Piper Wai Charcoal Deodorant

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Grant Go
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As a guy, one of my biggest personal hygiene flaws that I’m not ashamed to admit myself is adult body odor. Whether it's coming out of the gym or an intense, dungeons and dragons session, I need some deodorant to keep myself daisy fresh and am capable of working overtime. Much to my dismay, I have tried so many different kinds of deodorant only to be left sweaty and smelly by lunchtime. I used to rotate between Old Spice, Arm and Hammer, and Almay every other month because one day I wake up and my deodorant decided to stop working.

This is where PiperWai comes in.

PiperWai is redefining everyday hygiene essentials-- starting with the first natural deodorant that uses activated charcoal to neutralize odor and absorb wetness. Normally, deodorants and antiperspirants are composed of several chemical ingredients and can cause irritation and rashes. PiperWai products are certified vegan, cruelty-free, and don’t contain common pollutants or toxic ingredients that harm the environment or our bodies. As a product, PiperWai costs $15, certainly a little pricey. However, compared to other luxury brands like Corpus and Oars+Alps it is cheaper and a good investment. 

What it's made of:


PiperWai is a charcoal crème deodorant created sans harmful ingredients. Its 100% natural ingredients form an invisible, absorbent, pH-balanced shield on your underarms that neutralizes bacteria and odor and protects your clothes from perspiration. The biggest selling points for me were that PiperWai is certified vegan and cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and that they say it’s specially formulated for sensitive skin. I was a bit skeptical because it does say there is baking soda (AKA sodium bicarbonate) in the ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions in some people. 

Their biggest ingredient is charcoal which can absorb 1000x its weight in moisture, forming an absorbent layer between your shirt and skin. The only concern I had with this is that it does not explicitly mention in its website where the charcoal comes from like whether it was imported or mined, etc. For me, this would be a concern given that the way its extracted may be damaging to the environment or cause harmful air emissions. 

The formula for the deodorant uses activated charcoal powder, which rubs clear and doesn't discolor clothing. Other ingredients include cocoa butter, tea tree oil, Shea butter, vitamin E, magnesium hydroxide, baking soda, and a proprietary blend of 11 essential oils, all of which are natural and are great for sensitive skin. I used this in the Los Angeles dry heat for my day-to-day errands and have been sweat and odor-free for days. For anyone worried about the skin-irritating potential of baking soda, theirs contains a minimal amount. 

Unlike many deodorant brands I’ve used, this is by far the most transparent and most natural which gives me as a consumer a lot of confidence in the safety of their product. Everything sold by the brand is certified vegan and cruelty-free and doesn’t contain toxic ingredients or common pollutants found in traditional body care products.


How it's made:


In terms of packaging, although the previous packaging used has been glass or PPE plastic, after some research, the brand switched to Ocean Waste Plastic (OWP) as their material of choice for their product. OWP reduces CO2 emissions by 60% versus virgin plastic. 

OWP started as a non-profit, and they work with fishermen to provide them fair wages to go out and fish for plastic instead of fish. They then clean it, sort it through a multi-step process that’s in line with cosmetic regulations, and repurpose it into high-quality packaging. The result is a supply chain that provides more jobs for fishermen, reduces water usage, and produces 75 percent fewer greenhouse gasses than virgin plastic thanks to the fact that it relies on solar energy. Plus, the wrapping itself is recyclable, which means its lifecycle lasts well beyond that of the actual product it houses.

OWP also uses 85% less energy than the production of virgin plastic. Producing 1lb of OWP consumes a modest 202ml of water, 0.22kw of electricity, and absolutely zero oil. Finally, by using OWP PiperWai is helping to create six times more jobs than landfilling recyclables and thirty-six times more jobs than incinerating the plastic. 

What I really liked about their packaging article was how transparent they were. On their website, there is a page that describes to the customer what changes they made to their packaging. On the page, they acknowledged the difficulties in finding a sustainable brand package, updated consumers on their change from glass to recyclable plastic, and brainstorming notes on bioplastic.

For the founders, the motivation to move in this direction came as much from them as the PiperWai community with a lot of their climate-crisis-aware customers asking when they would stop using virgin plastic. 

In all this, they considered what consumers needed in buying a product like cost, user experience, shipping, weight, and protection. They also outlined their journey in connecting with other business owners, attending sustainability conferences, and doing research on sustainable packaging. In my opinion, this shows how much PiperWai values the opinions of the consumer. 

While the plastic for Piper Wai containers is manufactured abroad, the deodorant formulas are produced locally with smaller manufacturers and businesses. Not only does this cut down on emissions from transportation and logistics but it also supports smaller businesses and owners. 


Who makes it:


PiperWai is a black and female-owned company that was started by pair Jess Edelstein and Sarah Ribner out of a desire to find a deodorant that could keep one dry and odor-free, all without unnecessary chemical ingredients. 

A few years ago, PiperWai was sold in about 40 independent brick-and-mortar retailers across the U.S., one in Canada and one in Beijing. Now, PiperWai works with about 250 new wholesale retailers across the U.S. and Canada, including Whole Foods, GNC, LuckyVitamin, and a variety of beauty shops, gyms, pharmacies, organic grocery stores, and wellness centers.

PiperWai also has a foot in the ground of pollution and single-use plastic waste. Specifically, ocean waste. According to some statistics, there are 8 million tons of plastic that enter our oceans yearly, and in about thirty years there will be more plastic than fish in the water.

To resolve this, PiperWai partnered with Tide Ocean SA and Packtech to source Ocean Waste Plastic for their product. These two manufacturers have been able to take ocean waste and ocean-bound plastic and turn them into amazing recyclable packaging. This plastic is then used by PiperWai for their product packaging. 

Another aspect of PiperWai is its commitment to the fight against animal cruelty as certified by Leaping Bunny, a voluntary pledge and monitoring system that ensures that cosmetic, personal care, and/or household product companies based in the US or Canada make to clear animal testing from all stages of product development. They don't test finished products or ingredients on animals, and neither do their suppliers or any third parties. They also don't sell their products where animal testing is required by law.


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