Nontoxic, Natural Deodorants: Safe for Humans, Safe for the Earth

May 24, 2011 Eight comments View all articles in General

The Facts:

  • Use of antiperspirants containing aluminum should be avoided, or at least minimized, as they pose potential human health risks and their manufacturing is both energy-costly and environmentally destructive.
  • Drugstore deodorants often contain formaldehyde and the antibacterial chemical triclosan, both of which are detrimental to aquatic life and the environment as a whole, and are probable human carcinogens.
  • Spray-on deodorants may prevent BO, but they also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and induce smog.
  • Not all deodorants found in health and vitamin stores are wholesome or any eco-friendlier than drugstore versions: look for natural deodorants with the highest organic content.


Antiperspirants keep you from sweating because they contain astringent compounds like aluminum, zinc, or zirconium salts. These ingredients actually close the pores in your underarm, reducing the amount you perspire. Out of these compounds, aluminum has received the most fuss for its effect on the brain and its association with Alzheimer's patients, and while the FDA says there's nothing to worry about, do you really want to slather your underarms with the same material that lines your pots and cans? Even if you aren't bothered by the potential health risks associated with aluminum-containing antiperspirants, the mining and digging for aluminum (or bauxite ore) is indubitably linked with destructive practices around the world, and its production requires vast amounts of energy. For these reasons and countless others, many environmental health experts suggest minimizing exposure to aluminum as a precautionary measure.


The key ingredient in deodorant is an antibacterial chemical known as triclosan, or microban, which is used in pretty much everything in America, even though it can turn into carcinogenic dioxins when exposed to sunlight and water and has been banned by UK supermarkets. This chemical is building up in our rivers and fish, and scientists have linked it to thyroid malfunction and hormone disruption in frogs.  Deodorant preservatives also contain formaldehyde, a volatile organic compound (VOC) that pollutes the air, irritates the lungs, and is a probable human carcinogen.


Spray-on deodorants may bear CFC (chlorofluorocarbon)-free labels, but still contain some smog-inducing VOCs. And let's not forget that you're spraying fossil fuels like lighter fluid (butane) and barbecue grill fuel (propane) under your arms.


Not all natural deodorants purchased from health stores are completely wholesome. A lot of supposed natural deodorants still contain the same ingredients as drugstore varieties. Over half of the deodorants found on health store shelves contain petroleum-based propylene glycol (PG) – or antifreeze, which is extremely toxic to aquatic life. You should also be on the look-out for “natural” deodorants that contain the potentially carcinogenic preservative paraben. A good rule of thumb is to look for natural deodorants with the highest organic content in order to avoid any controversial and potentially harmful chemicals.


  •  Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Deodorant | $5. Get natural protection from this aluminum- and paraben-free blend of baking soda and natural plant extracts like chamomile, geranium, and coriander oils.
  • Aubrey Organics Calendula Blossom Natural Deodorant Spray | $9. This vegan, Leaping Bunny -certified, herbal deodorant spray manages to be super effective without containing any scary-sounding ingredients. It fights odor with antioxidant vitamin E, calamine, and calendula blossom, as well as sandalwood, jasmine, fir, vanilla, and cedarwood oils, among others.
  • Bubble and Bee Odor Bee Gone Deodorant | $10. This USDA certified, 100 percent organic deodorant stick harnesses the antibacterial powers of pure essential oils like organic sunflower, organic lavender, and organic rosemary, and stays clear of synthetic chemicals, aluminum, and estrogen-mimicking parabens.
  • Burt's Bees Herbal Deodorant | $8. This aluminum-, paraben-, sulfate-, petrochemical-, and phthalate-free deodorant minimizes and neutralizes odors naturally with an essential oil blend of sage, lemon, and lavender. The formula is biodegradable and specific for outdoor protection.
  • Dermalogica Environmental Control Deodorant | $20. An aluminum-free, glide-on stick deodorant that was developed by The International dermal Institute and uses parsley, clove, rosemary, hyssop, and other natural ingredients to provide the purest odor protection possible. It's loved by users for its gentle, sting-free formula and its all-day protection.
  • Dr. Hauschka Deodorant [Floral] |$23. A long-lasting and effective formula that contains pure essential oils and extracts of neem and sage. It's also third-party certified (by BDIH ) and comes in recyclable glass.
  • Erbaviva Lemon Sage Deodorant | $18. A bold, earthy, effective product for men and women that combines organic extracts of sage, lemon, patchouli, tea tree oils, and organic grain alcohol to create one USDA certified organic, aluminum-free spray deodorant.
  • Lafe's Natural Hemp Oil Roll-On Deodorant |$8. A unique blend of mineral salts, hemp oil, and aloe vera that provides 24-hour odor protection without the use of propylene glycol (PG), aluminum, artificial colors or fragrances, parabens, petroleum products, or animal cruelty. Lafe's vegan formula is also non-staining and non-irritating.
  • Miessence Ancient Spice Roll-On Deodorant | $10. A lightly scented, long-lasting, effective formula of certified organic aloe vera, bitter orange fruit extract, bergamot, cinnamon, and clove that is perfect for even the most active man. The company has also signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics , has a very low hazard rating on EWG's Skin Deep database, is not tested on animals, and is a Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA)-registered product.
  • Weleda Wild Rose Spray Deodorant |$16. This non-aerosol spray utilizes organic rosehip leaf extract and other natural essential oils to eliminate the sources of unpleasant body odor and to naturally detoxify skin. Weleda is also a signer of The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Compact , a voluntary pledge of product safety and ingredient transparency.


Joy on Aug. 21, 2012 at 6:07 a.m.

Great article! A long time ago I got to thinking i was made to sweat but it wasn’t a good idea to use antiperspirants. As I was in internet marketing I decided to change to a natural deodorant. For many years I attempted one after another without satisfaction. If you find any on the market I have not tried I’d be amazed.

Kris on Oct. 17, 2012 at 1:43 p.m.

My hubby and I have been making and using Colorado PitStik. It works great, smells wonderful and won the Healthier Alternative Trustworthy Brands Seal of Approval from!! Made with 5 natural ingredients and NO aluminum or parabens, you can even customize the scent with your favorite perfume or cologne. Look for it on Etsy and love it as much as we do!!!

April on Aug. 29, 2013 at 4:45 a.m.

Nice article!

My family uses Lavilin (, and I'm wondering if there's a reason it's not listed in this article? We've found the brand to be nothing short of delightful and recommend it to all of our friends. Everyone seems to be very grateful for the recommendation!

James Fuller on Oct. 14, 2013 at 10:44 a.m.

Dermalogica Environmental Control Deodorant is no bueno. See for more details.

Roy on April 17, 2016 at 12:01 p.m.

Great article with a lot of good products listed, but Green Tidings All Natural Deodorant is missing from your list.

Evelyn Garcia on Dec. 9, 2016 at 8:50 p.m.

we use all the products, 11 years now, and no more asthma for our family!

Curtis Roman on March 23, 2017 at 12:52 p.m.

Excellent article. Wish I'd read it when it was first published

Lisa Fey on April 29, 2017 at 12:04 p.m.

Why is Arm and Hammer first on your list when it contains propylene glycol (PG)--which you call out in your last paragraph as not wholesome...?

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