When it comes to beauty necessities, deodorant is somewhere near the very top of the list. We all wear it (well, the majority of us!), we all freak out when we forget to put it on in the morning… and we’ve all heard about the scientific research that all but promises us that our standard drugstore antiperspirants will one day result in cancer. Specifically, research suggests that aluminum compounds are largely responsible for this troubling side effect, but there are tons of other chemicals in standard deodorants that can put your health at risk, from parabens, which can cause endocrine disruption, to triclosan, which encourages the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
There are the superficial concerns, too: Those aluminum compounds that give classic antiperspirants their sweat-fighting power actually close the pores to prevent the release of perspiration, which can result in inflammation, ingrown hairs, clogged pores, rashes, and even bacteria buildup—which can actually make you smell worse. And yes, it’s also the aluminum that’s responsible for those nasty yellow pit stains, not sweat itself.
Even if you don’t fancy yourself the crunchy type, you have to admit that these unpleasant variables make a natural alternative all the more appealing. Not all natural deodorants are made alike, which is to say that not all of them really work. Of course, it also depends on your personal body chemistry, like how much you sweat and how much odor you naturally produce. (Some people also don’t even need to wear deodorant at all, but we don’t know them.)
The difference between natural deodorants and the ones you’ll find at the drugstore isn’t just better-for-you ingredients: They don’t include antiperspirant properties, which means that they won’t clog sweat glands… or leave those yellow stains beneath your arms. Will you experience more moisture than you would when using an antiperspirant? It’s possible, but the right natural deodorant will neutralize odor just as well an antiperspirant would. Deodorants are meant only to scent the underarm and fight bacteria, so while starting to use them can feel like an adjustment at first, give it some time—your body may need a detox period, but once your skin has acclimated, you’ll actually need less deodorant in the long run.
First things first: Antiperspirants leave an alarming amount of residue and dead skin cells in your underarms, so exfoliating before you switch over is key. Finding the right natural deodorant for you can involve a fair amount of trial and error, but with so many great options now available on the market, you won’t have nearly as much trouble as you would have a few years ago, when regular deodorants were still the standard. Our recommendations? One of our absolute favorites is the Soapwalla Deodorant Cream, a super gentle organic formula that smells refreshingly like lavender and tea tree; Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant is more affordable than most formulas and comes in four different scents as well as a fragrance-free formula; and Korres Equisetum 24h Deodorant is our new Holy Grail.
Try one, or try them all—we promise that once you make the switch, you won’t look back.
Read more from Daily Makeover: You May Be Showering Too Much, But I’m Definitely Not