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Behind the brand: Rexona, the world’s No.1 antiperspirant

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Average read time: 3 minutes

Here’s how cutting-edge science and a purpose built on the benefits of moving more are keeping our biggest deodorant brand fresh and future-fit.

A line up of Degree 72hr bottles

How it started

Rexona was created by Australian physician Alice Sheffer back in 1908 in Australia. Alice’s husband was SF Sheffer, the founder of the Sheldon Drug Company, and her Rexona personal care ointment quickly became the firm’s top-selling product.

In the 1930s, Lever Brothers – one of the founding companies soon to become Unilever – purchased Rexona, with the aim of expanding the brand beyond its Australian roots. Finland was the first stop in the 1960s, and the rest of the world soon followed in the 1980s, with Rexona launched across the globe under the brand names Sure, Degree, Shield and Rexena.

A old Rexona advert showing a green soap bar and the line ‘Rexona soap for health & beauty’

How it’s going

Rexona is at the forefront of bringing game-changing technology to the market and delivering on the high expectations of consumers.

In 2021, Rexona relaunched its core range globally, upgrading antiperspirants with the brand’s unique, patented body-responsive technology to provide 72 hours of non-stop sweat and odour protection.

Rexona is now the world’s No.1 antiperspirant and deodorant brand (verified by NielsenIQ), sold in more than 100 countries, and one of 13 billion-euro brands in Unilever’s portfolio, with sales valued at more than €1 billion a year.

An advert for Degree’s 72-hour motion sense antiperspirant deodorant. The pack shot sits on a green background with a pink tick in the foreground

The purpose that powers it

Rexona believes in the power of movement to transform lives and it’s on a mission to inspire everyone to move more.

As part of this, the brand is challenging society’s narrow limits of what an acceptable mover looks like, to make movement inclusive for all.

Through its Breaking Limits programme, Rexona is equipping young people, especially those in disadvantaged communities, with the confidence and opportunity to move however they want.

The brand is partnering with NGO Beyond Sport and a network of recognised NGOs that run sport for development programmes to scale up this work and provide young people with greater access to sports and coaching. The programme has already reached more than 600,000 young people and supported more than 9,000 coaches, community leaders and volunteers.

Rexona is expanding its Breaking Limits programme into schools in the UK this year, with a host of fun, inclusive and accessible lesson plans and in-classroom activities that will equip students with the confidence to move. The programme, which will be up and running in schools from this month, will take a fresh approach to challenging the barriers that can stand in the way of students being active.

A photo of a young boy on a football pitch with his arms up. A white tick sits over him and the text reads Sure Breaking Limits programme

Brand new ideas

  1. The science behind 72-hour sweat protection

    Rexona’s ads have long claimed ‘It won’t let you down’. Now that promise lasts longer than ever, thanks to the unique, patented technology developed in Unilever’s labs.

    Across its range, Rexona now features 72-hour non-stop protection from sweat and odour. More than 60 Unilever scientists performed over 200 clinical tests to measure the impact of microtechnology on sweat and malodour reduction and came up with a formula that delivers an extremely effective barrier.

    Read an interview with two of our experts about this innovation here.

  2. Breaking Limits

    Rexona’s Breaking Limits programme was launched to equip young people with critical life skills such as confidence, teamwork and resilience. The brand provides access to supportive coaches and mentors, entry to sports-based programmes and safe places to move, working with local non-profit organisations through NGO Beyond Sport.

    Read more about the partnership here.

  3. Designed for inclusion

    In 2021, Degree started on a journey towards inclusive product design. Working with a diverse team of experts, the brand developed a prototype – Degree Inclusive, the world’s first adaptive deodorant.

    Its hooked container, improved grip and magnetic ‘click’ closures are designed to make the prototype easier to hold and handle, and instructions on the label are printed in braille.

    “As a brand that’s committed to inspiring confidence in everyone to move more, Degree believes no one should be held back from breaking a sweat and enjoying the transformative benefits of movement,” said Kathryn Swallow, Global Brand Vice President.

    “More than 60 million people in the US live with a disability, yet products and experiences are still not designed with this community in mind. With Degree Inclusive, we hope to inspire bold action across the industry to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal playing field.”

It might surprise you to learn…

In April 2022, Rexona (under its Degree brand) launched the world’s first marathon in the metaverse. The Degree Metathon invited Decentraland visitors to take part in the virtual event in a space entirely free from real-world physical limitations and societal stereotypes.

Avatars had the opportunity to try Decentraland’s first adaptive wearables such as prostheses, running blades and wheelchairs – all designed to offer greater representation to people with disabilities.

An image avatar athletes and human athletes running the Degree’s Metathon – the text reads ‘the world’s first marathon in the metaverse’

Iconic ads

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Source: Edelman Data X Intelligence, 2021

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A photo from Rexona’s advertising campaign featuring a woman exercising

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Rexona’s patented microtechnology provides 72 hours of non-stop sweat and odour protection, and it’s now being introduced across the brand’s entire range. We asked two of Rexona’s scientists how they came up with the biggest deodorant breakthrough in decades.

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