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A New Innovation in Natural Deodorant: Acids

New brand Surface Deep is making acid-peel pads for armpits.

Acid for your armpits?

Connecticut-based dermatologist Alicia Zalka says absolutely.

She has commercialized a product she’s calling Anti-Odorant under a new brand, Surface Deep, that use a 5 percent fruit-derived glycolic acid in order to block underarm odor from ever existing, she says. Anti-Odorant comes in individually wrapped pad form, and is used similarly to peel pads for the face — just in the armpit zone instead.

The format is similar to Unilever’s Dr Sweat antiperspirant pads, but the Surface Deep product does not contain aluminum and doesn’t aim to stop sweat, just smells.

The idea is that the acid can stop odor-causing underarm bacteria from thriving, Zalka said. She came across the idea when she had been preparing for vacation, realized she was out of deodorant and decided to prep her pits with glycolic that she had on hand. A patent is now pending.

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Anti-Odorant will be sold on the Surface Deep web site and Amazon starting Jan. 27. The product was formulated using information from the Clean at Sephora and Whole Foods ingredient no-no lists, said Carlos Timiraos, who has been consulting with Zalka on the brand. While retail distribution is not yet secured, the two are open to it, they said.

“I wanted to start this really grassroots and start it with our own web site, but I will start providing it at my office,” Zalka said.

Many natural deodorant products rely on baking soda, so Anti-Odorant’s acid use is its true differentiator, said Timiraos. “I think most consumers understand that antiperspirants have a downside,” he said. “Exfoliating and cleansing is the key differentiator [for Anti-Odorant].”

Zalka has aspirations to develop other products for Surface Deep, including foot and scalp offerings.

Consumer interest in natural deodorants has picked up in the past few years as health concerns related to aluminum have trickled into mainstream consciousness. Big CPG companies have responded by making natural deodorant acquisitions — Procter & Gamble acquired Native, and Unilever acquired Schmidts Naturals — and developing aluminum-free options. Unilever launched an aluminum-free version of Dove in late 2019, for example.

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