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My by Humankind Deodorant Review - What This Sustainable Brand Gets Right

My by Humankind Deodorant Review

Does this sustainable brand make the best natural deodorant?

4.6/5 stars

Pros:

  • Reliable odor protection
  • Similar to an antiperspirant (Rare for natural deodorants)
  • Eco-friendly refillable container

Cons:

  • Contains baking soda, which can irritate sensitive skin.

Verdict:

Deodorant from by Humankind behaves like an antiperspirant but without the aluminum or parabens, simultaneously killing BO-causing bacteria with natural ingredients. It’s not a very smooth application, but the efficacy and eco-friendly aspects overshadowed that slight downside for me.

by Christen Russo, MSA Reviewer, Natural Deodorant Explorer
May 15, 2020| 9 comments

By now I’ve tried a number of natural deodorants—Tom’s, Schmidt’s (see Anna’s review here), Native (Anna’s review here), Kopari, and Myro. Short of Tom’s, which just didn’t work for me at all, each of these natural deodorants had their merits. Schmidt’s wins for best scents in my book. Native was an overall positive experience, but then Kopari arrived in a subscription box and its smoothness, scent, and efficacy trumped all. I could have happily stopped there, but Myro caught my eye with its eco-friendly refillable case. If you read my Myro review you’ll know that the formula didn’t work great for me. So, here we are!

by Humankind takes sustainability seriously not only with its personal care product ingredients (in addition to deodorant they carry hand soap, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner—all in bar form—plus bamboo-based cotton swabs, mouthwash in tablet form, and a toiletry bag made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles), but with their production and shipping practices, too. Buying personal care products from companies that are taking their impact on the Earth seriously is about the easiest way I can think of to reduce my carbon footprint. So, before I even tried by Humankind‘s deodorant, it had already won a wee bit of my bias. Now I just needed to see if it worked. I go into the details below!

Before I jump in I want to note that while indeed I’ve tried many natural deodorants, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert—my experience and opinions are my own, and different personal care products of all types work differently for everyone’s individual body.

My Subscription Addiction paid for this product. (Check out the review process post to learn more.)

by Humankind Deodorant Quick Facts

Cost

  • $12 for a single bar
  • $10 when you sign up for a subscription
  • Subscription refills cost $20.40 (2 refills at $10.20 each) in 4 weeks from your first delivery, then every 8 weeks after that
  • Skip a refill, update your scent, or cancel at anytime

Shipping

  • Ships to the US only
  • Free shipping on individual and subscription orders
  • Shipping packaging is carbon neutral and recyclable

Product

  • In your first box: 1.6 oz refill in a compostable paper lining with some #5 recyclable plastic components + a durable, reusable case.
  • In subsequent boxes, if you subscribe: two 1.6 oz refills in a compostable paper lining with some #5 recyclable plastic components.

Perks

  • Aluminum-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan
  • Paraben-free
  • Gluten-free
  • GMO-free
  • Ethically made

  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary-Mint
  • Coconut
  • Lavender-Citrus
  • Unscented
  • Variety Pack (includes 4 refills)

Note that scents often sell out, but they seem to be restocked regularly. When I signed up for by Humankind, only the unscented option was available. A couple weeks later, all the scents listed above were available. At the time of writing this post, only the Eucalyptus scent is available.

  • Unscented Formula & Base ingredients of all scents — Squalane; Stearyl Alcohol; Arrowroot Powder; Ethylhexyl Palmitate; Baking Soda; Olus (Jojoba) Oil; Hydrogenated Castor Oil; Candelilla Wax; Lauric Acid; Tapioca Starch; Zinc Oxide; Sucrose Stearate; Azelaic Acid; Behentrimonium Methosulfate; Potassium Ascorbyl Tocopheryl Phosphate; Ethylhexylglycerin; Magnesium Hydroxide.
  • Eucalyptus Scent — Eucalyptus Oil; Bergamot Fruit Oil; Star Anise Oil; Cedar Oil; Lavender Oil; Orange Peel Oil; Fir Needle Oil; Natural Fragrance.
  • Rosemary-Mint Scent — Rosemary Leaf Oil; Eucalyptus Oil; Orange Terpenes; Lemon Terpenes; Castor Seed Oil; Mentha Piperita Oil; Thyme Flower / Leaf Oil; Lemon Peel Oil; Orange Peel Oil; Spearmint Leaf Oil; Rock Rose Resin; Clary Sage Oil.
  • Lavender-Citrus Scent — Lavandin oil; Mandarin Orange Peel Oil; Ho Leaf Oil; Geranium Oil.
  • Coconut Scent — Orange Terpenes; Lemon Peel Oil; Amyris Balsamifera Bark Oil; Natural Fragrance.

Note: All by Humankind deodorants include baking soda, which is an ingredient that can irritate sensitive skin—in fact, I believe baking soda is why the Schmidt’s jar deodorant gave me a rash several years ago when I first began using natural deodorant. For this review I tested by Humankind‘s unscented formula. It did not irritate my skin, so perhaps my body has adjusted to natural deodorants, or maybe it has changed in other ways (I’ve since had a baby, for example). I’d also like to mention that essential oils are a skin irritant for some, so if you have sensitive skin but are still interested in trying by Humankind you may want to start with the unscented option.

My by Humankind Deodorant Review

The Feel

3.5/5 stars

The Promise: A smooth use and application thanks to Candelilla wax, which is derived from the plant Euphorbia cerifera.

The Reality: Waxy, indeed. It’s a bit stiff, but body heat helps it glide a little better.

Compared to the unbelievably buttery experience of applying Kopari and the easy (albeit a bit wet) glide of Myro, by Humankind deodorant admittedly feels a little stiff and waxy. It took me by surprise the first time I used it, though it didn’t tug at my skin and it didn’t feel rough at all. I quickly discovered that after taking a hot shower the warmth of my body is enough to soften it and make the application feel smoother. On a day when I apply it not having just showered, I just hold it on my skin for a few seconds before applying. When it comes to feel, by Humankind is not a spa-like deodorant experience by any stretch, but for me, the positive aspects of this product and company outweighed my need for an exceedingly smooth application.

The Scent

5/5 stars

 

The Promise: No scent, but just as effective as the scented formulas, and kinder to sensitive skin.

The Reality: Truly unscented, all through the day.

As I mentioned above, the unscented formula was the only option available when I signed up for by Humankind. Were they available, I may have gone for Rosemary-Mint (though, peppermint extract could be irritating) or Lavender-Citrus. This was my first foray into unscented deodorant and I went into it expecting hints of body odor to begin making themselves known if I got hot at any point during the day, or at the end of the day. No such scents appeared! This deodorant worked for me just as marketed: it really didn’t have any scent at all—not when you sniff the refill, not going on my skin, and not at any point during the day.

The Odor Protection

5/5 stars

The Promise: As effective as an antiperspirant but without the harmful ingredients.

The Reality: Reliable odor protection that lasts all day.

This was my first time using unscented deodorant, and I probably would have chosen a scent were there options to choose from when I placed my order. But technically, since the formulas for their scented and unscented deodorants are the same, save for some essential oils in the scented versions, there should be no difference in the odor protection. I gotta say, after using this unscented deodorant a couple of times I didn’t miss the scent! Sure, a little natural aroma may have been pleasant, but I can confidently say I am now a believer in their claim that their unscented deodorant works for odor protection.

Their site goes into a bit of detail about the science of it. They say:

“Scientifically-proven to eliminate B.O.-causing bacteria 40% faster than other leading natural deodorants.

  • No harmful chemicals. Only natural ingredients derived from plants & minerals. So natural in fact, you could eat it.
  • 40% better at killing Staphylococcus hominis, the bacteria that causes body odor in all of us, than other leading natural deodorants. Tested in an independent certified lab.
  • While our deodorant has antiperspirant qualities, we can’t call it one because we never use aluminum or parabens (ingredients required by the fda to be labelled an “antiperspirant”), which have been linked to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.”

After reading that I was tempted to eat it. But I refrained.

The Refill Experience

5/5 stars

The Promise: Follow six straightforward steps and you’ll be set.

The Reality: The process was simple and the refill felt secure.

Part of what made Myro not work for me was that its refill was oddly tricky to secure. (Side note: once I realized I would be moving on from Myro, my husband realized he really liked it, so the deodorant and its refillable case did not go to waste). I was curious going into trying by Humankind to see if that’s just a quirk of the refillable deodorant experience at large, or if it was specific to Myro, and I’m happy to report that refilling by Humankind was a better outcome for me. It was easy and the refill doesn’t jostle around in there at all.

The refillable case itself is sturdy and high-quality, and rather than a twist-to-lock type lid closure it’s a screw cap like a bottle would have. I didn’t see anything on the by Humankind site about it being dishwasher-safe, but they say it’s designed to be durable, so I personally would be OK with taking the risk. I am not recommending it for anyone else; you have to make that call on your own.

The refills themselves come in biodegradable paper, with some small #5 recyclable plastic parts. Their refills (referred to as Kindfills in some places on their site) are said to reduce single-use plastic waste by 90%. To dispose of an empty refill container: “Separate and recycle the refill components. The tube is recycled paper with a PLA lining, this can be composted (home or industrial) or thrown away. The small plastic components are #5 and can be recycled in most areas.”

Quick note on refills: your first shipment comes with one case and one refill. Note that “refill” is the term used for the deodorant stick you insert into your case. You’re only receiving one of those in that first box—so it’s not technically a refill yet. Refills are estimated to last about a month, but if you find you take more or less time to get through one stick, you can adjust your subscription settings. If you subscribe, your first refill 2-pack will arrive in 4 weeks after you place your first order, then every 8 weeks after that unless you change the frequency in your account.

Good to Know

Natural Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant

Most deodorants you’ll find on the shelf are antiperspirants, which are meant to inhibit sweating (and therefore reduce odor) by using aluminum salts to block the sweat glands. Non-antiperspirant deodorants allow the body to sweat naturally, but contain ingredients that curb odor by addressing the bacteria that causes it. While some early research linked the use of antiperspirants with Alzheimer’s and cancer, according to Teen Vogue there is no compelling scientific case to prove it; still, consumers are increasingly wary of using body products that contain unnecessary chemicals. Some consumers also have concerns about interfering with the “detoxifying” process of sweating, but Teen Vogue clarifies that sweating is really only responsible for a “negligible” amount of detoxification.

While it does contain ingredients meant to reduce wetness, by Humankind is technically not an antiperspirant and may not stop you from sweating. So, if you’re ingredient-conscious and are looking for natural odor control by Humankind might be your jam, but its moisture control might not be as effective if you’re used to using antiperspirants.

 

What is an “Armpit Detox?” Transitioning to Natural Deodorant

You may have heard tell of the 2-4 week transition period that’s typical when switching from an antiperspirant to a natural deodorant. Some sources call this period an “armpit detox,” which sounds kind of intense, but it doesn’t have to be. Everybody’s body reacts differently during the transition, but generally what you can expect is to be a little extra stinky for a time while your armpits adjust to sweating regularly again.

Here are a few tips for getting through the switch:

  • Research your options before choosing a natural deodorant. by Humankind contains baking soda, which some first-time natural deodorants like to avoid, but I personally did not react to it.
  • Bring your new natural deodorant along with you for a bit—carry it in your purse or work bag so you can apply an extra layer if you feel you need it partway through the day.
  • Rest assured knowing that you’re probably way more aware of this smelly phase than anyone else is. It’s likely not as bad as you think! And, truly, it will come to an end.
  • If you experience any stinging, redness, or rash, it’s time to stop using that deodorant and give your precious pits a little break—and maybe even check in with a dermatologist if it’s bad. Sometimes even natural ingredients don’t work great with everyone’s skin, and there are all sorts of other natural deodorants to try out there.

 

Shipping, Returns, & More

Placing Your Order

For the purposes of this review, I opted for a one-time purchase of by Humankind’s Unscented deodorant stick via the by Humankind website. You save $2 if you sign up for a subscription, but free shipping is standard for every order, subscription or not—yay!

Refills cost $20.40 for a two-pack, and you can change your scents between shipments. When their inventory allows, they also offer variety packs that include four different scents for $40.80. Subscribers always receive 15% off recurring refills, which are sent 4 weeks after your initial purchase, then every 8 weeks after that unless skip a month or change your frequency in your account. You can change your scents at any time. One-time refill purchases can be made in quantities of 1, 2, 3 (at a 15% discount applied), or 4 (at a 20% discount).

Shipping & Tracking

I placed my by Humankind order on a Monday and chose their free standard shipping option, which is the only option. I received an order confirmation immediately and a shipping confirmation email with tracking info four days later, on Thursday. My order arrived via UPS three days after that, on Monday (a week after placing the order).

Customer Service

by Humankind‘s customer service is available by email ([email protected]) or text message (917-935-4205). The hours listed on their site are Monday-Friday, 9-5 EST. I wanted to inquire about whether the refillable case was dishwasher safe, so I texted my question to the number provided on a Thursday at about 3 pm EST. I didn’t receive any form of confirmation or response. I’ll update this post once I hear back.

Returns

If you aren’t happy with your order, you can return it within 30 days for a full refund or store credit. Just email [email protected] with your order number and let them know why it isn’t working out for you. They don’t currently offer exchanges but they welcome inquiries for the chance to make things right. Their refillable cases come with a lifetime guarantee, and if anything happens to it they will replace it.

Thinking About Trying by Humankind?

We’d love to hear whether you plan to order by Humankind for yourself, and your other musings on natural deodorants. Head to the comments section and let us know your thoughts!

And, be sure to check out our other reviews of natural deodorants:


Related Personal Care Reviews


Written by Christen Russo

Christen Russo

Christen is a smile collector, outdoors enthusiast, and appreciator of soggy French fries. Her favorite subscriptions involve eco-friendly products and clothes, nature supplies, stationery, and coffee. She can be easily won over with a good sheet of stickers.

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Comments (9)

  1. I did my “armpit detox” in the winter and that seemed to help. The idea of going through that transition in the south during summer was a scary thought. Since it was 10 years ago it’s been nice to see the range of products expand. It used to just be the salt stick. I did it because all my clothes were turning yellow in the armpit and a roommate was also switching. In general, I’ve liked the fragrances offered by the non-aluminum brands and don’t see myself ever going back. I find myself needing to freshen up at the same rate as I did before I switched. That being said, there are other benefits even if you don’t buy into the cancer stuff.

    • Jasmine, I agree. I see a lot of natural deodorant reviews (my own included!) mentioning that you might have to re-apply, but it wasn’t uncommon for me to have to re-apply with antiperspirant back in the day, too. If anything I find natural deodorants to provide a better re-application experience—it’s almost like starting fresh, rather than caking more layers of antiperspirant on top of what I had applied that morning. Anyway, glad the armpit detox is behind you and you can just enjoy all the offerings out there now!

  2. Could you try Routine Cream deodorant and review it? I am curious to hear how it works.

    • I will look into it, Francesca! Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Great news! Aluminum *is* natural, not man-made. And you ingest it in your food every day without keeling over. No, it has not been linked scientifically to cancer or Alzheimer’s. It has only been linked to those diseases in the soapbox blogs of people with zero training in science and zero connection to conducting scientific studies.

    • I am a breast cancer survivor and my doctors didn’t say to avoid aluminum in deodorant so glad you addressed it! Let’s face facts almost everything is said to cause cancer. Nothing wrong if you want to go the natural route though.

    • Yes, they should probably not put that aluminum study as if it is a conclusion. Additionally, the amount of aluminum that would get absorbed through the skin is so minimal. I have nothing against aluminum, in fact I use aluminum cookware and use aluminum foil a lot AND I have Alzheimer’s in my family genetics. BUT I do use natural deodorants to avoid the other ingredients that haven’t been ruled out as completely safe or can cause skin irritation. I also find that antiperspirants clog my pores and I get closed comedones. Once I switched to a natural deodorant, my skin is smooth and no longer irritated.

      Just FYI, inactive ingredients that are currently in a popular antiperspirant: Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearyl Alcohol, Mineral Oil, Dimethicone, Talc, Petrolatum, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PPG-14 Butyl Ether, Fragrance, Cyclodextrin, Behenyl Alcohol.

    • Yay, science! Thanks for this comment 🙂

    • I have seen a lot of backpedaling in articles out there that once claimed there was a strong link between aluminum and cancer & Alzheimer’s. You may have noticed above in my review that I mention there’s no compelling science to prove it—though I did want to acknowledge the early research that initially put the idea in the public awareness so that folks who are approaching natural deodorants for the first time can have a jumping-off point for their own research. Thanks for reading & sharing your thoughts!

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