Reusable Deodorant Packaging Helps Keep Consumers Smelling Nice, More Sustainably

Personal care brands are introducing a range of refillable deodorant systems using a various materials and packaging systems to reduce the use of plastic. Watch this Take Five video to find out more.


Quick hits:

  • According to Mintel, the U.S. deodorant industry is projected to grow to $4.2 billion by 2024. Until recently, most deodorant packaging consisted of a single-use plastic container that most times ended up in landfill after use.
  • Multinational brands Unilever and P&G have introduced refillable deodorant systems that use a durable, reusable case and a separate refill. Unilever’s Dove refill system uses a sleek stainless steel case with a polypropylene refill; P&G’s Old Spice and Secret brands use a plastic case with a paper refill package.
  • Natural ingredient-based personal care brands have also entered the refill space. Wild’s unique approach involves an anodized aluminum case that takes a refill pack constructed of bamboo, while Grove Collaborative offers a case and refill cartridge made from brushed aluminum.

Related to this episode:    

Glenroy, Inc.: What happens to packaging at its end of life? Visit booth #7925 at PACK EXPO Las Vegas to find out. Visit their website for more information. →
Listen to the story here:

   Read the transcript below:

Hello, this is Anne Marie Mohan, Senior Editor of Packaging World magazine, with Take Five with Packaging World.

According to Mintel, the U.S. deodorant industry is projected to grow to $4.2 billion by 2024. Until recently, most deodorant packaging consisted of a single-use plastic container that most times ended up in a landfill after use. But a number of deodorant producers are seeking to change that. And one strategy they’re using is the development of deodorant systems having a durable, reusable case and some sort of refill cartridge. What makes these products so enjoyable to report on is that they’re so thoughtfully designed, both functionally and aesthetically. 

While five minutes is too little time to cover all the systems now available, following are a few that demonstrate the different styles and approaches being used.

When we look at major retail brands, both Unilever and P&G have entered this space, Unilever with its Dove 0% Aluminum brand and P&G with its Old Spice and Secret lines.

As regards Unilever’s solution for Dove, its reusable case is more like a work of art than a package. Partnering with Dutch design consultancy VanBerlo, Unilever engineered the compact package from stainless steel, making it durable enough to last a lifetime. The sturdy and stylish rounded-corner case is silver on the bottom with a white overcap bearing the dove logomark.

According to the company, the screw mechanism typically used for deodorant packaging was eliminated, as it’s those smaller components that can be most prone to damage over time. Instead, it’s fitted with a recyclable PET insert. Refills, in three fragrances, come in a small container made from 98% recycled polypropylene that is also fully recyclable.

To use the refill, the consumer removes the deodorant stick from the plastic container and places it into the base of the case, then twists the top until they hear a click. Says Unilever, the system, which was introduced in January 2021, uses 54% less plastic than the current Dove 0% Aluminum Deodorant Stick.

P&G followed suit in February with its refillable antiperspirant case for Secret and Old Spice.

The capsule-shaped, plastic case is vibrantly colored with each brand’s trademark colors and has a removable, wraparound label with the product branding.

Refills come in a 100% paperboard tube that consumers place into the reusable case. To advance the product smoothly, consumers twist the bottom of the case, much like a lipstick package.

At the same time, P&G began nationwide distribution of its Secret and Old Spice antiperspirants in a recyclable, paperboard push-pop tube, which it began testing in May 2020.

Startups and smaller challenger brands have also introduced reusable, refillable packaging for deodorant. The common denominator among these companies is their use of natural, plant-based ingredients for their personal care products.

Last year, we reported on U.K.-based Wild, a direct-to-consumer subscription company that’s developed a reuse platform for its natural and organic deodorant. Like Dove, the reusable case for Wild’s deodorant has a simple, sophisticated design. Made from anodized aluminum, it’s available in four striking unisex colors of aqua, coral, silver, and purple.

What makes this refill system very unique is its use of bamboo pulp for the construction of the refill pack. It was created by industrial design and innovations studio Morrama, which was tasked with engineering a plastic-free container small enough to ship in a letterbox-sized package.

Finding it couldn’t achieve the tolerances needed for the refill pack with paperboard, Moramma opted for bamboo instead. Introduced in March 2020, the 43-gram pack is made of two layers of bamboo pulp with a waxy inner layer and has the same flat profile as a traditional deodorant container with rounded edges. The lid for the refill pack is also made from bamboo.

In our October issue, we’ll be bringing you the story of Grove Collaborative’s new Peach brand Deodorant & Body Care Refill System, which the company says is the first that is entirely plastic-free. Both the reusable, cylindrical “forever case,” as it’s called, and the refill cartridge that locks inside are made from brushed aluminum.

Aesthetically, the graphics for the packaging and the outer paperboard case are bright and optimistic, mirroring the tone of the Peach personal care line. Included in the refill platform are three clean-ingredient, vegan deodorant varieties—Cucumber Sage, Citrus Vetiver, and Coconut Jasmine, as well as a body balm stick in a Coconut Pineapple scent and a body lotion stick in Lavender Coconut.

That’s all for this edition of  Take Five with Packaging World. Thank you for joining me. 

Companies in this article
More in Take Five