Most people use deodorant every day without thinking about exactly what they’re putting on their skin.
However, regular deodorants contain a number of potentially harmful ingredients that could be absorbed by our skin.
All regular antiperspirants do is stop your sweat glands from carrying out their natural duty (to release sweat) by clogging them up, which obviously prevents your body from functioning how it naturally should.
To do this, various chemicals are used such as aluminium and triclosan, which is also used as a pesticide.
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Best Natural Deodorants in the UK
1. Salt of the Earth Classic Natural Deodorant
If you’re looking for a simple yet powerful deodorant which beats even mainstream chemical deodorants, try this one by Salt of the Earth.
It’s very budget-friendly, paraben-free, aluminium-free fragrance-free, definitely not tested on animals and will provide the long-lasting protection you’re looking for, even under extreme conditions. What more could you ask for in a deodorant?
Thanks to the naturally antibacterial properties of potassium alum, your armpits will stay gorgeous all day long.
Potassium alum, a natural antibacterial mineral salt, has been used an as odour protectant for 100s of years, and so it’s use in this product really doesn’t disappoint.
This natural deodorant works by leaving a thin layer of the natural mineral salt on your skin, and whilst it allows your underarms to sweat naturally, it combats any nasty smells you may be struggling with.
Some people have said that less is definitely more when it comes to this product, as using too much can cause slight irritation of the skin.
However, once you have the knack with this, you can go about your day knowing you’re smelling fresh as a daisy, with no white marks on your clothes and happy that no animals were harmed making this deodorant.
- No white marks/staining on your clothes.
- Based off of a tried and tested ingredient that has been used for 100s of years.
- Affordable price point.
- Using too much of this at one time can cause slight irritation, so you need to get the right balance.
2. PitROK W1060 Push-Up Crystal Deodorant
Entering our list next is this push-up deodorant.
Somewhat similar to the Salt of the Earth Classic Natural Deodorant, this crystal deodorant by PitROK comes in a stone form.
This quick drying formula doesn’t leave any stains on your clothes and won’t block your pores, and its use isn’t limited to under your arms! PitROK state that this product can also be used under your feet to combat the odour caused by sweaty feet.
Simply apply it to the sole of your foot like you would your underarm, let it dry quickly and then you’re ready to pop your socks and shoes on and head out the door for the day.
Highly rated by magazines, newspapers and TV shows such as Marie Claire, The Express, Minx Magazine, The Mail on Sunday, The Times, The Wright Stuff and the Richard & Judy Show, you’ll know your armpits are in safe hands with this deodorant.
- Can be used on the feet too, not just underarms.
- Great price for such a long-lasting product!
- Won’t stain your clothes.
- Can dry out rather quickly if the lid is accidentally let off.
3. Green People Aloe Vera & Prebiotics Deodorant
This deodorant from British natural skincare company Green People uses organic aloe vera, chamomile, sandalwood and prebiotics to keep you smelling fresh without artificial chemicals.
Like all Green People products, this deodorant is free from parabens, phthalates, artificial fragrances and other nasty chemicals. This deodorant works to reduce odours by using zinc ricinoleate, which is a naturally occurring zinc salt that absorbs odours.
Once opened, this deodorant should last for 12 months, but you will probably use it up within 2 months or so of daily use.
This product is gentle yet effective, and is a good choice for sensitive skin.
Most people find the scent to be subtle and pleasant.
Green People Aloe Vera & Prebiotics Deodorant is suitable for both men and women.
- Free from parabens, phthalates and synthetic fragrances
- Good for sensitive skin
- No white marks
- Relatively expensive
4. Green People For Men – No. 8 Thyme & Prebiotics Deodorant
If you’re a gent on the go who’s conscious about B.O, then give this a try!
This roll-on deodorant is suitable for all skin types, even those who struggle with severe eczema and psoriasis, and is tough on odour.
Its anti-irritant formula combined with shea butter ensures that your underarms are kept moisturised whilst lemon, clove and thyme fight bad smells without clogging your pores and provide you with a delicately spicy fragrance.
- Product will last on average 2 months before you need to repurchase.
- Can hold its own during light to moderate workouts without the need for re-application.
- Can take a short while to dry.
5. Salt of the Earth Pure Aura Melon & Cucumber Deodorant
Here’s another deodorant from Salt of the Earth, this time with a refreshing melon and cucumber scent.
Like other deodorants from Salt of the Earth, this product works by applying a layer of natural mineral scents to your skin to fight odours.
This deodorant is free from aluminium chlorohydrate, parabens and triclosan, and uses botanical extracts to create a nice scent. This product can be used by both men and women, though the scent is more feminine than masculine.
Most people find that this product works well and lasts a full day without needing to be reapplied.
However, some people with sensitive skin find it to be a bit too harsh.
- Effective at preventing body odour
- Lasts all day
- Nice fresh scent
- May not be ideal for those with sensitive skin
6. Bioforce Salt of The Earth Deodorant Spray
Here we have another spray deodorant from Salt Of The Earth.
However, this one un-scented so it’s great for those of you that either don’t like scented deodorants because they can overpower other fragrances such as perfumes, or because you want the most natural and gentle deodorant out there.
This deodorant works the same way as the previously mentioned products by Salt Of The Earth, by creating a thin barrier of natural mineral salts that allow your body to sweat without producing a strong unwanted odour.
- Very low price point! Ultra-affordable.
- Easy to use.
- Vegan and cruelty-free.
- Can be used up quite quickly compared to roll-on deodorants or stick form ones.
7. Green People Neutral Scent Free Deodorant
If you’re worrying that a natural deodorant won’t be easy to apply, then worry no more!
This natural alternative by Green People comes in the style of a handy roll-on, so for ease of use, it’s great.
With a base of sunflower oil, rosemary and aloe vera, this deodorant also contains prebiotics to support the skin’s good flora and reduce bacterial growth.
Certified organic, vegan-friendly, paraben-free deodorant is the perfect choice if you suffer from extremely sensitive skin such as eczema or psoriasis.
It’s ultra-gentle, highly effective and contains natural prebiotics to help keep the skin’s natural flora in perfect balance.
Unlike mainstream antiperspirants or deodorants, it doesn’t prevent your body from naturally sweating, but instead uses alum to reduce bacteria growth, minimise odours and take care of your body.
Incredibly, it’s also free from a huge number of potentially harmful ingredients you’ll find in other deodorants such as parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulphate, harsh foaming agents, irritating emulsifiers, methylisothiazolinone (MI), and synthetic fragrances.
- Great for people with sensitive skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
- Product will last on average 2 months before you need to repurchase.
- Affordable price point.
- Scent free, so if you like a little fragrance this might not be for you.
- Can roll on quite thick so might take some getting used it.
8. Awake Organics Aura Clean Deodorant
If you are looking for a natural deodorant with all the bells and whistles and ticks all the boxes, then this might be your guy!
Similar to The Natural Deodorant Co. Clean Deodorant Balm, this deodorant comes in a pot with a handy eco-spatula for ease of use so you can get just the right amount and without going digging around in the glass jar it comes in.
Simply scoop a pea-sized amount out, warm it up between your fingers and apply to your underarms.
Kaolin and arrowroot powders absorb and neutralise sweat and odour whilst lemongrass, lavender and rosemary provide you with a fresh and uplifting fragrance.
- Super easy to use, comes with a handy little applicator.
- Light yet moisturising on the skin with no greasy feeling.
- One of the more expensive natural deodorants.
- Some people have stated that it can darken underarms.
9. Langdale & Harding Pitt Balm
This natural deodorant comes in a small round tin which will easily fit in your handbag.
It’s free from aluminium and other potentially harmful ingredients.
This product uses coconut oil, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), shea butter and several organic essential oils to create a natural defence against body odour.
This balm doesn’t leave stains on your clothes, and doesn’t block pores so you can still release toxins by sweating naturally.
This product is 100% vegan.
- Provides odour protection all day
- 100% natural ingredients
- Comes in a small tub that is easy to carry around
- Quite expensive given its small size
Are Regular Deodorants Bad for You?
The ingredients in regular deodorants and antiperspirants are generally considered to be safe in low doses, but there are concerns about several of them.
- Aluminium – This is a key ingredient in most antiperspirants, and has been linked to breast cancer due to its oestrogen-mimicking properties.
A definite link hasn’t been established, but it’s probably better to avoid this ingredient just in case.
Aluminium exposure has also been linked to Alzheimer’s, but more in the context of consuming aluminium via food than by using an antiperspirant.
Aluminium is a natural ingredient, which highlights how ‘natural’ doesn’t always mean safe.
- Parabens – This group of chemicals is found in a lot of cosmetics products.
They are used as preservatives, but can affect the endocrine system, disrupting our hormones. This is bad news for both men and women.
It’s possible that parabens’ oestrogenic effects could promote breast cancer, but research into this is still inconclusive.
- Phthalates – Like parabens, phthalates can disrupt our hormone balance.
They could be a particular problem for men, as they are linked to reduced testosterone levels.
Phthalates often aren’t listed on ingredients lists. Instead, they are found within ingredients labelled as ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’.
- Triclosan – This antibacterial agent is used to prevent bacteria from developing in deodorants and antiperspirants.
Animals studies have suggested that triclosan may impair thyroid function.
We hope this list hasn’t scared you too much! It’s important to note that these chemicals are used in low quantities in deodorants, and that most studies into their effects either use animals or look at exposure to higher doses.
However, it’s probably better to be safe than sorry, and avoid these ingredients wherever possible.
Why Avoid Deodorants Containing Aluminium?
Firstly, aluminium isn’t used in all deodorants. In fact, it is only used in antiperspirants. It is the active ingredient in antiperspirants that prevents you from sweating.
Deodorants do not stop you sweating, they just reduce body odour by using antibacterial compounds and fragrances.
Antiperspirants use aluminium salts that plug your pores, so you don’t sweat as much.
The reason that aluminium in deodorants is a concern is that aluminium has been linked to Alzheimer’s and breast cancer.
1. Potential link to Alzheimer’s
Aluminium has been linked to memory disorders since 1921, and there have been several studies linking aluminium exposure to cognitive impairments since.
In 1988, residents of Camelford in Cornwall were exposed to high levels of aluminium in their drinking water when it became contaminated.
A 10-year follow-up study found that residents suffered from several cerebral impairments.
However, a 1985 study of 130 matched pairs of older people didn’t find a link between aluminium-containing antiperspirant use and Alzheimer’s disease, though the results were deemed inconclusive due to methodological problems.
Exposure to aluminium can come from sources other than deodorants, but I think we can agree that if you can easily avoid aluminium in deodorants, it is probably best to avoid it.
Read about the possible link between Alzheimer’s and aluminium on the Alzheimer’s Society website here.
2. Potential link to breast cancer
Breast cancer is very rare in men (less than 1% of all cases), but it does exist, so the possibility that antiperspirants could contribute to breast cancer is still important to consider when choosing a men’s deodorant.
Cancer Research UK’s website addresses concerns about common personal care products such as antiperspirants causing cancer, saying that there is “no good scientific evidence to show that that these products affect the risk of cancer” (source).
However, aluminium has been found in higher concentrations in breast tissue than in the blood, and it could be significant that most breast cancers develop in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, near where you would apply antiperspirant.
Read more about the possible link between breast cancer and aluminium on the Breast Cancer UK website here.
3. Aluminium kills good bacteria
Body odour isn’t caused by sweat itself, but by bacteria in your armpits breaking down sweat.
The aluminium in antiperspirants kills these bacteria, while also plugging your sweat ducts so there is less sweat for the bacteria to break down.
However, antiperspirants also kill good bacteria, preventing them from keeping the odour-causing bacteria under control.
It’s not yet clear what effect changing the armpit’s natural microbiome in this way has on our health, but some people are now turning to probiotic deodorants that use healthy bacteria to target odour-causing bacteria.
Potassium Alum vs. Aluminium
Many natural deodorants contain potassium alum or ammonium alum, which sound worryingly like aluminium.
However, these molecules are quite different to the aluminium chloride and aluminium chlorohydrate found in synthetic deodorants.
Aluminium chloride and aluminium chlorohydrate have small molecular masses of about 250-350 Daltons, which means they can penetrate the skin and therefore could build up inside the body.
Potassium alum is a larger molecule (about 480 Daltons) and ammonium alum is even bigger (about 500+ Daltons).
When a skincare product needs to penetrate the skin, scientists recommend that ingredients are kept below 500 Daltons (source). Therefore, ingredients that are 500+ plus Daltons in size shouldn’t penetrate the skin.
Which Popular Antiperspirants Contain Aluminium?
When it comes to choosing an antiperspirant we all have our go-to brands, but a lot of big name products actually do contain aluminium chloride and/or aluminium chlorohydrate, including the following:
- Dove Men + Care
- Driclor Solution
- Right Guard
- Sweat Block
Are Deodorants Safe to Use When Pregnant?
Pregnancy is a time when you’re likely to be particularly careful about what you put in and on your body.
The NHS doesn’t currently have any specific advice about avoiding deodorants or antiperspirants while pregnant, but there are a few ingredients you may want to avoid:
Parabens – This study found that exposure to parabens during pregnancy could disrupt the growth of boys.
Synthetic fragrances – Fragrances often contain phthalates, which increase the risk of miscarriage and gestational diabetes according to studies from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant
The terms ‘deodorant’ and ‘antiperspirant’ are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to different things.
Body odour isn’t caused by sweat itself, but rather by bacteria feeding on your sweat.
This means there are two ways to tackle it: By killing the bacteria or by preventing sweating.
- Deodorant kills bacteria and masks odours by applying a different scent to your body.
- Antiperspirant blocks sweat ducts using aluminium chlorohydrate. There isn’t really an alternative to aluminium in antiperspirants, so aluminium-free products are usually marketed as deodorants rather than antiperspirants.
Do Natural Deodorants Work?
If you’re used to using a regular deodorant, you may be worried about switching to a natural alternative. Will it actually work?
Everybody has a different experience with natural deodorants, but most people who use them find that they work.
Regular deodorants kill not just the bad bacteria in your armpits, but also the good bacteria that supports your immune system.
Getting rid of good bacteria can create a sort of vacuum in which new and even worse bacteria can grow, potentially making body odour worse.
Using a natural deodorant could make your body odour improve over time as it will allow good bacteria to survive in your armpits.
What Ingredients Do Natural Deodorants Use?
Some of the ingredients used in natural deodorants are listed below:
- Potassium alum – This ingredient is used in crystal deodorant sticks.
Despite the ‘alum’ in the name, this natural mineral salt isn’t the same as aluminium chloride or aluminium chlorohydrate found in regular antiperspirants.
According to Green People, potassium alum is a much larger molecule, so it can’t be absorbed by the skin.
However, some people question this, and it’s possible that potassium alum could contribute to aluminium build-up in the body.
- Sodium bicarbonate – Also known as baking soda, sodium bicarbonate is a naturally occurring salt that works as an antibacterial agent.
Sodium bicarbonate can be too harsh on the skin unless diluted and used in the right quantities, so don’t use it on its own.
- Essential oils – Essential oils are used to add natural fragrances to deodorants.
If we had to pick just one of these products to recommend it would be Salt of the Earth Classic Natural Deodorant as it’s completely natural and free from harmful chemicals. It’s also one of the top-rated natural deodorants on the market.
Give your armpits some well-deserved TLC by choosing one of the paraben-free and aluminium free natural deodorants listed above. They’re gentler on your skin, better for the environment and will keep nasty smells at bay without blocking your pores.
Naturaler is a UK website full of tips and recommendations for living a more eco-friendly, chemical-free and natural lifestyle.