For thousands of years, humans have been using various forms of deodorant to help cover body odor. But how did we go from using spices and herbs to modern deodorant? Here’s the complete history of deodorant.
Where did the History of Deodorant Begin?.
Early humans were, understandably, not concerned with how they smelled. They had more important things to worry about – like survival. Funnily enough, anthropologists believe body odor may have actually helped them do just that, working to repulse potential predators and keep them from feasting on humans. As humans developed into more complex social creatures, we began to worry about our stink and turned to some pretty surprising tactics to banish B.O.
Ancient Egyptians were the first to attempt to mask B.O. They relied heavily on perfumed baths and aromatic oils, but also invented other, less appealing, methods of odor control. Women would often place a dollop of scented wax on top of their heads and allow it to melt throughout the day, spreading the scent as it was liquified. Egyptians also tried porridge as deodorant… we’re not sure how effective that was, but it sounds like a surefire path to pit stains.
How far we’ve come.
The first commercial deodorant, Mum, was patented by a U.S. inventor in Philadelphia in 1888. This deodorant was a paste and was applied to the underarms, but didn’t do much to absorb wetness. Deodorant continued to develop and progress, eventually leading to the invention of the first antiperspirant deodorant in 1903 by Everdry. This antiperspirant contained aluminum chloride in a liquid form that was dabbed onto a cotton ball and wiped onto the skin. But the acidity of the aluminum chloride caused burning and irritation under the arms.
Mum was eventually bought by Bristol-Myers in 1931. An inventor for the company, Helen Barnett Diserens, developed an underarm applicator for deodorant, based on the new ballpoint pen at the time – the first roll-on deodorant applicator. Bristol-Myers began marketing this roll-on product in 1952 under the name Ban Roll-On.
The first aerosol deodorant came onto the market in the early 1960s in the form of Gillette’s Right Guard, quickly becoming a popular alternative to creams and sticks. But in the late 1970s, the FDA banned the main ingredient in aerosols, aluminum zirconium, because of the long-term health risks of inhaling the chemicals. This, combined with environmental concerns over damage to the ozone layer, led to a rapid decline in the popularity of aerosol deodorant.
With so many concerns around the safety of ingredients in traditional deodorants and antiperspirants, demand for all-natural solutions has increased significantly in recent years. Folks are realizing that what they put on their body is just as important to their health as what they put in it. So whether it comes in a jar, a stick, or a spray, natural deodorant is certainly the way of the future.