Natural deodorant, to me, has always been an obligatory purchase: I feel like I should use it and it kind of fulfills my needs, but I don’t think I really need it. While I definitely get sweaty, I don’t really have a strong body odor (this is factual; I’ve made my boyfriend smell my sweaty post-workout armpit and give me the unfiltered truth). I’ve tended to wear antiperspirants when I work out, but lately, I’ve been gravitating towards more natural deodorants. I don’t want to block my sweat glands, but I also would like something to help manage my sweaty pits. Unfortunately, natural deodorants have often smelled quite nice, but never really manage my sweating.
So when I first got Beautycounter’s The Clean Duo Deodorant ($28), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It claims to be a cruelty-free option that doesn’t skimp on efficacy. Not only that, but it’s refillable! When speaking to Beautycounter’s SVP, Lindsay Dahl, about the re-fillable option, she pointed out how most deodorant packaging is made of mixed materials, making it not recyclable. “Consumers recognize how frequently they are throwing away empty plastic into our landfills,” she says. “It’s also a product where Beautycounter felt we could achieve an industry-leading formula while reducing our plastic consumption and impact on the environment. I see a mix of solutions for the beauty industry: a transition to more recyclable materials like glass, innovative plastic materials and increased use in recycled plastic, refills for body products, and creative ways to design products with less packaging."
It sounded promising: it uses cornstarch and baking soda to absorb sweat, and coconut oil and shea butter help keep the skin supple and soft. The initial application didn’t feel out of the ordinary, and the two scents I had received were both pretty nice: the wild rose was a little strong for me, but I quite enjoyed the coconut scent. I was also pleased to note that after shaving, applying the deodorant didn’t trigger any stinging or discomfort. It didn’t leave white marks on my clothes, and it didn’t pill up.
But more importantly: the sweat control blew me out of the water. I wore it every time I did some at-home HIIT, and found that two firm swipes of the deodorant were enough to keep my armpits nice and dry. My tee-shirt was soaked through the back, but the underarms looked as if I hadn’t even worked out! I chucked some on while running errands and I even helped with my sisters’ recent move; no sweat in sight! Three swipes seemed a little gratuitous and left me feeling a little buttery, but it controlled the sweat. It also seemed to wash off pretty easily with a bit of soap; I’ve found aluminum deodorants stay put even after a few showers, and natural deodorants rub off after a few hours, but the Clean Duo lasted me from 8 a.m. to about 7 p.m., so I was quite impressed.
What really impressed me beyond the actual product, however, was the quality and intent behind the packaging. I test a lot of beauty products, so I’m always internally cringing at the sheer quantity of packaging and plastic that I go through. When beauty companies go that extra mile to make their products more sustainable, I’m always curious about the process of what it’s like to actually put in the effort.
“For Beautycounter, creating clean formulas is just the beginning,” says Dahl. “We recognize a large waste problem when it comes to beauty products and as a result, we’re fast-tracking our approach to innovate our packaging. We have a goal to have 100% of our packaging recycled, recyclable, compostable, or refillable by 2025. It’s ambitious and we’re not sure exactly how we will reach this goal, but incorporating smart refillable options in our line is a start.”
For me, re-filling the mechanism was relatively easy once I got the hang of it. It required a bit more force than I had initially anticipated, but it was a smooth learning curve. “Our packaging team had to take several different objectives into account as we developed this component,” is what Blair Lawson, Chief Marketing & Merchandising Officer of Beautycounter, tells me when I ask about the process of developing the packaging. “First, it had to be recyclable (not made of mixed materials). Second, it had to be easy to use and replace. And third, but not least, we wanted it to look great on your countertop! So we added texture (inspired by the faceted glass of a luxury perfume bottle); we chose a unique form that is also easy to hold and handle; we selected pretty colors that you might not expect to find on your deodorant, and we included a witty reminder to recycle inside the refill.”
It's a job well done. For conscious consumers who want to smell good and to control their sweat, Beautycounter’s The Clean Duo isn’t just effective and pretty—it’s a consciously aware option. Knowing the effort that went into the planning and effort with the product makes me appreciate it even more. To all other beauty brands out there: it’s time to step up your game.