Welcome to The/Thirty's Sweat Guide, a series devoted to the art of sweating smarter—no matter how hard you're working out (or how hot it is outside). Check back for advice on the best cooling, post-workout products; moisture-wicking leggings; and more.
Illustration by Haobin Ye
In all honesty, I initially thought that my grueling search for the perfect natural deodorant had finally come to a halt two years ago. I had been using Agent Nateur's cult-fave Holi(stick) Deodorant for several weeks to wonderful results. Even in sky-high July temperatures, I smelled lovely all day long—and as my body continued to adjust (read: began to perspire less), I only fell more in love with this all-natural formula.
Then, one morning, as I was pulling my top over my head, I saw them: twin red patches sprawled across my underarms. They didn't itch or hurt at the moment, but I wasn't about to risk finding out if they would. I stopped using my beloved Holi(stick), and the rashes cleared up in just a day or two. My armpits were none the worse for wear; I, however, was crushed.
But this hiccup on the road to underarm nirvana ultimately forced me to trial dozens more formulas until I amassed an armpit arsenal for just about every occasion. And although my all-day-every-day product still remained elusive, as fate would have it, I actually met Agent Nateur founder Jena Covello a few months ago. She told me that some people (like me) are sensitive to the baking soda found in many natural formulas (including hers), which is why she developed a new version for sensitive skin. After discussing the ins and outs of natural deo over iced matchas, she sent me on my way with that new formula in tow—and several weeks later, I feel as though my armpit journey has finally come full circle.
Since finding the "right" natural deodorant (and deodorant in general) is a very personal journey, I thought it only right to include some of the other favorites I've accumulated over the years—many of which also have ringing endorsements from my colleagues. Find the seven natural deodorants we swear by for all temps, sweat levels, and occasions below.
I was admittedly nervous that I'd be trading my armpit rash for a less effective formula, but that is so not the case—the sensitive formula works just as well as the original. The secret is the combo of magnesium and arrowroot, which helps wick away odor and moisture. But what I really adore about Agent Nateur is the gorgeous scent blend of jasmine, bergamot, and sandalwood. It's delicate and woodsy, and while I get a subtle whiff of the fragrance all day long, it's never overbearing.
I can also report that this formula recently stood up to a three-hour hike in 90-degree temperatures. Need I say more?
I decided to check out Native when I kept reading rave review after rave review online—and was immediately impressed by the huge variety in scents. Fragrance is such a polarizing thing—doesn't it make more sense to offer options? Take your pick between Coconut & Vanilla, Hibiscus & Mint, Rosé (yes way), and more. Prefer unscented? It has that too.
It's also definitely the closest thing to a "traditional" deodorant you'll find in the natural arena; the stick formula is creamy and glides on easily. You can also expect it to keep you dry for hours on end. My only con is that it does tend to leave a little residue on clothes—something to be mindful of if you plan on wearing a dark-colored top.
This product first piqued my curiosity when I learned that a really big name in L.A.'s natural beauty scene swears by it (I'll try just about anything she recommends). Then my friend recently told me that she was obsessed with the same formula. It's a liquid blend of odor-reducing essential oils, and my friend notes that it intermingles with your natural musk to not just neutralize any BO but actually make it smell pleasant. While I personally prefer a stick formula, it's a great option if you're down to try something different and don't have any heavy sweating on the agenda.
Give this natural deodorant a Google search and you'll find positive review after positive review raving about how it uses charcoal as a magnet to draw out toxins from your pores. Natural, vegan and cruelty-free, this deodorant will keep you dry and fresh sans-aluminum.
As I mentioned, I personally prefer stick and cream formulas over liquids since I really despise a "wet" feeling in my underarms, no matter how temporary. But I'd be remiss not to mention Weleda's spray deodorant, which has definitely earned its cult following over the years. Aside from the admittedly convenient spritz-on application, the scents are lovely enough that you might actually be inclined to forego perfume. (I'm partial to Wild Rose.) They're also made to last, even on the stickiest days.
I can personally vouch for this formula, which is packaged in a biodegradable tube—kind of like a push-pop for your armpits. It's formulated with baking soda, arrowroot, and a blend of essential oils, as well as skin-soothing cocoa butter because baby-soft underarms are severely underrated.
A word to the wise: Like many natural formulas, this one can be a little tricky to smooth on if you don't warm it up slightly first. Rubbing it against my skin a little usually does the trick.
This deodorant landed on my desk a few months ago, and after it helped me out during a few midday "emergencies," I was hooked. It goes on very similarly to traditional deodorant in that it's truly invisible—no chalky residue, no wetness. And though I've found the scent is too subtle to mask any really serious sweat, on more low-key days it gets the job done.