I chose the worst time to transition to a more natural deodorant: high school. In addition to fears of post-apocalyptic smells drifting out of my armpits, I was petrified of the dreaded sweat stain. Needless to say, I do not look back on the transition fondly. After years of wearing the popular soap-scented antiperspirant, I was tired of the grimy yellow moons on my white school uniform. Add to that a recent awareness of harmful chemicals in beauty products, and I was ready to kiss my standby goodbye forever.
I tried so many different natural deodorants, and they all failed me miserably. There was the one that made me smell like rotting apricots. The one that left me desperately trying to itch unnoticed in class. The one that sprayed on so cold that I had to give myself a pep talk every morning just to get it on.
The last straw was when my first boyfriend told me I smelled while watching TV in his family’s rec room. (To this day I continue to harbor the fear that I will be the one emanating the scent that everyone is hiding their noses from.) In a fit of desperation and supreme embarrassment, I dug through my mom’s drawer for anything that would help. I found a dusty, travel-sized crystal deodorant, and haven’t looked back.
I didn’t expect much the first time I skeptically wet the crystal and rubbed it under my arms. It felt like all I did was put water on my skin with a smooth rock. But I was sold when hours later there still wasn’t even the slightest whiff of BO thanks to its natural antibacterial properties.
For the uninitiated, the traditional white crystal deodorant is made purely from potassium alum, a mineral salt. The natural salts kill the odor-causing bacteria and make it difficult to for them grow in their favorite places—warm, damp underarms. Instead of masking sweat and blocking its flow like traditional antiperspirants made with aluminum-based compounds, the crystal simply neutralizes the odor.
While the most popular and easy to find crystal deodorant is from the Crystal brand (get it for $6.75 on amazon.com), other brands like Thai and Evolution Salt Co. also sell it. You can also find deodorants made from carved Himalayan sea salt on Etsy.
Here are 10—yes, 10!—reasons it’s the best deodorant I’ve ever used.