Skip To Content

    I Used Aluminum-Free Deodorant For 30 Days, And Here's What I Learned (And What I Wish I Had Known)

    I spent $50 trying out deodorants so you don't have to.

    Let's talk about everyone's favorite topic: smelly armpits!!! Kidding, but really? We don't talk about it enough. Specifically, the journey from using aluminum-based antiperspirant to switching to a natural, aluminum-free deodorant.

    Before, I assumed I was ~a smelly person.~ Honestly, there is no shame in the sweat game. I used a certain well-known brand of antiperspirant that worked fine for me when it was on — but if I forgot to use it? STINKY STRESS SWEAT. I also had to reapply throughout the day when I used it. I considered switching to natural deodorant, but every time I tried, I thought it didn't work. Turns out, I wasn't giving myself enough time to adjust.

    solid white deodorant stick opened
    Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

    Before I talk about what did work for me, let's discuss the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant. This article from Oprah Daily is worth a read, but it specifically mentions that antiperspirants' "active ingredient — typically an aluminum salt — forms a plug that pretty much blocks your sweat gland." Deodorants absorb sweat and mask odor with fragrance (such as essential oil).

    Two illustrations with text explaining the difference between antiperspirant (which reduces the amount you sweat) and deodorant (which controls and masks sweat odor)
    Getty / BuzzFeed

    First things first: There is a transition period when you switch to a natural deodorant. Mine lasted about a month. In that time, I sweat more than usual. I also had a ~particular~ odor under my arms. Even after I showered, it felt like there was a filmy layer from the antiperspirant that, no matter how much I washed, I could not remove. And it still smelled! So I did what I always do when I have an "Is it just me?" problem: I went to Reddit! And realized I wasn't alone, thankfully.

    Illustration showing a raised arm with sweat stains and odor radiating from the armpit
    Pico / Getty Images / iStockphoto

    An illustration of how I felt during this weirdly extra-smelly period.

    There are articles online and people on TikTok who talk about "armpit detox." I'm not sure if "detox" is the right word, but there is some kind of purging going on, especially when you consider how aluminum plugs your pits. There were so many times I wanted to go back to my old antiperspirant to stay dry/cover up the smell, but I resisted.

    I found this article in Health Nutrition interesting, specifically this: "While sweat doesn’t actually stink, the bacteria on your skin that breaks down acids in your sweat is what produces the B.O.! You may be able to help your body along during this detox phase by applying either a clay mask or activated charcoal mask to your pits."

    I didn't use any type of clay mask on my pits, but after those 30 days, I did notice a difference. For one, after I showered, my armpits smelled like nothing — which was a huge improvement!

    A woman pointing to her raised armpit
    Farrah Penn / BuzzFeed

    Should I become an armpit model? 

    Second, even though I was sweating a bit more, I didn't have that sharp B.O. smell that was occurring at the time of my "detox."

    The last part of this journey was finding the best natural deodorant that worked for me. I tried Dove's because it was on the cheaper side, but it was too slick and slippery. Plus, it didn't last longer than four hours. I also really wanted to love Love Beauty and Planet's deodorant, but I had the same issues that I had with Dove. Kopari's deodorant is made with coconut oil, which I found way too thick and slippery for my liking.

    Dove, Love Beauty and Planet, and Kopari deodorant images
    Target / Kopari Beauty / Via koparibeauty.com

    What ended up working for me? Native Deodorant. This is a solid deodorant, whereas the other types felt more gel-based. If you're someone who prefers gel or roll-on, you might want to check out the above brands. To be honest, $12 is the most I've ever paid for deodorant EVER! Since I wasn't sure if it would work, I ended up getting a tiny travel-size one ($2.99) — which lasted me about three weeks. But after realizing I was going to stick with it, I ended up biting the bullet and purchasing the regular size.

    I highly recommend the coconut and vanilla scent. Wasn't a fan of the cucumber when I tried it! (And before anyone comments, no, this is not sponsored content. I spent over $50 deodorant shopping so you don't have to!!

    I definitely don't regret switching to natural deodorant. My B.O. is much less "intense" than it was before, when I felt like I always needed to reapply my antiperspirant. Plus, I feel like my underarms get clean clean in the shower and aren't left with a filmy residue that I can't scrub off. If you have any tips or tricks to switching, I'd love to hear them in the comments below!

    What i learned infographic Embrace the B.O. because there's little you can do about it if you're trying to switch to a natural deodorant! -  You're going to sweat more than usual — and that's OK too!
    Getty / BuzzFeed