Last year, Allure uncovered a dirty little secret that still haunts me to this day: Only nine percent of all plastic waste ever produced has actually been recycled. (Uh, yikes.) And as someone whose work in life is to test beauty products packaged in — *whispers* plastic — my carbon footprint guilt is real… real bad.
That's why, this year (and really every year from here on out), I'm vowing to be more selective with the products I'm buying and using, as well as urging brands to rethink the standard when it comes to producing products — and their oftentimes wasteful packaging. Not even five days into the new year and I'm smiling from my soapbox because Dove is already making strides in the packaging department with its first-ever Refillable Deodorant.
At first glance, the Dove Refillable Deodorant doesn't look like anything the beloved drugstore brand has ever made before — but that's the point. Dove partnered with A Plastic Planet and Dutch design consultancy, VanBerlo, to design the white, palm-sized, refillable stainless steel case, which comes housed in white outer packaging made of 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council-grade paper.
"The entire design and manufacturing process are based around a mission to avoid excess material use," Augusto Garzon, Dove's global vice president of deodorants, tells Allure. "Our goal was to create a product that you not only can, but want to, use for life — from the durable, long-lasting materials to the sleek, minimalist design."
The buy-just-once stainless steel case is made with 54 percent less plastic than its Dove deodorant predecessors and is "backed with a lifetime guarantee." It's so sturdy it's "able to withstand a force of nearly 900 pounds in weight — the equivalent of a wheel car driving over it," says Sian Sutherland, cofounder of A Plastic Planet and the co-creator of the Refillable Deodorant.
Nine hundred pounds of force notwithstanding, the case also protects the precious Dove deodorant cargo inside (more on that in a minute) during the many times I've accidentally dropped it from my vanity during my morning rush to my laptop. (Working from home is hard, OK?)
As for the actual deodorant inside the case, fans will be glad to know that the solid stick is the same glycerin-based, Dove 0% Aluminum Deodorant formula they've grown to love over the last couple of years. Keep in mind, though, this deo is made without aluminum salts, which form a plug inside sweat glands to inherently slow perspiration, David Bank, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, previously told Allure. Instead, the 0% Aluminum-Free relies on other ingredients (i.e. the glycerin and floral and fruity notes) to shield the smell of the underarm area.
While I've been testing the refreshingly sweet Cucumber & Green Tea version for this story, I'd be remiss to ignore the two other available scents: a lightly floral Coconut & Pink Jasmine or the mild, non-scented Sensitive option. In my opinion, all three fragrances sound like a delight, but I'll probably go with Cucumber & Green Tea again once it's time to refill. I've found the melon-y aroma tends to linger for a full workday — and through very sweaty Peloton classes, I might add — with minimal wetness (keep in mind, that's because it's not an antiperspirant).
As I mentioned earlier, the Refillable Deodorant comes in two parts (the stainless steel bottom and the white steel body with the deodorant inside), housed in a recycled paper box. To assemble, "you simply place a refill onto the base until it slots into place, then twist until you feel and hear the click," says Garzon. To remove, you follow the same technique, rinse the empty refill, and plop it into your recycling bin. Because 98 percent of the plastic it's made with is from recycled plastic, the refillable is completely recyclable, says Sutherland.
You'll notice that with this quick assembly (and removal), the traditional screw-style mechanism found in most deodorant tubes has been removed, "as it's often those smaller components that can be most prone to damage over time," says Garzon.
The case's ergonomic design also gives the user (me, in this case) a closer grip in hand, allowing you to get up close and personal with your underarms. But even with the close proximity, I found there's no real mess during application; the white formula dries down quickly and is essentially cast-free seconds after the first swipe.
Although the Dove Refillable Deodorant is the only, well, refillable product in the Dove lineup at the moment, Garzon says to expect more sustainable shopping options — across all product categories — by 2025. "As part of our continuing commitment to plastic reduction, we will look to expand refillables into other Dove product lines in the future — so as many people as possible can find the kind-to-skin product they want in a format that is also kind to the planet," he says.
As for the rest of the industry, we've already predicted an upswing in refillable packaging to make its mark on 2021. For now, though, you can shop the Dove Refillable Deodorant Starter Kit (case and deodorant) and Refill Kit (two deodorant refills) for $15 and $10, respectively, in mid-January, at target.com and walmart.com.
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