Battle of the deodorants

Time Out tests ten Watsons sweatbusters against the Shanghai summer

As Shanghai enters its sultriest season, keeping perspiration levels under control is a constant struggle. Time Out tests ten Watsons roll-on, anti-perspirant and aerosol deodorant options for him and for her

For her


1 Deo roll-on by Watsons in ‘French Violets'

Price 19.90RMB/50ml
Background The own-label options from Asia’s largest chain of health and beauty stores are considerably cheaper than their branded offerings, but results can be a bit hit-and-miss. This roll-on is supposed to ‘leave you with floral freshness.’
First impressions Budget packaging, but the formula glides on easily enough and gives good, even coverage. However, it smells like it’s sponsored by Hello Kitty: cloyingly sweet, with a distressingly synthetic undertone. Watsons’ alternative scents, ‘Summer Flowers’ and ‘Ocean Breeze’ are marginally less offensive.
Grey T-shirt test After a fiveminute run in 33C, our armpits are completely dry, although other parts of our body, such as our hairline and lower back, seem to be overcompensating in sweat production.
Longevity Thankfully the flowery scent wears off within an hour, but we’re still whiff-free at the end of a long, active day. A surprising result for the underdog.
Score 8/10.

2 NutriSkin Invisible Control by Fa

Price 15RMB/50ml; 32RMB/150ml
Background Owned by cosmetics giant Schwarzkopf & Henkel, Fa (tagline: ‘Feel Fantastic’) was until fairly recently the sole deodorising option in China. According to the blurb, ‘The new and improved formula contains seven ‘caring nutrients’, making it suitable for all skin types; also guards against white marks and offers 48-hour protection.’
First impressions The spray-can delivers a satisfyingly powerful blast and, true to its sales pitch, leaves behind none of those pesky white marks.Bonus point for the handbag-friendly 50ml size, good for on-the-go top-ups.
Grey T-shirt test There’s nothing to show after a fiveminute run in 26.8C heat.
Longevity Despite the bombastic claim of 48-hour protection, we’re smelling a shade fruity by the time we hit the sack.
Score 7/10.

3 Body Ice deodorant by Mentholatum in ‘Natural’

Price 26.90RMB/150ml
Background According to their website, Mentholatum can trace their roots back to 1889, when the ‘Yucca Company’ first started producing menthol cough syrup. The men’s skincare producrange now includes ts, ‘Kiss me!’ lip salves and deodorants. Of this particular item, they say ‘Our new deo body spray gives you an instant fresh cooling feeling without being sticky; use regularly to maintain freshness.’
First impressions It’s not just a sales puff: the menthol does produce a fresh, tingling effect, a bit like mouthwash for your armpits. And with a scent vaguely  reminiscent of Impulse O2, it’s a nostalgic jolt back to our teenage years.
Grey T-shirt test No visible sweat stains after a run round the block in 27.4C, but our armpits nonetheless feel slightly moist.
Longevity The cooling menthol effect is temporary, and as this isn’t a true antiperspirant, after a day of moderate activity without re-application, we’re uncomfortably sticky and ever-so-slightly whiffy.
Score 6/10.

4 Dry Comfort antiperspirant by Nivea

Price 29RMB/50ml
Background German-owned beauty conglomerate Nivea entered China in the 1930s when it launched
its original dry skin cream (in the iconic blue pots). Dry Comfort is the brand’s ‘non-irritating anti-perspirant providing comfort every moment and 48 hours of freshness.’
First impressions The heavy glass bottle lends a higher-end feel, while the rollerball dispenses a reassuringly thick, even layer of product with the cooly familiar Nivea fragrance.
Grey T-shirt test After a quick run in 26.5C, there’s nary a speck of sweat to be seen.
Longevity Stellar lasting power: although we don’t put it to the full 48-hour test, our armpits are still charmpits the morning after a humid day and night.
Score 10/10.

5 Rexona Women antiperspirant deodorant in ‘Oxygen’ 

Price 37.50RMB/150ml
Background Sold as ‘Sure’ in the UK and ‘Degree’in the US, Unileverowned Rexona’s distinctive tick logo marks it out as a dependable BO-buster. They claim that their ‘Body Responsive’ formula ‘understands your body, so you have all the protection you need for every intense moment of your day.’
First impressions After following the  application instructions to the letter (hold six inches from underarm and spray for three seconds) we’re left with well-coated, neutral-smelling armpits, but the dreaded white residue soon transfers to our clothes. On the plus side, the can boasts a handy ‘on/off’ switch to stop accidental sprays inside your handbag while in transit.
Grey T-shirt test Even at 27.4C, our jog round the block leaves us with box-fresh underarms.
Longevity After several ‘intense moments’ throughout our day, including a near brush with death on our bike and ordering a second, ill-advised espresso at dinner, both the deodorising and anti-perspirant effects are still going strong.
Score 9/10.


For him


6 Anti-perspirant roll-on by Adidas in ‘Victory League’

Price 28RMB/50ml
Background Launched in 2006, this fragrance is intended to celebrate footballers’‘team spirit’, so presumably it’s what David Beckham is wearing in those adverts where he runs beside the Thames, or what pop star-Adidas spokesman Eason Chan puts on when he goes for a kickabout.
First impressions The gold-coloured cap is a bit silly, but thankfully the fragrance beneath is less ostentatious. It’s slightly sweet and one of the better Adidas options, some of which are only just better than the high school spray of choice, Axe (known as Lynx elsewhere).
Grey T-shirt test Adidas performs well, with only a small sweat patch emerging after our run around the block in 33C heat. We remain dubious as to how it would deal with a 90 minute football match, however.
Longevity The 24-hour claim isn’t quite realised (which we’re somewhat grateful for, we don’t want our pores blocked for that long), yet the sweet smell is definitely still present by the time we return home at night.
Score 8/10.


7 Man Code by Watsons

Price 29RMB/150ml
Background This‘fresh blast deo spray’is one of Watsons’own-brand male beauty products that come in various shades of black (which is, of course, the only true ‘man colour’).
First impressions The nozzle spits and splutters before releasing little more than a drizzle of chemically smelling deodorant. We notice later that this leaves thick white marks around the cap of the bottle, which doesn’t bode well for our shirts further down the line.
Grey T-shirt test Despite the 26.8C heat and the limited coverage due to the lacklustre nozzle, Man Code does surprisingly well, with only a small patch of sweat visible on our grey T-shirt after a brisk run round the block.
Longevity The smell lasts until mid-afternoon, which is somewhat unfortunate given that we don’t like it. It does keep our armpits dry for much of the day, however.
Score 7/10.


8 Rexona Men anti-perspirant deodorant roll-on in ‘Ice Blast’

Price  26.50RMB/40ml
Background As with the lady’s version (see left) this roll-on promises ‘all day protection’.
First impressions A smooth roll-on action that delivers plenty of deodorant to the pit is paired with a fresh perfume that’s not unlike the Adidas ‘Victory League’ we used on day one, but with a hint of menthol. We’re a little uncomfortable with the BodyRexona name for some reason, though. It sounds like a medical condition.
Grey T-shirt test A lap around the block in 26.4C heat ought to be an easy test for Rexona given its claims of ‘high performance’, and so it proves with the smallest sweat patches of the week on the grey T-shirt.
Longevity The sweet smell persists until after dinner, as does the dryness.
Score 9/10.


9 Dry Impact anti-perspirant by Nivea

Price 45RMB/150ml
Background Nivea’s Dry Impact spray promises 48-hour‘effective regulation of perspiration with a light masculine scent’, courtesy of ‘effective minerals’.
First impressions The ‘light masculine scent’ is a refreshing break from the overly ‘manly’ smells of the other sprays. There is a faint aroma, recognisable from the brand’s moisturisers, but one that we’re comfortable having on our armpits.
Grey T-shirt test It’s 26.5C when we set off for our run, which is hot enough to make us mop our brow when we cross the finish line. Our armpits, however, remain dry.
Longevity If Adidas’24-hour boast was off-putting, Nivea’s 48-hour one is properly worrying. Fortunately, though the smell and dryness last until the evening, they are both gone the next morning. 48 hours in European heat is clearly equivalent to just a day in Shanghai.
Score 10/10.


10 Body Ice deodorant by Mentholatum

Price 26.90RMB/150ml
Background The ad campaign for Mentholatum’s male beauty products is fronted by Korean pop star Rain, who appears in various states of undress plugging their face creams. We’re yet to see him advertise this spray, but that’s probably because he doesn’t sweat. They say ‘Body Ice Deo Spray gives you an immediate cooling sensation and used regularly can maintain dryness.’
First impressions A squeeze on the cap produces a cloud of deodorant that actually has us gasping for air. Once the shower of white particles has cleared, we’re left with armpits coated in a lightly menthol musk. It’s an inoffensive smell, but not one we’re desperate to cover ourselves in.
Grey T-shirt test A quick jog round the block in 27.4C heat leaves the Body Ice struggling to keep up. Although the resulting patches on the grey T-shirt are far from embarrassing, the Mentholatum spray is the worst performer.
Longevity The smell and the initial dryness have largely faded by mid-afternoon and are finally obliterated by attending a gig in the evening.
Score 6/10.

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