In most areas of my life, I try to be conscious about what I put in and on my body. I buy organic groceries when possible, seek out natural beauty products, and use environmentally friendly cleaners around the house. One glaring exception to my green routine? Antiperspirant. Like paying taxes or pretending to care about other people’s vacation photos, I consider smelling good to be part of the social contract.
Like most conventional antiperspirants, my trusty brand—which has been keeping my pits spelling like a tropical smoothie for 10-plus years, thank you very much—uses a questionable cocktail of chemicals to block sweat ducts and kill bacteria. Although the research isn’t conclusive, ingredients including parabens and aluminum have been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, and some question the wisdom of trapping toxins beneath the skin’s surface. As for me, I’m wary—but the last time I tried a natural deodorant, the options were limited and, quite literally, stunk.
These days, however, natural deodorants are more refined, and there are a ton of formulas to choose from depending on your body’s unique chemistry. With this in mind, I reluctantly agreed to hand over my go-to antiperspirant stick for two weeks and try out three natural deodorant alternatives.
Making the Switch to Natural Deodorant
First up was Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant Sensitive Skin Formula in Coconut Pineapple. As much as I loved the idea of replacing aluminum and artificial fragrances with Schmidt’s plant-based powders and essential oils, I was skeptical—my life, after all, is pretty active. Most days, my morning begins around 6 a.m., when my 11-month-old daughter shoots up out of her crib like a cross between Dracula and the Energizer Bunny. Before noon, we’ll walk the dogs, cover every square inch of the playground, splash around in the pool, make a mess in the garden, and find a new way to avoid napping. The afternoon brings more of the same until my husband gets home from work, at which point I either go on a run or hit up a yoga class (full disclosure: sometimes “yoga” is a glass of wine in the shower). In short, my summer is a sweaty, messy, potentially smelly one.
To my surprise, Schmidt’s was up to the task. It glided on smelling absolutely heavenly, then kept my underarms neutral throughout the day. Like all natural alternatives, Schmidt’s is a deodorant, not an antiperspirant, so it doesn’t actually prevent perspiration—but that said, I wasn’t unreasonably sweaty. After using it for a week, there was only one occasion when I felt the need to reapply multiple times (and in all fairness, nothing in Philadelphia smelled particularly fresh that day—East Coast humidity is the real deal).
Feeling good about the experiment, I decided to try out two cream deodorants for the second week: Primal Pit Paste’s Level 2 formula (which promises to stand up to high-level stinkers such as crossfitters and teenagers) and PiperWai, a charcoal-based paste that my friends and coworkers have been raving about for years. Although not quite as convenient as Schmidt’s traditional stick, I didn’t mind rubbing in either of the creams—they went on smoothly and didn’t leave any sticky residue on my fingers. While I loved the strong tropical fragrance of Schmidt’s, the cleaner, less flowery scents of Primal Pit Paste and PiperWai were also refreshing.
Both Primal Pit Paste and PiperWai did the job reasonably well. However, by the end of a long, hot day, I noticed a smell unless I had reapplied. According to the very small group of people I’m comfortable asking to sniff me, I didn’t smell bad—the word “natural” was suggested—but I also didn’t smell like nothing, which is what I’m going for.
Am I ready to permanently break up with my conventional antiperspirant? Maybe not—on the hottest, stickiest, down-and-dirtiest days of the summer, I’ll probably still reach for it from time to time. But it’s great to have a few more options, and Schmidt’s has officially been promoted to my pit crew.