Best Non Toxic Deodorant for Women That Works in 2021

Non toxic deodorants reviewed
Display of deodorants reviewed
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Looking for the best non toxic deodorant for women that actually works in 2021? Let’s dive into the reason we sweat and look into the ingredients we should avoid, as well as the ingredients we should look for in the best non toxic deodorants for women. Deodorant is a common personal care product that most women use every day.  Do you use deodorant daily?

Why should you consider swapping to a non toxic deodorant for women?

Deodorant is a product that is applied to your skin and sits all day.  It is also being applied to an area close to your lymph nodes. 

Specific ingredients in antiperspirant have been linked to adverse health issues such as breast cancer, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and thyroid dysfunction. 

Why do we sweat?

Sweating is an important natural process of the body.  It helps regulate our core body temperature. 

Sweating is also an important detoxification pathway.  It allows the body to detox from heavy metals and pesticides.  Urinating and sweating are two significant detoxification pathways in our body.

Before giving a speech, have you ever noticed you get nervous and begin to sweat?  When I was younger and terrified of public speaking, I always remember in college sweating and hoping my classmates wouldn’t notice before a presentation. 

Sweating is a natural response for the body for nervousness, stress, and fear.

What is Body Odor?

Body odor comes from when the bacteria on the skin breaks down the sweat.  The odor can change based on your diet, stress, and change in hormone levels.

At certain times of the month have you noticed your body has a stronger odor in your armpits? This would be due to a change in hormones. 

Antiperspirant vs Deodorant

Antiperspirants vs Deodorants.  Photo credit: Beautycounter
Photo credit: Beautycounter

Deodorant is going to mask the body odor but still allow the body to naturally sweat.  The FDA classifies deodorant as a cosmetic product.

Antiperspirant is going to block the sweat glands and prevent the body from sweating.  This is a biological function.  Therefore, the FDA considers antiperspirants a drug.

How does Antiperspirant work?

Aluminum salts react with the sweat under your arms.  This reaction forms a gel that plugs the sweat gland.  The plug blocks the sweat from coming out of your body. 

This prevents your body from being able to detox the heavy metals that are circulating in your body.  Ewww, right?  It also effects the body to regulate it core body temperature.

Shaving Impacts our Skin Barrier

Before I dove into researching the best non toxic deodorant for women, it never occurred to me that when we are shaving the underarms we are nicking our skin and allowing more product to be absorbed. 

Now I am really grateful that I found a safer non toxic deodorant that works, plus a safer shave cream and body lotion. 

Shaving is disrupting our skin barrier so it is important to use safer products because more product is can be absorbed in this area.  The shaved area also becomes more sensitive.

Clean Deo Swap

Ingredients to avoid in the best non toxic deodorant for women:

  • Fragrance
  • Phthalates
  • Parabens
  • Aluminum
  • Triclosan

Fragrance

Fragrance can be any combination of over 3,000 chemicals to give the product a distinct scent.  Most of the chemicals used in fragrance in the United States have not been tested for safety.

Fragrance is deemed a trade secret so companies have not had to disclose the exact chemicals used in the product. 

California just passed a bill that will change this in 2022, the SB312 Cosmetic Fragrance would require companies to list each specific ingredient in the fragrance, which is a huge win for everyone!

Fragrance is linked to many adverse health issues such as thyroid disorder, diabetes, obesity, cancer, early onset puberty, male and female infertility, allergies, developmental delays, autism, asthma, and many more. You can read more about fragrance in my previous blog post: Here

Phthalates

Phthalates are a plasticizers that cause the scent to linger. They are also used to soften plastic and make it durable.  Phthalates are often part of the fragrance ingredient list. This helps the antiperspirant scent linger. 

A great example I like to share is when you use a laundry detergent and the clothes can smell like the laundry detergent for days after washing.  It is the phthalates that stick to the clothes that cause the scent to linger. 

Based on one study more than 70% of personal care products contain phthalates.  There are federal loopholes which allows companies to avoid disclosing the ingredients. Phthalates are an endocrine disruptor and linked to numerous reproductive issues in both males and females.  Other potential health effects linked to exposure of phthalates are obesity, allergies, and asthma among other health issues.

Parabens

Parabens are a group of synthetic chemicals used as a preservative.  They prevent bacteria growth, mold growth, and extend the shelf life of the product.  Parabens have been linked to cancer, fertility issues, birth defects, and cause skin irritation.

They are often found in shampoo, conditioner, soap, body lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, shaving gels, make up, among many more products.

As parabens enter the body as they are absorbed through the skin and then are excreted through sweat, urine, and bile. 

Aluminum

Aluminum is listed as aluminum chloride or aluminum chlorhydrate. 

There is debate about how much aluminum is absorbed in the body.  Some studies suggest a lower percentage than others. 

What we do know is that most women shave under their arms.   Shaving punctures the skin and allows more product to be absorbed in the body.  Freshly shaved skin also known as “stripped skin,” allows significantly more aluminum to be absorbed.

Aluminum and Breast Cancer

Numerous studies are looking at the role of aluminum in breast cancer.  Aluminum is a metalloestrogen which mimics estrogen.  I would like to personally pass on applying an estrogen mimicking product near my breast tissue if I have other options that work.

Most breast cancers occur in the upper and outer quadrant of the breast tissue.  This happens to be the quadrant that is next to our underarms which is where we apply the deodorant.   

The upper and outer quardrants contain higher Aluminum levels.

Some argue there is not enough research to prove the link between the risk of breast cancer and these products because naturally there is more breast tissue in the upper, outer quadrant.  More tissue in that specific certain area means it is more likely to also have cancer.

 The main issue is aluminum does have epigenetic effects, which means it can cause DNA altercations and change the way your genes work.

Also cystic breast most frequently occur in the upper, outer quadrant as well.  Could the antiperspirants cause breast cysts to develop since they are clogging sweat glands?

It is hard for me to believe there is not a relationship between the two. 

Breast Cancer in Men

Breast cancer is not as common in men. Men do not normally shave their underarms. The underarm hair lessens the absorption rate of chemicals. Unlike freshly shaven underarms that has been stripped.

While breast cancer rates in men are typically low it does happen. I did have a male family member with breast cancer. Having a male with breast cancer in your family history does put you at a higher risk. 

This actually qualified me for the BRCA gene test which my insurance covered.  Always know your family health history. 

Yellow stains on t-shirts

I have ruined so many white t-shirts in the past when I was using antiperspirant.  Have you ever been curious on how your white shirt gets those yellow stains under your arms?  It is the aluminum. The reaction between the sweat and the aluminum salts cause the yellow stains. 

Triclosan

Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical. It’s role in the deodorant is to kill the odor causing bacteria.  It is registered with the FDA as a pesticide.

Previously triclosan was an ingredient used in hand sanitizers.  In 2016, it was banned by the FDA in hand sanitizers, due to health and safety concerns. 

Studies show that triclosan can be linked to decrease thyroid levels, develop skin cancer after long-term exposure, and development antibiotic resistance.  These studies can be found on the FDA website and the link is under resources.

So the FDA banned the ingredient in some over the counter products, but it is still allowed in deodorant. 

I am not a genius or a scientist, but I am in the health care industry and I am here to tell you I am not okay with this.  The lack of regulation in the industry HAS to change.  While numerous companies have been removing triclosan, it is still technically allowed. 

Ingredients to look for in the best non toxic deodorant for women

With a non toxic deodorant it allows you to still sweat, but eliminates the bad odor.  Luckily, the safer options for non toxic deodorants that work are growing rapidly in the consumer market.

Essentials oils are often use to fight the odor.

Corn starch, arrowroot, and baking soda absorb moisture. 

Fats and oils such as coconut oil, shea butter hold the product together.

When switching to a cleaner deodorant it might take 4 to 6 weeks for your body to adjust.  Your underarms will need to detox as you have been clogging the sweat ducts, so a temporary odor or irritation may happen.

Baking Soda

Some people have a reaction to baking soda.  It is used to absorb moisture, but sometimes the baking soda can cause irritation to the skin. I have not tried these deodorants personally, but here are a few recommendations in case you are in need of baking soda free deodorant.

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Fat and the Moon

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How to speed up the underarm detox process when switching to a non toxic deodorant

Grace detoxing her underarms with a charcoal mask
Grace Detoxing her underarms with a Charcoal Mask.

Beautycounter’s Counter+ Charcoal Mask is the perfect way to speed up the detox process. I recommend weekly application.

It helps unclog pores and assist your body in detoxifying process. This is a nutrient-rich kaolin clay mask.  The activated charcoal purifies and balances the skin while drawing out impurities.

Apply the charcoal mask to dry skin.  Let the mask dry on the underarm for 10 minutes and then wash it off. 

I recommend using the charcoal mask before you shower so it will make washing it off less messy.  Warm water and a dark color wash cloth will take it right off. 

Washing underarms with the Beautycounter’s Counter+ Charcoal Cleansing Bar daily can also assist to transition to a cleaner deodorant.  This cleansing bar active ingredient is Binchotan charcoal powder.  It helps detoxify and absorb impurities without over drying. 

It is also gentle enough to use on your face.  Keep the charcoal bar in a dry spot and it should last a long time.

Be patient and give it a few weeks before giving up on a cleaner deodorant.

Look for Refillable Options for Non Toxic Deodorant for Women

Refillable products are trending and I get excited to see big names in the industry moving to more sustainable packaging.  Unilever has even launched refillable deodorant options.

The more we demand sustainable options, the more we will see changes in the market place. 

While Unilever’s Dove deodorant ingredients do not meet my personal standards because it includes Fragrance and BHT, it is exciting to see more companies moving in the right direction for sustainability and global waste.

Pros and Cons of the Best Non Toxic Deodorant for Women

I have tried close to a dozen “cleaner” deos and I searched for the perfect non toxic deodorant that worked so I could make a clean swap. Below I will share a few of the cleaner deodorants that I tried. 

This process definitely took me a while to try a variety of brands.  I find deodorant hard because everyone’s body and body odor is different.

 It also can take a few weeks for your body to adjust, so be patient with the process. By shedding some light on the pros and cons, hopefully this will help you navigate making the swap for a non toxic deodorant.

Below is my personal opinion on what I did and did not like.

Schmidt’s Tea Tree

Pro

  • Available locally – Target
  • Leaping Bunny Certified

Con

  • I would still smell body odor
  • Includes fragrance
  • Not refillable

Ingredients

Magnesium Hydroxide, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Maranta Arundinacea (Arrowroot) Powder, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Fractionated Coconut Oil), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Esters, Natural Fragrance, Tocopherol (Vitamin E, Sunflower Derived), Beta-Sitosterol, Squalene

Native

Pro

  • Available locally – Target
  • Lots of scents available
  • Less expensive

Con

  • I still had body odor
  • Not refillable
  • Fragrance is an ingredient
  • Ingredient list is hard to find on their website 

Found this ingredient list in the FAQ on their website:

“We use caprylic/capric triglyceride, tapioca starch, ozokerite, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), magnesium hydroxide, coconut oil, cyclodextrin, shea butter, dextrose, and L. Acidophilus (probiotic). Our scented deodorants include a proprietary blend of oils. Due to FDA recommendations, we use the term fragrance to refer to these oils.”

“To make our unique scents we use a blend of essential oils, safe synthetic oils, and natural extracts. All of our products are phthalate free and paraben free, and we abide by the International Fragrance Regulatory Association (IFRA) guidelines to ensure the safety of our formulations.”

Before 2017, Native listed out individual fragrance ingredients. After P&G purchased Native the label changed to list fragrance instead of individual ingredients.

I choose not to buy personal care products with fragrance listed. If fragrance is a listed ingredient it could absolutely be clean synthetic fragrance. Although, my take is what do they have to hide? 

When I tried Native I did purchase a variety pack so I could try multiple scents. It simply did not mask the odor for me.

Kapori Aluminum Free Coconut Deodorant

Pro

  • Loved the coconut smell
  • Cruetly Free

Con

  • Includes fragrance, although they do have a fragrance-free option
  • It worked for about 4 wks and then was not as effective
  • Needed to order online
  • Not refillable

Ingredients:
Propylene Glycol*, Water/Aqua/EAU, Sodium Stearate, Propanediol, Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Fragrance (Parfum), Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Sodium Caproyl/Lauroyl Lactyl Lactate, Silica, Ethylhexylglycerin, Polyglyceryl-5 Oleate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Triethyl Citrate, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Liquid Endosperm, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Glycerin, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Juice, Glyceryl Laurate, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil**, Sodium Anisate, Citric Acid *Biobased/Base Végétale **Organic/Biologique

Ursa Major Mint Eucalyptus

Pro

  • All ingredients are listed, including what makes up the fragrance
  • Clean ingredients
  • Cruelty free
  • Certified B Corp

Con

  • Could not go all day without reapplying
  • Scent was stronger than I preferred

Ingredients:  Aqua/water, propanediol, sodium stearate, tapioca starch, saccharomyces ferment filtrate, silica, kaolin, glyceryl caprylate, glycerin, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium bicarbonate, rosmarinus officinalis leaf oil, aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, cellulose gum, eucalyptus globulus leaf oil, glyceryl undecylenate, mentha piperita oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, tocopheryl acetate, humulus lupulus (hops) extract, royal jelly extract, citrus limon peel extract, geranium maculatum oil, mentha arvensis leaf oil, calendula officinalis flower extract, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract, panax quinquefolium root extract, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, limonene, linalool *Denotes organic

Primally Pure – Lemongrass

3 Primally Pure Deodorants
Photo credit: Primally Pure

Pro

  • It worked! I could put in on and go all day without any body odor
  • Not tested on animals.
  • Non-irratating

Con

  • Not refillable
  • Had to order online
  • One of the more expensive clean deos

Ingredients: Fed Cows, Organic Beeswax, Baking Soda, Non-nano Zinc Oxide, White Kaolin Clay, Organic Lemongrass Essential Oil

I also tried Primally Pure Geranium Deodorant.  I much preferred the Lemongrass as the Geranium scent was stronger. 

Beautycounter – The Clean Deo Fresh Coconut

Refillable The Clean Deo
Photo Credit: Beautycounter

Pro

  • It worked! I could put in on and go all day without any body odor
  • Cruelty Free
  • Refillable
  • Non-irritating
  • Certified B Corp

Con

  • Need to order online
  • One of the more expensive clean deos

Ingredients:  Zea Mays (Corn) Starch*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Sodium Bicarbonate, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax/Cire de candelilla, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Triethyl Citrate, Jojoba Esters, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cire de carnauba, Cera Alba/Beeswax/Cire d’abeille, Tocopherol, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Vanillin, Gamma-Nonalactone, Gamma-Octalactone, Gamma-Decalactone, Maltol, Benzyl Acetate, Gamma-Undecalactone, Amyris Balsamifera Bark Oil, Tetramethylpyrazine, Citric Acid.

I also tried Fresh Rose and Soft Lavender.  Fresh Coconut has been my favor so far.  The coconut is a light scent and not overwhelming.  

Results from trying the non toxic deodorants above

The two top non toxic deodorants that worked best for me was Primally Pure and Beautycounter’s Clean Deo. With both options I could apply the deodorant in the morning and wear it all day without odor issues.

Grace smelling her underarms

Why Beautycounter’s The Clean Deo is currently my favorite non toxic deodorant for women?

I am here to give you my honest review and while yes, I am an independent consultant with the company, I promise to give my honest feedback.

Things I like…

Things I liked about Beautycounter’s deo… it feels soft going on.   I can apply it in the morning and it will last all day, even with a Barre3 class or personal training session. It is a great deodorant and it is refillable.

What does refillable mean?

Beautycounter’s Clean Deo is refillable.  This means that you purchase the outer case the first time then after your initial order you are just replacing the insert.  This is amazing because it reduces carbon emissions by 44%!

Beautycounter is focused on releasing more refillable products, which is incredible and I am so excited about the market place becoming more sustainable.  The more we demand things like refillable products, the more options we will have available. 

It speaks up

Beautycounter is advocating and educating for safer products for everyone. While Beautycounter’s products may not be in everyone’s budget the company wants to see change in the industry for the better.

If we can change the industry then everyone can go into a store and have access to safer products without the worry of potentially harmful ingredients.

We can demand change with our dollar

Every person needs to be able to walk into a store and purchase a product without having to become a scientist to know if this product could potentially cause cancer, premature puberty, birth defects, etc.  We vote with our dollar and the more you support companies doing the right thing the more we will see change across the industry. 

In 2020, companies had many opportunities to speak and use their voice on racism and hate.  After much review, I choose to align the brands I support with companies I can see are doing their best to be inclusive and using their platform to speak up. 

I know exactly what Beautycounter believes and what they are doing for racial justice.  Unfortunately, it was not very clear where Primally Pure stands and while I do like their products, I would prefer to support a brand I know aligns with my own personal values. 

If you decide to order Beautycounter’s Clean Deo and select me as your consultant send me an email that you read this article. I will snail mail you a sample of the charcoal mask and charcoal bar to help detox your underarms. 

Quick Recap

Deodorant is an important swap when looking for safer personal care products.  Since women tend to shave their underarm and it sits on their skin next to their breast tissue it is important to look for safer ingredients. Finding the best non toxic deodorant for women can take time but practice patience.

Look to avoid these ingredients; Fragrance, Phthalates, Parabens, Aluminum, and Triclosan. 

After reviewing the deodorants above I realized that not all deodorants work for everyone. Just because it worked for me does not mean it will be the best option for you. It will likely take a few tries to find the perfect non toxic deodorant that actually works. Hopefully this post will help guide you on your search for the perfect non toxic deodorant.

I was surprised by the number of deodorants that appeared to be a good option but still contained potentially harmful ingredients. This is an example of greenwashing at it’s finest.

Comment below if you use a clean deodorant you love.  Also feel free to email with questions.  

Resources:

1) Aluminum, antiperspirants and breast cancer. PD Darbe. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16045991/

2) U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.  https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics

3) Things to Know About Triclosan. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-triclosan

4) Phthalate Exposure and Long-Term Epigenomic Consequences: A Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7218126/

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