The global deodorant industry is estimated to be worth US$30 billion by 2026. The vast majority of that huge market is made up of plastic, single-use products that are destined to end up in landfill.
That stinks. But you know what smells good? The fact we’re swamped with an ever-growing selection of less waste-producing alternatives. Of course, shopping with the planet in mind shouldn’t leave you feeling sweaty, sticky and stinky; no one wants to choose between quality and values.
Here are our picks of the best environmentally friendly deodorants for all skin types, which actually work.
First a disclaimer: natural deodorants are different to the standard antiperspirants from the supermarket. They target odour not moisture, so they let your body sweat but keep you smelling great.
When switching to a natural deodorant, there will be a transition period where your body adjusts to the new formula. This can take up to three weeks for some people, so be patient. To make the transition easier (and better smelling), you can use a charcoal soap, like Exposed Naturals’s detoxifying soap bar, and try to stick to natural fabrics, like odour-resistant merino wool.
RIISE features writer Courtney has had some bad experiences with natural deodorants in the past. With sensitive skin, she’s struggled with different products leaving her feeling dry, red or breaking out in rashes. So she was initially apprehensive when Exposed Naturals arrived on her doorstep. But her hesitations were soothed by the lemongrass and coconut blend, and the plastic-free tin packaging.
One common deterrent of natural deodorant is that it often comes in a balm that needs to be applied with your fingers. But Courtney, like all the RIISE staff trying this for the first time, soon adjusted and wasn’t bothered by the experience. In fact, she found the coconut to be particularly soothing for her sensitive skin. No dryness, no redness and no smell.
Apprehension turned to admiration: Exposed Naturals helped convert Courtney to natural deodorants.
Like many shoppers looking into natural deodorants, editorial assistant Katelin had heard horror stories of natural deodorants and she was openly skeptical about using them herself. But she agreed to commit to a two-week trial of ASUVI’s reusable deodorant (its recommended time to adjust to natural deodorant) before jumping to any conclusions. It also didn’t hurt that she liked how its classy and simple packaging looked on her bathroom shelf.
ASUVI’s deodorant comes in a plastic cylinder which houses biodegradable refills. The refills are available in a range of scents; Katelin’s favourites are Palm Grove and Aqua + Earth. Natural deodorant can sometimes smell like a whole forest in your nasal cavity, but ASUVI scents aren’t overpowering. They’re also fantastic for sensitive skin.
Katelin’s promised two-week trial period finished weeks ago, and she’s still loving ASUVI.
Pits of Joy
E-commerce manager Julia is firmly opposed to any deodorant that you have to apply with your fingers (a common stance). So when the Pits of Joy sample she received came in a cute reusable glass jar – useful for upcycling or recycling but a little messy to use – she wasn’t so sure about it.
To her surprise, she found Pits of Joy had a smooth consistency, didn’t stick to her fingers when applying and didn’t rub off on her clothes. Whether she was playing sport, walking or working, Julia stayed smelling great. Pits of Joy comes in three fragrances, including fragrance-free, which doesn’t clash with a scented skincare routine or leave you smelling like a candy jar.
Wendy, RIISE’s editor-in-chief, had used many natural deodorants with mixed results over the years, before landing on one she quite liked. But she was willing to try My Shay deodorant for a period, before reverting back to her usual. Her first reaction was that My Shay smells amazing – like a grandparent’s bathroom cabinet, but in a good way. The refillable screw-top tins and little spreading stick make the application process clean, without spreading deodorant all over your bathroom first, and your pits second.
Wendy did acknowledge that sometimes you need to compromise a little for the environment, noting that no natural product is ever going to totally match up with whatever “dry blue ice turbo sports performance” stick you buy from the pharmacy. Whilst My Shay wasn’t sweat free – as no natural deodorant will be – Wendy was never noticeably sweaty and never smelt bad, which is sort of the key characteristic of natural deodorant. Sweat but no stink, all while smelling great.
Wendy’s story is different from most of the RIISE staff: this trial didn’t convert her to using natural deodorants – she already was – but she loved My Shay so much it’s become her regular.
I personally reviewed Woohoo deodorant sticks. I love social cycling trips with intermittent coffee stops. So I need a deodorant that lets me work hard, and walk into a cafe without becoming the smelly centre of attention. But sport and natural deodorant seemed like a tricky combo. I’ve always used chemical-filled antiperspirants – the kind you learn to spray in a grade eight locker room after PE class – because I considered them the only solution.
I was excited to try Woohoo after learning it is plastic negative, donates one per cent of profits to the planet and claims to work “even for the sweatiest of us”. I loved the biodegradable cardboard stick, allowing me to apply Woohoo without getting my hands dirty. And Woohoo lived up to the name: it was exactly my response to walking into a cafe, confident I didn’t stink, after a hard cycling trip.
The Tux extra strength stick – smelling of bergamot and patchouli – is the perfect blend of sophisticated and natural, and it is aptly named: I would actually wear it to a black-tie event.
Woohoo that I’ve found another way.
RIISE’s head of audience growth, Hana, considers herself a sweater, so she signed up to trial natural deodorant expecting a wild ride. How would she cope adapting from the aluminium-filled, extra-clinical-strength antiperspirant? A name like “No Pong” establishes high expectations. Hana also hates smelling like deodorant, so No Pong’s fragrance-free tins were perfect for her. It doesn’t stain clothes and is available in a range of bicarb-free fragrances. But how did it hold up when the weather turned warm? Would Hana purchase No Pong again?
“I would! I’m still getting used to sweating but not smelling, but I think I’m almost a natural deodorant convert.”
Overall RIISE staff were entirely, and surprisingly, won over by these natural deodorant brands.
Whatever your skin type, you can lift your arms up with confidence, knowing you smell great, and you’re helping the planet.