Beyond the Drugstore: 14 Sophisticated Deodorants

The rise of niche, artisanal, and natural deodorants

March 29, 2024 12:37 pm
These are the best niche deodorants on the market.
These are the best niche deodorants on the market.
AKT, Dove, Oars and Apls, Acqua di Parma

Deodorants are often an afterthought, and as an editor in the men’s grooming market, finding a high-performing stick that is also free from excessive chemicals has historically proven challenging. However, in the ever-growing niche men’s grooming sphere, many brands are giving more thought to creating natural and specialized underarm (or all-over body) deodorants. This shift away from mass-produced deodorants is evident in major retailers like Target, where brands like Native are a welcome contrast to the chemical-containing, overly fragrant, and often ‘sport’ labeled counterparts. Now, niche brands take pride in incorporating modern, high-end, and natural ingredients—many sourced sustainably and cruelty-free—while also excluding now-known harmful chemicals like aluminum and parabens.

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Deodorant, unlike antiperspirant, allows the body to sweat and does not hinder this essential function with pore-clogging ingredients. While newer artisanal deodorants aim to absorb some sweat, their focus is on preventing or neutralizing unpleasant odors via proprietary blends and natural ingredients, like charcoal, coconut oil, aloe, bamboo, eucalyptus, volcanic ash, probiotics, and various other oils and waxes that do not irritate the skin. Almost all omit aluminum, parabens, and phthalates, reflecting a growing awareness among health-conscious individuals, as these chemicals clog pores, trap toxins, and are linked to hormonal imbalances and potential cancer risks. In response, these new deodorants now emphasize the absence of these ingredients.

Most niche deodorants now smell amazingly artisanal, with many listing fragrance pyramids that incorporate scents like santal, vetiver, and bergamot—woodsy and citrus notes similar to those found in high-end colognes. Another trend challenges the stereotype of all-in-one products (like shampoo and body wash) being lowbrow. With the rise of all-over body deodorants, these specialized formulations excel at their singular task: keeping you smelling fresh from underarms to feet. While there’s nothing wrong with classic drugstore brands, the deodorants listed below are meant to be more niche, formulaic, and specialized. Given that everyone reacts differently to various formulations, here are 14 to consider.

Ursa Major’s deodorant stick uses silica, tapioca starch, and diatomaceous earth to absorb excess moisture, while hops, eucalyptus, and probiotic enzymes neutralize odor-causing bacteria. It is aluminum and baking soda-free, with a subtle, fresh scent of mint and eucalyptus that is not overpowering.

AKT’s award-winning deodorant balm resembles more of an apothecary tube than a traditional deo stick. Squeeze a small amount and apply it to underarms, chest, feet, or any part of your body. This artisanal, all-gender balm includes diatomaceous earth and arrowroot to help keep you dry and is available in various scent combinations, from vetiver and amber to petitgrain.

Recently launched, this Dove Men+Care whole-body deo stick is suitable for pits to privates. I tried it for a week and can confidently say that my underarms remained odor-free even after an active day. It is aluminum and paraben-free, utilizes aloe for smoothness, bamboo to neutralize, and the light woody notes are subtle.

Salt & Stone made quite an impact on the men’s grooming scene with their exceptionally scented deodorant sticks. Infused with seaweed extracts, probiotics, and coconut oil, this natural deo excels in both performance and moisturizing while acting as an odor-neutralizer. My fav, Bergamot & Hinoki, has notes of Italian Bergamot, Hinoki, Vetiver, Eucalyptus, and Amber.

Some might prefer an unscented deodorant that effectively prevents both odor and sweating while allowing your chosen cologne to shine. Blu Atlas’s award-winning deo stick is aluminum-free and uses Volcanic Ash to absorb sweat, along with Bamboo Extract and Sage Leaf to neutralize odor. The packaging is also handsome with its apothecary-esque font.

Oars & Alps’ aluminum-free deodorant spray dries quickly and can be used anywhere on the body to control odors and moisture. Utilizing Alpine Caribou Moss, a lichen rich in antioxidants, it protects your skin from free radicals. The scent of patchouli, ylang-ylang, sandy amber, and citrus notes resembles a subtle ocean breeze.

Dr. Squatch stands out with no-nonsense grooming products for every guy- almost an artisanal and elevated Old Spice. While renowned for their bar soaps, their aluminum-free deo sticks are also highly popular. Charcoal powder blocks odor, postbiotics deter the growth of odor-causing bacteria, and arrowroot powder absorbs moisture.

Human Essentials is reinventing what it means to be biodegradable. As the deodorant stick wears down, you can peel the biodegradable tubing one piece at a time. When finished, toss the empty canister in the trash or your compost.  It contains natural plant waxes and oils to neutralize odor and the mountain pine and eucalyptus notes smell refreshing.

With its iconic packaging, Aesop’s deodorant spray is everything you’d expect from the niche, hip, apothecary brand. Made without aluminum salts, it uses zinc ricinoleate and essential oils to neutralize odor, but the real star here is the woody, herbaceous vetiver scent that smells equally earthy and sophisticated.

Patrick’s ND1 formula is aluminum, sulfate, and paraben-free and uses an advanced ingredient called Niodor to naturally hinder the growth of odor-causing bacteria for performance without the side effects. The bergamot and neroli scent smells fantastic and the casing is made from 100% recycled materials.

Mando’s all-over body invisible cream deodorant is free from aluminum, baking soda, phthalates, parabens, and dye. It boasts 72 hours of odor control, and its unscented formula ensures you smell like yourself, sans the B.O. Toss the tube in your weekend bag and enjoy activities with peace of mind.

This V.2 Deo from luxury grooming stalwarts Jack Henry uses probiotics, enzymes, and plant extracts to trap, neutralize, and eliminate body odor. Free from parabens and phthalates, its fragrance pyramid is an intoxicating mixture of lime, mandarin, cedar, sandalwood, moss, vetiver, and tonka

Malin+Goetz’s deodorant stick has achieved a cult-like status, and rightfully so. Free from aluminum, alcohol, or parabens, this deodorant is synthesized with refreshing natural eucalyptus extract and odor-neutralizing citronellyl, making it suitable for all skin types, especially sensitive ones.

Acqua di Parma products are made in Italy using only the highest quality ingredients. Alcohol-free, this deodorant is infused with their signature scent of Colonia- a mix of lemon, Calabrian bergamot, lavender, Bulgarian rose, rosemary, vetiver, sandalwood, and patchouli. Feel free to forego your cologne while wearing this luxury deodorant.

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