A Review of Nécessaire, Kosas, and Drunk Elephant Acid Deodorants
Have you heard of acid deodorants? These products have been gaining popularity lately and you’ll see them touted as alternatives to the typical aluminum-based deodorant. I tried three acid deodorants: Nécessaire, Kosas, and Drunk Elephant. What I didn’t realize is that switching to a natural deodorant would be somewhat of a process. Before we get into the review of these natural acid deodorants, let’s talk about deodorants and how they work.
Sweat and The Need for a Deodorant
Sweat cools our bodies and helps to maintain our core body temperature. A side effect of sweating is body odor. No one wants it, but it’s a natural phenomenon that is a byproduct when bacteria on the surface of our skin break down chemicals in our sweat, which is, in fact, odorless. That’s when we reach for a product to prevent odor and uncomfortable moisture, i.e. sweat, in our armpits.
Antiperspirant vs. Deodorant
A deodorant reduces odor while an antiperspirant reduces sweating and odor. The ingredient in antiperspirants that reduces sweat is aluminum which reduces the amount of sweat released by glands by blocking the pores.
There has been much debate over the effects of aluminum on the body, yet aluminum is the only active ingredient approved by the FDA to reduce sweat. Many antiperspirants also contain chemicals such as phthalates and preservatives, so it is not surprising to see the demand for more natural alternatives.
Natural deodorants are typically aluminum-free, and won’t stop the sweat, but are formulated to protect from odor by reducing bacteria or by masking the odor. Unfortunately, the switch to natural deodorants isn’t always an easy one.
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Is A Detox Necessary?
It may take a few weeks for your body to get used to a natural aluminum-free deodorant, and “detox”, so to speak, any residual aluminum that has built up in your pores. This may result in abnormal sweating and body odor. Hang in there because it should resolve in about three or four weeks.
Luckily there are some products that can help during the transition. Megababe Happy Pits Detoxifying Underarm Mask contains charcoal, glycolic acid, vitamin C, and willow bark extract to help remove toxins, exfoliate and clarify the underarm.
Natural aluminum-free deodorant have increased in popularity in recent years, but they don’t always work for everyone. I’ve tried quite a few and either I get a rash or I feel like they don’t work all that well. Enter acid deodorants.
What are Acid Deodorants and How Do They Work?
An idea was published back in 2018 in Racked.com which suggested that facial acids might be a way to treat body odor. The idea is that an acid deodorant will lower the pH of underarm skin, creating an unfriendly environment for bacteria, reducing the resulting odor. To get a clearer picture, let’s look at how the pH scale works.
How Does Skin pH Work?
The pH scale runs from acidic on one end starting at 0 and ends at the alkaline level of 14. Logically, neutral is right in the middle at 7. Our skin tends to hang out at a pH of about 5. To knock out bacteria, you can either lower your skin’s pH making it more acidic or increase your pH making your skin more alkaline.
You’ll see natural deodorants that are formulated with diluted baking soda, which increases your skin’s pH making it more alkaline. But unfortunately, this opens the door to irritation. This study suggests that a high pH might even encourage bacteria growth.
What about the opposite end of the spectrum, acids? Why not use a skincare acid instead to lower your skin’s pH making it an inhospitable environment for bacteria?
The Skincare Benefits of Acids
You may be familiar with acids for the face such a glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or lactic acid. They are some of my favorite skincare ingredients, as they sweep away dead skin cells, reveal brighter, smoother skin, and a more even texture and skin tone.
Skincare acids applied to your underarms can also help minimize ingrown hairs and hyperpigmentation. Many have experimented using skincare acids as an underarm deodorant and have had success with an option as simple as Stridex Pads. A budget-friendly skincare acid is The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toner. Please note that if you have sensitive skin, glycolic acid may cause skin irritation.
The one thing to remember is that acid deodorants are just deodorants: they treat the odor, but they don’t stop you from perspiring. So no matter how well they work to eliminate the bad scent, they won’t stop you from perspiring since they don’t contain aluminum. The good news is that in addition to acids to keep the odor at bay, many natural deodorants contain ingredients like clays and silicas to keep you dry.
My transition to natural deodorants wasn’t bad at all. The following three acid deodorants worked to neutralize odor, but some worked better than others when it came to perspiration and moisture. Luckily, it wasn’t too hot when I switched from regular to acid deodorants. It probably wouldn’t have been as easy if it were really hot and humid when I switched.
All three of these acid deodorants have one acid in common: mandelic acid. It’s an alpha-hydroxy acid, is derived from almonds, and is gentler to the skin than other acids, such as glycolic acid due to its larger molecule size.
Nécessaire The Deodorant uses multiple acids and minerals in its cream formulation to control odor. Mandelic and lactic acids help to neutralize odor. Silica, zinc, and kaolin clay work to keep you dry and absorb wetness while tea tree oil works as an anti-bacterial.
The formula’s pH level ranges from 3.5-4.5 to support the natural pH of the skin and to ensure the barrier function of the skin stays intact. This creates an optimal state for the active ingredients to go to work and to see results.
This clean deodorant is free of baking soda, aluminum, and synthetic fragrance. It is available in three scents: Fragrance-Free, Eucalyptus, and Sandalwood essential oil blends.
I tried the Eucalyptus deodorant from Nécessaire, as I love the scent of eucalyptus. The deodorant is a cream formula (see image above). As with all three deodorants that I tried, they apply to your underarm in a wet state. It takes a few minutes to dry.
The Eucalyptus fragrance is fresh and earthy and a luxurious unisex scent. This deodorant works really well for me. I still notice a little wetness throughout the day, but of all three this one works the best at keeping me dry.
The white color disappears once blended into your skin with the applicator, but a little goes a long way with this deodorant. If you apply too much, it will leave a residue. The whole application process is pretty easy and mess-free. This was the most expensive at $20 for 1.7 oz.
Drunk Elephant Sweet Pitti Deodorant Cream contains mandelic acid and absorbent arrowroot to remove odor-causing bacteria while absorbing excess moisture from the underarms. The cream is formulated with ingredients that support your skin’s barrier alongside plant oils such as marula, baobab, and mongongo seed oils.
Marula and shea butters nourish and replenish dry, dull, and irritated skin. Drunk Elephant is known for its lightweight marula oil and the use of this oil in its products. Marula oil is easily absorbed and is rich in antioxidants and omegas 6 and 9 to moisturize and nourish the skin. Sweet Pitti Deodorant cream is formulated at a skin-lowering pH of 4.0.
This deodorant cream does not contain baking soda, aluminum-derived ingredients, sulfates, silicones, essential oils, fragrance, dyes and drying alcohols and is cruelty-free.
Formulated in a twist-up tube similar to Nécessaire, Sweet Pitti (see image above) can be applied with the applicator or can be applied with the fingertips. It only needs to be applied once a day to clean dry skin. Since acids make your skin more susceptible to sensitivity from the sun, Drunk Elephant advises using sunscreen daily while using this product and for a week after stopping use.
This deodorant feels similar in texture to Nécessaire, although it does not contain fragrance. It does have a slight scent though. It reminds me of oatmeal. It’s a very light scent and I only notice it upon application. This takes a little longer to dry than Nécessaire. It works really well to control odor, but I notice more moisture under my arms than with Nécessaire. It’s to be expected, but still, it takes some getting used to. The retail price is $16 for 2 fl oz.
Kosas Chemistry Deodorant is a clean stain-free deodorant that contains a blend of alpha-hydroxy acids: shikimic acid, mandelic acid and lactic acid to soothe, soften, and nourish the skin. I’ve never heard of shikimic acid before. I discovered that although it is a lesser-known alpha-hydroxy acid, it works well to exfoliate the skin without excess irritation. Shikimic acid is extracted from Japanese Shikimi (star anise) and is also an anti-bacterial to help stop odor and increase hydration.
Mandelic acid brightens and fights against dullness while lactic acid exfoliates and seals in moisture. Pure aloe vera juice moisturizes while hyaluronic acid hydrates. It also contains a highly bioactive peptide which is skin conditioning and firms the skin.
This deodorant comes in two varieties, Serene Clean and Fragrance-Free. I tried Serene Clean and it contains a few extra ingredients that the fragrance-free version does not, including jojoba seed oil, tangerine peel oil, and some flower oils. The company describes the scent as fresh and says it smells like a spa. I would agree. A very light citrus-based scent.
This was probably the messiest to apply. It has a rollerball applicator that takes some getting used to. You need to shake the tube prior to use and squeeze to apply the serum.
It also takes some time to dry. Again, this is five stars for odor control for me, but I noticed moisture creeping in soon after applying, which is normal since it doesn’t stop you from sweating. All in all, it worked, but I’d prefer an easier applicator like the other two that I tried. This deodorant is free of aluminum baking soda, parabens, and sulfates. Vegan and cruelty-free. The retail price is $15 for 2.4 oz.
Final Thoughts on Acid Deodorants
It can be a process when switching to a natural deodorant. Everyone’s body chemistry is different, so what may work for me may not work for you. I’ve tried quite a few and I am particularly sensitive to natural deodorants that contain baking soda and coconut oil.
I’ve done really well with all three of these acid deodorants and my favorite is Nécessaire The Deodorant. It’s mess-free, keeps me odor-free, and the driest of all three.
Have you tried a natural deodorant? Which ones work for you? I’d love to hear your experience…
Thanks for reading!