The All-Natural Deodorant Test Drive: Arm & Hammer, Lavanila, and Tom’s of Maine

The contenders

In my (somewhat) successful effort to incorporate more all-natural products into my daily repertoire, the one area I have been most reluctant to make the switch is with antiperspirants. I do sweat a lot, especially in the summer, and I felt like I finally found a product that really worked: Suave Everlasting Sunshine. But all those swirling rumors about aluminum– found in most brands– being toxic have given me a complex: Is it true? Is it not? And is the not being sure part worth giving up my favorite deodorant for? I even asked my dermatologist, who said using a bit of antiperspirant each day is fine, but I really want to give all-natural deodorants a go.  So here’s what happened.

Well, first of all, the second you go all-natural with deodorants, you have to give up the whole antiperspirant part. Meaning, no wetness control. That’s fine (so I told myself), it’s winter, so if I’m going to give this a whirl, might as well be now. And if there’s no odor, I can deal with some wetness. After reading a bunch of (mixed) online reviews for many brands, I decided to try: Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Deodorant Solid in Unscented, Tom’s of Maine Original Care Natural Aluminum-Free Deodorant in Unscented, and Lavanila The Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla Lavender.

Womp womp

The award for least favorite goes to … Arm & Hammer. First of all, it smelled like bad lemon dishwasher fluid. So not sure where they went off calling it “unscented.” I put some on before heading to work in the morning, and didn’t really notice any odor all day, though there was definitely some sweating going on- something I had gotten so used to not having after using antiperspirant for so many years. I guess that’s the “natural” route for you. Anyway, aside from that, by the end of the day, I also had some– for lack of a better word– body odor. On top of the lemon/chemical-y scent. Not very lady-like. Good-bye, Arm & Hammer.

Round 2

Next up: Tom’s of Maine. First off, I’ll give it props for actually being “unscented.” But the “24-hour odor protection” claim is a bit off-base. Once again, I applied it before work, threw on a sweater, and off I went. And again, there was wetness after a few hours– though that I expected by now (I miss you, antiperspirant!). I didn’t notice any odor til I actually took off my shirt before going into the shower at night and put my nose to it. Perhaps not enough to be noticeable to someone next to me, but it was there. Granted, it’s also winter and I didn’t do anything active. Would I wear this in the summer or to the gym? No. But it’s not a bad option for someone looking to go completely paraben-free, especially as I was starting to learn that the options are a bit, um, limited.

The diva of natural deodorants

Finally, the most glamorous of the options: Lavanila’s Healthy Deodorant, which is sold in Sephora, comes in a very pretty package, and– let’s not forget– cost the non-drugstore price of $18. I got the Vanilla Lavender one and I liked that, when I did sweat a bit throughout the day, the floral/soapy scent kicked in. Much like the Tom’s, it lasted for much of the workday, but, also like the Tom’s, my under-arms did not smell entirely “fresh” when I got home. Still, this was probably the winner of the three. I think, especially since this one smells so good, the trick might be to re-apply mid-day, which I’ll have to try. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, this is definitely another good all-natural option. Bonus points for the tiny travel-size version that Lavanila makes as well.

 But do any of these do the work of Suave, my old antiperspirant standby? No. Do they do the work of other antiperspirants I’ve tried and not loved (looking at you, Secret and Dove)? Actually, yes. So I’ll be using my sticks of Lavanila and Tom’s on low-key days, but on hectic days when I have to run around the city, I’ll be dabbing on a bit of my old standby.

Is there a natural deodorant I should try that I missed? Let me know in the comments!
~J

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