresh, Cotton Tech Pure Powder, Cotton Tech Icy Burst, Cotton Tech Pure Lightness, Adidas Dynamic Pulse 24HR Deo Stick
  • ARM & HAMMER Essentials Solid Deodorant, Fresh und unscented
  • Axe Deodorants
  • Avon On Duty Aluminium-Free Roll-On Deodorant
  • Baxter of California Citrus & Herbal-Musk Deodorant
  • Biotherm Natural Protect
  • Bionsen Deodorants (UK)
  • Calvin Klein cK one Deodorants und Deo Stick
  • Denim Orginal Deo Spray
  • Degree Men Extra Fresh Deodorant, Arctic Edge
  • Dove 0% Aluminum Deodorants
  • FA Fantasy moments, Luxury Moments, Pink Passion, Purple Passion Deodorants
  • Forever Living Aloe Ever-Shield
  • Herbal Clear Deodorant Stick – Sport, Deodorant Stick – Aloe Fresh
  • Menscience Advanced Deodorant
  • Nivea Deodorants without Aluminum Nivea Deodorants Fresh Natural*, Fresh Active Deodorants and Stick
  • Nivea Men Protect & Care Aluminum Free 48h Deodorant Roll-On
  • Old Spice Deo Stick Original: Hawkridge, Aqua Reef Scent, Fiji with Palm Tree Scent
  • Ombra Spa Deodorants*
  • Playboy Deodorantsprays
  • Rexona Aluminum free Spray Deodorant*
  • s. Oliver Men Superior Deo Stick
  • Soft & Dri Aluminum Free Deodorants: Sweet Bliss, Powder Fresh
  • Soft & Gentle 0% Aluminium Floral, Active, Care (UK: Floral, Active, Care – UK
  • Speed Stick Deodorants
  • Tabac Original: Deodorant Spray, Natural Spray, Roll-on und Deodorant Stick
  • The Body Shop: For Men Maca Root Deodorant Stick und Spray
  • Vichy 24h Deodorant Care Stick


  • HyperDri Aluminum-Free Antiperspirant

We are trying to keep this list of deodorants without aluminum up to date, however, we cannot guarantee that the information is always correct. Manufacturers might change their formula. No products are always launched, some products might be taken off the market. So, we advice you to always have a look at the list of ingredients to make sure the product is aluminumfree.

*Affiliate Link: If you make a purchase, we will receive a commission from Amazon.

You can’t talk about natural deodorants without a quick lesson in BO 101. First you need to know the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant. An antiperspirant has chemicals like aluminum to stop sweating altogether. The aluminum salts plug the sweat glands, preventing perspiration. On the other hand, a deodorant masks and neutralizes odor. But where does the stink come from in the first place? When the glands in your armpits emit sweat, the liquid interacts with the bacteria in the area to emit unsavory smells.

Natural deodorants use essential oils like tea tree and witch hazel to curb the bacteria. Some also have other less harmful minerals like zinc ricinoleate and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to keep the underarm area dry without stopping sweat altogether. In addition to getting rid of aluminum, most are also paraben-free and safe for sensitive skin. If you’re thinking about giving up antiperspirant, start with these 15 formulas that actually keep the stink at bay.

— Additional reporting by Rayna Rossitto

The 2 million to 4 million sweat glands in our bodies pump out several liters of perspiration every day,which probably explains why close to 100 million of us report that sweating is “sometimes” or “often” a problem. A Harris Interactive Poll found that excessive sweating negatively affects confidence, careers, and social lives — not to mention doing a number on clothes.

Antiperspirants are the No. 1 defense against excessive sweating, but how well a product works for you depends on many factors, including its ingredients, the strength of those ingredients, how much you perspire, and even when you apply it.

“You want your underarms to be as dry as possible so that the antiperspirant’s active ingredients have a chance to do their job by seeping into pores and plugging sweat ducts,” says David Pariser, MD, professor of dermatology at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk.

If your armpits are damp — as they are after you towel off from a shower — the antiperspirant will mix with that wetness and slide off your skin instead of into the sweat ducts where you need it most. That’s why it’s best to apply antiperspirant at bedtime, when your underarms are dry and you’ve got about eight hours of relatively sweat-free slumber to allow the aluminum ingredient in antiperspirants to go to work.

Here’s the information on the key antiperspirant ingredients you need to combat excessive sweating and feel fresh all day.

Aluminum. Aluminum-based compounds are the most widely used active antiperspirant ingredient because they effectively plug up sweat ducts to temporarily stop the flow of moisture to the skin. Over-the-counter clinical strength antiperspirants contain higher concentrations of aluminum.

Rumors have circulated on the Web for years that aluminum in antiperspirants can raise one’s risk of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease if the compounds are absorbed through pores or enter the skin through a shaving nick. However, “There’s no scientific evidence to suggest that antiperspirant ingredients pose any sort of health risk,” says Pariser. “These are urban legends that people keep perpetuating through emails.”

Parabens. These preservatives help keep cosmetic products free of bacteria. However, several small studies found traces of parabens in breast cancer tumors,suggesting that they may have weak estrogen-like effects if absorbed through the skin. But the study didn’t find that parabens caused breast cancer, or that the parabens were from antiperspirants.

Deodorant Ingredients 101

Did you know that 85% of the more than 85,000 chemicals in use in today’s marketplace have not been tested for long-term human health impacts? It’s true. Beyond skin creams and cosmetics, this also includes our favourite conquerer of body odour: deodorants.

Conventional deodorants are often made with sweat-blocking and pore clogging aluminum, antibacterial agents such as triclosan, parabens, petrochemicals, and synthetic fragrances. Read on to learn more about why we choose not to use these ingredients in our 100% natural and aluminum free deodorants.


Aluminum-based compounds are the active ingredient in anti-perspirants, working to block our sweat glands. These compounds may be absorbed by our skin, causing changes in the estrogen receptors of breast cells, and potentially increase our risk of developing breast cancer.

Our natural deodorants are made using Potassium Alum, a naturally occurring salt. The molecules of Potassium Alum are too large to pass through pores and into the bloodstream, so they don’t actually go into your body. Instead, they adjust the pH of the skin’s surface, creating an environment where bacteria can no longer grow.


Triclosan is an extremely powerful antibacterial agent and preservative that’s used mainly in antiperspirants, deodorants, cleansers, and hand sanitizers. It’s so powerful, that Triclosan is actually classified as a pesticide by the FDA and as a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency. This chemical not only accumulates in our environment, but persists, harming our aquatic wildlife.


Parabens in their many forms (methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, or butylparaben) are found in 75 to 90 per cent of cosmetic and body care products. Yikes. Parabens are a synthetic preservative that easily penetrate the skin and mimic the activity of estrogen in our bodies. As estrogen promotes the growth of breast cancer cells, and a woman is eight times more likely to develop breast cancer in the part of the breast closest to the underarm, scientists are studying the connection. That said, we feel that the link between parabens, breast cancer and hormone disruption is too dubious for us to use with 100% comfort in any of our products, including deodorants.

Propylene Glycol (and other petrochemicals)

Propylene glycol is a petroleum-based material that was originally developed for use as a non-toxic anti-freeze. Now it’s just another common ingredient used in anti-perspirants and deodorants. Wait, what? Gross! Yep, due to its slick consistency, it’s used to soften deodorants and anti-perspirants making them easier to apply to your skin. However, propylene glycol is a neurotoxin known to cause dermatitis (skin inflammation), kidney damage, and liver damage; it’s number 9 on our Red List of ingredients we avoid at all costs.

Synthetic Fragrances

The average North American uses between 17 and 21 scented products per day, exposing themselves to a “chemical soup” with unknown health effects. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, fragrances used in deodorants and other cosmetic products cause 30% of all allergic reactions, and 70% of all asthmatics develop respiratory symptoms when exposed to perfumes.

At Rocky, our philosophy is that if we’re not sure that something is safe over the long-haul, then why use it? Especially when there are amazing natural ingredients offered by our planet that can keep us clean, moisturized and smelling delightful!

Natural Deodorant Labels Explained: Healthy Ingredients to Stop Sweat

Natural deodorant solutions have exploded in popularity. In response, droves of brands now tout natural and organic deodorant sticks, pit pastes and other sweat-stopping concoctions. With so many options, sifting through the marketing BS to find a truly natural deodorant is tricky and time-consuming. You want a healthy, natural deodorant, but you know the label “natural” doesn’t mean much. So what’s a sweaty, health-conscious person to do?

My Search for an Effective Natural Deodorant

As someone who sweats heavily and prefers not to use harmful chemicals, I’ve struggled to find a natural alternative to excessive underarm sweating.

Over the years I’ve tried countless homemade solutions and natural deodorants. I was desperate to find a heavy-duty, natural deodorant that offers complete wetness protection and odor control, which inspired my extensive research into the topic.

In this post, I’ll outline the natural ingredients found in healthy deodorants (and ingredients to avoid) to help you better analyze natural deodorant labels.

The Difference Between Deodorant and Antiperspirant

Before diving into natural deodorant ingredients, it’s important to differentiate deodorant and antiperspirant. Deodorants prevent body odor by stopping the breakdown of bacteria in the armpits. (Bacterial breakdown is what causes the unpleasant odor associated with sweat.)

Like deodorant, antiperspirants mask the smell of sweat. But antiperspirants also contain the active ingredient aluminum, which plugs your sweat ducts and stops sweat. To be considered antiperspirant, the solution must contain aluminum. Because there is no aluminum in deodorant, natural deodorants are not considered antiperspirants.

Discover the truth about 5 controversial toxins in antiperspirant.

While some studies have found a link between aluminum and certain diseases, the connection has not been proven. Still, some people (like myself) prefer to avoid potentially harmful ingredients and go the natural route.

Like regular deodorant, natural deodorants don’t reduce sweat. But many natural deodorant brands have concocted healthier formulas that reduce the embarrassing effects of underarm sweat.

The 3 Tiers of Natural Deodorants

Whether you’re health-conscious or antiperspirant ingredients like alcohol and aluminum irritate your skin, choosing an effective natural deodorant starts with understanding the active ingredients and their purpose.

Before choosing a natural deodorant, you also need to consider just how natural and organic of a deodorant you prefer. I tend to bucket natural deodorants in 3 categories. First, there are mainstream brands like Tom’s of Maine that have spearheaded the natural deodorant charge but still include suspect ingredients (like propylene glycol) in their formula.

Other natural deodorant brands take the commitment one step further to eliminate all chemicals and toxins.

Learn more natural ways to stop sweating.

And finally, there are the über health-conscious who resort to raw, homemade remedies — like coconut oil or lemon juice. I experimented with coconut oil and baking soda, but the mixture left a painful dark-red rash on my armpits after 8 hours.

Breaking Down Natural Deodorant Labels

At their core, natural deodorant brands contain similar ingredients. You’ll likely find some type of powder for moisture and odor control, natural oils to form the base and wax for texture. Some also add naturally moisturizing or scented ingredients.

Here’s a closer look at common ingredients in natural deodorants:

  • Natural oil to form the base: Many organic deodorant brands use coconut oil or other natural oils to form the solid base of the deodorant stick.
  • Powder or starch for absorption and odor control: Powders like baking soda and arrowroot not only absorb wetness, but they also kill bacteria that causes odor. Some type of powder is essential for an effective natural deodorant.
  • Essential oils for antiseptic effects and scent: Essential oils also have antibacterial properties that fight odor before it starts. These include rosemary, sage, lemon grass and tea tree oil. These oils also add a natural scent to deodorants.
  • Wax for texture: Don’t be alarmed to find ingredients like beeswax or candelilla wax in your natural deodorant. These natural ingredients add the waxy, glossy consistency you’re used to in regular deodorants.

Ingredients to Avoid in Natural Deodorants

Now that you know the function behind some healthy, sweating-stopping ingredients, let’s review ingredients to avoid in natural deodorants.

Here are some suspect ingredients in healthy deodorants that make them not-so-natural:


When you see “fragrance” on the label of any natural product — including deodorant — it likely contains chemicals. Manufacturers can claim their scent is a trade secret and get away with using the catch-all phrase “fragrance” as an ingredient. Often, “fragrance” is an industry workaround to not disclose the chemical cocktail that comprises the scent. If you’re concerned about chemicals in deodorant, watch out for the ingredient fragrance in natural deodorant labels.

Talcum Powder

Made from the mineral talc, talcum powder absorbs moisture and reduces friction to help deodorant glide on easily. You’ll find talcum powder in a variety of consumer products, including deodorant. In its natural form, talc contains the cancer-causing agent asbestos, according to However, the talc used in consumer products today is asbestos-free.

Talcum powder has come under scrutiny for its link to ovarian and lung cancers. Studies on both humans and animals have produced mixed results.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is used in antifreeze and other consumer products like deodorant. The FDA and World Health Organization recognize propylene glycol as generally safe for use in foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. And companies like Tom’s of Maine use vegetable-based propylene glycol — an environmentally safer alternative. Still, the Environmental Protection Agency requires the use of gloves when handling the substance and disposal by burying, signaling its potential harm.

There’s no shortage of natural deodorants. But narrowing the list to safe and effective options is much more difficult.

I hope this eases your search for an effective natural deodorant. Check out my review of top natural deodorant brands to narrow your search.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *