Some people perspire gently, appearing (at most) dewy after a workout or under scorching mid-August sun. I am not one of these people. This is actually fine with me; I have long since made peace with the fact that I will always look like I’m mid-marathon if the temperature rises above 60 degrees. “Are you ok?” new acquaintances often ask in alarm when they see me during the warmer months. “Don’t worry, this is my natural state,” I reply as I cover my face in napkins. “You’ll see.”
Accepting my body’s natural tendency to sweat also means ditching antiperspirants, a product category I have a history of avoiding anyway. The difference between antiperspirant and deodorant is that the former prevents you from sweating, while the latter only tackles body odor. There’s still a lot of debate over the aluminum in antiperspirants and whether it’s harmful or not. But, since I choose to perspire aggressively, I don’t need something that keeps me sweat-free; I just want to smell good.
If you’ve tried to find a natural deodorant that doesn’t suck, you know it’s not easy. Many of them don’t do much of anything other than disappoint me. (They tend to be really good at that.) Over the years, I’ve tried countless sprays, pastes, sticks, crystals, roll-ons, and balms, including the ones everyone raves about. The vast majority stop working for me after an hour of sitting around and doing nothing—I don’t even try using them for anything involving exercise or stress.
I discovered the one shining exception to the rule in 2010, after I had just been severely let down by another natural deodorant and was reconsidering all my life decisions. An intense MakeupAlley/Reddit/blog review session led me to an under-the-radar brand called Lavilin, which stocked what sounded like a total anomaly: natural deodorant that lasts up to a week. The packaging was fairly nondescript and I had to order it online, but the endless stream of glowing reviews ultimately convinced me.
I started with the cream, which is really more of a stiff paste. You have to work at it a bit to get it to spread on your skin. I recommend starting with a pea-sized amount and warming it up between your palms before applying it to your underarms. The smell is faintly herbal and it leaves a trace white cast when you first apply it. But—this is the best part—you truly don’t need to apply it daily, even if you wash it off in the shower. A single application has lasted up to a full week for me, although typically I find I need to reapply on the fourth day, particularly if I’m partaking in sweat-inducing workouts like fencing or Krav Maga.
The reason why the formula lasts so long is that it doesn’t just mask smells; it directly targets odor-causing bacteria that feast on your perspiration. “The activity of bacteria breaking down proteins and lipids on our skin is the true culprit of body odor,” says Lavilin CEO Ron Gershoni. The ingredients list combines botanical extracts, essential oils, and modified potato starch to accomplish this. “Jojoba oil and calendula extract are two of our favorite [botanicals],” he adds. “They closely mirror your natural oils, so they keep you smelling fresh without damaging the skin’s surface.”
It’s pretty near perfect, but the 72Hr Roll-On is my personal pick. The liquid formula doesn’t last quite as long (I get about 48 hours of wear time out of it), but it also doesn’t involve as much effort as the cream, which suits my laziness better. To use it, I simply swipe the rollerball on my underarms and go about my day. It smells a little like clean laundry at first, but the scent quickly dissipates, leaving blissful nothingness behind. The ingredients list is obviously different from the cream, but it’s every bit as effective. And like all of Lavilin’s deodorants, it’s completely free of aluminum and parabens—the reason why you’re probably reading this in the first place.
–I Tried the Natural Deodorant With a 13,000-Person Waitlist
–Pumpkin Spice Deodorant Is Coming for Your PSL-Loving Soul
–I Finally Found a Natural Deodorant That Works, and It Smells Incredible