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Natural Deodorant: Does It Actually Work?

Our reviewer tried several natural women's deodorants, and Portland's own Schmidt's Naturals was her favorite.

We all like the idea of natural deodorant. We just have zero faith that it works.

Tom’s of Maine deodorant always feels good, makes my skin happy, but lasts about 45 minutes before I smell like a footballer’s gym bag. I tried Lavanila natural deodorants, which worked to deodorize but did me no favors in the pit stain department.

Most of us foray into natural deodorants after seeing a headline linking breast cancer to aluminum-based antiperspirants. While that fear has been debunked,  there are a lot of other ingredients on a Secret/Old Spice deodorant label that stain clothes when you break a significant sweat and leave a residue that never seems to feel clean after a shower. Mineral oil, for example, a typical ingredient alongside aluminum in conventional drugstore brands, is a pore-clogging distillate of petroleum.

Schmidt’s cruelty-free, vegan, paraben-free and Portland-made deodorant seems to be everywhere all of a sudden, and the idea of baking soda as a natural moisture absorbent intrigued me enough to give it a shot. I was also attracted by their selection of scents other than the usual laundry detergent-linen or sticky-sweet, middle school florals. Although beckoned by the tea tree, geranium, bergamot-lime, and charcoal-magnesium (“the scent of falling rain”), I went for the jasmine tea scent, which happened to be in their sensitive skin formula. It was love at first glide.

For a little context, I’m prone to razor-burn and ingrown hairs, and my sweat glands pull more from my Irish-Scottish genes than the Japanese side. After a couple weeks of using Schmidt’s deodorant, my skin had calmed down, my underarms were irritation-free and still smelled like an understated jasmine blossom midday. Turns out the baking soda isn’t present in the sensitive skin formula, instead using a milk of magnesia-based ingredient to wick moisture. Baking soda is in the original formula, and I noticed it does absorb moisture better when I tried the Rose-Vanilla scent, but if you have finicky skin like me, stick to the sensitive version. Follow the directions and be sure to hold it to your skin for a second to warm it up so it goes on easier.

Word to the wise: there is a detox-transition period that is not cute. It took about a week to feel like the years of Secret residue truly sloughed off, and things smelled uniquely intense in between an AM/PM application during that week. Yes, if you work long days or have plans after hours, a reapplication will be necessary. But two layers of Schmidt’s is still a smoother, cleaner feeling than one swipe of the clear goo to which we’ve become accustomed.

Buy From Schmidt’s

(Cool Stuff is a new feature at Willamette Week where we feature product reviews, roundups, sales and other commerce and shopping-oriented content. All Cool Stuff reviews are editorially independent, meaning we provide honest reviews and aren’t paid by the brands we write about. If you do choose to purchase something after following one of our links, Willamette Week may receive a commission, which helps fund our journalism.)