What’s with all these “natural” deodorants in plastic packaging?
Four years ago, I found the perfect plastic-free deodorant solution for me. But after discussing the issue with others, I came to realize that deodorants are not one-size (or smell) fits all. We each have different body chemistries and what works great for me might leave you stinking like a cat litter box and feeling like you’ve been rubbing your pits with poison ivy. Or barbed wire. So, after discovering that my own personal plastic-free deodorant solution doesn’t work for everyone, I set out to find some other options. I wrote about several of them in my book, and since then, have discovered a few more. So, here is a whopping big list of plastic-free, all-natural deodorant solutions. Maybe one could work for you. Or maybe your favorite is not on the list. Please leave a comment below!
Plain baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) with a few drops of tea tree oil
This is my choice. It works better for me than any other store-bought deodorant I have ever tried. I keep it in a metal tea tin in my underwear drawer and apply to dry underarms with a powder puff or reusable cotton round. It works so well, I would use it even if I weren’t trying to avoid plastic. And it’s cheap, cheap, cheap. Note: I have tried the plain baking soda without the tea tree oil, and it doesn’t seem to work quite as well.
The trouble is that plain baking soda doesn’t work for everyone. I have heard reports of red rashes, burning itchy pits, and even pits turning brown. Some people cut the baking soda with cornstarch or arrowroot powder and find that it helps. Some people can’t even tolerate those alternatives. If dry deodorant powder doesn’t work for you, here are some other options:
Natural Deodorant Creams in Glass or Metal Containers
I’ve discovered several small, ethical companies offering deodorant creams that are not packaged in plastic. I’ve tried three different brands. They all smell great, and all include coconut oil, some amount of baking soda, various essential oils, and other ingredients. All of them worked for me, but none were as effective at keeping armpit smell at bay for as long as plain baking soda does for me.
BALM! Baby PITS from THinc (Taylor House Inc) comes in a glass jar with a metal lid. It smells great and feels good going on. The ingredients are: shea butter, olive oil infused with calendula & chamomile, macadamia nut oil, coconut oil, baking soda, arrow root, essential oil blend of tea tree, lavender, orange. “THE” products are made in Hawaii, and most of the ingredients come from a local, organic farm. I actually met the owners of THinc when they came to visit the SF Bay Area a few weeks ago, and I’ll be excited to write more about the company in a future post. They have a lot of great ideas about reducing waste.
Aquarian Bath Unisex Natural Deodorant Balm comes in a metal container with a metal lid. It has a more solid texture than the others because it contains Candelilla Wax. If your house is cold, rubbing the balm with your fingers will soften it up. The scent is primarily a refreshing lemongrass. The ingredients are: Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Organic Cocoa Butter, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Arrow Root Powder, Candelilla Wax, Vitamin E, and a blend of essential oils, including Ravensara (AKA clove nutmeg with action similar to Tea Tree), May Chang (lemony), Lavender, Spearmint, Lemon, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, and Lemongrass.
Chagrin Valley Coconut Silk Deodorant also comes in a metal tin with a metal lid. The company makes several different scents to choose from: Natural, Mist, Citrus Blossom, Woodland Breeze, and Summer Rain. I chose to test the one called Mist because the combination of essential oils appealed the most to me. Ingredients in Mist deodorant: Organic Virgin Coconut Oil; Organic Jojoba Oil; Organic Cornstarch; Baking Soda; Organic Beeswax. Organic essential oils: Peppermint, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Spearmint, Lime and Tea Tree.
As I mentioned, I enjoyed the scents of all three brands, and they did work for me… just not for as long as plain baking soda.
Homemade Deodorant Recipes
If you don’t want to spend money on someone else’s concoction, try making your own natural deodorant. Recipes abound across the Internet. Google is your friend. Most include combinations of coconut oil, baking soda, cornstarch or arrowroot powder, and essential oils. Here are a few from bloggers I trust:
Crunchy Betty is chock full of natural DIY cosmetic recipes, and Leslie, the author of the site, is fastidious in making sure the ingredients she recommends come from reliable sources and are not toxic or environmentally harmful in any way. The girl knows how to research. Here are a few of her posts on making your own deodorant:
- All Roads Lead to the Pits: Homemade Deodorant
- Solving the World’s Deodorant Crisis: A New Soothing Recipe
Leslie said that she recommends Tropical Traditions coconut oil, which is available in a glass jar. Other brands of coconut oil I have found in glass are Dr. Bronner’s, and Artisana, and Spectrum Organic, although it has a plastic lid. What brand of coconut oil have you found packaged in glass instead of plastic?
The Clean Bin Project is the blog of a Canadian couple who attempted to rid their lives of waste. There’s also a fun documentary about them. Jen has tried both powdered and solid forms of homemade deodorant. Here are her posts:
- Sweet Smelling and Soda-Based
- Deodorant Evolution
Mommy Footprint is the site of blogger Suzanne who is passionate about getting toxic chemicals and plastics out of her home. Here is her homemade deodorant experiment, along with information about why conventional deodorants are so bad for us.
My Healthy Green Family is another blog committed to finding ways to reduce toxic chemicals. This recipe also includes cocoa butter and beeswax. I have found beeswax in bulk bins at Whole Foods. However, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen cocoa butter in glass. Have you? If you know of a source, please leave a comment!
Vinegar: Some people swear by plain vinegar sprayed or dabbed under the armpits or vinegar mixed with essential oils. I tried it. First, I smelled like a salad, and within an hour, I had bad B.O. again. Your mileage may vary.
Vodka or Grain Alcohol: Same as vinegar only stronger. But didn’t work for me. B.O. came back in a few hours.
Lavendar Essential Oil: Some people swear by it alone or diluted. Didn’t work for me. Might for you.
Deodorant Bars: LUSH Cosmetics makes naked deodorant bars (Aromaco and T’eo) with no packaging. I have recommended them in the past; however, LUSH seems to be adding more and more toxic baddies to their products, so I can’t endorse them with as much enthusiasm as I once did.
The Crystal: Crystal deodorant stones are made from potassium or ammonium alum mineral salts. Many people love them. However, most of the ones I’ve found come packaged in plastic. How environmentally-friendly is this?
I have found one crystal stone deodorant that appears to come without plastic from The Natural Bath Company. I haven’t tried it because I tried crystal deodorants years ago and they didn’t work for me. But if they work for you, maybe check out the version from The Natural Bath Company and let us know about the packaging status. Email the company first and make sure they don’t include any plastic in the shipping box. But also, be aware that crystal deodorants do contain a form of aluminum. Read The Smart Mama’s post about them to learn more.