The best deodorants, according to personal trainers

Nicole Saunders, CNN Underscored
Fri May 22, 2020

Whether you're committed to your early morning runs, spinning in your apartment, or binge-watching "Ozark" from your bedroom, keeping body odor in check is something that we can all appreciate, even if we're self-isolating all alone during the pandemic. Thankfully, deodorants and antiperspirants can keep us smelling fresh.

"Deodorant protects against odor, but they do not decrease perspiration, while antiperspirants control sweat, which in turn also helps control odor," explains dermatologist Dr. David Bank, founder and director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Westchester, New York. "Sweat in and of itself doesn't have an odor, but the bacteria that thrives in these areas is what contributes to the odor. Deodorants can neutralize these smells with ingredients that make the area more acidic, hence hostile, to the bacteria."

If you don't sweat a ton, Banks recommends looking for so-called natural deodorants that have baking soda, cornstarch and essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus, rather than aluminum. If you need more sweat protection, then swipe on an antiperspirant with aluminum to temporarily block sweat glands.

Banks favors stick deodorants over sprays, sticks, gels and wipes, because "sticks tend to be more moisturizing while offering full coverage of the area. Sprays can provide a nice burst of fragrance, but they are more likely to dry out the skin."

And as with so many products out there, it's all about finding one that works for you. "The most effective deodorant is one that leaves you feeling comfortable and confident again, a highly personal decision," he advises. "A deodorant or antiperspirant that works for one person might not be right for another."

Ahead, 25 certified personal trainers in both North and South America share the deodorants they can't live without while working out at home and training their clients.

Native Deodorant ($11.97, originally $15; amazon.com or $11.99; target.com)

Native Deodorant

When Hollywood stars like Keanu Reeves, Zac Efron and Alexandra Daddario want to achieve their personal health and fitness goals, they rely on Patrick Murphy of Murphy Fitness. So, when he told us that he's a fan of Native deodorant, we were intrigued.

"Deodorants typically contain aluminum and parabens, which I want to avoid, so my go-to has been Native, which has ingredients that you could actually eat," he says. "I sometimes work 10-hour days, so it's pretty amazing that this deodorant can handle that, and keep me smelling fresh all the way up to that last client."

Autumn Calabrese, who launched her fitness and lifestyle podcast "Let's Do Life" last month, also relies on this coconut and vanilla deodorant. She calls it "by far the best I've found on the market to date" because it helps to neutralize odor and the scent reminds her of the summer.

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Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant ($22; amazon.com)

Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant

Rhys Athayde, chief experience officer and founding trainer of Dogpound, prefers roll-ons over sprays for everyday use. "Healthy ingredients are essential for healthy skin, and healthy skin is essential for healthy living," he says. He likes Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus deodorant "because it has fewer chemicals and a wonderful natural scent."

Charlee Atkins, New York City-based personal trainer and founder of Le Sweat, also uses this deodorant when she's not working out, noting that she "really likes the applicator and scent."

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Axe Phoenix Antiperspirant Deodorant Stick ($3.89; target.com or $14.74, originally $16.99 for a pack of four; amazon.com)

Axe Phoenix Antiperspirant Deodorant Stick

If the name Axe gives you flashbacks to middle school PE classes, then you'll be relieved to know that the company has leveled up its product offering.

"Axe is a great mid-range product with a great selection that lasts a long time. Also, it doesn't stain my clothes after a long day," Athayde says.

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Speed Stick Ocean Surf ($3.79; target.com or $9.98 for a pack of four; amazon.com)

Speed Stick Ocean Surf

Recently, Athayde has been grabbing Speed Stick's Ocean Surf. "It's cheap, but you get a lot for what you pay for, and you can find them almost anywhere, which makes it the most convenient," he tells us. "If I'm feeling good and smelling good, I feel confident and ready to go even harder."

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Degree Motionsense Ultra Clear ($4.29; target.com)

Degree Motionsense Ultra Clear

"I don't mess with success when it comes to deodorant," says Andrea Marcellus, fitness expert, author and CEO of the AND/life mobile app. "Body confidence for me is now a result of Degree Motionsense Ultraclear. The scent is awesome because it gives me a little smile in the morning when I put it on, and then it goes away — which is essential as a fitness pro. I can do a variety of exercises from yoga and Pilates moves to functional moves like squats and lunges while wearing this deodorant."

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Dove Dry Spray, Clear Tone ($5.99; target.com)

Dove Dry Spray, Clear Tone

"The first thing I look for in deodorant is protection. I tried to go the natural deodorant route but after three months they all seem to lose their staying power," says Joanna Castro, a coach at Body Space Fitness in New York. The kettlebell instructor returned to her old standby: Dove Dry Spray, Clear Tone, a fresh-smelling drugstore option, because "it's light, non-overbearing and it protects."

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Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Deodorant ($29; sephora.com)

Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Deodorant

When Lacey Stone, a certified personal trainer and health and wellness expert in Los Angeles, isn't powering through high-intensity interval training, she wears this gentle roll-on with top notes of lily of the valley, Moroccan jasmine and bergamot.

"For a night out — remember those? — my go to is Donna Karan Cashmere Mist. It almost feels like skincare and the scent is amazing," she tells us.

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Old Spice Krakengard ($4.97; amazon.com or $6.49; walgreens.com)

Old Spice Krakengard

Mike Curry, a certified personal trainer in Los Angeles and founder of StrongBoard Balance, relies on the stick deodorant while powering through his 45- to 60-minute circuit workouts.

"My favorite deodorant is probably Old Spice Krakengard. I love that it keeps me smelling fresh even after an intense workout," he says of the aluminum-free stick.

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Humble Deodorant ($11.99; amazon.com)

Humble Deodorant

"From Moroccan rose to palo santo, I have yet to meet someone who doesn't like one of [Humble's] scents," says Amy Rosoff Davis, a celebrity trainer and health and wellness coach in Los Angeles. She appreciates that the roll-on has only a handful of ingredients including beeswax, cornstarch, baking soda, coconut oil and essential oils.

"It's nice to know exactly what you are putting on," she adds. "Although, you may want to reapply once a day, but it's a great choice for the active wellness warrior who likes earthy scents."

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Corpus Natural Deodorant ($22; goop.com)

Corpus Natural Deodorant

"This plant-based deodorant may need reapplication before and after a sweat session, but with scents that range from bergamot to rose to cedar to sandalwood, you are bound to feel elegant when wearing it," says Rosoff Davis, who trains Taylor Schilling, Katie Lowes, Olivia Holt and Selena Gomez. The baking soda-free and certified organic deodorant is manufactured in the US.

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Agent Nateur Holi(Stick) Deodorant ($20.98; amazon.com)

Agent Nateur Holi(Stick) Deodorant

"Their Holi(Stick) No. 3 with French lavender and eucalyptus, and their Shiva Rose with sandalwood both smell divine and are very effective," says Rosoff Davis. "This brand lasts all day — even after a sweat session — and has a very clean application. These are great for anyone and yield a clean refined smell; the No. 3 is unisex and the Shiva Rose smells feminine."

Avocado and sunflower butters plus castor and coconut oils are formulated to hydrate your underarm area without leaving marks on your clothes.

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Curie All-Natural Deodorant Spray ($16; amazon.com)

Curie All-Natural Deodorant Spray

Rosoff Davis, whose signature workout is a combination of yoga, Pilates and cardio, is a fan of Curie, which comes in both a non-aerosol spray and stick form. She calls the three fragrances — grapefruit, orange neroli and white tea — "great for sweat and activity with a clean sweet smell. The materials are sustainably sourced, it has recycled packaging, and there's a subscription service to make it easy on your smell needs."

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Kopari Aluminum-Free Deodorant ($14; amazon.com)

Kopari Aluminum-Free Deodorant

Both Dani Coleman, P.volve ​lead trainer in Los Angeles, and Rosoff Davis are fans of this nonirritating, baking soda- and aluminum-free deodorant from Kopari. "My favorite thing about this deodorant is that it glides on clear and makes getting in and out of tight activewear tops easy without any evidence of white marks," says Coleman.

"This brand is great for anyone who likes a hydrating formula that smells like the beach," adds Rosoff Davis. Just be sure to reapply the plant-based deodorant after a vigorous sweat session, she advises.

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Tom's of Maine Long-Lasting Natural Deodorant ($4.89; target.com or $14.52 for pack of three; amazon.com)

Tom's of Maine Long-Lasting Natural Deodorant

"It's light and super refreshing while also being aluminum- and preservative-free," says Zachary Morris, P.volve master trainer. "It's important as a trainer to have long-lasting deodorants because we teach and take multiple classes throughout the day."

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Secret Fresh Clear Gel Antiperspirant & Deodorant in Luxe Lavender ($4.99; target.com)

Secret Fresh Clear Gel Antiperspirant & Deodorant in Luxe Lavender

"I've found that an antiperspirant and deodorant combination will fight sweat and odor while lasting through the toughest workouts," says Holly Roser, owner of Holly Roser Fitness in San Mateo, California. "This deodorant smells great, and will last through all of my long runs or HIIT workouts and even last through my post workout Target run or a quick brunch after."

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Pacifica Deodorant Wipes ($8.87; amazon.com or $8.99; target.com)

Pacifica Deodorant Wipes

If you're biking, running or enjoying any type of cardio outdoors, then Roser suggests you use these cruelty-free, aluminum-free and vegan-friendly wipes. A blend of essential oils helps neutralize odors, and the wipes can provide a cleanup on the go when there's no shower available.

"This is a good choice if you're not a huge sweater as it doesn't have the antiperspirant to seriously stop sweat," Roser says.

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Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant, Rose Petals ($4.89; target.com)

Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant, Rose Petals

"Outside of accessibility, if I'm in a tight top, the antiperspirant helps to control my sweat and lets me lift my arms up and move my body freely with confidence," says Coleman. "For someone with sensitive skin, this deodorant doesn't irritate me at all and smells great."

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Bravo Sierra Deodorant ($9.50; bravosierra.com)

Bravo Sierra Deodorant

Shaun Jenkins, a trainer at Tone House, a sports conditioning workout studio in New York City, is all about clean-smelling deodorants that don't skimp on performance while he's teaching or running.

"No one wants to look messy when training — sweaty yes, but never messy," he says. "I love Bravo Sierra deodorant because it's all-natural, long-lasting, and it doesn't leave residue or stain my clothes. As a trainer at Tone House and consistent runner, I'm constantly on the move so it's important to me to not only smell good but look good while training."

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Secret Clinical Strength ($11.92, originally $16.70; amazon.com)

Secret Clinical Strength

Maddy Ciccone, fitness expert and SoulCycle instructor, teaches two or three classes a day on top of her daily cross-training workouts, so she needs a deodorant as tough as she is to keep her dry all day long. "My favorite deodorant I use right now that is an absolute godsend is Secret Clinical Strength. It has been the most powerful when it comes to the length of wear and sweat-wicking," she says.

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Dove Men+Care Clean Comfort Antiperspirant Deodorant ($4.89; target.com)

Dove Men+Care Clean Comfort Antiperspirant Deodorant

Jason Antin, a fitness expert, mountain performance coach, technical climbing guide and Merrell athlete, looks for a nonirritating mild antiperspirant with a low-key scent that keeps him "smelling approachable, but not overbearing during exercise."

"I've been using Dove brand products for a few years now. The clean, nonmarking stick allows me to smell fresh without sending out an overpowering cologne-like stench and doesn't mark up some of the more form-fitting clothing I wear while training," he says.

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Megababe Rosy Pits Daily Deodorant ($13.99; target.com)

Megababe Rosy Pits Daily Deodorant

"I am sweating so much throughout my day with classes and private sessions that I want to be sure I am using clean ingredients as much as I can," says Megan Roup, personal trainer to models Kate Bock and Devon Windsor and founder of The Sculpt Society. "I love Megababe Rosy Pits because it's a clean deodorant and smells great."

Underarms stay fresh thanks to the combination of green tea and sage. And get ready to say goodbye to white marks on dark clothes — the deodorant glides on clear.

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Ursa Major Hoppin' Fresh Deodorant ($18; amazon.com)

Ursa Major Hoppin' Fresh Deodorant

"Whether I'm running or doing any other type of fitness, my favorite deodorant right now is Ursa Major Hoppin' Fresh Deodorant," says Kristine Thomason, senior health editor at mindbodygreen. "It uses natural ingredients like eucalyptus and mentha oil which create a cooling sensation that's really refreshing during workouts. Plus, as someone with sensitive skin, I can be really particular about deodorant — but this one isn't at all irritating, and leaves me feeling amazing all day long."

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.