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This article stinks

A review of natural deodorants

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This article stinks

Ah, summertime in Seattle. The crushing anxiety of forest fire smoke, the bustle of Amazon interns flocking to the city, and the smell of BO wafting through the grocery aisle of Trader Joe’s. Sure, the solstice is a reliable marker for the start of summer, but so is the sight of me on the bus rocking double pit stains and reapplying deodorant with NO SHAME. 

Why did I switch from Old Spice’s Bearglove deodorant, “for the commanding man,” to natural deodorants? Maybe it was the gross hypermasculinity in Old Spice’s marketing, or maybe it was the shame Seattle projected onto me every time I applied unnatural, aluminum-filled deo in a public place. Hey — nobody told me aluminum was literally blocking my sweat glands (or that it was linked to breast cancer) until I moved to this city, OK?

Natural deodorants can be hard to navigate. Some are scratchy and pull out your beautifully groomed armpit hair. Others just pile on the essential oils. And some have you reapplying seven times a day, stretching out your cute shirt in the process!

But don’t you worry your sweaty little head, because I’ve got the review you need to navigate this stinky world. 

Let’s break it down: Tom’s, Schmidt’s, and CRYSTAL. The three nat deos that are probably most accessible to you. Find them at Trader Joe’s, CVS, and Vegan Haven (which is rad. They have a cat; check it out). 

nat deo

Here’s what we’re judging these natural babies on:

Stank: Is this nat deo taking care of my stank? Or am I sitting in a coffee shop, overanalyzing everyone’s facial expressions, paranoid that my body odor is offending them?

Texture: Now, I’m not here to kink-shame — hair-pulling can be fun! But I don’t want my nat deo to rip my cute pit pubes right out of their follicles. I also don’t want white deo chunks hanging out all day. 

Cuteness: Packaging is my weakness, SUE ME! 

Ethics: This deo may be nice to ME, but how about the test bunnies and lab rats? Are they ethical and sustainable, or do they just use neutral-colored packaging and hope nobody questions them?

After weeks of sweating, applying, analyzing, and stinking up public places, the results are in. 


Schmidt’s. Schmidt’s “award-winning natural formula” looks promising. It has no aluminum, no artificial fragrance, and no propylene glycol (whatever the heck that is). Schmidt’s “charcoal + magnesium” deodorant makes me smell like a new car, which is cool, I guess. They’re also cruelty-free, vegan, and their containers are recyclable.

Applying this nat deo is a process, though. Users are instructed to hold it to their skin for a second to warm it up and melt it. And that’s no joke — using a stick of cold Schmidt’s is like scraping a pumice stone across your delicate little pits. Not fun. 

That being said, Schmidt’s lasts five-ever. It’s proven itself to be hiking-proof, sprint-to-catch-the-bus proof, and panic-attack-in-the-Safeway-alley proof. I’m impressed.

Tom’s. Ahh, Tom. I’ve had a crush on you ever since I started working at Trader Joe’s. Your simple white packaging seemed so down-to-earth. I swooned at your natural, cruelty-free, recyclable products. You talked about “sustainable practices,” and I thought I was in love. 

But then things got weird. Deodorant “for men?” “For women?” Your “men’s” products are decked out in rugged mountains, but you slap a pink leaf on your women’s products? I really felt a connection when your nat deo lasted through an entire summer lake day, but then you had to go and reinforce gender stereotypes. 

What’s more? You were bought out by Colgate! I thought your eco-friendly, sustainable, all-natural products were a competitor to Colgate’s multinational conglomerate. But turns out, you’re just a puppet controlled by a mega-corporation that doesn’t care nearly as much about sustainability, or the well-being of my pits, for that matter, as you let on. I should’ve listened to my editor when he said ethical consumption is impossible under monopoly capitalism.

CRYSTAL. CRYSTAL claims all of its ingredients are safe and naturally derived. While that might be true, it’s also true that I can’t pronounce the majority of them. Propanediol? Polyglyceryl-10 Caprylate? Never heard of her. 

CRYSTAL’s packaging is adorable. And it glides onto my hairy pits with such ease. It’s cruelty-free, which is cool. But none of that helps me when I’m at a "Stranger Things" watch party re-applying my nat deo for the FIFTH TIME THAT DAY. What I’m saying is that if demogorgons give you the nervous sweats, CRYSTAL’s is going to leave you high and dry. Well … high and damp. Very damp. And smelly.

There you have it, kids. Spread the good word, slather your pits, and gear up for the rest of the sweaty season.

Reach reporter Claudia Yaw at Twitter: @yawclaudia

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