Plastic-free deodorant

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Before I embarked on my plastic free journey, I had dozens different personal care products, because I liked to vary with different scents. But when I chose to reduce my plastic waste, I was forced to look for alternatives. One of the products I struggled with is deodorant. 

As someone wrote in reply to one of our Instagram photos: “this is a special case as everyone sweats different.” I have no scientific evidence for this, but we all know that some people sweat more than others and that the smell of it is influenced by what you eat and drink. Moreover, in certain settings (or even cultures!), smelling and visible sweat is less socially acceptable than in others. Thus, different people and different situations may require different solutions.

Although I was reluctant to change my deodorant, I have explored different alternatives. For a while I used a crystal deodorant from the brand Salt of the Earth. While this is not plastic-free because the lid (and bottom?) is made of plastic, I bought it because it is supposed to last a lot longer than mainstream products and because it was all natural, as opposed to for example Lush products (more about that below). I tried it for months, but in the end I stopped using it, because it didn’t work for me. It felt like not using deodorant. I know that it does work for others though, so I would still recommend to give it a shot.

I also tried using coconut oil and bicarb. This is a very popular plastic free solution. If you search on Google you will find different recipes, but the main ingredients are coconut oil (usually available in glass jars) and bicarb (usually available in cardboard boxes). If you are creative, you should give this a shot. It’s cheap and healthy. There are different recipes out there. This is a one by our zero-waste friend Lindsay at Treading My Own Path. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the right solution for me either. Partly because I got oil stains on my clothes from it but also because my skin didn’t like it.

In the end, I settled for a Lush deodorant bar. I used to be a big Lush fan, loved their soap bars. Honey I Washed the Kids and the Rock Star were amongst my favorites. But the Swedish book “Badskumt” totally changed my mind, as I realized that the majority of mainstream personal care products consists of chemicals that pose risks to our health and to the (aquatic) environment. So after reading this book, I did not go to Lush for several years. But… when my prolonged experiments with finding a plastic free deodorant failed, I decided to buy the Lush T’eo deodorant bar. The ingredient list is long and incomprehensible, but for now, it’s an acceptable solution for me.

Another option that I considered is going back to regular deodorant, but in a glass bottle. This one for example.

Have you tried a plastic free deodorant yet? What worked for you and what didn’t? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below and share your experience. Thank you and have a happy Plastic-Free Tuesday!

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About Author

Annemieke

In 2013, after reading yet another article about plastic soup, Annemieke started her Dutch blog Plasticminimalism where she documented her small steps towards a plastic-free life. To create more awareness about the adverse impacts of our plastic consumption, she launched Plastic-Free Tuesday in spring 2014. She strongly believes that building a better world starts by changing our own behavior. Annemieke is an environmental scientist and sinologist. She alternates living in the Netherlands, Sweden, and China while working towards her PhD dissertation about public health incidents and law in China.

3 Comments

  1. I have yet to find a plastic free deo that actually works 100% of the time. My favorite 100% plastic free deo is made by Organic Essence. It comes in a paper container, however over time the oil seems to come through the packaging. Meow, Meow Tweet makes a nice cream deo that comes in a glass jar, however the lid is plastic. The upside, it can be reused. While I like both of these products, they just don’t last all day. I liked using crystal deodorant however it only comes in a plastic applicator, and I felt like I was going through them very quickly. I started my zero waste journey by transitioning to chemical free products, however over the last 5 years I have yet to find one that I love. I’ve been both training for and hiking a lot recently and just went back to using a “normal” deodorant for those days when I know I’ll be extra sweaty. I know it isn’t the best option for me or the environment, but I can’t stand smelling myself anymore.

    • Annemieke

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Natalie! I can totally relate to it. I also work out quite a lot which makes the challenge of finding a plastic-free, chemical free deodorant even bigger. Have you tried making your own with baking soda and coconut oil? What did you think of it?

  2. I’ve just started looking for plastic free deodorant and have started with the Lush one too. I find it a bit scratchy but have started applying it with a brush which has helped and it does last all day. I did ask what the bottom was made out of, the blue but, but the SA didn’t know.

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