The Sweet Smell of Success: A (Long) Story (Short) of Our 100th Product--Honest Deodorant Revealed!

The Sweet Smell of Success: A (Long) Story (Short) of Our 100th Product--Honest Deodorant Revealed!

Our Honest Product Development & Innovation Team invites you to take a look behind the scenes...

When our beloved customers have a (repeated) request to make their lives safer or healthier (or just easier!), we gladly accept the challenge with a sense of responsibility and the hope that our thoughtful innovations can further the change we want to see in the world.  That’s been our mission from day one, so we wanted to show you all the amazing work that goes into creating a non-toxic revolution!




Here at Honest, our commitment to quality, safety, and beauty means we're quite…”particular” about every product we develop. OK, you can also add unapologetically committed, rigorous, detail-oriented, and of course, passionate! So, when you asked for a non-toxic deodorant that's uniquely unisex, easy to apply, has long lasting performance and--of course--smells great, we couldn't wait to roll up our sleeves! After nearly 2 1/2 years in development, however, nothing we've created has been quite as complex, nor quite as anticipated, as this one.

We're honored that you could be with us as we proudly (finally) launch Honest Deodorant, our 100th product, so we wanted to give you a sneak peek inside our process! With our potent, proprietary anti-odor complex (tea tree, witch hazel, and organic alcohol) to naturally combat a broad spectrum of odor-causing bacteria-- inhibiting it at the source and not just masking it--we’ve made a product that stands apart (and lets people get a little closer). We’re delighted with the outcome--even when the process sometimes did stink!

A “Sticky” Introduction




We've been working towards a fresh take on deodorant for nearly as long as Honest has been around! When we began in early 2012, we were convinced that the most obvious choice--a stick--was also the right one.  They’re easy to use, convenient to carry and everyone is familiar with them. Really, just about every deodorant and antiperspirant you see is a stick, so there’s got to be something to that, right? Well, making one that met our standards for health, safety and performance proved more than a little frustrating.

Turns out all of the ingredients that are used to make sticks oh-so-silky are oh-so-full of risky silicones, PEGs, and glycols, all of which left us with a sticky, and health-compromising, mess. Even the ingredients that make the clear sticks reasonable to use didn’t meet our high health and toxicity requirements.  So, many hours in development labs and about 15 versions later, we ditched the stick!

Dude, Where’s My Spray?




At this point in deodorant development, co-founder Christopher Gavigan suggested we explore a spray. We’re all for thinking outside the box (or the stick), but here’s a sampling of the general response from the ladies in the office:


“Sprays are for dudes.”

“They’re cold and they kind of...tingle?”

“That just doesn’t sound right.”

So, a hot minute later, the female perspective prevailed and we swiftly moved on.

The Pot / Putty / Alternative / Anything Era




It was 3 months in and we were getting a little anxious, so we decided to take a more creative route. Have you seen the pots and putties full of butters and clays that the blogosphere and artisan-batching sites swear by? We wanted to see if they really lived up to their hype. Perhaps there was something to this brave new world of armpit butter. Intrigued, we decided to see what we could stir up with this stink-free solution.

Many (many) formulas later, we were faced with reality and it wasn’t too sweet. A deodorant that melts in your bag, needs to be stirred and refrigerated in the hot summer, and gets too hard in the winter wasn’t that practical, especially given all of the places we ship. Having to wash your hands--and likely take off your shirt--for every application just wasn’t that practical. What person or parent has time for that? Not everyone loved the feeling of a totally moisturized and lotioned pit, especially when it ended up staining a few shirts. So, we said goodbye to the pot and putty and said hello to our next idea, the twist-up.

Don’t Get It Twisted



Unfortunately, the twist is lost to history...

We thought if we could take the odor-fighting complex we were creating and insert it into the twist-up stick, we could wash our hands (literally) of the whole messy application issue. Alas, after many more months of development, packaging samples, and general frustration, we simply couldn’t get a formula that wouldn’t melt without including some of the questionable chemical stabilizers and emulsifiers that are on our Honestly Free list (sorry, not sorry!).

Revenge of the Stick




So, what if we try the stick again? We decided to try it with a fresh perspective: What about different ingredients, like lichen, and fermented yeast? Call it selective institutional amnesia. We still couldn’t crack the nut of marrying performance and efficacy with our ingredient standards, so, after almost a year and a half, we embraced the original genius of Christopher’s recommendation and rallied around the spray.

New Dawn, New Day: Enter the Spray


Once we figured out the deal with the spray, our Product Team realized it was truly special--and preferable--for many reasons! Here’s what we learned:

  • Simple application (just press!) and portable construction meant this option was truly convenient and kept our brand commitment to ease of use.
  • Resolving the issues of product ingredient separation (emulsification) was far easier and we didn’t have to compromise on our premium feel and sensory impact.
  • With application addressed, we could focus on the rest of the things that matter to you: How is it made and how well does it work?

We (finally) had the most effective vehicle for delivering on our promise, but getting everything just right isn’t something that can be bought (or bottled)--it takes more work! To get ingredients to maximum efficacy took (lots and lots of) trial and error. The spray needed a compelling fragrance (because bacteria is not going to cut it) and has to feel invisible after it dried, since not all of them leave you feeling like you have nothing on. We know it’s what’s inside that counts, of course, but we also wanted all of this hard work to go into something inspired, elegant, and beautifully bottled.

Now that you’ve taken a peek at 2 ½ years behind the scenes with us, we hope you’ll agree that our Honest Deodorant integrates cutting-edge performance with sophisticated style and scent, neutralizing and instantly refreshing for a superior, long-lasting odor protection that really works! We’ve kept it so fresh and so clean with soothing, yet powerful, botanical extracts that help inhibit underarm bacteria and odor and an aluminum-free formula that won’t clog ducts or pores. So, with no further ado, enjoy the sweet smell of natural, delightfully refreshing underarm success!




As with all things Honest, stay tuned and let us know how we’re doing--we’re always working to make things better!  (There may be more scents coming soon, so say bye to bacteria ;)…)


We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.