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Deodorant Reviews

By: Angela Stringfellow on January 23, 2017

Editor's note:
Certain Dri Clinical Strength Roll-on remains the best over-the-counter antiperspirant for those who need robust sweat protection. For women, Secret Clinical Strength Smooth Solid remains the top pick. For men, we recommended Dove Men+ Care. If you have sensitive skin or prefer all-natural products, Soapwalla and Schmidt's Natural Deodorant are standout performers.

Certain Dri Clinical Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Unscented? - Yes Applicator type – Roll-on, stick Active ingredient(s) – aluminum chloride

Best deodorant and antiperspirant

For people who sweat profusely, Certain Dri Clinical Strength Roll-On can't be beat among over-the-counter options. Users say it's a lifesaver, eliminating embarrassing underarm wetness and body odor. Certain Dri contains 12 percent aluminum chloride as its active ingredient, which experts say reduces sweating by up to 45 percent. Applied at night, Certain Dri is so effective that some users say they only need to use it a few times per week.

Buy for $13.49
Secret Clinical Strength Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Unscented? - Available Applicator type – Gel, solid or stick Active ingredient(s) – Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY

Best deodorant and antiperspirant for women

For women who require robust sweat and odor protection, Secret Clinical Strength Smooth Solid contains 20 percent Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY for protection that lasts up to 48 hours in a choice of unscented or several feminine scents. A gel formula, Secret Clinical Strength Smooth Solid also contains moisturizers to smooth delicate underarm skin, reducing irritation. It's also waterproof, meaning it won't wash off during a day at the beach or pool.

Buy for $11.80
Dove Men+ Care Cool Silver Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Unscented? - No Applicator type – Solid stick Active ingredient(s) – Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY

Best deodorant and antiperspirant for men

Men can have sensitive skin too, and Dove Men+ Care Cool Silver Antiperspirant Stick combines powerful sweat- and bacteria-fighting ingredients with moisturizers designed to minimize irritation. In tests, it kept users dry during rigorous physical activity. Dove Men+ Care comes in four other scents, but only the Cool Silver formulation contains silver chloride. While it's listed as an inactive ingredient, some users say it makes a difference in performance.

Soapwalla Deodorant Cream Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Unscented? - No Applicator type – Cream Active ingredient(s) – Vegetable powders, clays, essential oils

Best natural deodorant

Although it's more expensive than most traditional deodorants, Soapwalla Deodorant Cream offers good odor protection without harmful ingredients. A combination of vegetable powders and clays, as well as essential oils, work to keep body odor at bay throughout the day. Made with organic and food-grade ingredients, Soapwalla contains no aluminum or other additives. It's not an antiperspirant, so it won't prevent sweating, but it does contain moisture-absorbing ingredients to leave you feeling drier.

Buy for $19.00
Schmidt's Natural Deodorant Review
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Unscented? – Available Applicator type – Cream and stick Active ingredient(s) – Arrowroot powder, coconut oil, shea butter, essential oils and Vitamin E

Stick-applicator natural deodorant

Available in both stick applicator and cream formulations, Schmidt's Natural Deodorant comes in a choice of seven scents (including unscented) plus three additional options for people with sensitive skin. Reviewers say it leaves them odor-free at the end of a full day, and some even say they feel drier using this product, although it's not an antiperspirant. All formulations are certified vegan-, cruelty- and gluten-free, and none contain aluminum.

Buy for $6.84

Types of Deodorant

Deodorants

Despite popular belief, sweat doesn't actually cause body odor; the odor is produced when bacteria breaks down sweat. That's where deodorant comes in. Applied to the skin (typically the underarms), deodorant contains antibacterial and other ingredients that hinder the bacteria that break down sweat and cause the odor, effectively stopping body odor before it starts. Some deodorants also contain scents to help mask body odor. Deodorant does not, however, prevent you from sweating.

Antiperspirants

Antiperspirants use aluminum-based ingredients to create temporary plugs in the sweat ducts, reducing underarm sweating. They don't mask or reduce odor directly. However, because body odor is caused by the bacterial breakdown of sweat, you may experience less body odor as a result of not sweating as much. Antiperspirants are often used by people who sweat profusely and want to avoid the embarrassment of sweat-soaked armpits. Most, but not all, mass-produced products include both antiperspirant and deodorant ingredients for maximum odor- and sweat-fighting protection.

Natural Deodorants

These products don't contain aluminum or other chemical ingredients found in traditional deodorants and antiperspirants. Some people opt for natural deodorants because they want to avoid aluminum and other chemicals, while others find that they're sensitive to certain ingredients commonly used in traditional deodorants/antiperspirants and turn to natural deodorants as a result. Natural deodorants won't stop you from sweating, but they can help to reduce odor.

Types of Deodorant Applicators

Using deodorant to mask odors isn't a new concept for most, but hundreds of years ago, before regular bathing became commonplace, people used heavy colognes to mask B.O. It wasn't until the early 1800s that chemists began making products that could prevent body odor and sweating. The earliest manufacturers of antiperspirants made extremely messy pastes and creams that were difficult to apply. Mass-produced aluminum-based products came about more than 100 years ago. They came in the form of creams, solids, pads, dabbers, roll-ons and powders. Over time, the popularity of some of the application types waned. Today deodorants come in a variety of forms and formulas:

  • Solid sticks are the most popular form of deodorant/antiperspirants. They typically don't leave the skin wet after application, and usually come in a solid white or clear formula. Some solid sticks tend to leave white residue behind on clothing.
  • Gels are applied in a similar way to solid sticks, but they go on clear. The gel formula is generally pushed up through holes or slits in the applicator. Gels are wet when applied and require a few minutes to dry.
  • Roll-ons feature a ball at the top of the bottle that can be rolled to evenly distribute the product, which is usually light and gel-like. 
  • Creams and lotions must be applied with the fingertips to the underarms, although some lotions come in spray bottles. These usually require a few minutes of drying.
  • Deodorant sprays come in aerosol cans and typically go on dry.

What's in Your Deodorant?

Sweaty -- and stinky -- pits at the gym are commonplace, but sweaty situations can occur anytime and anyplace, whether you like it or not. Believe it or not, perspiration is actually good for you; it's a natural function that cools the body down. Although it is blamed for foul body odor, normal perspiration itself doesn't have much scent at all. Bad odors are usually produced by bacteria living on the surface of the skin, which thrives on sweat.

However, sweat from stress is a different matter. It comes on fast, can be hard to control and does give off a foul odor. That's because, when you're nervous or excited, you sweat from apocrine glands located in your underarms and pubic region. Secretions from normal sweat glands (eccrine glands) are watery and mostly odorless, but apocrine secretions contain 20 percent fat and protein; bacteria thrive on the stuff, and you're left dealing with the pungent odor. 

There are two key factors that affect people's favorability when it comes to deodorant: One is performance, and the other is feel and smell. Most over-the-counter antiperspirants/deodorants contain an aluminum-based active ingredient that blocks the pores to stop sweat. Some of the most common active ingredients you'll find when browsing for antiperspirants in the supermarket include:

  • Aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex glycine
  • Aluminum zirconium octachlorohydrex glycine
  • Aluminum chloride
  • Aluminum chlorohydrate
  • Aluminum hydroxybromide

Most over-the-counter antiperspirants contain between 10 and 20 percent of their active ingredient; FDA restrictions cap that level to between 15 and 25 percent, depending on the specific type of active ingredient. Clinical strength formulas stay within over-the-counter guidelines but aim to provide comparable wetness protection to prescription products. Certain Dri Clinical Strength Roll-on, for example, contains 12 percent aluminum chloride.

Most of the deodorant/antiperspirant lines we reviewed come in a wide range of scents; there is usually more variety among women's deodorants than men's. It's important to note the distinction between "unscented" and "fragrance-free": unscented products do contain fragrance additives (to mask the chemical smell of other ingredients), while fragrance-free products do not.

Finding The Best Deodorant
Our Sources
"9 Natural Deodorants That Will Stand Up to Even Your Sweatiest Workout"
"Sweat-Tested: The Best Antiperspirant Deodorants"
"Do Natural Deodorants Really Work? We Put 8 Different Brands to the Test"

Deodorant is a widely-used product available in multiple forms and myriad scents (including none at all) with varying ingredients. We found ample expert reviews comparing the performance of traditional deodorants, antiperspirants, and natural deodorants at WellandGood.com, TheActiveTimes.com, InStyle.com, RealSimple.com and TotalBeauty.com, among others. We also consulted thousands of user reviews at sites like Amazon.com and Walgreens.com, where users offer feedback on performance in real-world scenarios as well as insights such as whether they experienced reactions to certain ingredients or whether a deodorant brand is likely to stain clothing. We combine expert and user feedback to come up with our recommendations for the best deodorant and antiperspirant for men and women and the best natural deodorant.

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