Deodorant is falling out of favor with young people, according to a new poll.
Nearly 40 percent of the 18- to 24-year-olds interviewed in a new survey said they did not use deodorant or antiperspirant in the last 30 days.
Around a third (31 percent) of 25- to 34-year-olds said the same, along with a quarter (22 percent) of 35- to 44-year-olds.
Past 45, deodorant use was far more common – only shunned by 16 percent.
The data, from YouGov, fit neatly into the emerging trend of ‘natural deodorant’ and the general rise in demand for natural, organic, authentic, and chemical-free products among the world’s youngest.
The data, from YouGov, fit neatly into the trend of ‘natural deodorant’ and the general rise in demand for natural, organic, authentic, and chemical-free products among the world’s youngest
Generation Z, as those born after 1995 are known, holds incredible purchasing power.
By 2020, there will be an estimated 2.6 billion Gen Z-ers on the planet, spending approximately $44 billion.
Raised online, they have a forceful presence on social media, shaping the way brands market their products, and even what products they design.
A recent study by Viacom found eight in 10 Millennials and Gen Z-ers would define beauty as ‘being yourself’.
That’s hardly news to cosmetics brands, who have increasingly invested in more diverse products that are marketed as enhancing – rather than masking – natural beauty.
Some of the biggest cosmetic success stories of the last five years include Glossier’s subtle lip balms, Korean skincare regimes, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty with a broad range of foundation skin tones, and Kim Kardashian’s diverse range of body shimmers.
The same has been seen in food, clothes and packaging.
Deodorant, on the other hand, is a cosmetic success story built on the fact that it is not natural: it’s hiding your natural smell.
Deodorant (designed to mask body odor) and antiperspirant (designed to prevent sweating) were flops when they first emerged in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Better to wash frequently, avoid sweat-inducing exercise or the sun, and spritz on perfume if you’re concerned about smelling – that was the general consensus.
One product – Odorono (Odor, oh no!) – started gaining some momentum between 1912 and 1919, because it was being sold by the daughter of a doctor, who used it to de-sweat his hands before surgery, giving the product some intellectual backing.
But it was until 1919 it really took off.
Now-notorious advertising copy writer James Young designed an advertising campaign warning women that they were repelling men, and destined to be spinsters, by leaving their armpits un-fragranced.
The campaign was controversial, and seen as vulgar.
But it worked: Odorono’s sales soared from $65,000 to $417,000 in one year alone. In less than a decade, sales were up to $1 million. (And Young became a star in the industry).
Campaigns directed at women were focused on their romantic prospects. According to a history on the Smithsonian, one 1937 advert for Mum said:
‘You’re a pretty girl, Mary, and you’re smart about most things but you’re just a bit stupid about yourself. You love a good time—but you seldom have one. Evening after evening you sit at home alone. You’ve met several grand men who seemed interested at first. They took you out once—and that was that. There are so many pretty Marys in the world who never seem to sense the real reason for their aloneness. In this smart modern age, it’s against the code for a girl (or a man either) to carry the repellent odor of underarm perspiration on clothing and person. It’s a fault which never fails to carry its own punishment—unpopularity.’
Campaigns directed at men, in the height of the Great Depression, warned they may never land a job again if they didn’t mask their own scent, historian Dr Cari Casteel told the Smithsonian.
Pushing a century later, the deodorant industry is worth $18 billion, and growing.
But natural deodorants are becoming more and more popular, amid rising demand for ‘natural’ products, and following a wave of (small and largely debunked) studies that linked deodorant to various diseases.
The latest endorsement for natural deodorants comes from Justin Bieber, a Millennial YouTube user-turned-singer-turned-model-turned-actor-turned-perfume designer-turned-venture capitalist, who recently announced his new vegan, ‘cruelty-free’ deodorant stick called Here + Now, hitting shelves in fall 2019.
Is this the way forward?
It’s not that simple, Dr Christine Ko, MD, a professor of dermatology and pathology at Yale University, told DailyMail.com.
‘Some people do sweat more than others. For people that do feel they are sweating more than normal, they should consult their dermatologist, and deodorants, anti-perspirants, or even Botox [prescribed for severe perspiration conditions] may work for them,’ Dr Ko said.
And it’s not just about how much you perspire: we all sweat, but that’s not what smells.
‘That watery, wet substance is actually odorless before it hits the skin,’ Dr Ko said.
‘But everybody has different bacteria on their skin and that creates the odor.’
Those concerned about deodorant’s disease links shouldn’t be (‘I do not believe deodorant causes cancer’), but Dr Ko sees no harm in those turning to natural deodorant options if they like it.
‘I do think that more and more people of younger generations are concerned about things being organic and chemical-free and natural, so it does make sense to me that they are [moving towards natural deodorants],’ Dr Ko said.