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Finding ethical, natural and eco friendly deodorants, with recommended brands and ones to avoid.

We look at the problem with the terms natural and organic, which brands avoid animal testing, what harmful chemicals may be in deodorants and rate 49 brands for their ethical and environmental records.

About Ethical Consumer

This is a shopping 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.

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What to buy

What to look for when buying deodorant:

  • Is it cruelty-free? 80% of the world still permits animal testing for cosmetics, although it is banned in the UK. The Leaping Bunny logo guarantees that the brand is not animal testing anywhere in the world.

  • Is it vegan? Many deodorants contain animal derivatives such as glycerine, lanolin, and beeswax, which are associated with animal welfare and rights issues. Opt for a vegan deodorant.

  • Is it certified organic? This is a fail-safe way to avoid most of the nasty, artificial chemicals that are in so many deodorants which can be harmful to people and the environment.

Subscribe to see which companies we recommend as Best Buys and why 

What not to buy

What to avoid when buying deodorant:

  • Is it an aerosol? Deodorants in this form generally contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are increasingly contributing to photochemical smog. Switch to a balm, roll-on, crystal, or deodorant stick if you can.

  • Does it use single-use plastic? Plastic packaging and plastic parts are commonplace in the sector, but some pioneering brands are moving towards refillable deodorants, subscription models and circular recycling schemes.

Subscribe to see which companies to avoid and why

Score table

Updated live from our research database

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Brand Score(out of 100) Ratings Categories

Our Analysis

The Body Shop

It was announced in February 2024 that The Body Shop's private equity owners, Aurelius, had called in the administrators which was likely to result in shop closures and job losses. We have therefore removed The Body Shop from this guide until we can be sure that the brand will continue to exist and in what format and if Aurelius will continue to be the owners of a restructured Body Shop.


This guide examines ‘natural’ branding, debates over aluminium and toxic chemicals, the environmental impacts of aerosols, pioneering approaches to packaging, and animal testing in cosmetics. With nearly 50 brands in the guide, and scores ranging from rock bottom to near the top, there's plenty of choice for what you put on your armpits. 

The UK deodorant market includes billion-dollar multinationals like Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and Colgate-Palmolive, supermarket-shelf stalwarts like Bulldog, Triple Dry, and Nivea, alongside a host of ‘natural’ options that range from multimillion-pound brands like Wild through to artisanal small businesses like Ku.tis.

Finding eco friendly deodorants in growing market

Deodorant is enjoying a comeback in the post-pandemic world, according to UK market leader and general corporate behemoth, Unilever. The company behind Dove, Lynx and Sure recorded a 15% surge in deodorant sales over the past year, as returning office workers became less able to hide the fruit of their armpits behind the scentless safety of Zoom. 

The market for more natural alternatives is also expanding, and there are now far too many ‘natural’ deodorant brands in the UK to cover in this shopping guide.

What is meant by ‘natural’ deodorant?

The word ‘natural’ may have pleasant connotations – think healthy, organic, environmentally friendly, plant-based, etc. – but in a regulatory sense it actually means very little. There is no legal definition for ‘natural’ as far as cosmetic products or cosmetic ingredients are concerned, so it often acts more as a marketing term, deployed by brands to compete for the attention of health-conscious customers.

This isn’t to say that natural equals bad – all the brands in the top half of our table market themselves as natural. But these brands score well in our system because they are generally doing the right thing on important issues like animal testing, plastic packaging, and ingredient sourcing – not because they are ‘natural’.

At this point in an Ethical Consumer guide, we’d usually point readers in the direction of ‘organic’ product labels instead. In sectors like food or cotton, ‘organic’ can only be used on a label if that product meets strict production requirements.

Confusingly, however, this is not the case in cosmetics.

Are there organic deodorants?

Like ‘natural’, the term 'organic' is not specifically defined under the UK and EU Cosmetics Regulations, so companies don’t need to obtain third-party organic certification in order to use the term in their branding. For example, we conducted a Google search for ‘organic deodorant’ and the top results were Fussy, Wild, and Natural Deodorant Co., none of which offer certified-organic products.

This isn’t a free ticket to limitless greenwashing, however. Companies are still bound by the ‘Common Criteria’, which prohibit ‘misleading and misinforming’ claims, especially in regard to product safety. Companies shouldn’t imply that a product is safer than other cosmetics just because they are making 'natural' or 'organic' claims. However, it’s safe to say that there’s significant regulatory vagueness surrounding both terms, and that consumers should ideally look for products with third-party certification.

Natural and organic certifications

Of the twenty-something natural-branded brands in this guide, only Green People, Lavera, Neal’s Yard, Odylique, and Urtekram offer deodorant products that carry organic certification, and received a positive Product Sustainability mark. Unlike with ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ branding, products must meet at least some ingredient requirements to qualify for certification.

Different certification schemes have slightly different requirements, and our separate article on organic certification for cosmetics and toiletries has more information. Most organic certifications require 95% of a product’s agricultural ingredients to have been produced under organic conditions. They generally also prohibit genetically modified ingredients and those that have been tested on animals, alongside nanoparticles and toxic chemicals such as parabens and phthalates.

Salt of the Earth has been certified by COSMOS Natural, which shows that at least 95% of ingredients were naturally sourced rather than synthetic. It does not ensure they were organically grown, however. 

Animal testing and deodorants

Sadly, almost all of the ingredients that go into our cosmetics have been tested on animals at some point. And some companies continue to test ingredients on animals.

As it’s illegal to test cosmetic products on animals in the UK and the EU (although a loophole does remain) cosmetics companies that say they don’t test on animals are really just complying with the law – the absolute minimum. Also, if a company says “We don’t test on animals” that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t commission other companies or third-parties to do it for them!

For a best rating we therefore require companies to have a fixed cut-off date and to ensure that their suppliers have not tested any ingredients on animals on their behalf.

Deodorant brands that received our best rating for animal testing are Avon, Body Shop, Dr Hauschka, Ethique, Faith in Nature, Fussy, Green People, JASÖN, Lavera, Lush, Lucy Bee, Neal’s Yard, Odylique, Salt of the Earth, The Natural Deodorant Co., Tropic, and Weleda.

Most of the companies that scored a middle rating, such as Nuud, Wild and PitRok, do have public policies against animal testing of their products, but we couldn’t find a fixed cut-off date for ingredients. For example, Nuud’s website states that “nuud is 100% vegan and we don’t take part in animal testing”.  As noted above, these statements are fairly meaningless.

Our separate article on animal testing policies is a great place to find out more about this topic.

Are deodorants vegan?

The basic ingredients of deodorant are often vegan, as can be seen in the box further down about making your own. And there are many brands in the score table that offer either a vegan deodorant or all their products are vegan; this includes larger brands like Bulldog - look for [Vg] after the name.

However, as with other cosmetics and toiletries, some deodorants contain animal products like beeswax (particularly in the case of solid balms), or lanolin. Our article on animal products in cosmetics has more information about what to look out for. 

Deodorants from fully vegan companies include: AKT London, Ethique, Faith in Nature, Fussy, Lucy Bee, Nuud, PitRok, Salt of the Earth, The Natural Deodorant Co., and Wild

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How eco friendly are aerosol deodorants?

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

The propellants used in aerosols, typically hydrocarbons or compressed gases, release volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere upon release. A 2021 study by the University of York and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science showed that home aerosol products now emit more harmful volatile organic compound (VOC) air pollution than all the vehicles in the UK. These VOCs contribute to the creation of photochemical smog, which is harmful to human health and damages crops and plants.

The average adult in high-income countries will go through 10 aerosol cans in a year, and the expansion of the big brands into worldwide markets have resulted in the consumption of a staggering 25bn cans annually. We recommend avoiding aerosol cans and instead opting for roll-ons, balms, or solid deodorants where possible. None of the brands in the top half of our table offer aerosol deodorants.

Person with armpits showing with sprig of lavender taped to the armpit
A more natural approach to fragrant armpits?

Do natural deodorants use artificial fragrances?

When it comes to toxic chemicals, we expected companies to explicitly prohibit the use of parabens, formaldehyde & triclosan (all primarily used as preservatives and anti-microbials) and phthalates (commonly used in synthetic fragrances) across all of their products, in every country that they operate in.

We looked for company-wide restrictions because while EU legislation has been clamping down on toxic chemicals in recent years, many of the larger companies in this guide own subsidiaries or operate directly in countries where regulations are far more lax. For example, in 2020 Johnson & Johnson discontinued its talc-based baby powder in the US and Canada following allegations of asbestos contamination, but continued to market the same product in global markets until earlier in 2023.

We were more lenient on smaller companies and accepted general statements against ‘artificial preservatives’ and ‘synthetic fragrance’ for companies with a turnover of under £10m. Companies that did lose marks under the Pollution & Toxics category are not necessarily using these chemicals – the rating looks for commitments not to use them, not evidence of their use.

However, we would like to see more transparency over chemical use, including from companies marketing themselves as ‘natural’. For example, Wild’s statement that “our base ingredients (excluding the fragrance) are completely natural so there's no harmful chemicals” avoids the point that harmful chemicals are often found in fragrances.

Natural products by PitRok and Fussy also appeared to include some synthetic fragrances, whilst AKT London stated that its fragrance contains “natural essential oils, molecules and flower extracts”. We found the inclusion of ‘molecules’ to be a little vague ...

Natural Deodorant Co, Nuud, Ku.tis, and Neal’s Yard use no synthetic fragrances in any products. It’s worth noting that the presence of synthetic materials is not necessarily a bad thing, we would simply like companies to be more transparent about their ingredients.

Eco-friendly packaging for deodorants

Refillable packaging represents the main innovation in eco-friendly deodorants that we’ve seen in the last couple of years. Fussy and Wild are leading the UK market in this respect, with the former receiving investment from Dragon’s Den back in 2021. Both companies’ refills are plastic-free and compostable and can be bought either on flexible subscription plans or as one-off purchases. Salt of the Earth also offers a number of refillable products.

These companies received positive Product Sustainability marks for offering a genuine environmental alternative, but all the companies that received our best rating for Environmental Reporting offered some form of sustainable packaging options. 

Other standouts include the plastic-free Natural Deodorant Co, which offers a circular recycling scheme for its glass jars and incentivises its use with a 15% discount.

Should we avoid aluminium in deodorants?

The main unifying factor amongst natural deodorants is that they all place ‘aluminium-free’ front and centre in their branding. Aluminium is the active ingredient in antiperspirants so, pedantically speaking, most deodorant is aluminium-free, although major brands like Dove and Sure (both owned bu Unilever) do offer products that are combined antiperspirant and deodorant.

Aluminium has become something of a bogeyman in the armpit world. Aluminium salts block sweat pores, so antiperspirants physically stop users from sweating – as opposed to deodorants which prevent sweat from smelling. Some have speculated that exposure to aluminium salts might increase the risk of developing breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, although no causal link has been established in scientific studies.

Others stand by a flimsier claim that sweating is required for us to remove ‘cancerous toxins’ from the body. This is untrue, such toxins are removed via urine and faeces, not sweat. Nonetheless, sweating is a natural bodily process and it is understandable that people might not want to interfere with it. Avoiding aluminium is probably best approached as a personal preference, not a health necessity.

One company, Wild, had an advert pulled by the UK regulator earlier this year, after it suggested that aluminium was “perhaps not the safest option” and that it “may not be worth the risk”. The regulator ruled that this was misleading, citing the lack of evidence for such claims.

In compiling this guide, we noted an abundance of claims similar to Wild’s across the sector. Wild may have crossed the line in legal terms, but the notion that aluminium is harmful is treated almost as assumed knowledge in the deodorant world. Even products from Unilever and Procter & Gamble boast ‘zero aluminium’, on the side of their aluminium cans.

If you wish to err on the side of caution, it is very easy to avoid aluminium. But it’s worth noting that antiperspirants do play a crucial role for people with medical conditions that cause excessive sweating. If excessive sweat is an issue, use an antiperspirant! There is not currently enough evidence for us to recommend against using aluminium on ethical grounds.

Gendered deodorants

Most high-street deodorants are gendered; masculine scents claim to be bold and rugged, while feminine scents are described as delicate and floral. This approach not only reinforces gender norms but also limits choices for consumers. A shift appears to be underway, and many brands now offer gender-neutral fragrances alongside products with no fragrance at all.

Make your own deodorant

Some people may want to try making their own deodorant at home, which is (apparently) easier than it sounds. 

Most sites recommend a combination of coconut oil or shea butter, bicarbonate of soda, arrowroot, and your choice of essential oils. 

By making your own you can control the ingredients, ensuring they're free from harmful chemicals. Plus, you'll reduce single-use plastic waste and promote eco-friendly self-care. If all goes well, perhaps you can upscale, launch your own small business and have your company policies scrutinised to death by Ethical Consumer researchers in a future deodorant guide!

Or ... go without!

Alternatively, you may choose a yet more anti-consumerist option and simply not wear deodorant at all. A 2019 YouGov poll found that 40% of American Gen-Zers do not wear any form of deodorant or antiperspirant, so perhaps humanity is on the verge of defeating the body-odour marketing machine for good?

Are ethical and natural deodorants more expensive? 

Environmentally friendly deodorants are generally – but not necessarily – more expensive than mainstream alternatives. 

A refillable Salt of the Earth roll-on costs £6.50, whilst most supermarket roll-ons retail between £1 and £2. 

Deodorant balms have a high upfront cost (AKT London costs £21, Natural Deodorant Co. £12.95 and Lucy Bee £12.50), with each product designed to last for up to three months. 

Crystal deodorants last a lot longer, however. Salt of the Earth estimates that its crystal product should survive 12 months of ‘average use’, and each one costs just £6.50. This is far more cost effective than most products from the corporate behemoths.

This guide features in Ethical Consumer Magazine 206

The abbreviations in the score table indicate the following: [O] = organic [S] = refillable product [V] = vegan.

Company behind the brand

The unlikely owner of Urtekram's organic cosmetic company is Stena AB. The Swedish giant with a £7bn turnover increased its share capital in Midsona (Urtekram's direct owner) to 48% in 2022. Stena's business lines include operating ferries in Northern Europe and freight transport, but sadly for fans of Urtekram, also transporting fossil fuels in the North Sea and arctic drilling.

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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