Deodorant

In this guide we investigate, score and rank the ethical and environmental record of 45 brands of deodorants

We also look at the problem with parabens, animal testing, shine a spotlight on the ethics of Unilever and give our recommended buys. 

About Ethical Consumer

This is a product guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.

What to buy

What to look for when buying deodorant:

  • Is it cruelty-free and vegan? 80% of the world still permits animal testing for cosmetics, although it is banned in the UK. The Cruelty-Free logo guarantees that the company is not animal testing anywhere in the world. Many deodorants also do not contain any animal ingredients.

  • Is it organic? This is a fail-safe way to avoid most of the nasty, artificial chemicals that are in so many deodorants and thereby help the environment as well as yourself.

Best Buys

Our best buys all offer vegan options and are free from animal testing, parabens and aluminium. Green People is also organic.

What not to buy

What to avoid when buying deodorant:

  • Does it contain toxics? The long and complex ingredients lists of bodycare products often include toxic chemicals. These are bad for the environment as well as health.

  • Does it contain parabens? These chemicals are thought to increase risks of cancer. With Breast Cancer UK calling for them to be phased out of cosmetics, you may want to avoid them.

  • Does it contain palm oil? At its most unsustainable, palm oil is linked to mass deforestation and serious violations of human rights. Look for brands that commit to sourcing palm oil sustainably.

Companies to avoid

We suggest avoiding Unilever brands which are at the bottom of the score table and received the worst score for animal testing:

  • Vaseline
  • Sure
  • Simple
  • Rexona
  • Lynx
  • Dove

Score table

Updated live from our research database

← Swipe left / right to view table contents →
Brand Score(out of 20)

Faith in Nature deodorant [A]

Company Profile: Faith in Nature Ltd
15.5

Green People deodorant [A,O]

Company Profile: Green People Company Ltd
15.5

Neal's Yard deodorant [A]

Company Profile: Neal's Yard Remedies
14.5

Neal's Yard deodorant

Company Profile: Neal's Yard Remedies
14

Dr Hauschka deodorant [A, O]

Company Profile: Dr. Hauschka Skin Care, Inc.
13.5

Salt of the Earth crystal deodorant [A]

Company Profile: Crystal Spring
13.5

Lush vegan deodorant [A]

Company Profile: Lush Cosmetics Ltd
13

Attitude deodorant [A]

Company Profile: Bio Spectra
12.5

Pacifica deodorant wipes [A]

Company Profile: Pacifica Beauty LLC
12.5

PitRok crystal deodorant [A]

Company Profile: PitRok Ltd
12.5

Urtekram deoderant [O,A]

Company Profile: Midsona
12.5

Weleda deodorant [A]

Company Profile: Weleda AG
12.5

Lavera deodorant roll-on & spray

Company Profile: Laverana GmbH & Co KG
11.5

Body Shop deodorant

Company Profile: Body Shop International plc
10.5

Aesop deodorant

Company Profile: Aesop
9.5

L'Occitane deodorant

Company Profile: L'Occitane International SA
8.5

Arrid deodorant

Company Profile: Church & Dwight Co Inc
8

Avon deodorant

Company Profile: Avon Products Inc
7

Bulldog deodorant [A]

Company Profile: Bulldog Skincare Limited
7

Fa Deodorant

Company Profile: Henkel AG & Co. KGaA
7

JASÖN deodorants [A]

Company Profile: JASÖN Natural Products
7

Natrel Plus deodorant

Company Profile: Schwarzkopf & Henkel GmbH
7

Right Guard Deodorant

Company Profile: Right Guard
7

Eucerin deodorant

Company Profile: Beiersdorf AG
6.5

Nivea deodorant

Company Profile: Beiersdorf AG
6.5

Logona deodorant [A][O]

Company Profile: Logocos Naturkosmetik AG
6

Mitchum deodorant

Company Profile: Revlon Inc
5.5

Sante deodorant [O][A]

Company Profile: Sante Naturkosmetik
5.5

Dr Organic deodorant [O,A]

Company Profile: Holland & Barrett
5

Gillette deodorant

Company Profile: Procter & Gamble Company
5

Old Spice deodorant

Company Profile: Procter & Gamble Company
5

Tom's of Maine deodorant [A]

Company Profile: Tom's of Maine
4

Sanex deodorant

Company Profile: Colgate-Palmolive Co
3.5

Soft & Gentle deodorant

Company Profile: Colgate-Palmolive Co
3.5

Superdrug deodorant

Company Profile: Superdrug Stores Plc
3

Boots deodorant

Company Profile: Boots UK Ltd
2

Dove deodorant

Company Profile: Unilever Home & Personal Care Division
1.5

Lynx deodorant

Company Profile: Unilever UK Ltd
1.5

Rexona Deodorant

Company Profile: Unilever Home & Personal Care Division
1.5

Simple deodorant

Company Profile: Simple Health & Beauty Group Limited
1.5

Sure deodorant

Company Profile: Unilever UK Ltd
1.5

Vaseline deodorant

Company Profile: Unilever UK Ltd
1.5

What is most important to you?

Animals
Environment
People
Politics
Product sustainability

Our Analysis

There are two main types of deodorant: ones that eliminate or mask smells with fragrances and/or by killing bacteria that cause bad smells; and antiperspirants which contain ingredients (usually salts of aluminium) that reduce sweating by temporarily blocking pores.

Deodorants also come in a number of different forms including roll ons, sprays, solid sticks and crystals.

Image: Deodorant

Toxics

The often complex and long ingredients lists of bodycare products contain a number of ingredients of concern. Parabens, phthalates and triclosan have been selected by Ethical Consumer as important indicators for our own toxics rating.

Companies that receive our best mark for their toxics policies avoid all three toxins, ones who score a middle have a policy to avoid one or two of the toxins, and companies that score a worst use all three of the toxins or have no policy.

Best rating for toxics policy

Faith in Nature, Green People, Little Satsuma, Weleda, Pacifica, Neal's Yard, Lavera, JASON, Sanex, Soft & Gentle, Crystal Spring and L'Occitane.

Middle rating for toxics policy

Dr. Hauschka, Logona and Sante, Attitude, Urtekram, Aesop, Bulldog, Mitchum, Body Shop, Unilever (Dove, Lynx, Rexona, Simple, Sure, Vaseline), Boots, PitRok, Lush.

Worst rating for toxics policy

Arrid, Amplex and Triple Dry, Eucerin, Fa, Right Guard, Natrel Plus, Nivea, Gillette, Old Spice, Superdrug, Avon, Dr Organic

Parabens in deodorants

According to Breast Cancer UK: “Parabens can mimic oestrogen action and have been measured in human breast tissue at concentrations which are functionally capable of mimicking oestrogen action in a way which could lead to  increased growth of oestrogen-responsive human breast cancer cells”.

Breast Cancer UK's position:

"Breast Cancer UK supports the phase out of all parabens from all cosmetics and products designed to be applied to the skin."

Cancer Research UK’s position:

“A recent review of the evidence surrounding parabens and breast cancer found that parabens can encourage human breast cells to behave like breast cancer cells, by moving about and invading tissue, avoiding cell death, and suppressing the work of a drug commonly used to treat breast cancer. But there are hundreds of other environmental chemicals that are found in human breast tissue, so it’s hard to be sure that parabens can cause cancer alone.”

Breast Cancer Fund:

“Check personal care product labels and avoid any products with parabens or any word ending in "-paraben."

Paraben free brands

The following companies have a policy not to use parabens in any of their products:

Faith in Nature, Green People, Little Satsuma, Weleda, Pacifica, Neal's Yard, Lavera, PitRok, Logona, Sante, Urtekram, Aesop, Bulldog, Body Shop, Dr Hauschka, Hain Celestial Group (JASON), Colgate-Palmolive (Sanex, Soft & Gentle, Tom’s of Maine), Crystal Spring (Salt of the Earth) and L'Occitane, Dr Organic.

Additionally, Lush do solid deodorants and powders that are paraben-free.

Aluminium

Some research suggests that aluminium-based compounds, which are more commonly found in antiperspirants rather than deodorants, may be absorbed by the skin and cause oestrogen-like (hormonal) effects like breast cancer. However the link between antiperspirants and cancers is not conclusive.

The compounds used are usually Aluminium Chlorohydrate or Aluminium Zirconium.

However, if you want to err on the side of caution, a wide number of brands now offer aluminium free deodorants, including Green People, Faith in Nature, Little Satsuma, Weleda, Neal’s Yard, Salt of the Earth, Urtekram, Logona, Lavera, Lush, Pitrok, Dr Hauschka, Aesop and Sante.

For more information about aluminium compounds and their toxicity see the Environmental Working Group’s website.

To avoid any toxic chemicals and to be totally aluminium free, just use soap and water. Or try a pinch of baking soda mixed into water.

Deodorant stones

Deodorant crystal stones offer a more natural method of deodorising as the mineral salts (often made from naturally occurring or synthetic potassium alum or ammonium alum), inhibit the growth of the bacteria responsible for body odour. Potassium alum or ammonium alum are natural mineral salts made up of molecules that are too large to be absorbed by your skin so do not have the same problems as other aluminium-based products.

They come as either a solid stone on its own or in a push-up stick, or in liquid form.

Of the best and recommended buys, Faith in Nature and Urtekram offer crystal deodorants.

Little Satsuma, Sante, Pitrok, Tom’s of Maine and Salt of the Earth also offer crystal deodorants.

Animal Testing

As animal testing is common in the cosmetics industry, we have rated the animal testing policies of all companies in this guide to deodorants. Companies will score a best rating if they have a policy not to test on animals, have a fixed cut-off date (a date after which none of their products or ingredients will have been tested on animals) for ingredients and are not selling to markets (e.g. China) where product animal testing is required by law.

Deodorant companies that received our best rating and do not conduct animal testing include: Faith in Nature, Green People, Dr. Hauschka, Little Satsuma, Logocos Naturkosmetik (Logona and Sante), Neal's Yard, Weleda, Lush, Natura Cosmeticos, Aesop, Edgewell Personal Care (Bulldog), Hain Celestial Group (JASON), Colgate-Palmolive (Sanex, Soft & Gentle, Tom’s of Maine), Body Shop

Vegan and vegetarian brands

There are a number of vegan and vegetarian [A] deodorants available.

Vegan: Dr. Hauschka, Green People, Logona and Sante, Urtekram, most of Lavera’s deodorants, Faith in Nature, Little Satsuma, Pacifica, Neal’s Yard, Attitude, Weleda, LUSH, PitRok, Crystal Spring and Bulldog.

Vegetarian: JASON, Dr Organic and Tom’s of Maine

If you are vegan, you may want to buy from a vegan company as well. Pacifica, Attitude, PitRok and Little Satsuma are all vegan companies. Faith In Nature is also vegan with the exception of two hair care products which contain propolis (a product manufactured by bees).

Green People, Neal’s Yard and Weleda are vegetarian companies.

Sustainable palm oil

Palm oil and its derivatives are found in a vast number of cosmetics products that are manufactured by the companies in this guide. How a company sources and traces its palm oil products will affect whether it is linked with the clearing of rainforests and peatlands, and the degree to which its products negatively affect local communities, biodiversity and climate change.

The palm oil category under Environment on the score table shows which companies receive our best, middle and worst ratings for their palm oil policies and practices.

Although no companies within this guide are palm oil free, Lush, Dr. Hauschka and Unilever received our best rating for their palm oil policies.

Logo: Soil Association

Organic deodorants

Companies that offer certified organic deodorant can be identified by an [O] after the brand name in our table. Ethical Consumer gives an additional product sustainability mark to certified organic brands as we think it acts as an independent check on a company’s ethical claims.

Green People, Dr. Hauschka, Logona and Sante, Urtekram and most of Lavera’s deodorants are organic.

The Soil Association organic standard is one mark we look out for, but a number of companies in this guide, including Weleda, Lavera, Dr Hauschka, Logona and Sante deodorants, are NATRUE certified.

Company behind the brand

Unilever owns many of the big names in bodycare products, including Signal toothpaste, Lynx and Sure deodorant, Simple soap, Dove, Radox, Vaseline, as well as household brands including Persil, Surf, Comfort and Domestos.

Unilever lost marks under our Controversial Technologies column for its support of genetic modification. It stated on its website: “Our commitment to safety and quality includes all of our food ingredients, whether produced from conventional crops or from GM crops authorised by regulatory bodies. We believe that these GM crops are as safe as their traditional counterparts and fully support regulatory control of the use of GM technology and continued scientific review in this area.”

Want to know more?

If you want to find out detailed information about a company and more about its ethical rating, then click on a brand name in the Score table. 

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