The (Bad) Smells of Summer

Smell is one of our most important senses, but with the good can come the bad. As consumers step into a post-COVID world, the pause witnessed in deodorant-based product development is likely to be re-energized as the ‘bad’ smells of summer remind consumers that body malodor is something to avoid.

By Arnoldo Fonseca

The Emotion of Smell

Smell is one of our most important senses. Developed through millennia of evolution, our ability to smell the world around us provides ourselves with important cues about our surroundings. And science has shown that because of the wiring of our odor receptor system, smell has the most direct connection to memory and emotion than any other senses.(1) This is partially at root to the relevance of fragrance to both cosmetics. In fact, a whole US$ 75 billion fragrance and aromas industry exists because of this sense, powering everything from cosmetics and home products to food and beverage. (2) (3)

The Smells of Summertime Return

But as many homebound consumers over the last year can attest, smell can also have its less pleasant side in the form of body malodor. With many consumers exercising and working at home during the pandemic, body odor was perhaps easily addressed through frequent bathing. Such shifts perhaps explain the declines in new product innovation within the Deodorant category during 2020; according to Mintel’s Global New Product Database, global launches of deodorants fell by almost 15% globally in 2020 compared to 2019.

But as routines start to return to normal, odor control regimens are apt to return as well. With summertime upon us and vaccination rates improving, long-separated friends and family members are finally coming together. And sports activities which previously had been limited are returning full-throttle. Summertime is here, and body malodor is an unwelcome guest.

Body Odor Control Strategies

Formulators looking to incorporate body odor control benefits in their products, whether in deodorants or other body care categories, can address odor with multiple strategies, which themselves can be combined. Most of these rely upon the fact that common body odors are often a results of skin microbiome-mediated processes, wherein bacteria generate byproducts that contain chemical species which our odor receptors detect and which we interpret as malodors.

Mask the Odor. Masking body odor is as old as recorded history, and fragrance-based masking and odor-matching can be effective particularly where body malodor is not pungent. But, its effectiveness can have its limits depending upon malodor intensity.

Control Bacterial Growth. A second approach to body odor control is to eliminate the bacteria that cause malodor. Antiperspirants employ this strategy, often using aluminum-based chemistries. More sustainably-focused antimicrobial solutions also exist which can provide formulators with greater application scope for product development. Evoniks’s TEGO® Cosmo P 813 MB and dermosoft® decalact deo MB are both excellent options for this strategy.

Break Down Odor-Causing ByProducts. Another strategy is to modify the odor-causing metabolites themselves such that they do not trigger the perception of odor by our olfactory system. Evonik’s dermofeel® TEC eco can provide this benefit by inhibiting the esterase based metabolism of sweat components which is a cause body malodor.

Remove the Malodor Molecules. A last strategy is simply to remove the malodorous molecules from the environment. This can often be accomplished with chemistry that absorbs malodor molecules, such as Evonik’s TEGODEO® line of products based on environmentally friendly zinc ricinoleate technology.

Want to learn more? Visit our intoBeauty® customer platform to obtain an overview of our solutions or to read about each product referenced above. 

Arnoldo Fonseca

Marketing Manager Care Solutions

In his role, Arnoldo is responsible for Evonik Care Solutions marketing in the North America region. Together with his regional colleagues, Arnoldo is passionate about uncovering the latest trends and innovations that may help customers be more successful.

Works Cited

(1) Jordan Gaines Lewis, PhD. Smells Ring Bells: How Smell Triggers Memories and Emotions. Psychology Today. [Online] 01 12, 2015. [Cited: 05 20, 2021.]
(2) Grand View Research. Fragrance Market SIze, Share, Trends, Industry Analysis Report, 2025. Grand View Reseach. [Online] 04 1, 2019. [Cited: 05 20, 2021.]
(3) —. Aroma Chemicals Market SIze, Industry Report 2020-2027. Grand View Research. [Online] 09 1, 2020. [Cited: 06 20, 2021.]