Natural Deodorants Review (Including one for Lume)

the best natural deodorants - a review of several brands and how well they worked over time

I’ve reviewed natural deodorants in the past, but after a reader asked for an update in the Wardrobe Oxygen community on Facebook, I felt it was time for a new post. Since my last natural deodorants reviews, I have tried a few more as I hadn’t yet found a natural deodorant that works for me.

What is “Natural” Deodorant?

The term natural deodorant is misleading, and many different deodorants with very different ingredient lists use this term. While I don’t like this term, I choose to use it for this post as this is the term used to market these deodorants.

Many people choose a “natural” deodorant because they’re looking to reduce aluminum, parabens, and other chemicals. That was one of my reasons for seeking such a deodorant; another is because I wasn’t satisfied with traditional deodorant/antiperspirant products. After decades of using them, I didn’t find them as effective and didn’t like the weird smell I had. It was like a mix of body odor and fabric softener. Doing the research, it sounded as though a natural deodorant would help clear out plugged sweat glands, improving my body smells, requiring less product.

I previously shared my experience with Native Deodorant and going through deodorant detox. After that, I shared reviews of several natural deodorants. That was over a year ago, and since then I have had different results with products I previously reviewed and tried new products. Below, a timeline of my natural deodorant journey and the products I tried.

May 2017: I Made the Switch to Natural Deodorant

Before it got too hot, I decided to try natural deodorant. There is a detox period of 2-3 weeks when switching where your body is getting rid of the old deodorant that is in your sweat glands. This period is nasty, and you will smell like a mix between hot metal and B.O. It wasn’t fun, but I found showering twice a day, exfoliating my pits, and wiping my pits with alcohol helped greatly.

I used Native Deodorant, which got great reviews online and seemed to be advertised on every social media channel. At first, it was hard to tell whether it worked or not because of the detox period. Once my body stopped smelling horrible, the product seemed good. And then the next day, my armpits had a fiery rash. I learned this was common and a reaction to baking soda, and ingredient in Native Deodorant and many other natural deodorants.

At the end of May, I went to NYC to host an event with a brand and forgot my deodorant at home. They had E.O. Lavender Spray Deodorant in their office bathroom; that with some personal cleansing wipes got me smelling fresh after the train trip and worked reasonably well through the event that evening. At that event, I ended up in a conversation about natural deodorant with some attendees. One of the guests told me about Piperwai. She was an inventor and met the folks behind Piperwai Deodorant and thought they and their product was amazing. She inspired me to order a jar that very night.

June 2017: I Filled my Amazon Cart

Armed with a fresh jar of Piperwai, I decided to do a true natural deodorant review and ordered a dozen different types of Amazon and various websites. This is my original natural deodorant review. After that review, my three winners were Piperwai, Meow Meow Tweet, and E.O.

August 2017: Another Natural Deodorant Bites the Dust

It seemed like everywhere I went, I smelled cat pee and I don’t have a cat. I finally realized it was me every time I wore Piperwai. This stuff seemed so great, I was so disappointed. I decided to cut it out for two weeks to see if it was Piperwai or just natural deodorant in general. In those two weeks, Piperwai contacted me and sent me a stick version of their deodorant.  Once the two weeks was over, I used that. For the first week back on Piperwai, things were great. I smelled like nothing most days. But eventually the cat pee smell came back. However, my husband continued to use Piperwai and smell just dandy.

If there’s something I learned through this process is that everyone is different and what works for one may not another. And that what makes me smell like cat pee may make you smell like a rose.

September 2017: Bye Bye Meow Meow

Meow Meow Tweet had my heart. The name was cute, the label was cute, the smell was awesome. Meow Meow Tweet is what I used when I took a Piperwai break and it was pretty effective. Not as effective as Piperwai, but enough that I felt comfortable in public. But all good things must come to an end and by the end of September Meow Meow Tweet had come to not accomplishing anything. Over time, it lost its effectiveness. I even bought another tub, thinking the first one may have lost its oomph after having my fingers dip in it so often. A new tub didn’t change the fact that I smelled like body odor coated in Froot Loops.

While I still had E.O. Lavender spray I learned early on that it wasn’t a replacement for a true deodorant. As a spray, it was great as a refresher mid-day but not as a sole product to keep the funk at bay. I still have this product and love it for travel, but it’s not an everyday product.

November 2017: Limping Back to Lavanilla

I tried Lavanilla Sport Luxe during my original review and found it… fine. I liked how nicely it glided on, and it didn’t give a rash. I still had the stick of it so I decided to use it up. The temps had dropped, I figured I wouldn’t need as heavy duty a deodorant. And it worked okay enough. I usually had to do a touch-up mid-day but that wasn’t a big deal. However, after a few weeks again I started to smell like cat pee.  My husband uses up the stick, thinks it works okay, though not as effective as Piperwai.

December 2017: Back to Traditional Deodorant/Antiperspirant

I started working out regularly and no natural deodorant in my house could keep up. I gave up and went back to Dove. Immediately, I smelled better. When I switched to natural deodorant I felt I was less sweaty and stinky. Well, switching back to traditional deodorant gave me the same experience. I forgot what it felt like to have non-sticky, dry pits and to not have to wash my clothing after every wear. It was awesome, I couldn’t go back; I decided I would just try to be more natural in other aspects of my life.

I used Dove and only Dove for a month or two, and then I wasn’t satisfied. To boost it, I added Certain Dri, applying the roll-on every evening. That helped, but after a week Certain Dri started itching and burning a few minutes after application. I switched to only using Certain Dri the night before I had an event. Once my stick of Dove ran out, I switched to Degree which seemed to work better. However, when that stick ran out I stood in the aisle at Target for a long while wondering what to do next because none of the scents appealed to me and I felt like nothing was really doing what it claimed it would.

the best natural deodorants - a review of several brands and how well they worked over time

August 2018: Influenced by Influencers, I Try Kopari

It seemed like every blogger suddenly got into natural deodorant and that natural deodorant was Kopari. Unlike mass-influencer campaigns like Olay Whips that turned me off, this one turned me on. Kopari was working with bloggers I respected, who were known for being more honest, more down to earth, less likely to rave about just anything. And so I bought a stick.

I didn’t have to go through a detox with Kopari, I switched right to it and it seemed to work. Not only that, it smelled great. I love the smell of coconut, and this smells like coconut. And when your body heats up, it smells like warm coconut. The container is cute, it glides on easily, I was an instant fan.

And then three weeks later the stuff stopped working. Like overnight, it went from warm coconut to burnt coconut and body odor. I understand that with natural deodorants you need to switch them up every so often, but it seemed no deodorant lasted even a month. Sorry, but I have neither the time nor money to change my deodorant every few weeks.

Since this stuff stopped working but did work at one point I’ve stuck this into my toiletries kit in case I again forget to pack my regular deodorant for a trip.  My husband had no desire to smell like coconut so I don't know how it worked for him.

September 2018: A Mist of Cashmere… and Funerals

During all this research, people time and again raved about how much they loved Donna Karan’s Cashmere Mist deodorant. It was so effective! The smell is amazing! One stick lasts forever! Your skin will feel like silk! It survives hatha yoga and spartan races and 16-hour flights! It cures cancer! It's not natural, but considering how I don't even have success with traditional deodorant/antipersperant products I decided to try it.

  • Day 1: I smell fancy. No B.O. even after a grueling morning at the gym.
  • Day 2: Wow, this stuff has an uber strong scent. Maybe I’m just too used to regular deodorants, maybe I can make this my news signature scent instead of perfume. It works great.
  • Day 3: This stuff is overwhelming and giving me a headache. Maybe I’m just overly sensitive to the scent because my period is coming. It works really well.
  • Day 4: I smell like decade-old potpourri. This is not chic. However, the stuff works well and I have nothing else in the house right now and it was not cheap so I’ll keep using it for now.
  • Day 5: I snuggle up next to my husband. “You smell weird,” he says. “Yeah, kind of like potpourri? It’s my new deodorant. Is it bad?” He says, “You smell like dust and mildew and dried flowers. You smell like a funeral.”
  • Day 6: I go to CVS and buy a stick of Degree. My husband takes the Cashmere Mist, continues to use it, likes it, and doesn’t smell at all like a funeral.

December 2018: Facebook Ads Are Effective AKA I Try Lume Deodorant

That lady with the orange dress and bad accent got me. I saw Lume Deodorant ads all over Facebook, on Instagram, even showing up on my own site (my ads are through a network and affected by content on the site as well as content the viewer was searching or reading prior to visiting). The commercial compared Lume to products I tried and found ineffective, it was free of baking soda so no rash, and I liked that it could be used places other than the underarms. I bought a stick of their original and a stick of their unscented.

I started with the unscented option… and I didn’t like it. It smelled like paste and I didn’t find it terribly effective. I started by rolling it on, but then learned to click up a regular amount of traditional deodorant product and use my finger to wipe off half of it and rub it into one pit, and then the other half for the second pit. Rubbing just with the stick doesn’t get it deep enough; using your finger will get you a couple more hours. Even so, I was lucky to get six hours before I smelled.

I then switched to their original version. Their original version is scented lavender and clary sage and the scent is pretty strong. I’m not a big lavender fan, so I wasn’t expecting to like this. The scent is about 75% gone after an hour, and what’s left isn’t super potent. Again, I found it more effective to rub it in with my fingers. The formula is creamy, absorbs nicely, leaves skin feeling soft and moisturized. No irritation, even when applied to freshly shaved pits.

I use the unscented version for other parts of the body. Lume Deodorant is safe for external use anywhere and the unscented does a good job of keeping feet and nether regions having less odor without making them smell like something else.  If you're keeping track, my husband has not yet used Lume as he's still using the same stick of Cashmere Mist (reviews say one stick lasts forever and they're right).

January 2019: Lume Deodorant Is Still Working

I'm on on week 5 of Lume Deodorant and it is still working. Unlike other natural deodorants, I haven’t had to touch up middle of the day. I do touch up before going out in the evening and apply after every shower. Lume claims to work for 72 hours and that is not so for me. I can put it on in the morning after my post-gym shower, wake up the next day smelling faintly of lavender and clary sage, do another application and go to the gym and leave the gym still only smelling like lavender and clary sage. I don’t even get such results from Dove or Degree (which leave me smelling like hot fabric softener and toilet bowl cleaner).

Based on my previous natural deodorant experiences, I cannot guarantee that I will continue to like Lume. However, thus far it has been the most effective, one of the most comfortable to wear, and one of the least offensive fragrances of all the natural deodorants I have tried.

Natural Deodorants Lesson Learned

Almost every deodorant on the planet works for my husband but doesn't work for me. Fingers crossed Lume does the trick or I am back to the deodorant drawing board!

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24 Comments

  1. Rachel
    February 11, 2019 / 11:12 pm

    I feel your trials! I’ve gone through a ridiculous number, natural and traditional, trying to find one that both a) doesn’t give me a giant rash and b) actually does something deodorant-like. The few that I found that fit those criteria smelled terrible on me. Life would be so much easier if all bodies worked the same.

  2. Michelle
    February 1, 2019 / 10:22 pm

    I haven’t tried natural deodorants in a while…I’m going to have to try them again now that I have this tip from a commenter on another blog–after showering, I swipe my pits with alcohol, because apparently, there are bacteria that are unaffected by soap and water. These are why sometimes your deodorant stick smells bad after you’ve been using it for a while (if you’ve ever had that happen), because the bacteria left after you showered have been transferred to your deodorant. This trick has been making my regular deodorant more effective, so I am hopeful it would have the same impact on the natural ones.

    • February 3, 2019 / 2:37 pm

      Yes! This really does help! Glycolic acid also works, a lot of people use Stridex with the red cap. After using my Pixi Glow Tonic on my face, I wipe my pits with the cloth for this very reason. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. Kathryn
    January 22, 2019 / 8:55 pm

    I really wanted to say, thanks and me too!! I thought this was just me. I was having luck for a while having switched to using an ‘acid’ in my pits. But I still need to put something on after I ‘acid’. I think the issue with anything with baking soda is that it is very basic (ph) and skin wants to be more acidic. https://www.racked.com/2018/2/20/17021612/natural-deodorant-acid
    I thought this explained the baking soda thing pretty well: https://www.lisaliseblog.com/2012/10/why-your-diy-baking-soda-deodorant-is.html

    • January 26, 2019 / 6:27 pm

      Great resource, thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Lisa Blythe
      January 31, 2019 / 12:01 pm

      I love this post so much. When I was a teenager I had horrible BO and used Mitchum like it was my job. Fortunately, my hormones have calmed down since then! It is awesome that your husband finishes up what stops working for you.

    • Katie
      February 1, 2019 / 10:46 am

      Yes! I used Stridex salisylic acid (I know I’m not spelling that correctly) as deodorant for about 9 months. It really works for everyday BO, but I noticed that when I was sweating due to stress or anxiety, it didn’t help the smell for that. So interesting! I bought the Stridex wipes in the red box. I still use them at night sometimes (I have a bunch left and I figure it can’t hurt), but I’ve added in my grocery store’s brand of natural deodorant during the day. It has a scent, which I feel helps to cover up my BO when I have stress sweat. Nothing has worked perfectly though.

  4. Paula
    January 22, 2019 / 2:38 pm

    I tried the natural deodorants too, and they just didn’t work for me either. They start off good, but then after about 3 weeks they stop. I too went back to regular deodorant, sigh….. but your descriptions of how you smelled are hilarious!! Cat pee, old dryer sheets and Froot Loops, and my favorite…..smelling like a funeral. LOL!!!! Love, love you and your blogs! 🙂

  5. Neva
    January 20, 2019 / 6:08 pm

    Try Liken Plant Deodorant by Earth Sciences. I use the unscented version, stick form. No irritation and it works all day. I do have to reapply it every morning.
    Ingredients (INCI): Propylene Glycol, Aqua, Stearic Acid, Cyclomethicone, Talc, Silica, Sodium Hydroxide, Usnea carbata (Lichen) Extract, Calendula officinalis Flower Extract, Carthamus tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Arnica montana Flower Extract, Coriandrum sativum (Coriander) Extract, Hydrastis canadensis (Goldenseal) Extract, Salvia officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Chamomilla recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Zingiber officinale (Ginger) Root Extract.

    • January 26, 2019 / 6:31 pm

      Thanks for this suggestion, if Lume stops working I’ll check it out!

  6. Tania
    January 19, 2019 / 6:08 pm

    That’s too bad about your Native reaction. Personally, I love this brand. It smells wonderful and I have never had an issue with it not working. It’s the only natural deodorant that’s work well is expensive but not outrageous. I’ve been using them for well over a year. I never had a reaction. I’m sorry you did.

  7. ros
    January 18, 2019 / 8:50 am

    Normal deodorants weren’t working for me – my 2 old favorites gave me a funky rash (cuuuute), and then my back-up hid the BO but gave me a weird kind of musty smell and stained my clothes.

    I tried Kopari, and, 5 months later, I like it. The only thing is that I absolutely need to apply it every day. With standard deodorants, if I showered every 2 days, it would hold up against the smell… this one does not. But I don’t smell like the back of a musty cupboard OR like BO and my skin isn’t rashy, so… win?

    (I<d get my husband to try it, but he never gets BO smell, so… not a reference. I'm so jealous.)

  8. Melis
    January 18, 2019 / 5:15 am

    Love this topic. I converted to natural deodorants about 15 years ago when there were many fewer options. After initial trial and error period, I found Kiss My Face Liquid Rock worked wonderfully well for me, so that’s what I’ve been using ever since… until late this summer when I could no longer find it in stores — and boy did I search, even in multiple states! (Turns out Kiss My Face has been acquired and it’s unclear if their products will ever return to store shelves.)

    Since I don’t want to stink, I tried several of the new natural brands you also tried (all uneffective for me) before getting suckered in by Lume’s facebook ad this September. I was skeptical, but I ordered the lavender sage, did the prep-work with my all of my shirts, and to my delight it worked a treat, even during a high-stress, 2-week business trip in a very hot and humid climate. I was thrilled. So when I ran out of my initial stick, I ordered the bundle of two sticks — lavender sage and unscented. A few days into using the lavender sage, I started to notice that my underarms were itchy and a little irritated and that Lume was no longer as effective as it had been earlier. Wondering if maybe the scent was the issue, though it hadn’t been before, I tried the unscented version. Not only did it not help, but by the end of the day my underarms were red and raw with a painful, itchy rash that took several days of topical cortisone to clear up. I was baffled. How could I suddenly react so differently to a product that had been effective and non-irritating to me for two whole months prior? Did I possibly receive a different formula previously?

    I took a break from Lume over the holidays, but not having found a suitable replacement and wondering if it was just a fluke, I gave Lume another try this week. The first day I felt a little itchy, but by the end of the 3rd day I had developed the painful rash again! It’s so disappointing, since I didn’t have any of these issues with my first stick, and I found the product really effective for those first two months. As with all products, it may just be that I’m sensitive to a particular ingredient, or maybe the reformulated Lume (changed from a 48-hour to 72-hour odor control) just doesn’t agree with me. Either way, I’d love an update from you in a few months to see if it continues to be effective and non-irritating for you (or you other readers)!

  9. ClaraT
    January 17, 2019 / 4:23 pm

    I very, very much appreciate that you are not claiming that “natural” is healthier and also that you highlight your issues with traditional products. I, too, hate that sweat+conventional deodorant smell (especially on my synthetic workout clothes–they smell worse than my non-deodorized BO!)
    Holy grail product would: stop me from stinking, not stain my clothes, and not have a masking fragrance. Impossible? (sigh) probably. Thanks for your honest review.

  10. MW
    January 17, 2019 / 3:34 pm

    I’ve been using the unscented Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Deodorant. It’s not as powerful as the chemical-filled stuff, but I find that it works pretty well. Another plus is that it’s relatively inexpensive (I got two sticks for less than $9 from Amazon). Give it a try!

  11. Sara
    January 17, 2019 / 3:02 pm

    Another suggestion to try is Crystal. It’s mineral salts, inhibiting bacterial growth which leads to BO. It comes in three formulations – solid (which you have to wet down with water before using), spray, and roll-on. I’ve been using it for close to a decade after I got tired of a regular deodorant/antiperspirant combo. I hated that the traditional stick was ruining the armpits of my clothing even after laundering, and that it started to gunk up so that I couldn’t shave.

    Crystal has an original unscented which is what I use so that I can also use perfume oil, and several others like lavender, etc. I use the roll-on because I find it the most convenient. I’ve used the solid, but it gets tiring having to wet it down before each use, and it has a tendency to fall out of the container and shatter. Since it’s deodorant only, it won’t prevent sweating, but it does prevent BO. Also, I don’t expect to be able to work out and still smell fresh – but I put it on after showing every day and during my normal work, errands, Netflix day and I don’t smell like anything.

    Or, it may just be that your body won’t work with natural deodorants. I tend to think natural formulations work better with people who are on the lighter end of the sweating/BO bacteria spectrum.

    • Jennifer
      January 31, 2019 / 1:12 pm

      I was going to mention the same brand! I have been using the solid rock forever and then incorporated the liquid roll-on, I use the liquid to wet my armpits, then apply the solid over that and it has worked really well for me. I use the lavender scented roll-on 🙂

  12. Kelley
    January 17, 2019 / 2:52 pm

    I recommend you check out Megababe Rosy Pits. I was leery of a rose scent, but it’s lovely and not overpowering at all (and you don’t smell like a grandma). I’ve also used the bust dust (works great, but leaves your bra kind of gross) and the thigh rescue (love)!

  13. Lindsay
    January 17, 2019 / 2:20 pm

    I have also been fighting a battle with switching over to natural deodorant. I made the switch about 4 or 5 years ago because I got tired of the residue that antiperspirant left on my underarms (and the gross clogging of my razor even after I scrubbed my pits raw beforehand!) and they didn’t leave me smelling fresh anyway. I tried Kiss My Face first (that went in the trash immediately, it was useless), then tried a homemade Milk of Magnesia concoction. That worked alright when combined with a roll-on perfume oil that I had. I eventually purchased Primal Pit Paste in the creamsicle scent but it didn’t work well for me. Piperwai seemed promising, but eventually I started to notice that I smelled like asphalt/tar. It was weird. I used Schmidt’s Bergamot and Lime for awhile, which worked great for me but the smell was too strong. I then got the Schmidt’s Magnesium Charcoal which worked okay but the smell got annoying after awhile. I still have it and use it occasionally but I don’t like to use it daily. I’m currently using the Schmidt’s sensitive version in Jasmine Tea and love the smell but it leaves a residue on my pits that the others didn’t, which seems to make me smell funkier. I’m tired of having to scrub my pits multiple times during my shower! I might try their Rose and Vanilla because the standard formula seemed to work well for me (luckily I’m not sensitive to baking soda). I refuse to use anything that smells like lavender. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve never been a fan of the smell. Reading your journey makes me feel less alone. I wish I were one of those people who could use anything (or nothing!) because they barely sweat, but I am a sweaty, smelly chick no matter what I do! I’ve gotten rid of all my polyester/synthetic tops and dresses, and I’m going to purchase Bac Out to pretreat the pits of the rest of my tops, per another reader’s suggestion. Since switching to natural deodorant, my tops don’t have near the same buildup that they did when I used traditional antiperspirant but I figure the Bac Out can’t hurt!

  14. Marie
    January 17, 2019 / 11:17 am

    Have you tried Megababe? (megababebeauty.com ) I was hoping to hear some reviews on that one too. They also carry a product for under boob sweat and thigh chafe. It sounds great – but I’m curious to hear about others who have tried it. I saw it at Ulta over the weekend.

  15. Diane
    January 17, 2019 / 11:05 am

    Have you thought about making your own? I did a similar search for natural options, and tried CertainDri and some other clinical formulas. Nothing really did the trick.

    However, I’ve been really happy with a recipe I found online. It’s coconut oil, baking soda and cornstarch. Equal parts of each. I mix it up in a bowl. You can microwave the oil to soften it up, if it’s cold. If you’d like it to smell different, you can add essential oils, and I sometimes add tea tree oil, which has antibacterial properties. I store mine in an old face cream jar. (And I believe that the baking soda is optional, you could use more cornstarch, or arrowroot powder)

    So far, it’s the best I’ve tried – lasts through long sweaty workouts, overnight camping trips and stinky summers in NYC. Give it a try!

    Diane

  16. Erin
    January 17, 2019 / 10:50 am

    Love this detailed review! I have issues with most natural deos containing baking soda, but I had been using Schmidt’s magnesium charcoal for more than a month with great effect and no issues, until one day I broke out in a painful red rash. I switched to a magnesium roll-on I found on Amazon and it seems to work pretty well, but I definitely smelled ripe in the morning even without a workout. I just started using Lume (unscented) last week and I’m hopeful… so far it seems to last through the day, though I don’t think I can taper yet. I also have been taking their advice to use enzyme pre-treatment on shirt pits before laundering (I’m using biokleen bac-out), so we’ll see if that makes a difference. Another product that seems similar to Lume is Nuud – it’s based in the NL but they do free shipping worldwide. I tried it last year and it just didn’t last a full day consistently for me. I gave a tube to my mom and it works great for her – she only applies every few days and loves it.

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