Editor’s Spotlight

4 independent brands that have disrupted the deo business

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

4 independent brands that have disrupted the deo business
Personal care isn’t the flashiest or most glamourous segment of the industry. But many an indie brand in recent years has launched with innovative versions of the daily staple that is underarm deodorant. Here, Cosmetics Design looks a small selection of brands that have helped change the business and experience of deo.

A product’s ingredients and consumer experience are certainly determining factors in its success. The following approaches to the deodorant category have made a real difference in the way shoppers discover, choose, and use their underarm products today.


Natural deodorant is so commonplace now. And the latest wave of brand launches centers on products and formulations that “really work.” ​ Deodorant, suffice it to say, is a product that’s still trying to live down the early days of natural ingredient tech and the legacy of products that simply couldn’t compete (in terms of efficacy) with conventional deodorants and antiperspirants.

Any number of indie brands deserve credit for their hand in establishing the natural niche: Schmidt’s Honestly Phresh, Kaia Naturals​, etc., etc.

One such indie brand, helping legitimize natural deodorant, that Cosmetics Design keyed in on a couple of years ago is Ursa Major. At an early iteration of the Indie Beauty Expo, that brand’s marketing manager told this publication that “deodorant is the gateway to natural personal care.”

Since then, the brand’s Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant has won numerous awards and been highlighted in countless consumer publications. And many of the top clean beauty retailers, online and on the street, carry Ursa Major deodorant today.

Formulated with hops, aloe, kaolin, eucalyptus, baking soda, and saccharomyces ferment, the deodorant has been a hit with consumers, retailers, and the media. And thanks to that ferment, which the brand’s product page describes as a “probiotic enzyme with potent odor-absorbing properties” ​Ursa Major’s Hoppin’ Fresh deodorant stands to continue to do well as trends shift to favor probiotics and ingredients that are micobiome friendly.


Packaging can seems so readily disruptable; and then (suddenly), there are the nuances and facts of regulatory guidelines, entrenched retail practices, mechanized filling facilities, and consumer semiotics to overcome.

Still entrepreneurs and brands are chipping away at these realities and endeavoring toward a marketplace where refillable deodorant containers are as commonplace as glass milk bottles once were.

The latest of these indie firebrands is Myro. Founder Greg Laptevsky launched his brand in mid-September, complete with “mix-and-match refillable [recyclable] cases available in five colors [that use] about 50% less plasticthan typical drugstore deodorant. Plus, every case…is travel friendly and TSA-compliant.”

Free from

For nearly 10 years now studies have been circulating which “have theorized that aluminum-based antiperspirants may increase the risk for breast cancer,” ​according to a 2011 item on WebMD​ by Stephanie Watson. And this precept has sparked an entire niche in the deodorant business.

Toms of Maine was an early innovator in the aluminum-free deodorant space. And even now that the brand is owned by Colgate-Palmolive, Toms remains a trusted brand in the free-from deo space.

Free-from has over the years grown to mean much more, however. Newer indie brands like Smarty Pits, which got its start in 2013, have developed formulations that are also free-from parabens, phthalates, alcohol, propylene glycol, and triclosans.

Smarty Pits makes both a standard formula and a sensitive skin formula version of each scented (or unscented) deo. And importantly, given today’s on-the-go lifestyle, the brand also makes minis.

Free form

The formulation, format, and form of many personal care and cosmetics products seems fixed—until it isn’t. And indie brands have been endeavoring for some time now to update the form of deodorant.

Simple spray versions like Erbaviva’s Jasmine & Grapefruit Organic Deodorant have a secure place in the market now. And any number of powders, creams, crystals, and pastes have endeared themselves to consumers.

Brand’s like Primal Pit Paste have formulated deodorants in jars that (after an interval of adaptation or ‘detox’) consumers of nearly any age (kids, adolescents, adults) can simply, “scoop about a pea-sized amount, per pit; rub in the center, repeat on both pits; [and] allow 5 minutes for deodorant to absorb into your skin, then get dressed as usual.”



Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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