Debunking Conventional Wisdom, One Armpit At a Time

The switch to natural deodorant feels like that stereotypical nightmare of arriving to class late, with an eye-roll and a snarky professor sighing “about time.” Apparently, I’ve been lost in my own thoughts. I thought that natural deodorant was only for people with memberships to REI or who made their own (extra crunchy) granola. You know, outdoorsy types who are expected to smell a little “earthy” — not a working city girl sweltering on the L train, en route to a workout studio. Conventional wisdom for the last twenty or so years has been that natural deodorants don’t work, leaving adventurers both smelly and sweaty – a high-risk move for anyone on the go.


But if I have learned anything this year, it’s that clean beauty is less niche and much more mainstream. The movement has arrived, is thriving, and worth paying attention to. We’ve wisened up on parabens in our shampoo, toxins in our moisturizers, and the scary list of ingredients that the FDA does not care to test. Traditional deodorant, especially the aluminum-based ones, have been linked to hormonal changes and cancer (yep, cancer.) The scientific results are murky, but as armpits are sweat ducts, they are the highways to our bloodstream, delivering whatever we just swiped straight into our bodies.


Remember my nightmare? I’ve been stuck in a clueless 90s era with my teenage drugstore brand for far too long. And guess what, while I’ve been oblivious, several brands have been diligently working towards a cleaner deodorant that doesn’t suck. As a primer, the major difference between natural and regular deodorant/ antiperspirants is aluminum; the chemical which inhibits sweat formation by blocking pores. Natural deodorants are designed without aluminum so you may still sweat a bit, but you will still smell fresh.


What we know of B.O. is that the stink isn’t actually the sweat itself (think about how you smell mid-workout) instead, its the result of bacteria feasting on that sweat. Aluminum traditionally got the bacteria job done by plugging up the glands. Natural deodorant creates a cleaner environment in those pits, disinviting bacteria to sit down for dinner. Sweat will happen. But that sweat is good for releasing toxins, and once the body no longer has pores blocked, it will adjust the volume of sweat produced. Therefore, it takes some time for your body to adjust to natural deodorants.


Since the days of scorching summer heat are behind us, I decided to get with the program and embark on a journey to find a natural deodorant that actually works.



It was as if CORPUS heard my preconceived notions of natural deodorant only for a hippie-dippie hiker — and they turned it completely on its head. This shit is elevated. It’s so sleek that you’ll feel like you have the Aesop of deodorants on your top shelf. Vegan to the core, everything about the product, from packaging to production was created with renewable energy. The best part is that it smells fantastic. The scent profiles rival perfume. I fell for Third Rose, and survived a 90-minute hot yoga class without a whiff of BO, but you can buy a trio sampler to out different scents.


Ursa Major


The Hoppin Fresh deodorant is super fresh. Like menthol fresh. Made with eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, and citrus, it’s naturally cooling and soothing, just like a cough drop. 100% naturally derived, this one does contain baking soda and kaolin clay, which absorbs moisture better than other naturals.


Kaia Naturals


I was intrigued to try The Takesumi Detox because it is formulated with activated charcoal. This natural deodorant is effective at reducing the smell, and also detoxing; using charcoal as a magnet to pull toxins from the body. I was worried that the dark grey charcoal color would rub off onto my tees but I haven’t had a problem. The smell is invigorating like a female dogsled team is leading you through the snow to a warm Nordic hotel in the middle of a pine forest.


Meow Meow Tweet


A COOLS office favorite, the Rose Geranium baking soda free deodorant stick from Meow Meow Tweet was so good that my boyfriend was stealing it off of me. The blend of plant and mineral powders are combined with essential oils for a low-key freshness. The packaging is biodegradable and this little guy is perfect for carry-ons. I’ve taken it through the wringer of sweaty scenarios and have yet to be disappointed.

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