No single-use plastic, no stink.

By Shannon Bauer
July 31, 2020
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You've made the sweaty, possibly smelly, aluminum-expelling switch from an antiperspirant to natural deodorant. The hard part is over! However, if you made the switch to benefit the Earth as well as your 'pits, you should know: not all-natural deodorants are eco-friendly.

If you're on a mission to live more sustainably, your next stop is to look for products that are zero-waste, a movement that aims to buy and use products in a way that sends little to no trash to landfills. (See also: The 10 Best Natural Deodorants to Combat B.O. Sans Aluminum)

While zero-waste is an admirable goal (and buzzy industry term), there are some pitfalls: mainly, that even "zero waste" products can still create waste in the ingredient sourcing and production process. This is why a more helpful (and realistic) target is a circular system. "A circular system means that products and packaging are designed to either return to nature (such as composting) or return to the industrial system, (such as packaging that is recycled or, even better, refilled)," says Mia Davis, the director of environmental and social responsibility for Credo Beauty.

The aim for zero-waste deodorants (or any zero-waste beauty products, for that matter) would be to come in a refillable package or a package that definitely can be recycled or composted (e.g. paper not coated with resins that won't break down). How ingredients are grown, harvested, mined, or manufactured is also a part of the beauty product's overall footprint, and therefore a part of the sustainability conversation, adds Davis. (Related: I Tried Creating Zero-Waste for One Week to See How Hard Being Sustainable Really Is)

You'll notice that all the zero-waste deodorants on this list are true deodorants, not antiperspirants, which block sweat glands, and fall into the natural or clean category. (What's the difference between natural and clean beauty products? Well, without an entity policing their use, their definitions are a bit murky. Generally, however, natural products use ingredients only found in nature whereas clean can be made of natural or synthetic, aka lab-derived, but must use ingredients that are safe to use or have no evidence that they're not safe to use.) It's not a coincidence that the clean/natural and eco-friendly categories tend to overlap. Many—hopefully, all—brands and customers who care about "clean" products also care about the environment, says Davis. Since it's all connected, if the methods of production are toxic or unsustainable, people or ecosystems (or both) will feel the impact. (Related: What You Should Know About Plastic-Free July)

Ahead, a round-up of the brands with the best natural, zero-waste deodorants for a more sustainable sweat. If you're already on the natural deodorant bandwagon, great; finish your current stick, then try one of these zero-waste deodorants.

Cleo Coco Deodorant Bar Zero-Waste

Cleo + Coco

There's no plastic (recycled or otherwise) in this bar of zero-waste deodorant—and the design is pretty genius, too. On the bottom of the solid stick, there's a sustainable, waste-free, recyclable wax for you to hold when you swipe the deodorant under your arms. Done with your daily application? Drop your deo in the cotton bag for safekeeping. The deodorant bar contains charcoal and bentonite clay to help absorb odor and moisture. Choose from lavender vanilla or blue tansy and sweet orange. (Related: These Blue Tansy Skin-Care Trend Is About to Blow Up Your Instagram Feed)

Type:A Natural Deodorant

Credo Beauty

The tricky part of switching to natural deo for many people is the sweat factor, as it won't block sweat glands (only aluminum-based antiperspirants can do that). Type:A wants to change that narrative with their time-release cream formulas that are sweat-activated to keep you odor-free and help with wetness. The glycerin-based formula acts like a sponge to soak up sweat and along with arrowroot powder, zinc, silver, and baking soda, which are released a little at a time to try to keep you dry and funk-free. The scents upgrade the experience as well: Consider The Dreamer (a white floral and jasmine aroma) and The Achiever (a combo of salt, juniper, and mint).

Not only do their formulas actually work, but they're also carbon-neutral, which means the company offsets any carbon emissions by taking carbon dioxide out of the environment. The brand is also a certified B-Corporation meaning they strive for the highest level of transparency and accountability. The innovative little squeeze tubes for their cream formula are made with post-consumer recycled plastics and they are working to improve the packaging to reduce their eco-footprint at the same time, according to the brand's website. So while it's not truly zero-waste, it's certainly an environmentally conscious choice.

Myro Deodorant

Myro

The beauty subscription wave has hit the deodorant market, which actually makes a lot of sense for a product you likely repurchase monthly. With Myro, you buy one chic, colorful case, and each month (or whatever your preferred frequency) they send you a recyclable deodorant pod refill, which uses 50 percent less plastic than a traditional deodorant stick. The case is refillable and dishwasher safe to keep it smelling fresh if you switch scents.

Myro's sweat and odor fighters come from barley powder, cornstarch, and glycerin. The plant-based scent options feel sophisticated and more like perfume than a deodorant. Try Solar Flare (an orange, juniper, sunflower scent) or Cabin No. 5 (a vetiver, patchouli, and geranium mix).

Buy It: Myro Deodorant, $15, amazon.com

Native Plastic-Free Deodorant

Native

Fan-favorite natural deodorant brand Native has launched a new plastic-free version. It's the same formula, but now in an eco-friendly container. The plastic-free containers are made from paperboard sourced from responsibly managed forests and are generally recyclable (just check with your local recycling rules). The new packaging is available in five popular scents, including Coconut & Vanilla, Lavender & Rose, and Cucumber & Mint. Native is also donating 1 percent of plastic-free [zero-waste?] deodorant sales to non-profits specializing in environmental stewardship. (FYI: You can also take your eco-friendly beauty routine to the next level with new just-add-water skincare.)

Meow Meow Tweet Baking Soda–Free Deodorant Cream

Ulta

Baking soda is a popular ingredient in natural deodorants as it kills odor-causing bacteria and absorbs sweat, but some people are sensitive to it. Sound familiar? Enter: Meow Meow Tweet's deodorant cream, which instead contains arrowroot powder and magnesium to help control moisture and odor. The formula also includes a blend of plant-based butters and oils, such as coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba seed oil, to soothe and hydrate the skin under your arms. Switching to a cream formula can be an adjustment, though. So, don't go big with a huge glob on day one; a jellybean-sized pearl is enough for both underarms. The baking soda-free deo is sold in lavender and grapefruit and, for less reactive pits, lavender or tea tree.

All Meow Meow Tweet products—which include skincare, shampoo bars, and sunscreen—are vegan and cruelty-free, and the coffee, coconut oil, sugar, cocoa and shea butter used in their products are all Fair Trade certified. The cream deodorants are housed in glass jars—one of the most eco-friendly packaging options available. Plus, all components of the brand's packaging are recyclable, refillable, repurposed, composted, or returned to Terracycle.

Hello Deodorant

Amazon

These naturally-derived, zero-waste deodorants use plant-based butters and waxes, such as coconut oil, rice wax, shea butter, and cocoa butter to glide on smoothly and hydrate your underarms as they stop stink. Choose from the citrusy bergamot and rosemary scent or clean and fresh ocean air (there's also fragrance-free if that's your thing), so you'll always pass the pit test.

The ocean air scent is formulated with activated charcoal. Similar to in a face mask, activated charcoal absorbs toxins from the skin. In the case of zero-waste deodorant, it has the potential to soak up bacteria (science lesson: it's the bacteria that sits on your skin that causes you to stink, not your sweat!). The tubes are made with 100 percent recycled materials and are also 100 percent recyclable so the lifecycle can continue when you're done. (Related: The Best Deodorants for Women, According to Amazon Ratings)

by Humankind Refillable Deodorant

By Humankind

The formula for by Humankind's zero-waste deodorant is entirely naturally-derived and aluminum- and paraben-free. It uses arrowroot powder and baking soda to absorb moisture and natural fragrance to keep it (and you) smelling good.

Their sustainability plan is three-tiered. First, the deodorant containers, which come in chic color options including black, gray, and neon green, are refillable. The refills are made with biodegradable paper and a small amount of #5 polypropylene plastic, which can be composted and recycled, respectively. Finally, the company is carbon neutral, offsetting its carbon footprint by investing in forest preservation projects. While you're at it, check out their other zero-waste products like biodegradable floss and cotton swabs, shampoo and conditioner bars, and mouthwash tablets.

Way of Will Natural Plastic-Free Deodorant

Way of Will

Way of Will took their popular natural deodorant and made a version with plastic-free packaging made of a paper-based alternative. The brand is also getting rid of all plastic tubes and shipping materials, like plastic bags, bubble wrap, and Styrofoam in favor of completely recyclable alternatives.

The scents are derived from essential oils, such as bergamot and peppermint, rather than artificial fragrance. And the line was created for active lifestyles, so the zero-waste deodorant contains magnesium, arrowroot powder, and essential oils to combat odor, inside and out of the gym. (Related: Do Natural Deodorants Actually Work During Sweaty Workouts?)

Ethique Eco-Friendly Deodorant Bar

Amazon

This eco-friendly, zero-waste deodorant is part of the naked movement—no, not that one—the one where products are sold without any extra packaging. The ingredients in their deodorant bars are also sustainably and ethically sourced. The completely biodegradable products leave no trace—once you use it up, the deo is gone and the paper wrapping can be composted. (See also: Your Guide On How to Make a Compost Bin)

Beyond just materials and ingredients, Ethique takes its eco-premise a step further: investing in fair trade relationships and carbon neutrality, working toward becoming climate positive (where a company offsets more than their carbon emissions).

Routine Cream Deodorant

Credo Beauty

In order to be sold at Credo Beauty, brands must comply with their recently updated Sustainable Packaging Guidelines, which require a drastic reduction in virgin plastic (plastic products must be made of at least 50 percent recycled material by 2023), and champion refillable products as a way to increase circularity, says Davis. Routine cream deodorants are sold in glass jars, which are generally considered more eco-friendly than plastic since they can be recycled or repurposed endlessly while most plastics can only be recycled once. (See also: 10 Beauty Buys on Amazon That Help Reduce Waste)

Routine has one of the widest ranges of zero-waste deodorants of this bunch with 18 different varieties on their website, including baking soda-free and vegan formulas. And if nothing else, their scent descriptions—such as The Curator, described as "eucalyptus, cocoa, and savvy intuition" or Sexy Sadie with ylang-ylang, vanilla, and cinnamon, "up past midnight, little so and so’s"—will have you adding to cart.

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