low-waste deoderant guide

Phew, I stink, I think to myself as my arms fly back up in the air, modeling the pilates instructor’s movements, thank god this is a virtual class.

BO. We all have it—some of us worse than others. And while it’s totally natural to work up a sweat and stench, I think we can all agree finding a great deodorant is something that stands to benefit us all. With summer upon us, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your deodorant and find a product that loves your pits & the planet.

The deodorant and antiperspirant options at my local CVS span a whole five feet of shelf. You’ve got your sprays, sticks, gels, etc. And yet, even with all the different colors, branded packaging, and catchy buzzwords, these products aren’t all that different from one another. Major manufacturers rely on many of the same types of ingredients, using clever marketing to differentiate from others. Deodorants, intended to cover up our natural odors, often contain phthalates (perfumes & scents) and parabens (preservatives), substances known to mess with the body’s natural hormone levels. And aluminum, commonly found in antiperspirants that stop the body from producing sweat, have shown potential links to Alzheimer’s Disease and Breast Cancer.  

On top of their health risks, conventional deodorants and antiperspirants use a huge amount of plastic to produce. Although most deodorants and antiperspirants are recyclable, they often “contain more than one type of plastic”. This means in order to be properly recycled, you’ll need to take apart your old container, note the different recycling types by their numbers, and check with your local recycling services to see if they’re accepted. If they’re not, all that plastic goes to landfill. 

Now, it’s not surprise that zero-waste and chemical-free options have not necessarily reached the Walgreens of the world. In fact, with few exceptions, these brands rarely advertised on streaming platforms and unless you have some sustainably savvy friends, you probably won’t cross their websites or social media. But if you are able to pay a little more and willing to experiment with a new deoderant, here are some plastic-alternatives worth exploring:  

PAPER – $14 @ Meow Meow Tweet

My favorite deodorant option, Meow Meow Tweet’s plastic-free deodorant stick is a pretty natural swap for most users. Their deodorant stick features hard, cardboard wrapping around a soft, but solid, deodorant stick. When you’re done, just recycle the packaging and toss any product residue. My only word of caution with this stick comes at the end of its life. I spent weeks using up the little leftover nub of deodorant that refused to stay in its container. I didn’t love using my hand to apply the product but it was a minor hiccup in an overall flawless product. Nowadays, Meow Meow Tweet is so popular, you can find this brand at Target, Ulta, as well as your local health food stores.

CREAM – $14 @ Sustainyoself

Don’t mind touching your pits? Deodorant cream could be your perfect mate. Deodorant cream tends to have a frosting-like consistency that applies just like thick body lotion. As a product, deodorant cream is very similar to a solid stick. However, in my personal use, I noticed cream tends to be more prone to melting and a little bit of a mess. This particular cream from Sustainyoself is really nice smelling and offers pretty good all-day smell control—although I will say I’ve found sticks to be a little more effective. 

REFILLABLE – $12 @ byHumankind

If you’re tentative to make the switch to a paper or cream deodorant, this product from byHumankind could be your gateway drug. Featuring hard, plastic packaging, byHumankind’s deodorant solution is very similar to a generic tube. But instead of tossing that plastic after the deoderant is gone, byHumankind allows you to order a replacement stick that you plop right where the old tube was. Whether you opt for their fresh Eauclytis or warm Rosemary Mint, this low-waste product is a step in the right direction. 

DIY – ‘FREE’ 

With all this extra time at home, maybe you want to dive in and make your own DIY deodorant? More power to ya! The blog Simple Green Smoothies uses four ingredients—essential oils, baking soda, arrowroot, and coconut oil—to make their five-star recipe. You can store your DIY mixture in an old lotion container or even spare Tupperware. Making your own product also allows you to tailor your deodorant if you have allergies or a strong preference regarding scent. 

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