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Natural deodorant has been increasingly popular over the last few years, and for good reason: Traditional deodorants and antiperspirants may keep us dry and odor-free, but they’re typically packed with aluminum, which some studies suggest may be linked to an increased risk of cancer or to developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The National Cancer Institute says there’s “no scientific evidence [that] links the use of these products to the development of breast cancer,” but I’ve still become increasingly interested in finding a more natural alternative to traditional drugstore deodorants. But as someone who enjoys exercise and writes about health for a living, I felt like I stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, I hated the idea of applying chemicals to my armpits on a daily basis; on the other, I wanted to smell good.
“Most natural deodorants battle odor by tackling it at its source by killing odor-causing bacteria under your arms.”
It’s worth noting that there’s a difference between deodorants and antiperspirants. Deodorants block body odor, while antiperspirants block sweat glands to, well, make you sweat less. Most natural deodorants battle odor by tackling it at its source and killing the odor-causing bacteria under your arms.
The journey for a perfect natural deodorant wasn’t an easy one. Many popular natural deodorant brands come in tubs rather than stick form, which meant I had to wash my hands after each application and dig out any remnants from under my nails. The whole process felt like more trouble than it was worth. Other brands smelled great on their own, but after a 45-minute exercise session, I much preferred the smell of plain old sweat — and I was pretty sure everyone around me did, too.
My worst natural deodorant experience came when, after a long plane ride, I got the itchiest rash of my life in my left armpit. It was red, angry, and kept me up all night. Hydrocortisone cream calmed it down, but as soon as I started using my deodorant again, I put two and two together: My skin was no longer tolerating the baking soda (a common ingredient in natural deodorant) that I was constantly applying to it.
It’s a problem many folks deal with while hunting for natural deodorants. I needed a solution that would keep me fresh, could be rolled on like my old drugstore standby and that didn’t contain baking soda that would inflame my sensitive skin.
That’s when I finally discovered Vapour AER Next-Level Deodorant, which I was hesitant to buy at first because it costs a whopping $24 a stick — a far cry from the six-pack of Secret deodorant I can buy on Amazon for $12. But it checked every one of my boxes: It was all-natural, smelled great, was baking soda-free, and sold in stick form. I pulled the trigger, and was pleased to discover that it kept me smelling great no matter how sweaty my workout, and I’m totally rash-free two months after purchasing it.
AER definitely holds up smell-wise — at least I think it does, but maybe I should leave that one up to the people in my workout classes — but unlike with antiperspirants, I do still sweat while wearing it. It’s a little more contained than with some natural deodorants, but to say it actually prevents me from sweating is a stretch. That’s OK with me, though: A little bit of sweat is a small price to pay for not slathering my armpits with questionable ingredients.
If you’re hesitant to use natural deodorant or have had a negative experience with the ones you’ve tried in the past, trust me — I’ve been there. But also trust that there’s at least one type that works really damn well.