The Way Clear Gel Deodorant Gets Tested Will Blow Your Mind (Seriously)

We got backstage passes to the Gillette R&D facility at an undisclosed location in America. Why? To see for ourselves that as much brainpower goes into making a high-functioning deodorant as goes into your smartphone or ultra HD flat screen plasma LED LCD wraparound convection oven television. Teams of scientists and engineers conduct an endless barrage of tests in intimidating laboratories to ensure the deodorant you use today stands at the leading edge of personal grooming technology. Here are some of the awesome science-wizard trials Gillette puts it through to make you fresher than an extremely manly daisy.

1. They blast it with lasers

With all the components that go into Clear Gel, keeping the mixture clear as crystal is no easy feat. Gillette scientists test for clarity by standing up the transparent bottle and shooting a red laser through the gel inside. If the contents are cloudy, the red light will diffract and shoot out the other side at an oblique angle. If the gel is pure, it will pass straight through the suspended droplets, and everyone present will do a celebration dance. 

2. They test it at temperatures that would kill you (eventually)

“You don’t want your deodorant to go bad if you leave your gym bag in the trunk during a sub-zero night in Minneapolis or during summer in Miami,” says Chris Putman, head of Gillette’s Research and Development. “So we subject it to those conditions and make sure it still works.” Side-by-side in their testing facility are a walk-in freezer at an armpit-chilling subzero temperature and a giant sauna at over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. For weeks, months or even years, a bottle can sit in these controlled chambers proving it can withstand the harshest climates on Earth -- so rest assured it’ll work just fine in your father-in-law’s study when he calls you in to ask you how the acai-import business is going even though he knows it is going poorly.

3. They weigh athlete’s sweat

Daily use of Gillette can actually stop over half the sweat coming out of your pits -- this isn’t just a marketing ploy. To arrive at this number, scientists place a harness with absorbent armpit pads on shirtless athletes (rowr!). One pad is placed in an underarm that has used Gillette Clear Gel and the other in a no-deo pit. The athletes then run on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike, and are sometimes incentivized to work harder by being placed in direct competition for a prize. After the workout, the pads are each placed on a scale to determine how much sweat the Gillette Clear Gel prevented.

4. They have olfactory savants sniff athlete’s armpits

To test how well this stuff can block and mask odor, experts are asked to stick their noses in the underarm of post-workout athletes. “Being an expert at detecting smell is like having perfect pitch: you’re born with it,” says J.C. Harvey, Gillette brand manager. “Potential testers then undergo training to distinguish B.O. from the deodorant.” Four experts clip the ends off of pointy paper cups, stick their nose in the narrow end, and smell the armpit of an athlete wearing Clear Gel through the wide end. They then rate the presence of body odor on a scale from 0 to 10, and compare that to the armpit of an athlete with no deodorant. You want that disturbing level of commitment from the company that's assuring you won’t reek like a pirate when on a date with your future wife.

5. They bake it in a tanning bed

Temperature isn’t the only environmental hazard they test for -- UV radiation in the form of excessive sunlight is just as likely to screw up the chemistry of a product, especially one sold from Boston to Brazil at venues from supermarkets to open-air markets. So scientists place bottles in a machine called “The Judge” that issues stern lectures about how misdemeanor laws are the foundation of a civil society. Just kidding, it emits terrarium-style UV rays or regular compact fluorescent light to make sure the gel looks, feels, smells, and protects the way it’s supposed to.

6. They used crazy math to design the perfect container

Engineers developed a complex algorithm to identify the exact number of holes needed in the bottle to push out the ideal amount of gel. Just two twists of the dial will do you on the odor and wetness protection front for up to an impressive 48 hours. How? Well, with white stick deodorants we’ve been trained to think that more is better, but that’s not the case here. Clear Gel is pre-hydrated so that it immediately absorbs into your skin, unlike white stick, which doesn’t start working until sweat dissolves the sweat-stopping ingredient. If anyone ever tells you pre-hydration isn’t the future, you can now put them in their place by saying, “No, dude, pre-hydration is the future.”