Is zinc ricinoleate a good deodorant?

Marie asks…I’d like to know if deodorants containing Zinc Ricinoleate (those made by Vichy which are free from aluminium salts, for example) will still leave yellow stains on my clothes, on the armpit area. How safe and effective is this ingredient?

The Beauty Brains respond: 

The yellow pit stains that you experience are caused by the aluminum salts used in antiperspirants. These are the ingredients that stop you from sweating. Deodorants, which by definition only fight odor instead of stopping sweat, don’t contain these aluminum salts so they won’t cause clothes to yellow. But what about zinc ricinoleate (ZR)?

How does zinc ricinoleate stop odor?

This is actually an interesting ingredient. Most deodorants rely on a combination of an antibacterial agent (such as Triclosan) to kill odor causing bacteria and a fragrance to cover up any residual odor. Zinc ricinoleate works a different way – instead of killing bacteria or masking smells it actually absorbs the odor and traps it so you don’t stink.

I’ve never seen studies which directly compare the odor-neutralizing efficacy of ZR to  conventional deodorants but the little info I did find says that it’s not very effective. (I actually formulated with this ingredient years ago and didn’t see ANY benefit.) Also, one source said it may also cause skin irritation but this is true of just about anything you smear on freshly shaven armpits.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Zinc ricinoleate may help trap body odors but unless you’ve fallen in love with the Vichy products I’d look for a cheaper deodorant which, since it’s free of aluminum salts, won’t stain your clothes yellow. Or, you could just buy a bunch of yellow clothes.

Reference: J. Soc. Cosmet Chem.,44, 211-220 (July/August 1993)