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The Anatomy of a Formula—Antiperspirants

By: Eric S. Abrutyn
Posted: August 11, 2009, from the August 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

Deodorants have been used for more than 5,000 years, with many major civilizations having left a record of efforts to mask body odors. The early Egyptians, for example, recommended application of perfumed oils such as citrus and cinnamon preparations. Applications have evolved from masking offensive odors with simple perfumed oil to today’s complex deodorant and antiperspirant (AP) applications.

APs have been around for more than 100 years. The first commercial deodorant, Mum, was patented in 1888 by an unknown inventor, and the first antiperspirant with aluminum chloride, Ever-Dry, was produced 15 years later.1 Since that time, APs have morphed in the complexity of their delivery systems and associated actives—from simple pads and squeeze bottles with astringent acidic compounds to more sophisticated sticks and soft solids that use a buffered active.

Each AP form and active change has been initiated either by: 1) a technological breakthrough—e.g., roll-ons evolving from the invention of the ballpoint pen, or polymeric hydrated aluminum oxides evolving from the molecular manipulation of simple aluminum chloride; 2) regulatory requirements such as the development of solid sticks resulting from a ban on fluorocarbon propellants; or 3) a marketing claim for the novel use of a technology or a unique delivery system—the “clinical strength” claim, for example, originating from the advent of drug labeling requirements.

Although sticks are the most popular form of APs, they are not necessarily the ideal form to deliver the highest level of efficacy. This is due to the fact that water-soluble AP actives must transport through a waxy matrix, slowing the process of delivery. Extrudable, opaque, creamy soft solids deliver higher levels of efficacy because their lower amounts of waxy ingredients improve the availability of the active to the sweat glands. Extrudable, clear gel solids deliver lower efficacy because some of the ingredients therein are believed to inhibit the availability of actives to the sweat glands. Therefore, to best optimize the performance of AP sticks, one must understand the production process and the ingredients best suited for them.

The Ingredients