It's really bad when your deodorant doesn't work. Especially if you finally have that 15 minutes with your husband. Or holding a subway pole in summer. Or getting a mammogram. Unfortunately for me, deodorant often fails my pits. Or really, I should say it's unfortunate for my husband, my fellow subway riders, and my doctor. So I dreamed up this deodorant test where five women -- with and without the BO issue I often encounter -- try out some of the common drugstore brands for a few days and record the results.
Tom’s, Secret Mineral Deodorant, Dove Ultimate Go-Fresh, Degree Invisible Solid, Secret Unscented, and Crystal Body Deodorant Roll-on were what we tested. We rated scent, effectiveness, and ingredients, and shared if it stained our clothes or not, on a scale of 1 through 5; 5 being the best.
You will not be able to turn your nose up at what we discovered. Here are the overall results.
Dove Ultimate Go-Fresh (Revive)
Dove says: The crisp, nature-inspired scents of pomegranate and lemon verbena draw you in and exhilarate your senses, leaving you with a clean, fresh feeling that lasts all day, while still providing effective 24-hour protection.
All testers loved the pomegranate and lemon verbena scent of Revive. "It was refreshing, slightly exotic, and mood-lifting, but not overpowering at all," one tester shared. As for me, I was torn. The scent was great -- yes, yes it was. But did I want to have pomegranate armpits? I'm not so sure. I kind of want to be scentless. Still, it did smell really good.
One tester said, "I wore it eight hours to work, then played hockey, and while it had worn off, it still managed to keep me dry. I still smelled a little, but not as bad as I thought I would after intense exercise and perspiration."
"This deodorant worked great at keeping me dry, sweat-free, and smelling fresh all day and night. Didn’t need to reapply," one shared.
Only minor to no stains were reported.
"Always wanting a more natural option but sadly can’t give up antiperspirant!" one tester said. "At least Dove has a lower Aluminum percentage (14.8 percent) than some other antiperspirants (18-19 percent)."
Overall ranking: Favorite by most.
"I really liked it and liked it better than the other Dove deodorants I’ve tried. I’d want to use it more to see if it really fits my criteria for day-to-day use though," one tester shared.
Another said, "Ive always been a Dove girl, and this test reaffirms how I have always felt. I did like the secret mineral deodorant, as well, but I feel like I need to give that one a little more drying time, and the Dove is more of a swipe and go formula. It protects me how I expect to be protected, and for the price, it's a total bargain."
Secret PH Balanced (Unscented, though Powder Fresh shown in photo)
Secret says: Tried and trusted. pH-balanced invisible solid formula, with odor and wetness protection.
One tester said, "Unscented is always a good thing for me because I am sensitive to strong or flowery scents."
Another said, "I feel like there was some sort of scent ... just don't know what to call it."
Mixed results here, but most felt this stopped wetness.
For many, Secret Unscented needed to be reapplied to work. "I did a one-time application and it kept me smelling fine even after I spotted a mouse in my apartment and freaked out."
It did stain, but those stains were easy to rub off.
With 19 percent aluminum (on the high side), some just wanted it to work better if it was going to have those types of ingredients.
Overall ranking: Middle of the road.
It wasn't a favorite or standout but worked okay.
Secret Mineral Deodorant
Secret says: Naturally derived odor protection. Neutralizes odor instead of masking it. Available in Fresh, Clean Scents or Unscented.
"Eucalyptus Blossom scent is nice. Not too strong," one tester shared. However, another said, "It smelled okay going on but by the end of the day it was putrid. Not meant to be mixed with sweat I guess."
One tester noted how it was very dry even going on.
"It worked fine but nothing earth-shattering," one tester commented. "Stunk after eight hours," said another.
"This was the worst in terms of staining my clothes. I couldn’t put it on without those white streaks. Big pet peeve of mine," one shared. Though a few felt it was stain-free.
One tester said, "The aluminum percentage (18 percent) isn’t as low as Dove’s (14.8 percent) and ingredients list doesn’t look any more 'natural' than the other antiperspirants’ lists."
Overall ranking: Many liked this nearly as much as Dove.
A few testers felt feel like the whole “mineral” thing is more a sales gimmick than a real benefit.
Degree Invisible Solid
Degree says: "Degree Women is responsive in emotional moments, giving you all day wetness and odor defense when you need it most. Its odor fighting capsules release fragrance when they come in contact with with perspiration, helping you smell clean and fresh even when you are sweating on the inside."
"Sheer Powder scent choked me all day. Hated it," one tester said.
Everyone agreed here.
"Degree is great at keeping you dry for hours on end; this version of it was no exception. It’s what this brand does best," commented one tester.
Stained some; didn't stain others.
The aluminum percentage (18.2 percentage) isn’t as low as Dove’s (14.8 percent).
Overall ranking: Average
Degree worked for most. A few liked it but would prefer to try it in another scent.
Crystal Body Deodorant Roll-on (Unscented)
Crystal says: Crystal-infused roll-on deodorants go on smoothly and naturally eliminate odors all day long. Choose from unscented or 3 aromatherapy-inspired fragrances.
Most testers wanted a scent. I was happy there wasn't a scent because I'd rather not smell like anything. Plus it's hypoallergenic, fragrance, and paraben free.
One said Crystal was "terrible," another said, "I feel like I could have applied water and had the same effects." As for me, it felt a little sticky when first applied but then it was fine.
Most of us felt it offered no odor protection, but there were two of us who were impressed. One shared, "I was super surprised by this because of its natural thing, but it worked like a charm, all day, without me needing to reapply. Very impressive for an organic deodorant."
Another said, "Surprisingly, I stayed stink free. Even in 80 percent humidity, even when I couldn't shower until noon the next day because of my landlord shutting the water to fix something, even when I went to the park and ran after my toddler twins. Yep, I was shocked, too."
No one could deny that it was all natural -- how could you not love that? But most of the testers wished that all naturalness worked on body odor.
Overall ranking: Most polarizing -- a favorite for two testers who will be switching (including me); most disliked by others.
Tom's says: Hops inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Sourced from castor beans and the mineral zinc, zinc ricinoleate is known to help trap odor molecules and absorb bad smells. Natural fragrance helps mask odor.
One tester liked the lavender scent, but felt it didn't work at all under the arms.
Goes on wet, feels wet, stays wet all day. No odor protection.
Tom’s hardly offered any protection from perspiration. One tester said, "Felt like a sticky swamp under my arms all day."
"Loved it's natural ingredients list. Now if only they somehow worked," said one.
Overall ranking: Most disliked.
One of the testers shared, "This test confirmed that natural deodorants I tested years back still don’t work."
Conclusions from testers:
"As an athlete, this test proved to me that roll on is NOT the way to go. I would also stay away from organic products if you're expecting to do a lot of sweating. You do not want to be more self conscious about how much of a sweaty mess you are because the deodorant you chose leaves you hanging or, even worse, smelly."
"This road test didn’t change my perception about certain things -- Tom’s, solids, the difficulty in finding deodorants that don’t stain but that do work. But it did make me realize I don’t need to be buying fancy department store Clarins deodorant to find one I like that works but doesn’t ruin my clothes. I’ll be using Crystal a lot more and Clarins a lot less -- and saving money in the process!"
"This test confirmed what I already knew -- that natural/mineral and deodorant products without antiperspirant agents do not work as well as conventional products with the necessary chemicals. I’ve used Dove products before and always liked them, and will continue to use this deodorant/antiperspirant."
"I was shocked how much I loved Crystal, and disappointed that Secret Natural Mineral wasn't as 'natural' as I thought."
Where does your deodorant stack up? Do these results make you want to try anything new?