Innovation in Deodorants: A New Perspective

Our Innovation in Deodorants webinar with Cosmetics Cluster UK (CCUK) last month looked at a range of subjects from innovation trends and market opportunities in deodorants to translational research in skin microbiome and biofilms. Additionally, in vitro alternatives to animal testing, emerging new technology, small brand perspectives and the promotion of consumer health and sustainability were also outlined.

In this blog, NBIC CEO, Dr Mark Richardson reflects on the event highlights in trends and technology and shares his new motivation as a consumer, for being mindful of ingredients and label claims when shopping for new products.

The most recent joint webinar between Cosmetics Cluster UK and NBIC surrounding innovation in deodorants had something for everyonewhatever your level of knowledge of this field. Be it as simple user (like me!) or a formulator, innovator, influencer or trend watcher.   

NBICDr Katerina Steventon and CCUKs Jane Evison gave context to this significant global market of 175Bn$ representing almost a quarter of the total personal care market (1). 

I’ve tended to use the two words antiperspirant (AP) and deodorant somewhat interchangeably over the years but now realise this is fundamentally wrong. An AP stops you sweating by blocking the pores physically or via an astringent effect. However, the sweat itself whilst maybe embarrassing on clothing is not inherently odorous, it takes bacteria to metabolise this sweat to produce the odour and therefore a deodorant aims to suppress this effect and not simply mask it with perfume.  

From a number of speakers, including Deanna Utroske, it was clear that there are a number of innovation trends gathering pace –(i) a move towards natural ingredients and formulations driven by “conscious consumerism” (ii) new presentations and delivery formats (iii) selective antimicrobials that can manage the axillary environment. 

Speaking from the US, Deanna Utroske built further on this by explaining that the key trends, as she saw it, were; wellness, hygiene, aroma and self-care. A number of indie brands are leading the way here such as Swayfounded in 2017 who deploy a 3 step care approach. Deanna saw the sector as an entrée for companies to access and educate consumers into other personal care segments.  

went to a major exhibition in the field of personal care a few years ago and it was clear that manipulating the microbiome was a key objective for ingredient companies and this is certainly gathering pace. Rather than just trying to suppress all bacteriathere is a move towards creating a healthy, natural skin flora – what Deanna called biological deodorants. 

There followed three excellent technical presentationsFirstly, from the UK, Dr Carol Treasure, the co-founder of XCellR8spoke about in vitro testing of formulations and ingredients using a completely novel approach that would allow manufacturers to use generally regarded as safe ingredients (GRAS) or more novel interventions and move beyond the simple “not tested on animals” claim. Carol argues there is a real consumer need here as up to 20% of consumers have stated they had a skin reaction to a topical product in the last month lasting 3 days or more. This really surprised me and it definitely must influence brand switching and churn if consumers get reactions from products.  

Carols approach has been to develop and validate a novel test approach which also uses completely cruelty free and vegan testing components. The tests are capable of assessing mildness and likelihood to cause irritation, hence offering manufacturers the opportunity to understand how well their products are likely to be tolerated topically. The test has initially been validated against patch testing. Overall, this seems to have good benefits – it uses the latest life science technologies, has a strong ethical underpinning, uses well defined and reproducible conditions and via a gradually expanding database is giving increasing confidence of the link between these in vitro results and likely consumer tolerance.    

Next, speaking from Spain, Daniel Robustillo of Vytrus Biotech spoke about a novel range of naturally derived ingredients they have developed, based on extracts from the plant Morinda citrifolia. One of these ingredients, Debiome Noni, uses an extract containing extracts of the plants anti-Quorum Sensing molecules that interfere with bacterial communication and prevent the unwanted biofilms involved in generating bad smell. This is combined in dual strategy with a prebiotic cocktail based on sugars that modifies the metabolism of the commensal microbiota of the skin from lipids to polysaccharides, avoiding the production of malodorous molecules (which tend to be the microbial by-products of lipids). The net effect is to reduce odour using only natural derived products. This effect has been confirmed in human study utilising a sniff test where the treatment regime showed a 30% reduction in odour (2) 

Finally, speaking from Ireland, Dr Simon Jacksonthe CSO and co-founder of Modern Botany, gave an engaging and compelling talk about using the science of nature to achieve the ingredient properties formulators seek from totally natural, non-synthetic sources. Simon is a Pharmacognosist (the study of medicines from natural sources), so is well qualified to educate us on this and described the use of ingredients built on the principles of Science Origin Integrity and Longevity (S.O.I.L.). He elegantly described (watch the video to see what I mean!) the range of natural options that can be used to achieve the antiperspirant and deodorant properties that formulators and customers are looking for in a product.  

Having started the webinar feeling quite naïve about this whole field, I left with a much clearer understanding that consumers, like me, usually wanteither or both the outcomes of antiperspirant (sweat reduction) or deodorant (odour reduction)and that these could increasingly be achieved via natural solutions that a range of innovative companies and scientists are actively formulating into exciting new products and presentations. Also allied to this, it is possible to assess the mildness/ irritation potential of such products using a wholly in vitro approach that can be matched to real outcomes in consumers. 

I will certainly treat this purchasing decision with a betterinformed perspective in the future and be much more mindful of ingredients and label claims. For NBIC and our community, at the heart of this it’s very clear that controlling biofilms and the microbiota of skin is absolutely essential to achieving odour reduction and that we can now do this in a more intelligent and natural way.  




Ref 1– NBIC International Biofilms Markets – Internal Report 

Ref 2 – Vytrus Biotech Technical report- on file 

Dr Mark Richardson, NBIC CEO