There's a whiff of skepticism about whether eco-ingredients can really take care of your underarm issues. We asked the experts for the lowdown.

Q: Do natural deodorants stop sweat?
A. Eh...not really. In standard antiperspirants, aluminum plugs up glands to stop the drip, but it's missing from natural deodorants. However, you can find products, like those from Schmidt's or Kaia Naturals, that contain activated charcoal. This ingredient can help absorb some moisture, says Paris Kharbat, a functional-medicine physician at the Cleveland Clinic. Clay may also sop up wetness.

Q. What about odor?
A. Here, again, aluminum is conventional deodorant's main defense. By keeping skin dry, it creates an unappealing environment for bacteria, explains Dee Anna Glaser, MD, a dermatologist at St. Louis University. And few natural ingredients are as effective at dampness control as aluminum. Instead, some natural products contain baking soda to help neutralize odors; others have their own (pleasant!) fragrance.

Q. Are natural deodorants a healthier choice?
A. The American Cancer Society has determined that there is no link between aluminum and breast cancer. Then again, "it's a difficult task to work out what these chemicals do when mixed together and when a woman puts them on her body every day," says Philippa Darbre, PhD, a biochemist at the University of Reading in the UK. She stopped using antiperspirant 20 years ago, she says, and "no one walking into my office has yet complained."


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