The 10 Best Effective & Plastic Free Deodorants Of 2023
You might think you’ll stink if you use a deodorant that isn’t sold in a plastic tube.
In the past that may have been true, but nowadays there are better options that actually work and smell fantastic.
That’s why I decided to write about the best plastic free deodorants out there, as well as the ecological and health benefits of swapping yours out.
Choosing to swap to a new deodorant is, unsurprisingly, a big deal for a lot of people. Who doesn’t want to smell good?
So, let me make it easy for you with this curated list:
Plastic Free Deodorant Options
- Meow Meow Tweet
- Fat And The Moon
- Butter Me Up Organics
- Sow Natural Skincare
Ethique – Top Choice
Ethique has a few different scents of deodorant like “Botanica”, “Rustic”, and “Minimalist”, all of which come in a simple but sturdy paperboard push tube, and the box they arrive in is also cardboard.
No plastic anywhere to be found!
On the topic of their packaging, one of the best things about Ethique is that they include all of their ingredients on the box, with complete transparency.
Having to look up poorly formatted lists of ingredients online is one of the most irritating things for me, personally.
And the ingredients themselves are perfect, there’s no palm oil, petrochemicals, or endocrine disrupting nonsense included; their formula is composed of things like plant oils, starches, and extracts – even the fragrance is purely essential oils.
The stick of deodorant is squishy enough to apply well, but still holds its shape so the tube doesn’t turn into a disgusting mess over time. And surprisingly, I only ever have to reapply it once per day at most to keep smelling great (and I can get pretty sweaty, I won’t lie).
So this would be my top recommendation for deodorant if you’re on the fence about which brand to try out, and I’d also recommend checking out their hair care products.
Extra Ethique Info:
- Certified B Corp
- Certified Palm Oil Free
- Leaping Bunny Member
- 2% sales to charity
Native recently came out with a plastic free version of their deodorant, which I randomly stumbled upon at a grocery store.
I always appreciated the plant based ingredients they used in their tubes, but because they only sold them in plastic I didn’t bother trying it – until now.
A lot of people love Native, and to be honest it’s probably one of the few sustainable deodorants that works and can be found in your neighborhood shops. Trust me, I’ve tried other plastic free deodorants from my local supermarket and let’s just say they tend to miss the mark in a variety of ways.
But Native doesn’t, and it’s comparable to Ethique in price and how long it lasts throughout the day, so it’s a great option especially if you don’t want to deal with shopping online.
EcoRoots has coconut, lavender, and eucalyptus mint deodorant scents to choose from, all of which come in plastic free tubes.
The sticks themselves apply easily and smoothly, without any annoying chalky bits sticking to your pits – although the push tube can be a bit wonky so be gentle when applying it.
That’s kind of a common issue like I mentioned above, where brands will come out with deodorants that are great in theory, but when you go to apply them it’s extremely disappointing.
Final thing: the formula EcoRoots uses in their deodorant is especially great for those with sensitive skin, and your pits will appreciate being rash free!
EcoRoots also has an excellent cleanser bar that I use daily!
Extra EcoRoots Info:
- 1% For The Planet Member
Etee makes a gentle, creamy citrus deodorant paste that uses zinc ricinoleate and baking soda to control odor and sweat.
Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of deodorant pastes – but I know tons of sustainability nerds who swear by them.
Here’s my advice about pastes: if you’re looking for a drier application compared to stickier tubes, and like the idea of glass packaging, try it out!
Pastes do tend to last a bit longer if you apply them correctly, which is something to keep in mind.
If you don’t want to get the paste on your hands you can either buy a wooden applicator stick or use something like a popsicle stick to scoop it out.
Etee also makes a foaming shaving soap bar that’s worked well for me lately, which is nearly unscented like I prefer.
Meow Meow Tweet
Meow Meow Tweet has five different deodorant tube scents, ranging from eucalyptus and lemon to grapefruit.
They also have pastes in jars like Etee does, as well as baking soda free versions if you want it in particular. So, they pretty much cover all the bases when it comes to plastic free deodorant varieties.
One of the best things about their tubes is how thick the paperboard is, so you won’t end up with a greasy, oily tube of deodorant after a week.
A tip for applying Meow Meow Tweet’s deo: hold the stick against your skin for a few seconds to let it warm up before spreading it around, to avoid any chance of it pilling up in your pits.
They also happen to make the best moisturizer I’ve ever used, which I tend to bring up whenever I can.
Extra Meow Meow Tweet Info:
- Certified B Corp
- Leaping Bunny Member
Fat And The Moon
Fat And The Moon is another brand making simple plant based deodorant pastes and creams.
Their deodorant is extremely basic (in a good way), only including a handful of essential ingredients – which means they’re particularly suited for those with sensitive skin.
The last place you want skin irritation is in your armpits, so if you’re super paranoid about that happening you should definitely give this one a try.
And if you want to go one step further, Fat And The Moon also makes a body powder specifically meant for reducing chafing!
If you’re a vegan you may want to try another option though, because they do add beeswax to their paste.
Attitude has a huge selection of different deodorant scents, and they also have hypoallergenic and baking soda free lines to choose from as well.
And all the different options make it incredibly easy to find the perfect deodorant for any preference, whether you need a musky scent or something a little lighter.
Baking soda deodorants often end up balling up in your pits when you get sweaty, but Attitude’s goes on smoothly and stays that way for the most part.
Attitude also makes one of my favorite sunscreen tubes, if you’re looking for some sun protection.
Extra Attitude Info:
- EWG Verified
- EcoLogo Certified
- PETA Beauty Without Bunnies Member
Butter Me Up Organics
Butter Me Up Organics has an interesting sensitive-pit deodorant cream scented with a variety of essential oils and filled with plant-based ingredients.
The only issue with their deodorants is how fast they sell out, which isn’t really an issue, if we’re being honest.
All of their products on Etsy, which cover most skincare essentials (such as their lotions), are super popular and have a loyal fan base.
Which means a lot, when it comes to deodorant, as most people aren’t very passionate about something so simple. So, if a particular item of theirs is out of stock, just poke around on their Etsy shop and you’ll probably find an alternative version!
RainwaterBotanicals has 10+ different deodorant scents, which makes it the most unique sustainable choice I’ve found.
Most brands only make a couple standard scents, which is fine, but some people are looking for rare deodorant scents to stand out with.
Of course, that isn’t the only reason I’ve included them, even if I’m a fan of exciting fragrance combinations.
Aside from the plant based formula, RainwaterBotanicals’s deodorant glides on easily without any chalky residue – another common pain point of more “natural” deodorants.
Extra RainwaterBotanicals Info:
- Etsy Star Seller
Sow Natural Skincare
Sow Natural Skincare makes four types of deodorant creams: green tea, strawberries and cream, grapefruit, and unscented.
While there are plenty of deodorant creams to choose from on this list, one of the benefits of this one is the smaller container size – if you’re looking for a travel sized deodorant that doesn’t come in a tube this is a great option.
And the scent selection is pretty varied, which makes it easy to pick out the best option for yourself, or anyone else in your life.
Sow Natural Skincare also makes some of the best moisturizers and lotions I’ve come across on Etsy, so if you like supporting small businesses and need some other skincare products, they’re a good choice.
Extra Sow Natural Skincare Info:
- Etsy Star Seller
Deodorants should drop the plastic
As I write this, the world is closing in on 8 billion human inhabitants. So, I think it’s safe to say that at least 4 billion tubes of deodorant are thrown out per year, and that’s a conservative estimate.
All of this trash sits in landfills or gets washed and tossed into the environment, wreaking havoc on wildlife everywhere.
Of course, deodorant tubes aren’t the biggest priority for most people, but I’m on a personal mission to reduce the trash I see out in the woods for good.
Even if brands claim their plastic packaging is recyclable, most recycling facilities aren’t going to accept deodorant tubes or spray cans. Aerosol cans in particular are basically impossible to recycle.
In general, plastic is difficult to recycle, so expecting facilities to handle deodorant caked plastic tubes is delusional.
Simply put: recycling anything with deodorant residue on it is expensive and rarely done.
Deodorants packaged in sustainable materials, on the other hand, make recycling much easier. And whatever can’t be recycled can usually be composted.
What harmful ingredients are found in deodorant?
Almost every deodorant you can find on a local store shelf is full of harsh chemicals, and no, it’s not just aluminum (which we’ll cover next). There are so many more chemicals used in a stick of deodorant – too many to list here.
Petrochemicals and other similar ingredients shouldn’t be anywhere near our bodies, especially in our sensitive armpits. There’s just no reason for it other than greed, as these ingredients are cheaper to produce right now, but are clearly leading to widespread systemic damage to the environment and our health over time.
Pictured below is the back of an average tube of deodorant, and I’ve highlighted a bunch of examples. As you can see, it’s really not easy at all to understand what’s inside unless you know what to look for.
These chemicals not only affect human health, they also end up being flushed into rivers and oceans when we take a shower or bath. But your skin isn’t the only thing being exposed; if you use a spray deodorant, you’re also inhaling whatever comes out of the aerosol can.
A few of these ingredients stand out from the others, but if you want a more thorough guide you should also read about other harmful chemicals in skincare products.
And, on that topic, I have a more extensive guide featuring a full list of skincare brands that don’t include any of these ingredients.
Anyways, let’s talk about aluminum and synthetic fragrances, shall we?
Why are deodorants going aluminum free?
Deodorant works by using fragrances and antimicrobial agents to hide and control body odor. Antiperspirants, a specific type of deodorant, work by physically blocking your pores from producing sweat with aluminum.
You may have heard that aluminum in deodorant causes Alzheimer’s or breast cancer. While that could be possible, there really just isn’t much conclusive evidence of it yet.
Eco friendly deodorants, on the other hand, usually use things like magnesium and zinc in their formulas. These metals are found naturally in our bodies and used for crucial bodily functions, but don’t work as well as aluminum in terms of blocking sweat.
If you suffer from hyperhidrosis or just sweat a lot, you may struggle to find a sustainable antiperspirant that blocks enough sweat for peace of mind.
Excessive sweating is a challenging medical condition, and you officially have my permission to not feel bad about using an effective antiperspirant.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to update this guide soon with a strong antiperspirant option in the future!
With that being said, aluminum mining basically involves harvesting vast amounts of bauxite ore, which is then refined into aluminum powder. These mining operations have negative effects on human health, and also physically destroy the surrounding ecosystem.
Some mines are really quite massive, and you can see them dotting the landscape on satellite images.
Aluminum is an easily recycled metal, but not when it’s put inside of our deodorant, at that point there’s no recovering it.
All of that water, fuel, and energy used seems pointless when there are deodorant options without aluminum, at least for the average amount of sweat (so, for most people).
Ah yes, another obscure but important ingredient category to cover.
When you first see “fragrance” included among the ingredients of things like deodorant, it sounds pretty innocent. Who doesn’t want to smell good?
Unfortunately, these fragrances are usually combinations of industrially produced chemicals.
Not just a few either, but over 3000 different chemicals.
Deodorant manufacturers are allowed to mix and match various chemicals under a fragrance label because they’re often considered “trade secrets” within specific industries.
So, what you may find is the ingredients you’ve actively been trying to avoid, like phthalates and parabens, are included in fragrance blends.
The FDA simply says this about fragrance labeling:
Pretty insane if you ask me.
And this doesn’t just apply to deodorants, as any skincare or cosmetic product containing fragrance blends can fall under the same regulations, and scented products are incredibly common in the beauty industry.
Even things like floss thread can be covered in synthetic fragrances!
Animal products in deodorant
To avoid animal testing and animal products, you’re going to want to use a vegan and cruelty free deodorant, and that can actually be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for.
The only non-vegan ingredients included in any of my deodorant recommendations is beeswax, but here are some others you may run across:
- Squalane or squalene (shark liver oil)
- Propolis (pollen and beeswax mixture)
- Stearin or stearic acid (animal fat)
Sustainability wise, there are some great plastic free deodorant options out there to choose from.
They work just as well as big brand deodorants for most people, without all the harsh chemicals and plastic packaging.
So, it’s a pretty easy swap to make in your everyday life, especially when you consider how much less waste you’ll contribute overall in the coming years.