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I’ve Never Found a Natural Deodorant that Works, But This One Keeps Me Smelling Fresh for HOURS—Even After Hot Yoga

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Alexa, play “Miracles Happen.”

Historically speaking, my armpits and I have laughed in the face of natural deodorants. I’m not a glistener, I’m a sweater, and have the pit-stained t-shirts to prove it. Whether I’m in a gentle yoga class, walking around on a 30-degree day, or just stressed out sitting at my desk, you better believe I’m drenched. And lest you think I’m at least one of those lucky people who can sweat without stinking, nope! After a few hours, I smell worse than New York City on Trash Day.

All of this is to say that if an underarm product didn’t come packed with antiperspirant, it wasn’t for me. So when a friend passed along a tube of AKT’s Aluminum-Free Deodorant Balm ($26) and promised that it would work on even the sweatiest and stinkiest pits, I nodded my head knowing full well that there wasn’t a chance in hell it was true.

But after looking at the chic on my vanity for a few days, I couldn’t resist—I had to know if this natural deodorant was the one in a billion that might actually work for me. And reader, let me tell you: I swiped this stuff under my arms for the first time six weeks ago, and I’m not exaggerating when I say my life will never be the same.



AKT, Deodorant Balm — $26.10

Pros:

  • Aluminum-free
  • Reduces sweat and smell for up to 24 hours
  • Can be used all over your body
  • Comes in five perfume-worthy scents, derived from essential oils: Columbia Road (amber/violet/tonka), Orange Grove (petitgrain/mandarin/neroli), After Thunder (cedar/eucalyptus/orange), Onsen (vetiver/lavender/yuzu), and Halcyon Summers (mint/palmetto/tomato vine)
  • Nourishes skin without causing irritation

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • There’s a slight learning curve with application

The story behind AKT

Deodorants come in all shapes and sizes—sticks, rollers, sprays, creams—but this balm is in a category all its own, which makes sense given its origin story.

AKT was created by two West End actors, Ed Currie and Andy Coxon, who struggled to find a product that would help them stop sweating on stage. They spent three years playing around in their kitchen, working with formulators, and talking to fragrance pros, and the result is the creamy formula I now can’t live without.

What makes it so special is the fact that it can be used anywhere you could possibly sweat—under your arms, sure, but also on your hairline, your feet, and that pesky swamp ass-prone area where your butt meets your thigh.  Because the balm comes out of the tube, you can use your hands to apply it all over and not have to worry about transferring bacteria from one part of your body to another the way you would with a stick.

All of this is super helpful for actors, who need their makeup to stay in place (and would ideally like to avoid sweat stains) under hot stage lights. With that in mind, the product has become a hot commodity in Hollywood (according to the brand, it was a must-have on the set of Saltburn), a must-have for dancers on some of the biggest tours in America (ahem, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift), and an all-time favorite for one very sweaty NYC beauty editor.

What’s in AKT Deodorant Balm

Before we get into what the product does have, let’s talk about what it doesn’t—namely, aluminum. While the claims that aluminum causes cancer have been largely debunked (according to The American Cancer Society, “At this point, there is no clear link between antiperspirants containing aluminum and breast cancer.”), there are still plenty of other reasons to leave it out of your armpit routine.

Aluminum is the key ingredient in all antiperspirant products and works by forming temporary plugs in your sweat ducts to stop you from sweating. While this can be helpful for keeping your pits dry, it can also leave them more prone to irritation. What’s more, aluminum is responsible for turning the sweat stains on your clothes that nasty yellow color, which—as I know from experience—sucks.

Unlike antiperspirants, deodorants don’t do any of this. Their main job isn’t to stop the sweat, but rather to make your pits smell nice while they sweat—which is why they don’t have any aluminum, and why they’ve never worked for this sweaty gal right here. But AKT takes a whole different approach to keeping your underarms dry and stench-free. It employs the ultra-absorptive properties of diatomaceous earth and arrowroot, two natural compounds that soak up a sweat before it leaves your pores.

To understand how the formula stops the smell, it’s important to know that sweat on its own is odorless—it only starts to stink when it interacts with the bacteria on your skin. To combat this, AKT uses two ingredients: Zinc oxide, which offers antibacterial properties to inhibit the growth of bacteria on your skin; and sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda), which neutralizes the acidic compounds produced by bacteria and balances the pH of your skin.

As if finding a natural deodorant that actually works wasn’t enough, this one also has some notable skin-care benefits. It contains vitamin E, shea butter, and calendula, which help soften the skin and prevent post-shave irritation.

And one more thing: The scents! They’re made from natural botanicals and essential oils and are luxe to the point that they’re practically perfume in deodorant form. I’ve been using the mandarin-and-neroli scented Orange Grove, but have all four other fragrances waiting in the wings and can’t decide which one I love the most.

Why I love the AKT deodorant balm

@zoeweinerrr

I found the only deodorant (not antiperspirant!!!!) that has EVER worked for me 🤯

♬ original sound – Zoe Weiner

It’s been six weeks since the AKT Deodorant Balm entered my life, and I haven’t touched my trusty antiperspirant since—it’s not often that I can say I’m blown away by a beauty product, but in this case, it’s true.

I’ve worn it every day, but most notably for 9 marathon hours of wedding dress shopping, during a week-long beach vacation, and one super-sweaty hot yoga class. Typically, these types of experiences would leave me re-applying my antiperspirant every few hours, but AKT stood up to every test I’ve put it through—I mean it when I say I haven’t sweat a single drop or caught a subtle whiff of my own B.O. (yup, even after hot yoga).

And the craziest part? On the two recent days that I forgot to put on deodorant, I still somehow found myself smelling better than usual. I want to say it’s sorcery, but it’s more likely because the deodorant does such a good job of keeping my pits bacteria-free that they no longer smell on my own.

I’ll admit that the balm felt a little weird the first few times I applied it, but I’ve actually come to enjoy this delivery system. Putting on my D.O. now feels like an extra step in my skin-care routine, and there’s a nice little self-care moment that comes along with massaging your armpits every morning the same way you would if you were applying lotion to the rest of your body. If this sounds as terrible to you as it initially did to me, not to worry—the brand sells a gua sha-inspired applicator that provides the added bonus of a lymphatic drainage massage. There’s also a $14 “assistant,” which locks onto the end of the tube to help dispense the product, and that I’d say is totally worth it.

Thanks to AKT Deodorant Balm, I have officially exited my sweaty girl era—and I can’t say I’m sad to see it go.