BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Native Cosmetics Discontinue Moisture Absorption and Underarm Wetness Protection Claims for Native Deodorant; Advertiser to Appeal

New York, NY – June 25, 2019 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Zenlen Inc. dba Native Cosmetics discontinue objective claims that Native Deodorant absorbs moisture and protects against underarm wetness, following a challenge by Tom’s of Maine, maker of competing deodorant products.  The advertiser has said it will appeal NAD’s findings to the National Advertising Review Board.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBNP’s self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.

The claims challenged by Tom’s of Maine appeared on Native’s website and in third party content shared by Native on its social media pages and included:

  • “Effective Protection.  We tested thousands of ingredients before finding a recipe that feels light and fresh under your arms, but provides you with effective protection against odor and wetness.”
  • “We use baking soda to neutralize odors, arrowroot powder to absorb moisture and acidophilus, a naturally occurring probiotic found in your intestines.”
  • “Native Deodorant aims to absorb wetness and prevent odor using effective ingredients.”
  • “We do have a lot of ingredients to absorb wetness, like arrowroot powder, so when you sweat, it’s absorbed.” 

Antiperspirants contain aluminum, which acts upon the sweat glands to prevent perspiration. Deodorants, such as Native Deodorant, unlike antiperspirants, work only on the skin surface to mask malodor.  Native makes two intertwined claims – that its deodorant also “absorbs” moisture” and that it provides consumers with effective protection against underarm wetness.  NAD noted that the absorption of moisture is the mechanism described in some of Native’s advertising and that, in all of the challenged advertising, wetness protection is the ultimate benefit promised to consumers.

The challenger argued that Native does not possess adequate or reliable substantiation to support these claims.  Native maintained that Native Deodorant, with the help of arrowroot powder or tapioca starch, provides wetness protection by absorbing moisture by drawing perspiration out of the skin and into the product, and also by creating an occlusive film on the underarm skin.

In support of its claims, the advertiser relied on several forms of test data which it contended were sufficient to demonstrate that Native Deodorant provides consumer relevant wetness protection, including a Water Vapor Transmission Rate (“WVTR”) test, moisture absorbance testing, skin capacitance testing, and a consumer use study.  However, NAD had a number of concerns with the testing including, for example: the consumer relevance of in vitro testing using a back skin mimic in the WVTR test; testing on the individual arrowroot powder and tapioca product ingredients instead of the actual product formulation in the moisture absorbance testing; the consumer relevance of applying the product to the back in order to demonstrate product efficacy on the underarm in the skin capacitance testing ; and unreliable methodology of the consumer use study due to lack of a placebo and a flawed screening question that created a significant potential for bias. 

NAD determined that the substantiation offered by Native, standing alone or viewed collectively, did not provide a reasonable basis to support its objective claims that Native Deodorant absorbs moisture and protects against underarm wetness and recommended that Native discontinue those claims, as well as any claims appearing via third party content reposted on Native’s social media pages.

In its advertiser’s statement, Native stated that it will appeal to the NARB because it “believes, based on the totality of the record and scientific evidence, it has provided a reasonable basis for the challenged claims.”Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.