Baking soda has earned its place as a key ingredient in many natural deodorants for its ability to absorb odors. And as someone who has long ditched aluminum deodorants for the au naturel route, I can attest that the popular baking ingredient keeps my pits fresh, even on my sweatiest days.
Effective as it may be to neutralize odor, baking soda can also irritate dry or sensitive skin, leaving underarms red and rashy—mine included. That’s because, “baking soda is highly alkaline and disrupts the skin’s natural pH, which can cause irritation under the arms,” according to board-certified dermatologist and founder of FACET Dermatology, Geeta Yadav, MD. If you suspect baking soda is irritating your skin, it, isn’t the only aluminum-free option to keep underarm odor at bay. Magnesium natural deodorants are one such alternative that dispel smells without the potentially drying, irritating side effects.
Why magnesium natural deodorants?
According to Dr. Yadav, magnesium is similar to baking soda in that it is highly alkaline—even more so than its counterpart—and it can inhibit the growth of bacteria on the skin. “Bacteria and its interaction with skin and sweat are one of the most common causes of body odor,” she told Well+Good. “In this way, magnesium can be an effective deodorizer.” By comparison, though, magnesium is generally less irritating irritating for people with dry or sensitive underarms.
“[Magnesium] is slower to absorb [into the skin]—baking soda is highly soluble in water and sweat,” says Dr. Yadav. Because magnesium is less soluble, it may be less irritating than baking soda.” One thing to keep in mind: While magnesium is potentially less irritating than baking soda, it can still cause irritation so it might be worth doing a patch test to make sure it interacts well with your skin. Dr. Yadav also recommends avoiding it immediately after shaving. “Introducing magnesium to freshly-shaved skin may heighten your risk of irritation,” she explains.
Like traditional and baking soda-based deo, magnesium natural deodorants come in all shapes and sizes, including including sticks, sprays, and creams. There’s also pure magnesium oil, which Dr. Yadav says people can use in place of a deodorant. “This may be a good route—magnesium is slow to absorb into the skin, and putting it into an oil may slow that process even further, reducing irritation,” she says. “Oils are typically nourishing, too, which can help keep skin comfortable.”
7 magnesium deodorants for sensitive pits
Each & Every, Worry-Free Natural Deodorant — $20.00
Each & Every’s natural deodorant is a fan favorite, with a 4.7-star overall rating based on more than 13,000 shoppers. The deodorant is free from baking soda, aluminum, parabens, and artificial fragrance. It features magnesium to neutralize odor-causing bacteria and tapioca starch to absorb excess sweat, plus, coconut oil to moisturize the skin. Additionally, this pick is EWG-certified and 100 percent vegan and cruelty free. It’s available in 11 dreamy scents, including two limited-edition fragrances and one fragrance-free option. As a welcome bonus, it’s sustainably packaged, too.
Most budget friendly
Schmidt’s, Sensitive Skin Stick — $8.00
At under $10, Schmidt’s Sensitive Skin Stick is a budget-friendly option that’ll get your pits smelling fresh. It’s free of potentially irritating baking soda, as well as aluminum, propylene glycol, parabens, phthalates, and artificial fragrance. What you will find in its formula are odor-neutralizing magnesium, arrowroot powder to absorb excess sweat, and a number of other moisturizing ingredients, including vitamin E, shea butter, and coconut and jojoba oil. What’s more, the deodorant is Ecocert certified, vegan, and cruelty-free. Choose from six refreshing fragrances, including Jasmine Tea (pictured above), Vanilla & Oat Milk, and Coconut & Kaolin Clay.
Best for the planet
Ethique, Botanica Floral Deodorant Stick — $13.00
This compostable deo from Ethique is ideal for those who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint. The deodorant itself is made with magnesium and zinc oxide to prevent odors caused by bacteria, moisturizing sweet almond and jojoba oil, plus bamboo powder to soak up excess oil. On top of being free of any suspect ingredients, it’s certified vegan and cruelty-free. As for fragrances, choose from the floral “Botanica” (above), the woodsy “Rustic” or the fragrance free “Minimalist”.
Prim Botanicals, Flor Oscura Deodorant Stick — $19.00
Prim Botanicals’ pretty deos are like perfumes for your pits. On top of being free from harmful chemicals or irritating ingredients (including baking soda) these magnesium-based deodorants are formulated with a boatload of emollients and extracts that nourish skin while its on. The luxe scents are just the cherry on top; “Flor Oscura” blends jasmine, bergamot, and neroli, while “Garden at Midnight” smells ike a rose bush.
Best deodorant cream
Meow Meow Tweet, Grapefruit Baking Soda Free Deodorant Cream — $14.00
With a consistency akin to “creamy cake frosting,” applying Meow Meow Tweet’s natural cream deodorant is sure to be a treat for your underarms. This certified organic and Fair-Trade formula features magnesium to neutralize odor, arrowroot powder to absorb excess moisture, and a combination of coconut and jojoba oil to keep skin conditioned—all with zero unwanted chemicals. Another thing you’ll love? The adorable container it comes in is made fully recyclable. Choose from Grapefruit (above), Lavender, or Unscented.
Best for *really* sensitive skin
Violets Are Blue, Baking Soda Free Magnesium Deodorant — $25.00
For those with highly sensitive skin, reach for this stick from Violets Are Blue. Magnesium is first on the ingredients list, meaning your underarms will receive a potent hit of its antimicrobial properties. You’ll also find coconut and sunflower oil in the ingredient list to condition the skin, while tapioca starch works to ward off sweat. There’s absolutely no baking soda, aluminum, or essential oils—three common irritants—and is vegan and free of alcohol, gluten, and soy. It only comes in a fragrance-free option, but shoppers have attested that it works just as well as scented varieties.
Best magensium oil
Life-Flo, Pure Magnesium Oil — $12.00
As Dr. Yadav suggests, pure magnesium oil will also keep sweat and stink at bay. This magnesium oil spray is a popular choice on Amazon, with many reviewers singing its praises for its ability to neutralize unwanted underarm odor. “I use magnesium oil, along with some essential oils, as deodorant. It lasts quite awhile, and works well. It absorbs fairly quickly, and keeps odor away,” one reviewer writes, with a caveat: “I wouldn’t recommend using it right after shaving, as it can sting a bit.” It comes in a handy spray format and doesn’t just make a good deodorant but can alleviate muscle aches, pains, and cramps, too.