Antiperspirants & Deodorants

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Antiperspirants & Deodorants


NAICS: 32-5620 Toilet Preparations Manufacturing

SIC: 2844 Toilet Preparations Manufacturing

NAICS-Based Product Codes: 32-5620G221 and 32-5620G231


Antiperspirants and deodorants are products used to prevent underarm odor. Their manufacture constitutes a major category of the larger cosmetics and toiletries industry, an industry that consists of other such personal care items as perfume, hair and shaving preparations, cosmetics, and creams and lotions, along with toothcare and bath and shower products. In 2005 the sale of antiperspirants and deodorants contributed $12 billion to a cosmetics and toiletries market valued at $253.3 billion worldwide. As Karl Laden notes in his 1999 book Antiperspirants and Deodorants, with over 90 percent of U.S. consumers using an antiperspirant or deodorant product regularly at the close of the twentieth century, these products were rivaled in the health and beauty sector only by toothpaste in frequency of daily use.

Though the natural odors of the human body came to be stigmatized in many parts of the world during the twentieth century, such an attitude has not always been the case. In Elizabethan England, lovers placed peeled apple in their armpits, later exchanging the sweat-soaked pieces of fruit as a way of sharing their affection. "Will be home in three weeks. Don't wash," the emperor Napoleon famously wrote to his wife Josephine. Yet, in an admonition that could have been taken from an early American advertisement for soap, the first century poet Ovid, writing about the art of love, warned his readers of the difficulty of attracting members of the opposite sex when "harbouring a goat under the arms."

While the distinctive smell of underarms has been around for millennia, our understanding of what causes that smell had its genesis only as recently as 1833, the year the Czech scientist Johannes Evangelista Purkinje discovered sweat glands.

The human body has two types of sweat glands, the eccrine glands and the apocrine glands. Eccrine glands, the more numerous of the two, cover almost the entire body, whereas apocrine glands are located only in areas of concentrated hair growth such as the armpit, the genitals, and the scalp. Both glands produce a discrete form of sweat, neither of which is responsible for the smell associated with the odor emitted by a sweaty underarm. Instead, that smell occurs when bacteria naturally present on the skin react with proteins and lipids found in the secretion of the apocrine glands. The human underarm, both an area with high densities of bacteria on the skin as well as an area relatively free of air flow and therefore potentially moist and dark, provides an ideal environment for bacterial growth.

Eccrine glands are active in the human body from birth. They are linked with the autonomic nervous system, which means that they function involuntarily. They secrete a substance that consists of water, amino acids, electrolytes, and minerals, and they provide the body with a way to prevent reaching temperatures that might otherwise negatively affect well-being. Apocrine glands, on the other hand, develop during puberty and are largely activated in response to stress, emotions, or sexual arousal.

In the two centuries following Purkinje's discovery, scientists explored the chemistry of the underarm. They identified C19 androgen steroids and short chain fatty acids as sources of underarm odor and, in 1990, the discovery of 3-methyl-hexenoic acid as another source of odor was heralded in newspapers with such headlines as "Science sniffs out culprit in old mystery" and "Stink-tank scientist reports body odor breakthrough." While science made continual progress in understanding the chemical causes of what is commonly referred to as body odor, the history of human reaction to that odor and our efforts to control or mask it has been about as straightforward as our understanding of the very emotional states that lead to the production of sweat from the apocrine gland itself.

Social Context

There is no chronological advancement to be found from the past to the present with regard to personal cleanliness, only cycles of belief, social custom, and technological development. Attitudes toward personal cleanliness varied across cultures and throughout time according to practical factors such as the availability of water for bathing and the nature of living conditions as well as less tangible factors such as religious dictates and cultural norms. It appears, in addition, that smell is relative. As the American scientist W.T. Sedgwick conceded in a public health textbook at the turn of the nineteenth century, cleanliness is "doubtless an acquired taste."

There have been periods in history such as the medieval period in Europe and the early colonial era in North America, when bathing was rare. There was no running water, heating materials were expensive or required a great deal of time and energy to gather, sewage systems did not exist, and people often lived in close proximity with their animals. According to Charles Wysocki, an American physiobiologist who studies the chemistry of human olfaction, what is at first an unbearable odor can become commonplace after only a few days. This fact highlights the role that social norms play in dictating standards of personal hygiene and cleanliness.

For instance, while ancient societies such as those of the Greeks and Romans enjoyed highly developed water-delivery systems and elaborate bathing rituals, later societies such as those of early Christian Europe, not only lacked similar technological resources but even eschewed bathing and concerns with personal cleanliness as licentious and vain, activities to be avoided for moral as well as pious reasons. Meanwhile, in Islamic cultures during the same period, public steam baths called hammams were extolled as places of spiritual and physical purification.

The rise of concern with personal cleanliness in post-colonial America paralleled the rise of a public health movement and an increasing awareness of the importance hygiene plays in preventing disease. As in England, industrialization in the United States had been accompanied by an increasing number of people living in cities where a lack of plumbing and sewage systems exacerbated the incidence of illness. Mortality statistics from the 1800s show high rates of infant mortality due to diarrhea, the greatest cause of which was the communication of intestinal bacteria from adults who returned to children from the toilet without having washed their hands.

Early Market

A greater understanding among politicians and health reformers alike of the civic importance of plumbing and the significance of personal hygiene was accompanied by two factors closely linked with the formation of the antiperspirant and deodorant market: the growth of the soap industry and the beginnings of modern advertising.

Along with cereals, baking ingredients and foodstuffs, soap was one of the first products to be advertised nationally in the United States. Some of the earliest companies to make their start as soap producers and advertisers were Procter & Gamble, the Lever Brothers (now the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever) and Colgate-Palmolive; all three became global leaders in the cosmetics and toiletries industry.

The primary slant in early soap advertisements was the relatively utilitarian message of health reformers, thus emphasizing hygiene and the eradication of germs. By the early twentieth century, however, soap companies, with the help of advertising agencies such as the J. Walter Thompson Company, began to tap into a more psychological approach that linked cleanliness with social acceptance and self-esteem.

The term B.O. was first coined in 1926 print ads for Lever Brothers' Lifebuoy soap. The campaign ran for many years and depicted body odor as a social disgrace that could lead to ostracization, lost business ventures, and ruined romances. In one ad, a woman is pictured sitting on a man's lap. While he looks up at her imploringly, she looks away with a discouraged expression on her face. "Please tell me what is wrong dear!" reads a bubble caption that sits over the picture while below the picture in large bold print is written, "but she hadn't the courage to tell him he'd grown careless about B.O."

Other soap ads from this period, for products such as Palmolive and Procter & Gamble's Camay focused on soap's beautifying qualities and promoted smooth youthful complexions, in this way diverging from a message synonymous with the need for deodorants. However, while advertisements continued throughout the century to em-phasize the ability of soap to leave bathers smelling good, the role of fighting the dreaded body odor fell increasingly to antiperspirant and deodorant products.

Product Development

In 1888 an unknown inventor from Philadelphia introduced the first ever trademarked deodorant. Called Mum, it was and marketed and distributed in the United States through his nurse. The primary active chemical in Mum was zinc oxide. The deodorant, which was sold in short jars, was a waxy cream that was messy to apply and potentially irritating to the skin. Though manufacturers continued to experiment with deodorants in the decades that followed, only after the first aluminum based compound was produced in 1942 did the antiperspirant and deodorant industry begin.

Aluminum compounds such as aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, and aluminum zirconium glycine are key active ingredients in antiperspirants and deodorants. They are referred to as aluminum salts and are valued for their ability to temporarily plug sweat ducts, thus preventing the build-up of sweat in the underarm that leads to bacterial activity and odor.

In the late 1940s an employee at Mums came up with the idea for a new deodorant applicator. Inspired by the suggestion of a colleague, Helen Barnett Diserens developed a deodorant container based on the concept of a similarly new invention, the ball point pen. The new applicator was tested in 1952, and later marketed as Ban Roll-On.

By 1965 when the first antiperspirant aerosol deodorant was launched, the building blocks of an industry founded on technological innovation, scientific research, and savvy marketing had been set.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, when Americans were spending approximately $2 billion on deodorants and antiperspirants yearly, these products were produced in a wide variety of applications including pump sprays, squeeze sprays, aerosols, roll-ons, solid sticks, soft sticks, gels, and creams. While aluminum compounds form the primary active ingredient in most products, the development of compositions that would be clear upon application as well as the incorporation of hypoallergenic ingredients and milder, more natural fragrances were among the issues being explored in producing ever more effective and marketable products.

Industry Regulation

The terms antiperspirant and deodorant are often used interchangeably, but the two products are distinct. Deodorants reduce or prevent underarm odor by killing bacteria that cause odor and masking underarm smell through the use of fragrance. Antiperspirants inhibit the body's sweating process so that the underarm remains dry and bacteria have nothing to feed on in the first place. Despite this distinction, products marketed as deodorants most often also perform antiperspirant functions and antiperspirants, likewise, commonly contain fragrances meant to mask odor. In addition, the aluminum salts that make antiperspirants effective are known to have antibacterial qualities.

Prescription antiperspirants exist for the treatment of sweating disorders such as hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating. Dermatologists at the American Academy of Dermatology estimate the number of Americans suffering from excessive sweating to be approximately 8 million. Hyperhidrosis, when it occurs in the underarms, is most often treated with antiperspirants such as Drysol that contain high dosages of the active aluminum chloride compounds found in over-the-counter antiperspirants. In 2004 the drug Botox (botulinum toxin type A) administered as a shot to the underarm was approved for treatment in cases in which the condition could not be adequately managed by a topical agent.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), following the dictates of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, regulates products according to their intended uses. It considers any product that is designed to affect bodily structures or functions to be a drug. Since non-prescription antiperspirants are developed to inhibit the body's production of sweat, they are classified as over-the-counter drugs and are regulated by the FDA.

The FDA first began monitoring aluminum and aluminum zirconium containing products in 1977. Instead of reviewing each new antiperspirant that is produced, the agency publishes a monograph that lists the active antiperspirant ingredients that it has approved. As part of its process of approval, it is not only concerned with the safety of ingredients, but also with the veracity of any claims made about the product on its label. For instance, in a rule issued in 2003, the FDA allowed antiperspirant manufacturers to promote their products as being effective for up to 24 hours. In 2004 it reopened its ruling in order to test the efficacy of a new product claiming to provide sweat reduction for up to 48 hours.

If a product that is strictly a deodorant is found to cause harm once it is on the market, it is in the FDA's mandate to investigate that product's ingredients. Otherwise, because deodorants are classified as cosmetics by the FDA, they are not subject to the same kind of pre-market safety regulations as antiperspirants.

In 1976 the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association, a trade association that represents the cosmetics and toiletries industry, established the Cosmetic Industry Review (CIR) with the support of the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Federation of America. The CIR gathers information about ingredient safety and provides that information to manufacturers. Improved consumer confidence in the cosmetic and toiletries industry stemming from the review of cosmetic ingredients and a resulting increase in manufacturer accountability was a notable factor in the industry's improved sales in the latter years of the first decade of the twenty-first century.


According to data published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, the U.S. Toilet Preparation Manufacturing industry posted a shipment total of $39.5 billion in 2005, up from $35.8 billion in 2004, $31.7 billion in 2003 and $33.2 billion in 2002. While the industry grew by an average of more than 5 percent between 1996 and 2000, its growth slackened in the early 2000s, slowing to a rate of only 2 percent between 2001 and 2002. By 2005 with a market value reaching $54 billion and an increase in sales of 3.3 percent, it had begun once again to pick up speed.

In 2002 the Census Bureau classified the deodorant and antiperspirant industry as a category of the larger toilet preparation manufacturing industry. It described toilet preparation manufacturers as those establishments that are engaged in the preparation, blending, compounding and packaging of personal care products such as perfumes, hair and shaving preparations, and creams and lotions. Statistics for the antiperspirant and deodorant product shipments within the toilet preparation manufacturing industry are classified as underarm deodorants, aerosol and spray, and underarm deodorants, roll-ons and solids.

Product shipment statistics published in the Census Bureau's 2002 Economic Census, showed that shipments for aerosol and spray products were $1.4 million in 2002, down by approximately 30 percent from $2 million in 1997. Meanwhile, roll-ons and solids saw an increase in shipments of approximately 44 percent for the same period, rising from $1.2 billion in 1997 to $2.1 billion in 2002. The change reflected a trend that began in the 1990s with the introduction of new variations on the traditional stick antiperspirant/deodorant. The new products were considered invisible solids because they were smooth and dry upon application and did not leave a white residue. They were called, variously, clear gels, soft solids, sheer solids, and clear sticks, and developed in accordance with consumer preferences as revealed in market research conducted by antiperspirant and deodorant manufacturers.

The bar graph in Figure 3 presents the change in market share of antiperspirant and deodorant products by type in the United States from 1991 to 1998. It reflects the introduction of the new gel and soft solid products.

The U.S. cosmetics and toiletries market is one of the largest in the world. It is a also a mature market, which means that it has already reached a very wide base of consumers and cannot count on tapping large sections of the population in order to achieve growth as an industry. Likewise, with most Americans already using an antiperspirant or deodorant daily, the manufacturers of these products must rely on technological innovation, product enhancement, and market research to find news ways of appealing to consumers.

Leading manufacturers of antiperspirants and deodorants in the United States such as Procter & Gamble, Mennen Co., and Helene Curtis are either multinational corporations themselves or are subsidiaries of multinational corporations such as Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, and Henkel KGaA. Like the larger cosmetics and toiletries industry of which it is a part, the antiperspirant and deodorant industry constitutes a global market.

The North American and Western European markets were the two most highly developed markets worldwide in 2005, with North America accounting for 21 percent of global sales and Western Europe accounting for 30 percent. At the turn of the twenty-first century, however, the growth in the industry globally was increasingly being generated by activity in emerging markets such as those of Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa, and the Middle East. With a market size of $28.8 billion in 2005, Latin America saw a jump of 11.3 percent in its share of the global market over 2004 figures. Equally impressive was Eastern Europe's increase of 9.6 percent over 2004, and an increase of 7.1 percent for Africa and the Middle East.

The Asia-Pacific region placed second globally in 2005 with a market valued at $63.1 billion, approxi-mately $10 billion more than that of North America's for the same year. At an increase of 5 percent over 2004 earnings, the region's growth was largely due to the dynamism of the industry in China, where rising disposable incomes and growing product awareness contributed to the country's potential for market penetration.

One of the challenges for the makers of antiperspirants and deodorants seeking to expand into foreign markets is that consumer preferences vary from country to country. Since the early 1990s, for instance, Americans showed a consistent preference for antiperspirants over deodorants. French consumers, however, have been wary of the concept of stopping the body from sweating and showed a preference for deodorants over antiperspirants well into the early 2000s. Similarly, although aerosol products fell out of favor with U.S. consumers in the late 1970s, aerosol products were still a mainstay in the British market in the early 2000s.

Among emerging markets, Latin America posed a significant potential for continued growth in the first decade of the twenty-first century both as a global supplier of new cosmetic ingredients such as plant and fruit extracts and as an only partially tapped consumer base.


At the close of 2005 Procter & Gamble was the world's leading manufacturer of cosmetics and toiletries. It had bumped major competitor and former leader L'Oréal Group from the top spot as the result of its acquisition of The Gillette Co. in October of that year. Euromonitor International's data for 2005 showed Procter & Gamble with a 12.8 percent share of the global market, followed by L'Oréal Group with 10.2 percent, Unilever Group with 7.5 percent, and Colgate-Palmolive with 4.1 percent. Each of these is profiled in order of market share.

According to Market Share Reporter 2007, Procter & Gamble also came out on top of the U.S. deodorant and antiperspirant market in 2005, taking a 29.2 percent share. The Gillette Co. was in second place with 18.9 percent, followed by Mennen Co. at 12.5 percent, Helene Curtis at 9.6 percent, and Church & Dwight at 6.3 percent.

Procter & Gamble

This market leader is a multinational consumer goods company. With operations in nearly 80 countries, Proctor & Gamble derives more than half its revenues from overseas and markets its nearly 300 brands in more than 110 countries. It divides its business into two main global units, health and beauty, and household care. For a period following its acquisition of The Gillette Co., it had a third category which it called Global Gillette. Its Gillette unit was incorporated into its two other units in July 2007. The company had sales of $68.2 billion for the fiscal year ending June 2006 and employed 138,000 workers.

Formed in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1837, Procter & Gamble began as a partnership between William Procter, a candle maker, and James Gamble, a soap maker. Both men were immigrants, Procter from England as an adult and Gamble from Ireland as a child. They had married sisters Olivia and Elizabeth Norris and their father-in-law urged them to form a business together. Though candle making and soap making might seem an odd coupling, both products at the time relied on the same key ingredient, lye. Lye was made from animal fat and wood ashes, and Cincinnati, home to a booming pork trade, provided ample resources for pork fat.

In 1875, the company hired its first full-time chemist, and in 1878 it introduced a new soap product which it called White Soap, later renamed Ivory. Affordable and yet of a quality equal to expensive Castile soaps, Ivory soap became the first of what would be many innovative products introduced by Procter & Gamble. Some of these products were Crisco vegetable shortening (1911), the first synthetic detergent (1933), Tide (1946), Crest toothpaste (1955), and Pampers disposable diapers (1961). Procter & Gamble introduced its Secret deodorant and antiperspirant line in 1960.

Procter & Gamble aggressively acquired companies in the mid-1950s, purchasing the Charmin Paper Company, the Clorox Chemical Company, and the Nebraska Consolidated Mills Company all by the end of that decade. In 1988 it took its first step into the cosmetics industry with its purchase of Noxell Corporation, producers of Cover Girl cosmetics and Noxema products. Other cosmetics and toiletries purchases included the Old Spice line of fragrances, skin care products, antiperspirants, and deodorants from the Shulton Company in 1990; the Max Factor and Betrix brands from Revlon Inc. in 1991; and the Clairol hair preparations business from Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2001.

The Gillette Company

In the late 1890s, King Gillette, already a successful salesman, inventor, and writer, set out to bring an inexpensive and effective disposable razor to market. In 1901 William Nickerson, a machinist who had been educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, took an interest in developing the product with Gillette. That same year, Gillette formed the American Safety Razor Company to raise money for the development of the razor. He renamed the company the Gillette Safety Razor Co. in 1903 and in 1904 the company received a patent for its new razor.

The Gillette Company, based in Boston, Massachusetts, became a world leader in men's grooming products. Though its business remained grounded in the production of razors and blades, which it marketed to both men and women, it was equally successful as a manufacturer of toiletries. Three mainstays in the antiperspirant and deodorant market, Right Guard, Soft & Dri, and Dry Idea, were Gillette products.

In October 2005 Gillette became a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, which purchased the company for approximately $57 billion in stock. The European Union and the United States Federal Trade Commission approved the merger with the condition that overlapping products be divested. Accordingly, in 2006 Gillette's Right Guard, Soft & Dri and Dry Idea product lines were sold for $420 million to The Dial Corporation, a subsidiary of Germany's Henkel KGaA.

Mennen Company

The Mennon Company, producers of the highly successful Mennen Speed Stick line of antiperspirants and deodorants for men, became a subsidiary of the Colgate-Palmolive Company in 1992. Mennen had been launched earlier in the century with a talcum based powder invented by its founder Gerhard Heinrich Men-nen, a German immigrant. Originally based in New York, the company moved its headquarters to Morristown, New Jersey, in 1954. Among other products manufactured by Mennen were its Baby Care products, a line of toiletries for babies, the aftershave lotion Skin Bracer, and Lady Speed Stick, a line of antiperspirants and deodorants for women.

Colgate-Palmolive Company

The Colgate-Palmolive Company, based in New York, New York, is one of the most powerful consumer goods companies in the world. Its international presence includes operations in over 200 countries and it reported sales of over $12 billion for the fiscal year ending December 2006. Its brands include such mainstay products as Colgate toothpaste, Palmolive and Irish Spring soaps, Fab laundry detergent, and Ajax cleanser. It is also a major player in the manufacture of pet care products.

The company began as a manufacturer of soap, candles, and starch. Founded by William Colgate in 1806, it was originally incorporated as the Colgate Company. Upon the death of William Colgate in 1857, the founder's son changed the company's name to Colgate & Company. The company's name changed again in 1928, when it merged with soap manufacturers Palmolive-Peet to become Colgate-Palmolive-Peet. In 1953 the company dropped Peet from its title.

The Colgate-Palmolive Company was the first manufacturer to produce toothpaste in tubes. It was also a pioneer among U.S. companies in expanding operations abroad, creating a Canadian subsidiary in 1913 and a French one in 1920. Following throughout the 1920s were operations in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, the Philippines, and Argentina, among others.

Major acquisitions in the personal care category for the company have included the purchase of cosmetics manufacturer Helena Rubenstein in 1973 and the purchase of Mennen Co. in 1992. In 2006, the company announced its intended acquisition of Tom's of Maine for $100 million.

Helene Curtis Industries Inc.

This wholly owned subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch consumer products giant Unilever is a personal care products company based in Chicago, Illinois. Helene Curtis' best-selling toiletries include shampoos, conditioners, antiperspirants and deodorants, and hand and body lotions.

The company was first incorporated as the National Mineral Company in 1927. Its founders, Gerald Gidwitz and Louis Stein, soon recognized that their one product, a facial mask made of clay mined in Arkansas, would not be enough to sustain them in an increasingly competitive market for women's toiletries. They turned to haircare products and in the 1930s introduced the first ever mass-produced hair-waving pads for the creation of permanents as well as one of the first detergent-based shampoos ever to be manufactured in the United States.

Innovation became a hallmark for Helene Curtis, which was renamed as such after Louis Stein's wife and son. In the 1940s and 1950s the company's Suave shampoo brand took the market by storm, followed by an aerosol deodorant, Stopette, that was a bestseller for several years. It was also during this period that Helene Curtis coined the term hairspray with the introduction of its aerosol hair product Spray Net.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Helene Curtis expanded on the success of Suave shampoo, introducing creme rinses and wave sets under the Suave name. In the deodorant and antiperspirant category, it launched Secure, a powder deodorant, which was followed by a Suave brand roll-on. The 1980s saw the company begin producing skincare lotions and make two new highly successful haircare launches, Finesse conditioner and the Salon Selectives line of products.

The launch of the Degree brand of antiperspirants and deodorants in 1990, garnered the company a large share of the antiperspirant and deodorant market. However, the 1990s found Helene Curtis struggling to keep up with larger competitors such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever, and in February 1996 it announced that it would be sold to Unilever for approximately $770 million.


The primary active ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants are antibacterial agents and aluminum compounds. Whereas such antimicrobials as ethanol, citricidal, triclosan, and zinc phenolsulphonate are effective in killing the bacteria associated with the formation of underarm odor, aluminum compounds such as aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum sulfate, and aluminum zirconium glycine dissolve on the skin and hydrolyze in sweat ducts, thus preventing build-up of the sweat on which the bacteria feed.

One of the keys to a successful antiperspirant product is that its aluminum compound should be present at strong enough levels so as to prevent perspiration and yet not so strong that it irritates the skin. To achieve this balance, manufacturers calibrate the compound's acidity, which is the quality that makes it effective at blocking sweat ducts, with its base, the quality that neutralizes its potentially harmful effects. Early aluminum-chloride based antiperspirants suffered from just such an imbalance, not only causing skin rashes but also damaging clothing.

The non-active ingredients present in deodorants and antiperspirants depend largely on the form of application the product takes. In the early years of their development, antiperspirants and deodorants were available primarily as creams, powders, or roll-ons. In 1965 the Gillette Company became the first manufacturer to produce an antiperspirant in an aerosol dispenser when it introduced Right Guard. By the late 1960s aerosol antiperspirants and deodorants stormed the marketplace.

What gave the aerosol products their propulsion were fluorocarbons, which were favored for the soft dry spray they produced. However, in 1978 the U.S. government banned the use of fluorocarbons due to research that identified the gaseous compound as detrimental to the ozone layer of the earth. Manufacturers later replaced fluorocarbons with alternatives in aerosol products; however, negative publicity had a strong effect on the market. By 1982 U.S. sales of aerosol antiperspirants and deodorants dropped to a 32 percent share of the market from a high mark of 82 percent during the 1970s.

First formulated in 1934, solid stick products quickly filled the gap left by aerosols. They consisted of an active antiperspirant/deodorant ingredient suspended in a waxy base. Common base materials were stearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, hydrogenated castor oil, and glyceryl stearate. Base materials were blended with lubricating oils and emollients such as cyclomethicone, a volatile silicone compound.

The last two decades of the twentieth century saw new developments in the effectiveness of standard aluminum chlorohydrate and aluminum zirconium actives. Though chemically indistinguishable from their standard forms, the new actives, referred to as enhanced efficacy aluminum compounds, were processed so that they contained lower weight molecular polymers, a property that enabled them to provide sweat prevention for longer periods of time.

One of the key suppliers of materials to the antiperspirant and deodorant industry is the specialty chemical manufacturer Reheis Inc., a subsidiary of GenTek. Based in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, Reheis produces a range of 45 to 50 aluminum compounds including aluminum chlorohydrates and aluminum zirconium chlorohydrates. The company played a major role in the research and development of aluminum compounds. Some of its products are Rezal 36 GP, Rezal 36 GP SUF, Reach 301, and Reach-AZP 908.

Other inactive ingredients in antiperspirants and deodorants are fragrances, colorants, and skin care agents. Powders such as talc or starches enhance products esthetically, as do alkanolamides and propoxylated alcohols, which provide emolliency to sticks, and silicones, which act as both effective lubricants and anti-whitening agents. Glycerol esters keep metal agents such as aluminum zirconium stable in stick formats.

Some of the companies supplying inactive materials to antiperspirant and deodorant manufacturers are Dow Corning, ICI Specialty Chemicals, and Witco.


Traditionally, cosmetics and toiletries were classified as prestige products and mass market products. Prestige products were sold at department stores and select boutiques while mass market products could be found at supermarkets and drugstores. Unlike such cosmetic and toiletry categories as perfume, cosmetics, and creams and lotions, antiperspirants and deodorants never held the glamour of a prestige brand. They were more of a workaday product, a toiletry that is considered a necessity more than a prestige indulgence.

In the United States during the 1990s, the presence of large discount stores such as Wal-Mart began to reshape the retail landscape for cosmetics and toiletries. In 2001 figures from ACNielson showed that discount stores expanded their share of antiperspirant and deodorant retail sales from 35 percent of the market in 1995 to 42 percent in 2001. As of 2001 discount stores accounted for a majority of the volume in sales of antiperspirants and deodorants in the United States. Conversely, supermarkets sales of antiperspirants and deodorants over the same period decreased from 41 percent to 36 percent, and drugstores sales declined from 24 percent to 22 percent.

In the early 2000s consumers were willing to pay more for cosmetics and toiletries if these products provided good quality. This phenomenon led to the coining of the term masstige. Masstige brands referred to products that might have previously been considered prestige brands and therefore sold at a relatively exclusive location such as the cosmetics counter at a department store, but that were now being sold as mass market products in larger outlets such as discount stores and supermarkets.

Consumer interest in quality products and increased awareness of potentially harmful cosmetic chemicals led the manufacturers of antiperspirants and toiletries to develop products that contained many of the qualities associated with a prestige brand, such as ingredients that are good for the skin and possess a natural, non-synthetic smell. Such products were increasingly being sold at health food stores and by environmentally conscious retailers.


Key users of deodorants and non-prescription antiperspirants are those individuals who regard underarm smell as something to be avoided. The desire to avoid emitting a body odor is often a subjective one. Physiological variations may lead some individuals to generate more underarm odor than others. Social and cultural norms also play a role in the decision to use an underarm product. Therefore, key users are most likely consumers who live in countries and societies that equate body odor with bad grooming, and bad grooming with low social as well as economic status, low self-esteem, and a general lack of respectability.


Antiperspirants and deodorants are closely adjacent to other scented toiletry items like perfumes and colognes, hair preparations, and creams and lotions. While these products contain fragrances that enhance their appeal to consumers, they are not developed to provide the preventative action of underarm antiperspirants and deodorants, nor do they claim to.

More directly adjacent to the function of underarm deodorants at the turn of the twenty-first century were body sprays and deodorizing soaps. While deodorizing soap brands such as Lifebuoy and Dial had been in the market since the early days of the toiletries industry, body sprays were introduced in the 1980s, taking off in Europe before making a successful entrance into the U.S. market in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Body sprays are products that function between a perfume or cologne and a deodorant. As with a cologne, fragrance is a key selling factor for body sprays and brands are marketed in a variety of scents. Like a deodorant, these products claim to keep those who use them free of body odor and smelling fresh all day. Unlike deodorants, body sprays are meant to be applied all over the body, not just to the armpits.

Unilever kicked off the market for body sprays in the United States when it introduced its Axe brand in 2002. Axe, which is called Lynx in the United Kingdom and Australia, successfully targeted male consumers between the ages of 12 and 24. Following Unilever were Gillette with Right Guard Xtreme Sport body spray and Procter & Gamble with Old Spice High Endurance body spray. By the latter part of the first decade of the twenty-first century, body sprays were produced and marketed for women as well as men.

The information industry is adjacent to the antiperspirant and deodorant market. Information about product ingredients and industry ethics is accessible to consumers over the Internet. In the first decade of the twenty-first century consumers held companies accountable for such issues as the testing of ingredients on animals and the use of toxic substances in their products. An organization called the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is an example of the adjacent information industry.


Manufacturers of antiperspirants and deodorants continuously look for ways to make products more effective at preventing body odor. The main discovery for the antiperspirant and deodorant market was in 1942 when aluminum cholorhydrate was first produced in the United States. Since then, further research has led to the development of enhanced active aluminum compounds that provide longer lasting protection.

In the 1990s the development of products such as clear gels, soft solids, and invisible solids, satisfied the demand for antiperspirants and deodorants that apply clear and do not leave white marks on skin or clothing. Numerous patents during this and the following decade also addressed the need for improved deodorant actives. Some of the methods explored included the use of a chemical referred to as DTPA (diethylenetriaminepenta-acetic acid) that was found to bind to the iron contained in sweat, thus disabling bacteria that are known to feed on iron; a method that resulted in the inhibition of androgen receptor expression, which is known to carry human odor; and the use of a cellulose fiber product that was found to be an excellent deodorizer.

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, fragrance and the use of non-toxic substances were increasingly important to consumers of antiperspirants and deodorants. Research and development focused on the development of new, more natural and less synthetic smelling products as well as the inclusion of skin-friendly ingredients.


At the turn of the the twenty-first century, cosmetics and toiletry manufacturers capitalized on well-known brand names to create lines of products referred to as mega brands. For the antiperspirant and deodorant industry, tried and true names such as Secret, Old Spice, Degree, and Soft and Dri were produced in different application forms from soft solids and clear gels to body mists and more. Within each form category, each product was manufactured in approximately four to six different scents. Marketing encouraged consumers to mix and match form types and fragrances to come up with a deodorant that spoke to their individual tastes and needs.

Another trend in underarm products was skin-friendly marketing. Products were introduced that contained such well-known skincare ingredients as aloe vera and vitamin E. They also allied themselves with brand names that were mainstays in the skincare industry. For instance, one of the products under the Secret brand was Secret Platinum and Olay, which made use of the famous skincare brand Oil of Olay. The Dove brand, originally a soap known for its moisturizing and gentle qualities, branched out into antiperspirants and deodorants in 2001, and marketing of these products highlighted their moisturizing and gentle effects on underarm skin as well as their strength at preventing odor.

Paralleling the interest in organic foods and health products in the two decades surrounding the turn of the twenty-first century, was the desire for cosmetics and toiletries that beautify and nurture with natural, non-toxic ingredients. Companies such as Tom's of Maine, Jason Natural Products, and Burt's Bees produced deodorants that were aluminum-free and made use of botanical ingredients such as hops, lemongrass, coriander, and lavender. L'Oréal acquired The Body Shop and Colgate-Palmolive acquired Tom's of Maine—evidence that traditional players in the industry saw value in the growing base of consumers interested in products containing natural ingredients.


In the first decade of the twenty-first century the antiperspirant and deodorant industry targeted the male consumer. Penetration into the male market had traditionally been lower than that of the female market. A rise of interest among men in cosmetics and toiletries in general led to their increased use of deodorants and antiperspirants. Sales to young men between the ages of 12 and 34 drove growth in the industry as whole.

Scent proved to be a leading factor in a man's choice of product, and body sprays such as Axe Body Spray Deodorant, Old Spice High Endurance, and Right Guard Sport, though not antiperspirants, appealed to young men with fragrance names such as Aqua Reef, Arctic Force, Voodoo, Vitality, and Tsunami. Marketing campaigns centered around sports-related promotions as well as the selling of image—men who use the product being appealing to women, men who use the product being risk-takers and adventurers. Within the male market, Mennen Speed Stick and Degree continued to be first choice among men between the ages of 35 to 44.

In continuing to target the female market, manufacturers promoted the skincare benefits of their products. Campaigns focused on the esthetics of products, such as their smooth, dry feel upon application, the freedom from worry provided by their long-lasting protection, and their conditioning qualities for delicate underarm skin. Within the women's category, age was also a factor. Dove Pro·Age, a line of toiletries, included antiperspirants and deodorants targeted to mature women. The Secret Sparkle collection targeted teenage girls.


The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics,

Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association,

The European Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association,

Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association,

Cosmetic Ingredient Review,


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see also Perfumes, Soaps & Detergents