It’s hot out, you’re sweating half the time, and you’re likely using some form of deodorant to keep odours at bay. While the world of clean beauty has always been about being friendly to our bodies and the environment in all the products we apply and consume — one step ahead of the charge was the case for natural deodorant.
The shift to natural deodorant was more motivated health concerns than eco-consciousness: Traditional deodorants and antiperspirants have been flagged for using aluminium to clog your sweat glands, which many pseudo-science circuits claim to cause Alzheimer’s, breast cancer and more. However, very little scientific literature exists to back the ties between aluminium and all its evils, but the fear-mongering has only led to natural deodorants gaining traction.
Another reason for natural deodorants becoming more widely available is because consumers are becoming more educated about what they put on their bodies. A lengthy list of cryptic chemicals no longer flies under the radar. Because natural deodorants use familiar, recognisable and skin-friendly ingredients to manage odours, they are more assuring.
The caveat, however, is the dramatic difference in price. Assurance comes priced at four to five times more than your average drugstore deodorant, making many wonder if shaky ‘scientific’ claims make it worth splurging on in the natural direction. Here are a few things you want to know beforehand, to make the decision with ease.
Natural deodorant and antiperspirant are not the same
When people talk about the presence of aluminium in anti-odour bodycare products, they’re really talking about antiperspirants and not deodorants. To be clear, the distinction is that the former prevents sweat and odour, while the latter just manages odours. People not understanding this key difference has led to many criticising that natural deodorants do not work as well as their drugstore originals.
You will sweat with a natural deodorant on, though the true test of its effectiveness is whether you experience body odour or not.
What do natural deodorant use in their formulas to stop odours?
Odours are not caused by merely sweating. It is the interaction between the fluid and the bacteria living on your skin that leads to body odour. To counteract this, natural deodorants employ organic sweat-absorbing and anti-microbial ingredients such as witch hazel, coconut oil, tea tree oil, and baking soda. Given that these are non-chemical compounds, they are definitely kinder to your skin in the long run.
What else is so good about natural deodorant?
Its organic ingredients tend to be better for the environment. Conventional deodorants can contain ingredients like triclosan, which can be toxic to marine organisms in the long term.
Another major selling point for natural deodorant is that it prevents sweat stains. When aluminium mixes with your sweat, yellow stains tend to form in the underarm areas of your clothes. Natural deodorants that don’t contain the metal don’t have the same problem, so you’re saving your garments from this kind of everyday wear and tear.
So, is natural deodorant really worth the price?
If you think making the swap to natural deodorant is going to guard you against chronic illness as some may claim, we’re sorry to say that this is false. You don’t have to write off the product entirely, though.
Natural deodorants are definitely gentler on the skin (barring some laden with essential oils). They may not dramatically improve your carbon footprint, given that their bottles are not all as natural as their formulas, but they are definitely less harsh on the environment overall.
As for the price tag — is natural deodorant really worth all that much? Well, if you have sensitivities to the drugstore equivalent, then yes. If you want to invest in something that is kinder for your skin, then yes as well. But if you’re only going greener if you’re buying into fear-mongering, then you’re better of keeping your wallet zipped. Looking to check out what natural deodorants we have on offer here in Hong Kong? Check out the following eight picks below:
This article was first published on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.
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Vegan beauty brand Meow Meow Tweet has great alternatives for traditional deodorants in cream and stick format, utilising ingredients such as arrowroot powder, organic plant oils and shea butter to not only neutralise odours, but to also moisturise and soothe underarm skin. There are also baking soda- and clay-free versions for those with extra-sensitive skin. They available in a number of fragrances, depending on which cream or stick you opt for, including lavender bergamot and lemon eucalyptus.
HK$125 from Plastic Free HK
Environmentally friendly brand Zero Yet 100 launched its all natural deodorants in 2017. Not only is their line aluminium- and paraben-free but their deodorants come in recyclable packaging and never test on animals. Zero Yet 100’s formula features a soothing blend of shea and cocoa seed butter and an oil blend of almond, apricot, jojoba, avocado and vitamin E to naturally tackle odour all while being irritation-, stain- and grease-free. With three scents and a non-fragranced option to choose from, they are gender neutral and can be bought in upcyclable sprays, pots and push or twist up sticks.
HK$128–168 from Zero Yet 100
Agent Nateur’s deodorants are all aluminium-free and offer a range of products to choose from. The brand’s ‘Holi(stick)’ deodorants come in an array of styles — one aimed at all skin types; one that is formulated specifically for sensitive skin (shown here for HK$175); and a special rose-scented edition that has hints of sandalwood and rose. Relying primarily on coconut oil, avocado butter and baking soda to naturally moisturise and deodorise, the brand also offers probiotic deodorants (to feed good bacteria and naturally eliminate smells) and sprays to suit all needs.
HK$175 from Net-A-Porter
Local brand Coconut Matter started in 2015 with its line of sustainable products, soon launching aluminium-, baking soda- and paraben-free natural deodorants. Known for being a prebiotic deodorant — inhibiting odour-causing bacteria — with the help of coconut oil, the brand also uses ingredients such as lauric acid and elderberry fruit extract to make their handcrafted deos totally vegan, plus are chock-full of antioxidants to keep the skin healthy. They also come in zero-waste packaging and five scents: Spring, Bliss, Zen, Hero and Free (non-scented).
HK$284 HK$142 from Coconut Matter
If you’re looking for something more high-end, Austrian brand Susanne Kaufmann has often been hailed for its environmentally friendly approach to its spa-worthy products. The brand’s natural deodorants are available in spray or stick format but both are vegan, biodegradable and do not contain parabens, silicons or paraffins, among other potentially irritating ingredients. The Deostick in particular contains linden blossom and peppermint oil that gives off a slight cooling sensation that’s particularly great during hot summers.
HK$297 from Net-A-Porter
Australian brand Aesop has a unisex, aluminium-free deodorant that comes as a spray or an alcohol-free roll on. While the formula does use essential oils to mask and eliminate odours, the ingredients list also includes natural alternatives to synthetic deodorant components like witch hazel, sage leaf and wasabi extract.
HK$250 from Lane Crawford
A few months ago, cult skincare brand Drunk Elephant unveiled their Sweet Pitti Deodorant as part of its body and haircare range. Made from a blend of mandelic acid and absorbent arrowroot, Sweet Pitti is said to be suitable for all skin types — including sensitive skin. This natural deodorant’s formula does not contain baking soda, essential oils and aluminium-derived ingredients, instead replacing them with barrier-supportive ingredients and a mix of plant oils from the marula, baobab and mongongo seed. Marula and shea butters in particular also help to replenish dry, dull and irritable skin.
HK$128 from Sephora
And last but not least, we have California-based sustainable beauty brand Kopari. The brand boasts a natural coconut-based deo that promises to be “paradise for your pits” without subjecting them to aluminium, baking soda or parabens amongst a few other nasties. The plant enzymes used in their place help tackle odour and odour-causing bacteria. Made from a unique blend of coconut oil, sage oil and coconut water, Kopari’s deodorants come in five different scents, like tropical and gardenia, as well as a fragrance-free version.
HK$205 from Sephora