Reviewers consistently say that Secret Clinical Strength Antiperspirant/Deodorant Advanced Solid (*Est. $8 for 1.6 oz.) is the best non-prescription deodorant on the market. It contains 20 percent aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly as its active ingredient, which is the strongest concentration you can get without a prescription, according to TheBeautyBrains.com, a website run by scientists in the cosmetics industry. These same scientists also report that Secret Clinical Strength deodorant is not as harsh as prescription-strength products, either. Testers say that it also performs well in stressful and strenuous situations. Consumers at Drugstore.com, TotalBeauty.com, MakeupAlley.com and Amazon.com, where thousands of users give it a combined average of 4 out of 5 stars, say that it keeps them dry all day long but that it is more expensive than other drugstore deodorant brands. A couple of users complain that it dries out their skin, while others say using a small amount and following directions helps keep irritation at bay.
Procter & Gamble, which manufactures Secret Clinical Strength Antiperspirant/Deodorant, says it should be applied at night for best results. The manufacturer also says that it continues to work even after showering. It comes in solid form and is available in four different scents, including a hypoallergenic version for those with sensitive skin. A waterproof version is also available.
It's worth noting that Secret is marketed toward and contains scents meant to appeal to women. Men seeking a similar product should consider Gillette Clinical Strength Antiperspirant/Deodorant Advanced Solid (*Est. $8 for 1.7 oz.), which also is made by Procter & Gamble. Gillette Clinical Strength uses the same ingredients as Secret, but comes in scents aimed at men. Reviewers at Amazon.com, who give it a good average score, say it works well but is expensive.
Certain Dri Antiperspirant (*Est. $7 for 1.2 oz.) also comes highly recommended by consumers. It uses aluminum chloride, the same ingredient found in prescription antiperspirants (it's a bit more potent than aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly, which is used in many regular-strength deodorants), but in a smaller dosage -- 12 percent versus 20 percent. Although users across the board say that it keeps them completely dry for days at a time, they also complain that it can be very irritating, especially for the first few days of treatment. Several say that it left their skin raw, red and itchy, but most say that the results are worth it. The manufacturer says that using a smaller amount of the antiperspirant just once or twice a week is all that is needed and will help with irritation, and users at Drugstore.com agree (where it earns an overall score of 4.5 stars out of 5 from more than 450 reviewers).
Certain Dri should be applied at night and rinsed off in the morning. It does not contain deodorizing ingredients, but many consumers say they use a standard deodorant in the morning for extra protection. Certain Dri is packaged as a roll-on antiperspirant. A newer version, Certain Dri Solid (*Est. $7 for 1.7 oz.), uses 25 percent aluminum sesquichlorohydrate (anhydrous). A handful of users at Walgreens.com give mixed reviews to the solid. About half like it, while others say it is not as effective as the roll-on option. In the end, we chose to list Secret Clinical Strength in our Best Reviewed section because it is potentially less irritating than Certain Dri, although the latter is a good alternative if Secret or Gillette Clinical Strength (its male-marketed counterpart) does not work for you.
Those who don't suffer from heavy sweating may not need the extra protection provided by clinical-strength antiperspirants and deodorants. Experts say that standard products, such as Secret Flawless Renewal Invisible Solid (*Est. $5 for 2.6 oz.), are probably strong enough. Allure magazine points out that Flawless deodorant is "just one percentage point" short of clinical strength, and some consumers at TotalBeauty.com say that it works just as well. Flawless contains 19 percent aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly as well as skin conditioners. It comes as a solid stick deodorant that goes on clear, although some users at Drugstore.com say it feels greasy. It also has what the manufacturer calls "self-renewing fragrances" that are activated when they come in contact with sweat. Some consumers say that Secret Flawless deodorant does a better job of controlling odor than sweat. However, the Food and Drug Administration says that results for all deodorants can vary greatly, with performance affected by such factors as how much product is applied. Secret Flawless comes in five scents plus unscented. It's also available as a clear gel (*Est. $4 for 2.7 oz.) with 16 percent aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly.
Mitchum Power Gel Antiperspirant (*Est. $5 for 3.4 oz.), formerly Mitchum Clear Gel (with an identical formula), is available in both men's and women's varieties and gets good reviews from experts and consumers alike. Both versions have the same ingredients, but come in different scents as well as unscented and sensitive-skin formulations. Mitchum Power Gel uses aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly (20 percent) or aluminum sesquichlorohydrate (25 percent) as its active ingredient. After several comparison tests, Slate.com's Eliza Truitt says gel deodorant formulas like this one work better than their solid counterparts.
Consumers, meanwhile, say that it doesn't leave unsightly white marks like many other deodorant products do. Mitchum Smart Solid Antiperspirant (*Est. $5 for 2.5 oz.) also gets high marks from a leading consumer testing organization for not leaving white marks on clothes, although we saw a couple of reviews that said the solid deodorant starts to crumble after using half the container. Several users at Drugstore.com, where most varieties earn an average of 4 out of 5 stars from dozens of reviewers, also point out that although it does a good job of preventing odor and wetness, Mitchum's gel deodorant formula takes a while to dry. We also read several reviews from users on Amazon.com who said that the gel bleached their clothes when they accidentally applied it directly to their garments.