Showing up to the gym is only half the battle: You still need to look and feel presentable, especially if you’ll be sweating around other people. Your first step? Choosing the best deodorant for your unique skin type, be it sweat-wicking or suitable for sensitive skin.
While certain underarm hygiene products like antiperspirants have gotten a bad rap over the years due to their use of potentially harmful chemicals like parabens, phthalates and aluminum, research currently concludes daily antiperspirant use is perfectly safe.
But if you’re concerned about which deodorant is healthiest, there are plenty of effective natural deodorant options on the market that medical research deems a little less controversial and that still smell amazing. (Note that the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant is that the former only helps target bacteria that contributes to odors, hence its name, while antiperspirants contain aluminum salts that dissolve on the surface of your sweat ducts in order to reduce or block perspiration.)
We asked five certified personal trainers (including recommendations from yours truly, an ACE-certified personal trainer and avid runner) to share the most effective deodorants and antiperspirants that help them stay fresh rep after rep.
Best natural/aluminum-free deodorant
Meech Robinson, a trainer and Barry’s Bootcamp instructor, describes himself as “an athlete and a person that prefers natural products,” which is why he gravitates to Art of Sport deodorant made with matcha and arrowroot. “What I like about Art of Sport is that it’s made with natural botanicals and is free of aluminum, parabens and phthalates,” he says. “It’s good for my on-the-go lifestyle because it’s fresh-scented, [has a] clean formula, is long-lasting and doesn’t leave marks.”
For a deodorant that works double-time to gently exfoliate dry skin, opt for this all-natural version derived from papaya extract and tapioca starch. “I basically look for something aluminum-free that smells good and works,” Maddy Jovani, personal trainer at Adrenaline Performance Centre, says. “My favorite is the Rio Deo by Sol de Janeiro because it has a delicious tropical scent, which is more feminine.”
Jovani also swears by the ultra-moisturizing Schmidt’s deodorant in a fresh and fruity bergamot and lime scent, which her husband and fellow trainer, Jon Chaimberg, also uses. Jovani says the formula, which is made of natural ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter and vitamin E, “smells great and works to prevent odor.”
I’ve long been using men’s deodorant because it tends to stay on longer, and I tend to favor those androgynous woodsy scents. That’s why I often steal a swipe of Tom’s of Maine deodorant from my husband (who is also a certified personal trainer). It’s aluminum-free, dissolves quickly and is made only of natural fragrances.
You’ve heard celebrities promoting Native on podcast commercials, and now you’re about to hear a glowing endorsement from an average Joe fitness enthusiast, aka yours truly. This all-natural, gender-neutral deodorant with 22,000 Amazon reviews boasts a super-subtle, sweet smell that’s powerful enough to offset any funky sweat odors.
If you’ve long been a fan of Secret but aren’t so keen on its traditional use of aluminum, you’ll love this alternative that promises to keep you smelling fresh for 48 hours. Amanda Tarlton, personal trainer and RYT-200 yoga teacher, says, “It keeps my underarms dry for hours, smells delicious and, best of all, doesn’t have aluminum, which I love for my sensitive skin.”
With light and refreshing scents like Desert Bloom and After Rain, Hume’s plant-based deodorant contains prebiotics and probiotics that help keep the underarms’ microbiome balanced and odor-free, plus mineral-rich diatomaceous earth to help absorb moisture. Underscored’s associate beauty editor Sophie Shaw loves that it has a smooth application that glides on clear and has lasting odor protection that actually works. The brand also has a great all-over deodorant that applies like a cream, so you can address all your sweaty bits.
Best deodorant for sweat
What deodorant is best at eliminating odors? Well, classic scents and formulas are popular for a reason: They’re tried, they’re tested and they truly overpower even the funkiest of gym-induced odors. Adam Shore, personal trainer, health coach and naturopath, says, “I’m a simple guy. I’ve been using Speed Stick Irish Spring for years because it just smells fresh to me.” The antiperspirant with deodorizing properties is said to provide 24 hours of protection.
Anthony Crouchelli, founder of The .1 Method and senior director of talent and production at Liteboxer, prefers an antiperspirant that’s suitable for both day and night. “My go-to deodorant for a while has been the Degree 72-Hour Ultraclear,” he says. “For me, the Degree line, from spray-on to roll-on, has always been great for on the go and pre- or post-workout, as well as something that’s easy with no stains [which is great] to wear for a night out on the town.”
If I know I’m going to be dripping sweat while training clients or going round after round at dance practice, I opt for Mitchum’s quick-drying antiperspirant deodorant with nearly 14,000 Amazon reviews. It gives me that just-showered feeling and doesn’t stain my clothes.
I started buying Lady Speed Stick several years ago because it was always on sale, but I soon came to learn it has all the makings of a tough-enough antiperspirant deodorant for all my workouts: It stays on for 48 hours, doesn’t leave a single stain and has a sweet floral scent I’d totally slather all over my body.
I love a clear gel like that of Secret because it feels like it creates a barrier between sweat and my clothing. In my several years of running and training, it’s never failed to keep me smelling completely clean after a rigorous workout in scorching temps.
An unscented option that will keep sweat and BO at bay, this roll-on deodorant is reliable. It is completely clear so it won’t leave any white residue, contains odor-fighting ingredients and, best of all, is EWG-certified so you can be assured it’s safe.
Best deodorant for sensitive skin
Crouchelli also reaches for the Raw Sugar roll-on deodorant before and after the gym, which is made with vanilla extract and woodsy charcoal and comes in 100% biodegradable packaging. “I am a huge fan of [its] odor-blocking technology, and how it stays on your body in and out of workouts,” he says.
Shore says, “There are some things you don’t want your skin to eat, and that list is very long.” That’s why he’s looking to make the switch to “a more naturopath-friendly brand such as Every Man Jack [because] it’s aluminum-free and uses natural ingredients.” The line, made with the likes of witch hazel and aloe vera, comes in seven invigorating scents like Cedarwood, Sea Salt, Crimson Oak and Pacific Cypress.
When I want to feel like I’m working out on a private tropical island, I opt for Kopari’s deliciously scented aluminum-free deodorant. It’s made of hydrating coconut and detoxifying activated charcoal, and it glides on easily without leaving a heavy film.
I often reach for Dove deodorant not only for its superior moisturizing properties but for how well it soothes sensitive skin. This rich formula applies easily, is free of irritating fragrances and doesn’t leave any streaks.
I love using Lush’s deodorizing dusting powder because it reminds me of all the soothing and gentle powders my mom used to tell me to use as a preteen at summer camp when my skin was so sensitive that even looking at it the wrong way would make it flare up. In true Lush fashion, this all-natural, sweat-absorbing option boasts an invigorating tea tree, thyme and rosemary scent that can double as perfume without causing any irritation.