Whether they're looking for all-natural deodrants or high-performance technology, customers never need to sweat the small stuff.

If you’ll excuse the expression, all deodorants are a bit like social lube, ensuring friction-free, offence-free social intercourse in all weathers, but especially in hot humid summer conditions. Think of strap-hanging beneath the armpits of a fellow commuter during a sweaty rush hour – that journey will seem all the smoother and certainly sweeter with considerate use of deodorant.

Thankfully, most of the UK is a deodorantfriendly zone. Mintel estimate sales of UK deodorants and anti-perspirants at £401 million. In recent years, however, there’s been a shift toward products with natural and/or environmentally responsible claims, and another Mintel report found that nearly 75% of panellists would prefer more natural alternatives.

Perfectly natural

‘Natural’ products once had a bit of an image problem when it came to effectiveness, yet they often pack a surprising punch. (Any customer who questions plant potency need only be reminded of the effects of touching a stinging nettle.) Although they may provide little actual sweat-proofing, they can deodorise very effectively so, when making recommendations to customers, the trick is to marry product to lifestyle. This means that allnatural formulations may not best suit sporty lifestyles and marathon runners, but they work well for the average working day.

Natural crystal products, for example, are usually made of potassium alum, the natural mineral salts once used for water purification. Left whole or ground into powder, they work
by killing odour-forming bacteria. They were pioneered by Crystal in the USA back in 1984. In the UK, PitROK was an early example. Originally in crystal form alone, PitROK’s range has since expanded and its latest Extra Sensitive rollon and spray, £3.99 each, are liquid formats containing organic aloe vera and grapefruit seed extract, too. Alternatively, incognito Natural Crystal Deodorant, £4.49, claims to be the first alum crystal containing an essential oil, in this case citronella. It adds a pleasant citrus scent that insects often dislike, so it helps keep mozzies and biting bugs away.

Bicarbonate of soda is another useful ‘natural’ ingredient. Evolve Organic Beauty Cotton Fresh Deodorant Cream, £10, uses it to limit sweat and wetness by absorbing moisture, while essential oils and coconut oil fight odour. It’s also in Ben & Anna’s certified natural, organic and vegan deodorants, £9.95 each, which additionally contain arrowroot to constrict the pores and limit sweat. (Sales contact: info@pravera.co.uk) 

Prebiotic ingredients, which again restrict odour-forming bacteria, are helpful too. Green people quinoa & prebiotics Deodorant, £9.50, uses them for gentle, non-pore-clogging protection. It also contains castor oil-derived zinc ricinoleate to absorb odour molecules, while potassium alum provides powerful antibacterial action. In tests, 93% of testers reported 24-hour effectiveness.

There’s also Saint Côme’s Deovert Body Deodorants which reduce bacteria by absorbing them into active fruit molecules. Free from aluminium, parabens, colourants, preservatives, silicones and sulphates, they contain essential oils of orange, lemon, lavender, frankincense, grapefruit and cedar and won’t leave white marks. Available in Tonic or Maritime, they retail at £11.99 each.

Behaving responsibly

For customers who lead sportier, more active lives or who prioritise preventing wetness, antiperspirant products are a better fit. However, they often contain compounds such as aluminium chlorohydrate and aluminium zirconium, which keep skin dry by blocking sweat pores, and some research suggests this may not be good for health. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of the Mintel panel wanted aluminium-free protection.

Tapping into this market is Soft & Gentle who recently launched their 0% Aluminium Roll-on, its first free-from formulation. Created with a trio of key plant extracts, it is clinically proven to provide 24-hour sweat protection but still allows skin to ‘breathe’. Ingredients include bamboo powder to absorb and dry sweat before bacteria has a chance to form; sage, which has a natural deodorising action; and horsetail, a natural astringent that helps close (rather than block) the pores. Available in three fragrances, they are priced at £2.79 each.

New Dove 0% is also aluminium-free and alcohol-free into the bargain. Available in aerosol and roll-on formats, they come in Original, with the classic Dove scent, and Go Fresh Cucumber and Green Tea (RRP £3).

Bioderma’s new Sensibio Deo Freshness Deodorant, £7.50, is a hypoallergenic roll-on that’s again free from aluminium salts, as well as alcohol, parabens and fragrance. It resists white marks, too. It works by neutralising odour with decylene glycol, a skin-caring, moisturising agent with an antimicrobial action, plus zinc ricinoleate, which both absorbs and neutralises odour. In addition, toleridine helps keep skin from becoming irritated, so it’s ideal for sensitive skinned customers.

Also aimed at the 25% of consumers who want more natural credentials, but still want maximum efficacy, is Simple's new Soothing Anti-perspirant range of Aerosol, Roll-on and Stick (RRP £3 each). Besides being free from alcohol, fragrance and artificial colour, they promise 48-hour sweat and odour protection.

Boots recently relaunched its own antiperspirants, too. Its Compressed 48hr Protection sprays are now alcohol-free and the compressed can means less gas, smaller packaging and a lower carbon footprint.

Did you know?

  • Not all deodrants were created equal, nor fo they all perform the same function
  • Deodrants don't stop sweat but merely neutralise the bacteria that make sweat smell
  • Anti-persirants work to inhibit sweat from reaching the skin surface at all, usually by blocking the pores
  • As you might expect from the name, anti-perspirant deodrants (or APDs) are belt-and-braces products that perform both actions

High performance

Of course, some customers will always prefer classic APDs with a performance they know they can trust, especially in summer. Indeed, Mintel reports that 59% of women actively seek long-lasting dryness. Among the most recent innovations are Sure’s brand new combination of Antibacterial and Invisible No White Marks formulations, which feature special microcapsules that burst open with movement and friction. Sure Women Invisible Antibacterial Anti-perspirant Deodorant Roll-on or Spray has an RRP of £2.65.

Recently Right Guard improved its Total Defence formulae with new Odour Block Technology and also made them alcohol-free, yet with better ‘lasting freshness’. In addition, its Invisible Power line changed its formula from emulsion to suspension for a dryer sensation after application, greater anti-wetness protection and even better stain protection. (And to demonstrate the brand’s environmentally-friendly credentials, it recently created an outdoor gym made from repurposed deodorant/APD cans.) All products have an RRP of £2.

Finally, if there’s a brand that any family feels safe with, it’s Nivea. Besides offering 48-hour protection and Quick Dry technology, its relaunched antiperspirant range now has a more ergonomic design so it’s easier to spray from any angle, while a twist-to-lock function makes it easy to pack into gym bags or suitcases. It costs £3.29 for 250ml, or £2.29 for 150ml from Boots. The brand also expects to launch a special limited edition APD very soon, so watch this space.

Any customer who questions plant potency need only be reminded of the effects of touching a stinging nettle

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