Research & Development

Stress in the Lab

Introduced in January, the new NIVEA deodorant Stress Protect is the first antiperspirant that Beiersdorf has developed especially to target stress-induced sweat. Almost a year later it’s clear that after the impressive success of NIVEA deodorant Invisible for Black & White the skin care company has once again tapped into the deodorant desires of the consumer making Stress Protect one of the most successful Beiersdorf launches of this year. But what’s behind an innovation like this? Find out more here about how the scientists in the Hamburg Research Center got to the bottom of stress and turned a good idea into such a successful product.

Research Center Beiersdorf

“Who isn’t familiar with that unpleasant feeling of very damp underarms in the middle of intense life situations,” asked Beiersdorf researcher, Dr. Thomas Schmidt-Rose at the beginning of his remarks on the studies on “Stress and Attractiveness” that has long been underway at Beiersdorf. “Stress-induced sweat is different from the sweat associated with physical exertion or heat. All the sweat glands undergo rapid activation – eccrine and apocrine – via the nerves. This stimulus also increases the heartbeat, blood pressure, ability to react and the attentiveness of a person who feels threatened or criticized. They literally break out in a sweat!”

But running away usually doesn’t help. Stressful situations like tests must be handled – as successfully as possible – and naturally no one should notice how worked up you are. And as if the sweat wasn’t enough, a very unpleasant smell can come with it. This is caused by organic materials that are transported to the surface of the skin with sweat and decomposed by skin bacteria. This stress reaction of the skin, recognizable to everyone, can then increase the individual stress factor even further. “This is a true vicious circle and a very special challenge for us as researchers,” said Dr. Schmidt-Rose.

The Stress Test - Research Center Beiersdorf

The Stress Test: Not for the Faint of Heart

The prerequisite for the development of a highly effective deodorant to counteract the external signs of stress was the development of a system for creating real, but controlled stress situations for volunteer test subjects under lab conditions. “It became clear to us very early on that we needed professionals in order to develop these test methods and to help guide the research. We found them in the tranquil setting of university city of Trier,” said Dr. Schmidt-Rose. At the research institute Daacro (Diagnostic Assessment and Clinical Research Organization) led by Juliane Hellhammer, the subject of stress is well-known and furthermore, the institute does work in medicinal research. One of the methods they use is the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) in which volunteer participants are temporarily brought into stressful situations and have to complete apparently simple tasks in front of a camera and a very critical and challenging audience. “Tasks like holding a short speech in a job interview situation or quickly counting backwards from 2789 in steps of 13, for example, are very stressful even for the initiated!” said Schmidt-Rose from experience. Indeed, the sweat production of the test subjects was significantly increased: In the cotton pads under the subjects’ arms, researchers discovered the same amount of moisture as if they had been in a sauna for ten minutes. And, of course, the samples smelled entirely unpleasant.

NIVEA and NIVEA MEN Stress Protect Range Beiersdorf

Extra Protection against Extra Sweat

With the help of psychobiological tests Beiersdorf deodorant researchers have developed a highly effective deodorant formula for fighting the side effects of stress. They combine two different, highly effective and high dosage antiperspirant ingredients together. An additional zinc complex increases their antibacterial effectiveness even more so that the innovative NIVEA deodorant Stress Protect can offer reliable 48-hour protection from body odor and underarm moisture in unexpectedly stressful everyday situations. This success is a result of the many years of deodorant research and development of Beiersdorf and proves that internal and external cooperation as well as many years of effort are worthwhile. In a short time the research results will be published in a scientific journal:

Thomas Schmidt-Rose, Frank Lehmbeck, Anette Bürger, Björna Windisch, Reza Keyhani, and Heiner Max: Efficient sweat reduction of three different antiperspirant application forms during stress-induced sweating. International Journal of Cosmetic Science 35, 622-631, 2013.

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