Just like most beauty products, there are endless options when you’re scouring the aisles for a new deodorant.
With so many questions to consider, it can easily become overwhelming.
Antiperspirant vs deodorant? Is aluminum still bad? Do I need vegan deodorant? What’s cruelty-free deodorant? What’s natural or organic deodorant?
Don’t fret! We’re covering everything you need to know about cruelty-free deodorant, those questionable ingredients, and some safe alternatives in this guide.
What Does Cruelty-Free Mean?
Cruelty-free is a term that isn’t regulated by any governing entity. However, certain nonprofit organizations have developed a set of standards to certify cruelty-free products, but the fact that companies can put cruelty-free on any label of any product makes the phrase hard to trust.
Cruelty-free can mean that the final product you’re purchasing was never tested on animals, or it can mean that none of the ingredients that made up the final product and the final product were never tested on animals. Since there isn’t any real regulation around this, it’s as easy a term to throw around as ‘natural’ is for food labels.
Most of the ingredients we use today to make up our favorite personal care products were once tested on animals. Even within particular supply chains that claim to be cruelty-free, it’s still possible for there to be some form of animal testing. That’s why people rely on the Leaping Bunny Certification or other certifying bodies to find truly cruelty-free products.
What Is Deodorant, Anyway? And What Is the Difference Between Antiperspirant vs. Deodorant?
In 2020, the global antiperspirant and deodorant market is worth roughly $77.53 billion. That’s billion, with a B. It’s for a pretty simple reason too. We don’t like body odor on ourselves or other people, so we do everything we can to cover it up.
Antiperspirants and deodorants work differently to suppress body odors. Antiperspirant actually reduces armpit sweat by using aluminum products to close off the sweat glands. Deodorant doesn’t actively combat sweat, but rather makes the armpit unavailable for new bacteria to form and create an odor. So antiperspirant is like a plug for your sweat, while deodorant is the perfume.
Some retailers have combined these two items to make products that actively reduce sweat and make you smell nice. But, they often have aluminum (which is a questionable ingredient) and leave a cakey white mess in your armpits (and on your favorite black shirt).
So How Can You Tell If Your Deodorant Is Cruelty-Free?
Since we can’t define ‘cruelty-free’ and hold it to the same set of standards across the board, how can you tell if your deodorant wasn’t tested on animals? Here are some things to look for:
- Certification Labels: Leaping Bunny and PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies are easily recognizable standards that will give you some more insight into the product and its supply chains. These hold much more weight than just text saying “cruelty-free” or “no animal testing”.
- Databases: There are numerous online databases and shopping guides that allow you to search for truly cruelty-free deodorant and other beauty products.
- Do Some Digging: If a product doesn’t have these certifications, do a deep dive on the company’s website. If the company is new or their cruelty-free certification isn’t a high priority, it could be that they’re following certain standards without an actual label slapped on their products. Read through the mission of the company and make sure your values are aligned.
What Is the Difference Between Cruelty-Free and Vegan?
Cruelty-free means there is no animal testing for the product, and vegan means the product does not contain any animal products. Vegan products aren’t always cruelty-free unless they’re certified by a third-party organization that bans animal testing.
Vegan and cruelty-free deodorants might not be aluminum-free and can still have harmful chemicals that you don’t want in your sensitive underarm, so be sure to do a little extra research. It’s easy to get blinded by a couple of labels and immediately trust a brand, but that’s called ‘greenwashing’.
Do Cruelty-Free Deodorants Actually Work?
The cruelty-free deodorant movement is often synonymous with other organic and aluminum-free deodorant brands as well. Natural deodorants might need a short adjustment period for your body, but they are just as effective as any other deodorant. Natural deodorant often uses gentle baking soda for odor protection and is OK for sensitive skin.
Animal testing doesn’t add any inherent value to the quality of the product, so we think you won’t really be able to tell a difference between a cruelty-free deodorant and a regular deodorant unless it’s also formulated with natural ingredients like essential oils or is a fragrance-free spray, deodorant cream, or crystal deodorant.
Plus, in addition to being healthier for your body, cruelty-free deodorants don’t have any negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of innocent animals, which is great for the planet. Win, win!
Are Drug Store Brand Deodorants Cruelty-Free? Here’s How to Find a Cruelty-Free Deodorant
When you’re browsing your local shop’s aisles, it might seem tough to find a cruelty-free deodorant stick. But, you might be surprised to learn that brands like Suave are certified by PETA as cruelty-free! Look for the bunny ears on each Suave product to ensure it’s a cruelty-free deodorant. Generally, the bunny ears are a good sign, just make sure the product actually has a certification attached to it.
Dove is another story. The company claims to be cruelty-free and, like Suave, is also owned by Unilever. Here, the devil lies in the details. If products are sold in mainland China, it is required by law that those products are tested on animals. Dove claims to have an agreement that the Chinese government will pull a product instead of selling it, but I have a feeling that’s not their top priority. Instead, these goods are being subject to testing without that being communicated to consumers. This is the reason common brands like Old Spice aren’t considered cruelty-free either. Be wary of these brands because often, they’re using ‘cruelty-free’ as a marketing ploy while still testing on animals.
If you’re a drug store-only shopper, look for brands like Toms of Maine or Schmidt’s. Schmidt’s is also owned by Unilever, but every aspect of their supply chain is actually cruelty-free and their products are not sold in China. Check out the PETA database if you’re unsure about a specific brand.
The Same Effect, Cruelty-Free
If you’re in the market for an affordable cruelty-free deodorant, try out the Public Goods deodorant. As a member of Public Goods myself, I’ve tried the personal care deodorant and find it to be refreshing and effective, without any controversial ingredients like parabens. With a mix of essential oils, coconut oil derivatives, and thoughtful, non-toxic ingredients, this deodorant is formulated for sensitive skin and works well for any human. Whether you’re running errands, lounging at home, or taking a hot yoga class, this all-natural, non-irritating deodorant is gentle on your underarm.
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