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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)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • gabis June 19, 2014, 10:11 am

    I want to stop using antiperspirants but it’s hard to find deodorants that only fight odor here in Brazil because manufacturers made a big confusion with the scientific terms of the thing around here. The majority of the products are made to stop you from sweating but they are called “antitranspirant” instead of antiperspirant. Some products here call themselves both things while others say that antiperspirants only fight odor. So you see the mess? That said which ingredients should I look for to make sure the product I’m purchasing will only fight the odor and not block my sweat glands? I would also be glad if you could give me some product sugggestions.

    • Randy Schueller June 19, 2014, 6:11 pm

      @Gabis: The ingredients that block your sweat glands are almost always aluminum compounds. If you look for aluminum free products you should be fine.

  • vijay shukla May 19, 2015, 7:27 am


    • MadMax June 6, 2015, 1:50 pm

      At low doses no unless you are allergic to it but I would say ZR is much safer than Aluminum Zonchromium which is used in almost all antiperspirants and has been shown to increase the chance of having ALZHEIMER’S and dementia in your later years if used for 20-30 years it dEf has bad effects on your brain. Also no water soluble solution for ZR bc Ricin is water soluble so the castor oil which ZR comes from is said to be ricin free due to it being an oil so if you want a water solubake Zinc Ricineolate then you will probably have ricin in it which is extremely toxic and you’ll probably die after a few uses 🙂

  • Andreas April 30, 2018, 11:20 am

    I never use any deodorant but if I sweat more I tend to get very light yellow in the armpits so most likely it’s the bodies salt and not solely from deodorant usage. So yes you can get it without deodorant too.