In the world of men's deodorant, classics like Old Spice, Right Guard and Speed Stick have been joined by a slew of new deodorants, each with its own pitch to us lads. There’s AXE, introduced in the U.S. in 2002 for guys who like to smell as good as they look. Or Degree, whose just-for-men deodorant launched in 2005 as the go-to for serious athletes. In recent years, the deodorant aisle has become more crowded still with "natural" offerings from brands like Schmidt’s and Peach Not Plastic. It’s enough to cause a pubescent teen's (or grown man's) head to spin.
That's why the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute scoured the market in search of the best deodorants for men available today — just as we routinely do for women's deodorants. “Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal choice, including how much scent you want and what kind,” says Birnur Aral, Ph.D, director of the Institute's Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab. Knowing that this is a not a one-size-fits-all category, we arrived at a wide range of recommendations, including sticks, sprays, gels and creams by leveraging our expertise built up over decades covering personal care products.
Though we didn't formally test these deodorants in our Labs, our chemists and engineers regularly test deodorants for aspects including efficacy (like sweat prevention and/or odor masking) as well as formulation, including each product's texture, scent and residue and feel on skin. That means they know what makes a great deodorant or antiperspirant. For this article, consumer panelists told us what they liked about each product and our pros reviewed the ingredient lists to make these selects. Here are a dozen-plus deodorant and antiperspirant picks for men to consider:
- Clean, fresh scent
- No residue on clothes
The brand best known for its moisturizing bar soap has built up a loyal male following since launching its Men+Care grooming products in 2010. Our consumer panelists are particularly fond of the Clean Comfort line of deodorant, with its crisp, neutral fragrance and long-lasting protection. "I like the powdery scent and the fact that it doesn't leave any residue on my shirts," notes one consumer panelist. "Nothing compares to this formula," another told us. "I never have to worry about perspiring and it doesn't ruin my clothes." The drugstore staples are available virtually anywhere deodorants are sold at a competitive price, making value and convenience another part of Dove’s appeal.
- Low price
- Cool tingle
Though the market for pricey, boutique deodorants has grown ripe, you don’t have to spend top dollar for top results. That’s why we like Degree’s Intense Sport Deodorant Stick, which costs less than one dollar per ounce, without skimping on performance. “It goes on smoothly, almost feels cooling, and I like the scent,” says Michael Diakowsky, a private chef based in New York City who works long hours over a hot stove and needs a product he can count on.
- Familiar scent
There’s a reason some products become classics — they do the job, year after year, decade after decade. That’s Old Spice Classic Scent for you: It might not be the coolest deodorant on the market, but for close to a century, the familiar blue stick with its citrus and clove fragrance has fended off body odor for generations of men. As an Old Spice ad campaign from the 1960s put it, “If your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist.”
- Gel's visual cue
- Subtle scent
Gel deodorants have the wet application and visual cues that some men prefer — turn the dial and up comes the gel. Of Gillette’s version, one consumer told us that “it goes on smooth and has a subtle fragrance that's not overpowering.” The gel is also a hit on Amazon, where its nearly 7,000 reviews average out to a 4.8 star rating.
- Superb sweat protection
- Clinical strength
If you’re the kind of guy who is still sweating thirty minutes after working out, you might want to consider a clinical strength antiperspirant, such as this version from Degree. “Like all clinical strength products, it contains higher levels of the active ingredients than regular antiperspirants, so its sweat-blocking power will be that much stronger,” says Aral. As you might expect, clinical strength products tend to cost more than conventional antiperspirants.
- Clean scent, no residue
- Free of phthalates and parabens
Co-founded in 2018 by the late, great Kobe Bryant, Art of Sport is another deodorant line aimed at high-energy men who pay attention to what they put in and on their bodies. Our consumer panel likes that AOS is formulated without phthalates and parabens, but what they really applaud is the pro-grade odor protection, which AOS attributes in part to its moisture-wicking arrowroot powder. As one panelist noted of his preferred AOS Victory scent, “it’s super lightweight, smells great and doesn’t leave behind a residue.”
- Made for men and women
- Aluminum-free; Good for sensitive skin
Started in 1967 in the two-room Manhattan apartment of its eponymous founder, Mario Badescu products developed a cult following over the years. “All in all, this is a great deodorant that does the job without any irritation or overpowering scents,” noted one of our male panelists. It helps that you can find Mario Badescu readily at mass retailers, including Target and Walmart.
- Safe for sensitive skin
- Neutral fragrance
This product from Schmidt’s is made without baking soda, a common deodorant ingredient that may cause skin irritation. It’s marketed as “fragrance-free,” and we could not find any synthetic or natural fragrance compounds listed in its ingredient list, making it a “good option for those folks who are sensitive to strong odors and/or who have sensitive skin,” says Aral.
- Made from naturally sourced materials
- Pleasant scent
“Natural” is one of those marketing terms that gets bandied about a little too freely. We like that Tom’s of Maine teases out how it defines “natural” for the lay consumer in its Stewardship Model that states its commitment to naturally sourced materials and ingredient processing that supports human and environmental health. Panelists generally found the brand's scented formulations to be most effective, for example this Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Wide Stick Deodorant with a Deep Forest fragrance.
- Fights odors and sweat
- Clear formula
Tired of wearing your deodorant on your sleeve, literally? Unlike solid white deodorants, this invisible solid from Right Guard shouldn’t leave white scuff marks on dark tee-shirts and other pullovers as you’re getting dressed. The combination deodorant and anti-perspirant also delivers the one-two punch of odor-control and moisture protection, making it one of the more effective underarm products on the market.
- Excellent sweat protection
- Neutral scent
Rachel Rothman, chief technologist at the Good Housekeeping Institute, often finds herself reaching for this Mitchum deodorant from her husband’s side of the vanity. “It goes on wet and dries fast, but we really like it because of its non-offensive scent and its strong wetness protection,” she says (here’s a case where despite the "unscented” claim, the deodorant does have a slight fragrance). “I’m prone to migraines so we had to try a bunch of brands before we found one that I could tolerate.”
- Plastic-free packaging
Part of the Grove Collective, which curates more than 150 brands across a range of product categories, from personal care to pest control, Peach Not Plastic deodorant hit the market in 2020. The brand was a winner in Good Housekeeping's 2021 Sustainable Innovation Awards, thanks to its plant-based fragrances, plastic-free primary and secondary packaging, and seamless execution of its refillable cartridge design. Those virtues all apply to its deodorant, available in a variety of scents, including cedarwood eucalyptus, cucumber sage, and coconut sage.
- Whole-body protection
- Unisex formula
Creams combine the odor protection of deodorants with the spreadability of skin lotion. Billed as “the world’s first whole body deodorant,” this version from Lume, launched by an OB/GYN physician in 2017, is intended for underarm use, along with any other body parts (yep, including the private ones). The aluminum salt- and dye-free deodorant is another true unisex option in our roundup, making it a good choice for his-and-her sharing.
- Whole-body protection
- Distinctive scent
Though the brand that put body spray on the map has grown up some since its early 2000s launch, AXE’s audience still skews younger. Our experts think anyone looking to combine the effects of cologne and deodorant will be satisfied with AXE. The fresh, fruity fragrance of its Phoenix Body Spray is a particular crowd pleaser, with 1,500 plus reviews on Amazon averaging 4.5 stars.
✔️ Deodorant or antiperspirant? Deodorants are designed with special fragrance mixes which either fight the bacterial growth on our skin that causes sweat to smell bad or simply mask the malodors. Antiperspirants, on the other hand, actively prevent sweat by blocking sweat ducts with a class of aluminum-compounds, tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this specific purpose. Deodorants are typically perceived as being more “natural” than antiperspirants simply because they don’t contain aluminum salts as actives. These antiperspirant actives have gotten some bad press over the years, but our research hasn't found a definitive link between the compounds and any suspected diseases, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s. “If you’re concerned about wetness or sweat soaking through your clothing, consider an antiperspirant,” says Aral. She adds that if you’re making the switch from regular deodorant, it might take a couple weeks for the aluminum salts to fully plug your sweat ducts.
✔️ Scented or unscented? Some deodorants are all about the fragrance, while others are meant to blend into the background. It’s important to note that even deodorants that claim to be unscented might still contain some fragrance compounds designed to hide the product’s base chemical odors. It shouldn’t overpower, but you may notice it. “Unscented deodorants are generally preferred by those who don’t want their underarm product to clash with their aftershave or cologne,” says Aral.
✔️ Regular or natural? While it’s true that some underarm products contain more chemical-sounding ingredients than others, products claiming to be “all natural” or “100% natural” are most likely hyping it up. Only believe such claims if the product is certified by a reliable third party, such as ECOCERT or the Good Housekeeping Seal.