SO YOU’VE STARTED USING NATURAL DEODORANT. IS IT ACTUALLY BETTER THOUGH?

Back in 2019, Justin Bieber made his foray into the grooming world with a natural deodorant called Here + Now. Another famous man launches a brand, and it’s business as usual. But, when you really think about it, it was actually a smart step into an ascendant industry.

According to a recent study by Grand View Research, the global natural deodorant market was valued at around $63 million back when Bieber first introduced his skincare range. Since then, it has skyrocketed by 14.1 per cent every single year, with Very Famous People like Cara Delevingne, Kourtney Kardashian, and Miranda Kerr making the switch to the organic stuff. And, judging by the fact that the #NaturalDeodorant tag has thousands and thousands of views on TikTok, you may well have made the jump, too.

But like other health and wellness trends such as ginger shots and coconut water, there are plenty of pros and plenty of cons, plus questions of efficacy. So, we sat down with some of the UK’s leading dermatologists and the biggest natural deodorant brands to find out if it’s actually as beneficial as some say it is. No sweat!

What makes natural deodorant different?

“The main differences between natural and normal deodorant lies in their composition,” says Alexandra Mills, skincare expert at AM Aesthetics. “Natural deodorants are typically made from plant-based ingredients such as essential oils, baking soda, and mineral salts, and they do not contain artificial additives like parabens, phthalates, or synthetic fragrances.”

“Some natural deodorant brands have also started distinguishing themselves by utilising skin-friendly ingredients such as coconut oil and shea butter,” says Charlie Bowes-Lyon, co-founder of Wild. “Not only can these ingredients make your skin softer, they also have natural antibacterial properties to counteract odour-causing bacteria.”

What are the benefits?

“In most cases, natural deodorant means fewer chemicals and more natural ingredients,” says Dr Dev Patel, doctor in aesthetic and regenerative medicine and founder of CellDerma. “This is believed to create a happier and healthier underarm microbiome.”

“Most normal deodorants and antiperspirants contain aluminium salts that work to stop sweat by completely blocking skin pores,” says Melissa Christenson, chemist at Hume Supernatural. “Alternatively, modern, clean natural deodorants use alternate renewable, non-petrochemical ingredients to reduce odour.”

However, it’s worth noting that the word “natural” is primarily a marketing claim and the term is not regulated. “Compared to conventional deodorants, those that claim to be natural tend to contain fragrances, baking soda, and essential oils,” says consultant dermatologist Dr Mia Jing Gao. “Conventional deodorants contain ingredients that reduce sweating and are more effective at it. Natural deodorants, on the other hand, tend to soak up sweat and mask the odour.”

Who should avoid using natural deodorant?

“Individuals with sensitive skin or allergies to certain natural ingredients should avoid using natural deodorants,” says Mills. “As mentioned previously, those who require stronger odour control may find that they’re not as effective for their needs.”

“Those who suffer with excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis for instance, are better to select a regular deodorant to control their symptoms as they will achieve a better and longer lasting result,” says Emma Coleman, aesthetic and dermatology RGN. “Natural products may also require repeat application throughout the day, which is something to bear in mind.”

Are there any side effects?

“Individuals with certain skin conditions or allergies should exercise caution and should consult their GP or a dermatologist before using natural deodorants,” says Gao. “Some users may experience skin irritation, especially if they have sensitive skin or are allergic to specific natural ingredients like baking soda or essential oils.”

“Your pores can be blocked by regular deodorant, so your body may sweat more for the first few weeks before adjusting to natural deodorant says,” Patel. “It takes time to adjust because our bodies are used to the harsher chemicals on our underarms. After around seven days, your body should have adjusted to the change, but it could take a little more time for some. In reality, no natural product is likely to keep you as sweat free as a regular antiperspirant, but you may smell as good with natural ingredients.”

What should you look for when buying natural deodorant?

“When you’re buying your first natural deodorant, be sure to check out the back of the pack,” says Coleman. “Try and look out for antibacterial ingredients such as tea tree and grapefruit and high concentration of baking soda and natural alcohols to preserve the product.”

“You should also consider the effectiveness of the product for your specific needs, whether it’s controlling odour or providing long-lasting protection,” says Bowes-Lyon. “Additionally, factor in your skin type and potential sensitivity, opting for formulations that align with your preferences. Finally, prioritise brands that focus on eco-friendly packaging if sustainability is a concern.”

Some brands are now developing products that have been especially formulated for other parts of your body. “These are unlike anything even in the clean deodorant category,” says Christenson. “The microbiome-approved formula is powered by antioxidant-rich plant oils plus anti-inflammatory plant extracts and prebiotics to nourish and sustain the skin barrier, while castor-oil derived zinc ricinoleate neutralises odours, not just under your arms, but also on your feet, down there, and everywhere.”