Sustainable Living: Plastic-free Deodorant

An important aspect of my lifestyle is to be environmentally conscious. I’ve been researching and testing various deodorants over the last two years and thought I’d share for those out there looking to decrease their use of single-use plastics. It is a lifestyle blog, after all! Here’s a share on a step towards a plastic-free lifestyle.

Deodorants vs. Antiperspirants

Before I dive into the different brands and my experiences, there’s an important thing I learned about this common product we use under our arms: deodorants are NOT the same as antiperspirants. Antiperspirants rely on aluminum (that’s right, metal) to prevent you from sweating.

Since folks looking for plastic free bath products are environmentally conscious, most companies use natural ingredients which are free from aluminum. Meaning they are deodorants, designed to neutralize odors, not prevent sweating. It will take a little getting used to if you sweat a lot. I work my body pretty hard (I do CrossFit!), and I had to learn to be comfortable with more sweat that I was used to.

Some major companies like Dove and Secret are selling refillable containers that offering antiperspirant options. These still rely on some plastic, so I did not try any of them myself. But they may be a good alternative if you’re not ready to commit to natural deodorant yet. Be warned, however, I’ve heard from more than one person that the refills break easily because the containers aren’t designed quite well enough to hold them.

Brands I Tried

All of the deodorants that came in tubes used the same technique – they were cardboard tubes, with a disc at the bottom that you push up to move the deodorant out of the tube. Think like an old fashion push-pup ice cream, but without the stick handle. I hope they investigate a better way to do this as it because more common because it is a hard to control mechanism. Frequently the disc didn’t move and then I’d use too much force to compensate and too much of the deodorant would stick out without a method for getting it back in the the tube. Some, as noted below, are also not well designed for smaller hands.

Native

This brand offers a variety of simple-ingredient, no aluminum deodorants, including a plastic-free version of some of their most popular scents.

  • Regular activity: Good at covering smell
  • Workouts: Medium at covering smells
  • Packaging: Shipped in minimum packaging, however the tube itself is not designed well. You have to push a cardboard piece up through the tube to move the deodorant up to use. The tube was longer than any of my fingers, and I frustratingly had to use a hairbrush to use the last quarter of the product.
  • Additional review: The plastic free version is now in Target, so you don’t contribute to climate change with individual shipping.

Lush

Lush offers powder-based deodorants. You can get them both as loose powder or as bars held together with wax.

  • Regular activity: Good at covering smell
  • Workouts: Medium at covering smells
  • Packaging: Lush has stores, so I bought mine in a brick and mortar location (no shipping packaging). The deodorant itself is completely package free.
  • Additional review: I didn’t like this one because the powder gets everywhere (you definitely have to wash your hands after applying with the bars). The bar also caused my skin to be irritated; I got little red bumps if I used on a regular basis.

Really Not Vegan

This emerging company uses beef byproduct, Tallow, to create skincare products. I loved this idea because I think our society does a poor job of using the whole animal. People will continue to eat cows, let’s make the practice more sustainable!

  • Regular activity: Works great
  • Workouts: Medium at covering smells
  • Packaging: You do need to ship it, but luckily they used no plastic in their packaging. The deodorant container itself is all cardboard (fully recyclable) and unlike some of the other brands, it’s short enough to for those of use with small fingers to push the whole stick.
  • Additional review: Tallow does have an expiration date because it is an animal product. You need to use or ditch your deodorant after 6 months.

long wknd (Formerly Habitat Botanicals)

A subsidiary of Pela (a company best known for its biodegradable phone cases – check them out!), long wknd offers a range of sustainable bath products and has some of the best range of scents for its deodorant.

  • Regular activity: Covers for a few hours
  • Workouts: Does not work at all
  • Packaging: Shipping contained no plastic. Deodorant container was all cardboard, but had similar issue to Native of being too tall for my fingers. I had to use a hair brush to push the stick towards the end.

Ethique Beauty

Ethique is 100% committed to sustainable consumerism. They offer a wide range of plastic-free bath products, plant a tree for each order, and off-set all of their staff’s travel.

  • Regular activity: Great
  • Workouts: Great during workouts. I do reapply after to ensure it continues to work for the rest of the day.
  • Packaging: Shipping contained no plastic. Deodorant container was all cardboard, and short enough to use full stick. Occasionally, it was difficult to put the lid back on because the cardboard at the top starts to wear, making the fit tighter.
  • Additional Review: I struggled originally with trying this one because the company is based in New Zealand. What does it matter if I’m not using plastic, if I’m contributing to additional pollution via shipping? However, I like their other products, so it actually decreased the number of individual shipments from different companies I was receiving because I can buy other items, and local retailers have started carrying their products so I can also buy from them instead of Ethique directly.

Meow Meow Tweet

Meow Meow Tweet is a brand of beauty and skin care products sold on EarthHero, a great place to buy sustainable items. They create small-batch deodorants both in stick and cream. I tried the stick.

  • Regular activity: Okay
  • Workouts: Okay
  • Packaging: Shipping contained no plastic, but it did feel like there was excessive amounts of packing paper. Deodorant container was all cardboard and therefore recyclable. Stick length was shorter than Native, but longer that Really Not Vegan and Ethique.
  • Additional Review: Meow Meow Tweet only offers four scents, but because they are small batches, I found they were frequently out of one or more of them. I like that it’s sold on a website I can buy other sustainable products to cut down on shipping.

Winners

For everyday and workouts, I highly recommend the Ethique deodorant. It covers the smell great, even when you’re sweating, the company is committed to sustainability, and it’s becoming more accessible so you don’t need to individually ship just your deodorant.

For unscented, I’d go with Really Not Vegan. I don’t know about you, but occasionally I do need to have unscented products (like at doctors offices or at chorus). Most of the ones I tried either didn’t have unscented options or the unscented ones didn’t work at all. Really Not Vegan did. It’s worth the individual shipping.

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