The 4 best deodorants for odor
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There’s no shortage of deodorants and antiperspirants on the market — but few of them are both non-irritating and actually effective against sweat and unwanted odors. That’s why I got in touch with Debra Jaliman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. According to Dr. Jaliman, the best deodorants for odor contain the right combination of ingredients to tackle bacteria, absorb moisture, and leave you smelling and feeling great all day long.
Since body odor is often caused by sweat-eating bacteria that naturally occurs on the skin, “deodorants work by destroying the bacteria,” Dr. Jaliman writes in an email to Mic. In short, you’ll want to create an environment where bacteria can’t thrive, which is why tapioca starch, silica, and sodium bicarbonate are effective ingredients in many odor-preventing deodorants, according to Dr. Jaliman. (They all keep skin dry and prevent odor-causing bacteria from feeding and flourishing.) Some options may also “contain an additional fragrance to cover the scent,” though according to Dr. Jaliman, if you’d rather skip the synthetic fragrances, peppermint and eucalyptus oils are good natural alternatives, or look for an unscented option since essential oils can still cause reactions.
Below are the four odor-blocking deodorants that Dr. Jaliman personally recommends — and since they’re both skin-friendly and effective, they’re highly rated by reviewers on Amazon, too. Deodorants are focused on combating unwanted odors, while antiperspirants are formulated to reduce sweating in general. If the latter is of interest, Dr. Jaliman recommends a deodorant and antiperspirant combo as well.
1. The one with odor-fighting probiotics
For a deodorant that actually works on unwanted odors, this is a popular pick on Amazon. With 21,000-plus reviews and an overall 4.5-star rating, Native’s line of deodorants is one of Dr. Jaliman’s recommendations it because it “has tapioca starch and sodium bicarbonate to absorb odors.” It also contains probiotics to further help keep bacteria in check, as well as coconut oil and shea butter for hydration. It comes in multiple fragrances ranging from “pear blossom” to “eucalyptus & mint,” and it’s cruelty-free. You can also get it in a three-pack. Just know that some people find sodium bicarbonate irritating, so avoid if that’s a concern for you.
One reviewer wrote: “I have tried so many natural deodorants that I could have paid off my home loan by now. Literally none of them worked. [...] Thank you, Native, for putting out this incredible product that can contain the odor of even the most pungent of pits. Sincerely, a customer forever.”
2. The budget one
Since you get three full-size containers for less than $15, this Tom’s of Maine deodorant is a solid value for a skin-friendly formula. The formula aims to control unwanted odors for up to 24 hours. It’s also an “unscented deodorant [that] contains aloe to soothe skin,” Dr. Jaliman writes, so it’s a good option for those with extremely sensitive skin. The brand is cruelty-free, too.
One reviewer wrote: “I love that Tom’s goes on clear and doesn’t leave any marks like the others too. No allergic reactions. [...] I recommend giving it a chance! The price is fair and it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin.”
3. The anti-perspirant & deodorant combo
Vanicream’s antiperspirant and deodorant combo aims to block odors and moisture for up to 24 hours, and according to one reviewer, it’s the “only thing that’s worked.” It contains silica “to keep skin dry,” Dr. Jaliman writes, as well as aluminum to block sweat from exiting pores. That said, despite its effectiveness, it’s still unscented and dermatologist-tested, so it’s suitable for most of those with sensitive skin.
One reviewer wrote: “In 90 degree high-humid heat this has lasted for hours with no sweat or smell. Plus, I can put it on and immediately don a shirt and I never get deodorant marks on my clothes. I recommend this to anyone who has reactions to store brands, skin issues, ingrown hairs, or excessive sweat issues, but anyone can use it.”
4. The plastic-negative one
Dr. Jaliman also recommends the Ursa Major Hoppin Fresh Deodorant, which features refreshing peppermint and eucalyptus oils as an alternative for those who are sensitive to synthetic fragrances. “It also has aloe which is soothing and anti-inflammatory,” according to Dr. Jaliman. There are also hops to combat odors, and silica and tapioca to keep you dry.
Plus, Ursa Major is a certified B Corp, which means it meets high standards for social and environmental impact, and the plastic-negative container removes two plastic bottles from nature. However, this deodorant contains sodium bicarbonate and essential oils, two ingredients that some find irritating, so it might not be the best option for those with sensitive skin.
One reviewer wrote: “This is my favorite deodorant. I only shop cruelty-free, and I've been disappointed in a lot of the CF deodorants out there. I've been using this one for nearly a week in the humid summer heat and I love it! Since this is a new product for me I've been really mindful of how it applies, how long it lasts, etc. And no lie, I sniff my pits every night before a shower for the formal assessment and this has passed every night!”
Debra Jaliman, MD and board-certified dermatologist