Unilever scientists recently shared how they created the company's "most effective deodorant technology yet" under the Rexona brand (also known as Sure, Degree and Shield). The patented microtechnology is said to provide 72 hr of sweat and odor protection, and is now being introduced across the brand's entire range.
Evelyn Warner, formulation and claims manager, and Andrew Butterworth, global research and development design director, were part of the team who created Rexona products.
As background, initial research indicated that although 98% of consumers were happy with their deodorants, 80% globally experienced problems with sweat or odor. According to the scientists, this data showed people were resigned to believing deodorant can only do so much. Further, when people experienced odor or wetness, they often blamed themselves, not their antiperspirant; but antiperspirant technology hasn’t changed since the 1980s.
Improving Sweat Protection
According to Warner and Butterworth, when this project kicked off, the Rexona team focused on how a new technology could deliver better sweat protection. In collaboration, 50 scientists and 10 doctors of science reviewed scientific literature and identified new routes to create antiperspirant actives.
They found a microtechnology to combine an antiperspirant active with two specific ingredients (patented by Unilever). The secret, according to the innovators, is that the microtechnology ingredients can compact closer together than conventional antiperspirant complexes, to form an extremely effective barrier against sweat. The technology is unique in that it can be used across every format in the product range.
Rexona identified the structure of this microtechnology by working with the UK government-funded Daresbury Laboratory. The quantum modeling techniques employed were reportedly those that are used to understand the origins of the universe.
Rexona also worked with Unilever at the Shanghai Science Centre to understand the kinetics and strength of sweat barrier formation, and to show how the technology could be better than conventional technologies.
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Additionally, the brand worked with dermatologists to guarantee the formula was gentle to the skin, and worked with Rexona's suppliers to ensure they could manufacture the active in the vast quantities required to meet market needs.
Further, to provide a tool to give a clear measurement of sweat improvements, SweatSense was developed by Rexona's science and technology team in collaboration with the University of Warwick. According to the scientists, this is a simple, visual way of showing how much the product protects the user when compared with other antiperspirants. A sensor is applied to the underarms for five seconds to obtain the results. The more the sensor turns red, the more sweat there is and the lower the antiperspirant efficacy.
The scientists performed more than 200 clinical tests to measure sweat reduction, malodor reduction and sensory and fragrance performance. The new formula delivered results after the standard 48 hr in a hot room; this was extended to see whether the product could perform better on day three than standard antiperspirants at the end of day one.
The resulting formula reportedly offered sweat protection with higher efficacy than anything else in the company's portfolio, plus odor protection and fragrance performance. Used at low levels, the deodorant gave protection without compromising sweat or odor performance. Used at higher levels, it provided higher performance that allowed for up to 72 hr of sweat and odor protection—for the first time, the company reported.