I’ve been a “natural” deodorant skeptic since high school, when my mom forced me to use a funky crystal deodorant stone. I’ll spare you the details but nobody wanted to sit next to me in class. I know I shouldn’t be skeptical of natural deodorants, since I review clean, eco-friendly products for a living. But let’s just say, that kind of experience sticks with you, so the bar is set pretty high.
I now know that my mom had my health in mind (thanks, Mom!), as traditional deodorants and antiperspirants can contain ingredients that are potentially harmful and irritating to our skin, such as parabens, phthalates, triclosan, aluminum, and synthetic fragrances.
But get this: Harmful chemicals aren’t the only issue here. In the U.S. alone, we throw away over 300 million plastic deodorant containers each month, the equivalent of 15 million pounds per year.
Don’t worry, I’ve got your back (and your armpits), as I recently embarked on a daring mission to try seven different plastic-free, non-toxic deodorants in seven days.
It was an arduous task, but I discovered some underarm heroes that will truly clean up your daily routine.
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My Top Pick for Clean, 24-Hour Freshness: HiBAR Fresh Rain and Cucumber Deodorant
HiBAR has taken a bold step to reduce plastic waste by packaging all of its products, including its deodorant, bar shampoo, bar conditioner, and face wash, in fully-recyclable cardboard. To date, the brand says it has saved over 5 million plastic bottles from the landfill.
HiBAR deodorant offers 24-hour protection, in 3 great scents, with nourishing plant-based ingredients that let your pits breathe a sigh of relief. Plus, it’s:
- Free from parabens, phthalate, aluminum, and irritating synthetic fragrances
- Vegan and biodegradable
- Leaping Bunny Certified (cruelty-free)
- Made in the USA, in St. Paul, Minnesota
It took the top spot on my list because of all of the above, plus it kept me odor-free, had a consistently smooth application, and has the familiar shape of a traditional deodorant.
The Runner Up: Little Seed Farm All Natural Deodorant Cream
The silver medal in my seven-day-pit-stick-marathon was grabbed by a surprising contender — and not a stick!
This hard-working formula comes in a fully recyclable glass jar with an aluminum lid. It kept me dry and totally funk-free for the duration of the test and I loved it.
But, I was still a little weirded out by the fact that I had to stick my fingers in my own armpits to apply it and the unattractive gray color due to the charcoal.
But if it weren’t for those very minor peccadillos, Little Seed Farm may have muscled out HiBAR.
Followed closely, in order of performance:
I adore this brand and use a lot of its products. Full disclosure, this deodorant was my go-to for about six months. Even though the stick is smaller than what you’re used to, it lasts a long time, and it’s a great size for travel. The only downside is that it can get dried out, which makes it a little tough to apply, but I would give it a solid B+ overall. The adorable cat drawings on the outside are a bonus.
I picked up the Eucalyptus and Fresh Mint at Target — the scent was amazing, plus the price point was good at $6.99 (most of the other deodorants I tried were over $10). It comes in a tall, skinny tube, but it glides on really well. I was a little funky at the end of the day, but this is another solid B, worth testing for a few more days.
The Apple Matcha scent was an A+. It smelled like fresh-cut green apples and a lovely, subtle cologne. I didn’t love the big chunks it left in my armpits but they ended up melting into my skin after warming up. The odor protection was effective but this is not the pick for sleeveless clothing. My husband, a reformed Old Spice addict, ended up stealing it for himself, so I consider that a win.
The Lavender and Vanilla scent was lovely and it had a really nice glide to it. It kept me odor-free for about 20 of the 24 hours — let’s just say I didn’t wake up smelling like a flower. I was a little sweaty at times but I also had some extra stressful meetings that day. I wasn’t blown away by it but I’m going to give it another shot.
Native just developed a plastic-free version of its clean deodorant, so I was excited to try it. Let’s just put it this way: I had to reapply halfway through the day and the next morning, I had to shower before going to the gym. Anything else would have been inhumane for the person on the elliptical next to me. Maybe I picked the wrong scent because Cucumber can be a little funky, but Native is a no-go for me.
I tried my best to even the playing field by including 45 minutes of daily physical activity for each deodorant in the test, but some days are just harder on our bodies than others.
We all have our own microbiomes to contend with, which can greatly impact the performance of deodorant, and this is not an exhaustive list of all of the great plastic-free options out there, so give your own test a shot.
One thing I can guarantee is that you’ll find the clean deodorant game has come a long way since the day of “the crystal.”
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