How it all came about?
As my Father used to say, ‘If you want something done, do it yourself’. Well, that’s the basic premise to our Deodorant story. Let me explain.
For years Simon and I have been trying and testing ‘natural’ deodorants in the personal care market. As we travelled with our work around the world, we had the opportunity to try all sorts of various preparations old and new. I guess we became a tad obsessive about finding the perfect fit. We found that some worked well as deodorants and smelt nice, but did not work at all as an effective antiperspirant; or others claimed to be natural, but would still have some hidden nasties, in that typical ‘greenwashing’ kind of way!
We both did not like pastes, or rub-in’s (all a bit too messy and time-consuming when on the move) and did not want to use bicarbonate of soda as this can cause itchy and scaly skin with prolonged use. We also did not want it to be packaged in an aerosol or in any plastic housing.
So basically, we formulated our MB Deo based on what we did not want and were clear about what we did want!
In trying to understand what constitutes a ‘good’ deodorant we realised that we were not alone in our obsession to find a natural deodorant that meets our needs. We liaised with and listened to the opinions of our customers; beauty press editors; skintellectuals; chemists and other professionals in the natural personal care space. From this feedback, Simon set to work to establish a unique formulation that would be 100% natural: plant-based and unisex. Being multi-tasking, it would not only work as an effective deodorant and antiperspirant, but also would function as a body scent that would work in harmony with the natural pheromones in your body.
The bottom line is that it had to be safe, work as a deodoriser and antiperspirant while also being 100% natural and suitable for sensitive skin.
After 2 years of research; various lab samples produced and testing and analysis completed, Simon was finally content to approve the definitive and innovative prototype ready for market.
Modern Botany Deodorant was born.
It works, Why, How? (this is the science bit)
Simon is a Doctor of Pharmacognosy (Pharma/Drugs + Cognosy/ Knowledge = Knowledge of drugs or medicines), I know a mouthful, right! But in simple terms it’s the study of medicines derived from plants (think Aspirin came from Willow Tree bark, or Digoxin, heart medication from the Foxglove). Pharmacognosy concerns itself with the study of the origins of drugs and the pursuit of drug discovery.
When researching the development of new natural products, he is always on the lookout for the most effective and innovative natural ingredients and their medicinal and therapeutic properties while looking at their tried and tested traditional use.
Taking conventional synthetic deodorants as his starting point he broke down the primary chemicals used to:
1. Deodorise (mask odour and fight bacteria)
2. Stop/slow down sweat output (Antiperspirant)
There is nothing wrong with sweating (perspiring) – it’s a wholly natural and essential bodily function that regulates our body temperature and stops us from overheating.
As our sweat leaves the body bacteria feeds on it, resulting in that all too familiar smelly BO (Body Odour).
This is where it is important to know the difference between Deodorants v’s Antiperspirants?
Conventional synthetic deodorants use an antibacterial compound called Triclosan which attack odour-causing germs. They also include Cylomethicone, a liquid solvent which is used as a carrier to take the antiperspirant constituents onto the skin.
Finally, the biggie Aluminium Salts. Aluminium Chlorohydrate or Aluminium Formate, function as an antiperspirant – to stop you perspiring. This compound does this by acting as a plug in your underarm by physically blocking the sweat glands. Knowing that sweating is a normal vital bodily function then surely the action to completely block the sweat glands clearly goes against nature in some way. Also gives you those nasty white marks on your clothes under your arms.
All three chemicals explained, have alleged links to breast cancer; skin disorders; hormonal disruption and even environmental concerns (in terms of their inability to break down post-disposal). With regards breast cancer epidemiologic studies are regarded as inconclusive at this point in time and such evidence regarded as anecdotal. That said, these studies do not take into account the overall residual effects of long-term use of these chemicals and newer research being undertaken.
While the jury is out, as a natural product company and science-led one at that, we look to the day when a definitive result is published.
In the meantime, Simon as always, looks to nature to find a healthier and safer alternative when it comes to effective personal care, especially as a Pharmacognosist, possessing the expertise in his knowledge of chemical components of medicinal plants.
The Modern Botany Deodorant formulation is a complex one that involves a high degree of natural science, but in a nutshell Simon utilised plant ingredients traditionally used for their anti-microbial, astringent and deodorising activity that naturally counteract underarm bacteria whilst reducing underarm odour. The secret of this formulation is the combination of 11 potent natural extracts that form a synergy to deliver natural and clean results.
The star of the show is Witch Hazel that contains an active compound called Hamamelitannin which is a Tannin (think red wine that leaves your mouth feeling dry). In our deodorant it works by drying out under the arm, and also the Witch Hazel, works as a solvent and astringent which reduces the sizes of pores, and hence reduces sweat output without blocking the pores as is the case with conventional Deodorants. Other ingredients like Lemon Tea Tree, Sandalwood and Vetivert have been traditionally used for their antimicrobial and antifungal effects particularly when it come to neutralising body odour.
So, in effect he created a 100% natural deodorant that really works to reduce sweat output and keeps you smelling great without the nasties.
Again, as an eco-sustainable company the packaging concept was very important to us. We wanted the look and feel of the product to be aesthetically pleasing and one whereby our customer would be happy to #shelfie the deodorant. The bottle is glass (so fully recyclable) and beautifully screen-printed and the unit carton is also recyclable/renewable; made from FSC paper and printed with soya-based ink.
When we launched the Modern Botany Deodorant in London it was a heatwave and the product was put to test by a series of top beauty editors (that was enough to make us sweat for real!). The feedback was more than favourable with users proclaiming that it was a natural deodorant that really worked, even in a heatwave!
Since then our customer following for it has grown and people love the natural botanical fragrance and tell us that they use it as a body mist. It’s heart-warming to read testimonies from customers telling us how effective it is including people with various skin conditions who could not use other deodorants because of their harsh chemicals ill reaction to their skin; or others who suffer with excessive sweat conditions and more increasingly from pregnant mums wanting a chemical free deodorant that’s safe to use. The positive reactions make us feel proud and grateful as a company that we are producing something that is having a life changing effect on people’s lives, while being kind to the planet.