Since my teen years, Dove's Cucumber & Green Tea stick has been my go-to antiperspirant. I remember first discovering it in high school, almost by accident, back when I lived in my hometown of Buffalo. As I was walking down the personal care aisle of my local Wegmans grocery store, the cucumber-and-green-tea label caught my eye. Then, when I removed the cap to take a sniff at home, the clean, refreshing fragrance instantly captivated me — and kept me hooked for over a decade.
But starting last fall, despite my love for the popular Dove scent, I was ready to say goodbye to traditional antiperspirants to try out a few deodorants. The main difference between antiperspirants and deodorants are that deodorants don't contain any sweat-blocking active ingredients — like aluminum salts — but still mask the scent of any perspiration, while antiperspirants contain those elements to create a barrier to block moisture. And although there's no scientific proof that the aluminum in antiperspirants are unsafe to use, I wanted to explore the world of natural deodorants as someone who was still a bit skeptical of those claims. As the wellness movement has grown, so has the amount of natural deodorants on the market, creating an entire subset of new products for people like me who want to test out the natural route. And so my journey into the world of natural deodorants began.
To figure out what would work for me, I decided to start off by testing a total of 12 products over a three-month period. But I had no idea how to pick which deo to test first. So, I decided to make it as fun for myself as possible. I thought, "What if I started pairing each scent with my mood or what I wanted my mood to be?" — which ended up turning this part of my morning routine into something of a self-care ritual. Every day, I’d step out the shower, evaluate how I felt or wanted to feel, and apply one of my brand-new natural deodorants to my pits based off its scent. The power of choice (even a small one) made me feel more confident as I stepped out the door.
My hope at the end of my experiment was to find just one deodorant that left me odor-free, smelling great, but would still allow my body to sweat. However, at the end of my experiment, I was left with six sticks I adored equally. And I now keep each of them in regular rotation as a part of my permanent collection; picking a different scent every day based on my mood.
For Stressful Days
I put my first products to the test while on a weeks-long trip to Paris to spend time with friends. One was the Holi (Stick) N3 deodorant from Agent Nateur, which smells like a delicious blend of soothing eucalyptus and lavender. I hoped the scent would help me to feel calm even on my most adventurous and stressful travel days in Paris. I loved the fragrance so much that I’d straight up take a whiff of it before spreading it on my pits. And while the active ingredient used in the deodorant is coconut oil, it doesn't have that classic coconut-y smell that I'm not particularly fond of.
Agent Nateur founder Jena Covello tells me the formula also includes honey, avocado, and sunflower seed butter, which left me with smooth underarms after a shave. N3 is also alcohol-, aluminum-, and paraben-free, but does contain baking soda, which can cause skin irritation for some people. However, the brand also offers a version of the deodorant for sensitive skin that's made without the potential irritant.
This product made it into my collection of faves, not only because I loved the calming scent, but because it was also able to successfully mask my funk and keep me smelling great while I was out and about exploring Paris. This made it my number one choice for stressful days.
I also enjoyed using Malin+Goetz Eucalyptus deodorant while on my trip. I found that, much like the deodorant from Agent Nateur, this product also was able to mask the scent of my B.O. even during the most stressful of times.
The main difference between this product and N3, and why it's my second choice, is that after applying it, I didn't really smell or notice the eucalyptus scent. Still, the citronellyl found in the formula did its job when it comes to neutralizing odors. And like the N3 deodorant for sensitive skin, this particular Malin+Goetz product is made without alcohol, aluminum, parabens, or baking soda.
For Date Nights
My third natural deodorant fave was discovered on a date night after I got back from the Paris trip. As I was getting ready, I was trying to figure out which deo would be best to use for the occasion, and I decided that I wanted to steer clear of any heavy, floral scents. After trying a few different options, it was Rosy Pits by Megababe — which actually didn't smell like a bouquet of roses to me — that was the clear winner for this occasion.
Despite the name of the deodorant, the formula — which contains a mix of green tea, sage extract, and sandalwood oil — gives this stick a gorgeous, yet subtle, gender-neutral scent that isn't overpowering. It kept me smelling fresh all night, and I thought it was perfect for when I was in the mood to just keep things simple.
But while I loved that Rosy Pits is made without alcohol, aluminum, parabens, or baking soda, I did notice that if I applied more than four or five swipes at a time, it would leave some clumpy residue behind — a feature I wasn't fond of. (So, I didn't wear a sleeveless top that night.)
For Active Days
A few weeks later, I decided to see how the Palo Santo Blood Orange scent of Vapour Organic Beauty's AER Next-Level Deodorant would hold up. Out of the many deodorants I was testing at the time, this was the only deodorant that revealed itself through tiny holes at the turn of the dial — and the most fragrant of all products I tried. That said, I had a good feeling about using this one for a gym session before even putting it on, because I needed a strong fragrance that would keep me feeling energized, which citrus is known for.
While I don't typically love to smell like fruit, the powerful, citrus scent of this product, which also boasts notes of earthy and sweet essential oils, actually worked for me. It not only kept me stimulated during my workout, but it also masked my fresh-out-the-gym B.O. But since the formula starts as a gel and dries as a powder, I did experience some clumping and residue on my pits, but it didn't bother me during my workout. Plus, performance-wise, it worked.
If you're not into citrus, this particular deodorant does come in two other scents: Lavender Myrrh and Ginger Grapefruit. Each formula contains organic oregano, arrowroot, tulsi, and wildcrafted myrrh, all of which are supposed to help combat odor-causing bacteria. In addition, all of the products in AER's Next-Level Deodorant line are made without alcohol, aluminum, or parabens, but do contain baking soda.
For Any Occasion
The next deodorant I added to my regular collection was Kopari’s Coconut Deo in the original scent. During my experiment, I found myself gravitating toward wearing it on days when I wasn’t testing anything else.
What I liked the most about this product was that even though the formula boasts a blend of coconut water, coconut oil, and sage, it doesn’t have that overly sweet, coconut-y smell. Rather, it smells fresh, with a very faint floral scent — perfect for everyday use. It also comes in Gardenia, Beach, and fragrance-free versions.
I loved this deodorant because I felt it protected me from smelling funky on unpredictable days where I had no idea where the day would take me. Even by the time I got home at night, there was no B.O. lingering on my shirt. This deodorant definitely gets the job done all while being alcohol-, aluminum-, paraben-, and baking soda-free.
A bonus: Unlike most deodorants, the original stick isn't clear or white, which I found to be kind of cool. It's actually a pretty light pink (although the other scents are white), all because of the varying antioxidants in coconut water, Kopari's Marketing Director Lindsey Vanderbilt explains to me.
The final product I added to my rotation is Dove 0% Aluminum Deodorant Cucumber and Green Tea, which was released in early 2019. However it should be noted that while it doesn't contain the metal, Dove doesn't explicitly say that this product is made from all-natural ingredients. But since the antiperspirant version has long been my go-to, I decided to give it a try anyways.
What I loved most about this product was it still offered the cucumber and green tea scent I've loved for years, and at the end of the day, my shirt didn't smell like body odor, and I experienced no irritation. This is what made it great to use for any occasion. I also didn't notice myself sweating any more than usual, which I found happened on occasion earlier in my experiment, as my body adjusted to life without aluminum. I'm not sure if it was the Dove formula, or because it was one of the last deodorants I tried, and my body had already gotten used to the change.
The main difference that I noticed between this stick and the antiperspirant version is that the deodorant is white, has a glazed look, and applies rather smoothly, unlike the version that contains aluminum, which sometimes left a white residue.
Even though I've finished my experiment, I still love to pair my scent with my mood. So each morning, I always make sure to take a few extra seconds in my to move through my deodorant collection to find what I'm looking for.
And while my body — pits in particular — have gotten used to life without antiperspirants, it's important to remember that for anyone thinking of making the switch, and even starting a collection, most experts agree that it will take your body some time to adjust to deodorants. You might notice that you'll sweat a lot more than you're likely used to, which is something I experienced for a two-week period when I first started the experiment. But towards the end, I started thinking less about what deodorant will make me sweat less and instead, just started focusing on what scent would make me feel my best on any given day, which made the experience worth it.