Is there deodorant in China? 中国是否有除臭剂?

What is one of the biggest fears of any American living in China? Especially those living in Guang Dong province? Running out of deodorant.

I’m serious. I’ve run into many an exchange student or English teacher who was running low on his/her supply just as the weather was warming, and with fear and embarrassment in his/her eyes asks
“where do you get more deodorant in China?”

I hate to tell them that I get shipments from family or friends or hit up anyone I know who is coming in from America. Truth be told, deodorant (除臭剂) can be bought in China, but as far as I’ve seen antiperspirant (止汗剂) cannot. There is an assortment of roll-ons at Walmart and Watson’s, but they have really strong smells and seem to stain clothes. Not a very good option.

So what can you do until your next shipment comes in?
Well, while Chinese people in general do not use deodorants/antiperspirant, my female coworkers spray perfume under their arms.
More recently, I’ve discovered another alternative:
Baking Soda or Su-Da-fen 苏打粉 (also 小苏打)

Su-da-fen is really cheap and it’s sold in most supermarkets, usually in a little bag.

I found the suggestion to use baking soda online and it peeked my curiosity. Apparently, the baking soda prevents the growth of bacteria which prevents the Odor = cheap deodorant available in China.
Was I skeptical? Yes.
But I don’t really have to impress anyone here in China, so I thought I’d try it.

Well, you can either make a paste of it or just brush it on. The first day was really uncomfortable. I felt self conscious all day and I didn’t think it was working. Day two and day three were much better and I felt fresh and clean so I kept it up. I tried it for about 2 weeks.

I must say I was impressed. Instead of smelling like deodorant, there was no smell at all. My husband has always been fascinated by my deodorant for some strange reason. I think it’s because of all those jokes that foreigners smell and here I am using something to prevent the smell that Chinese people don’t use. Well, I didn’t tell him that I was doing this experiment and he even commented how clean I smelled all the time.
The only downsides, when it’s really hot or you are doing some serious sports, you have to reapply and after a while it kind of irritates the skin because, as a powder, it’s a bit abrasive.

I still have a couple sticks of deodorant/antiperspirant in my stash right now so I don’t think I’ll be dropping the habit anytime soon, but it is nice to know that there is an option available in China.





我发现中国人一般不用除臭剂、止汗剂。奇怪的是,连中国乞丐一般没味道… 我的中国女性同事不用除臭剂但还喷香水在腋窝。




我喜欢,以前有除臭剂的味道,现在一点味道都没有。我的中国老公一直对我的除臭剂感兴趣。他喜欢开玩笑说老外有羊肉的味道。我用除臭剂好像证明我也有这个味道… 我没告诉他我停止用除臭剂不过他停止说我的除臭剂的味道,他开始说我有多么干净的香味。我能保证,如果我老公也是个美国人他不会对我身体的味道这么感兴趣。



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19 responses to “Is there deodorant in China? 中国是否有除臭剂?

  1. I have a hippie friend who uses this sort of rock crystal thing and rubs it under her armpits for deoderant. I guess because it is a huge crystal it lasts just about forever, and somehow it actually works?! I’m not that big of a hippie so I don’t have one but it occurs to me that this would be the perfect thing for deoderant-less China.

    Honestly, it is kind of gross, but I’ve just sort of learned to live without deoderant. =/

    • There is nothing wrong with being a hippie, I think I’ve found a lot of ‘hippie’ tendencies while living here. It’s amazing how much time I spend trying to find home-made remedies for things I can’t find in China.

  2. I’ve used the crystal rock thingy and it did indeed work as deodorant (kind of amazing! Note you do have to wet the rock first, not rub it on dry), but it does not function as anti-perspirant at all. I’ve read that anti-perspirants are actually unhealthy, but I’m a sweaty mess in the summer so I import my yearly supply. I’m intrigued by the baking soda, but just to be clear it is deodorant only, right? No anti-perspirant properties?

    I also think it is funny that Chinese think that foreigners smell. Every country I have ever lived in, the locals always think the foreigners smell. I think it is a universal.

    • I’m intrigued by the crystal rock thing, what kind of stone is it?
      Right, the baking soda works only as a deodorant, you still sweat but there is absolutely no smell. I’ve heard that about anti-perspirants too, but it’s so hot and humid in the summer!

      • I’m not sure what kind of rock it was, but from what I’ve read, these kinds of deodorants are actually mineral salts. A friend brought it to me from Spain after he became convinced regular products were toxic. I liked the idea of it, but I couldn’t stand the sweating. I had to go back to anti-persipirant, toxic or not. 🙂

  3. This just happened to me today! I was out of deodorant, that I bought from my country before coming, and had to hurry to the doctor’s. I was feeling really insecure the whole time because no deodorant at all. Luckily I think I survived pretty well but still bought a new one fast. I just chose Nivea deodorant and didn’t take a look if it’s antiperspirant which I use back home. How to know which one it is when you can’t read the text?

    • It should be deodorant so you will still sweat but it tries to cover the smell. I’ve tried the Nivea one and didn’t like it, the smell was too strong and it stained my white shirt. I’ve never seen antiperspirant in China, just those liquidy deodorants. You could probably find one online on Taobao, they have a lot of imported toiletries.
      I’m still pushing the baking soda, it worked better than the Nivea for me.

  4. I’ve used the crystal rock thingy and it did indeed work as deodorant (kind of amazing! Note you do have to wet the rock first, not rub it on dry), but it does not function as anti-perspirant at all. I’ve read that anti-perspirants are actually unhealthy, but I’m a sweaty mess in the summer so I import my yearly supply. I’m intrigued by the baking soda, but just to be clear it is deodorant only, right? No anti-perspirant properties?

  5. Ericka, the baking soda is a unique idea — I didn’t realize it could be a useful stopgap deodorant. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

    I guess I’m also a bit of a “hippie” when it comes to deodorant — I don’t like using anything w/ aluminum. So, I always have stock up at the natural foods stores at home and bring something back (not antiperspirant, though). But baking soda is about as natural as it gets, so maybe I’ll have to try that.

    I also once used this crazy stuff from Israel — wish I could remember what it was called, but I loved it. You put it on and don’t have to use deodorant for a week. Not antiperspirant either, but it was so lovely and liberating!

  6. Hi Shandonshifu,
    interesting topic, I was taking Nivea anti-perspirant for granted in South Korea, should have stocked up before making the move.
    However, for a little more money, you can find a lot of stuff on taobao
    Even down to the ‘crystal’ deo for about 80 rmb.
    Ordering from the Korean website is a bit tricky but they do ship to China,

  7. Adam W

    Pray tell that they have deodorant in Hong Kong…

    Btw, love the blog. I’m dating a Hong Konger. We’re still in the beginnings of the relationship, but the balancing act of cultural differences is interesting. I honestly thought that their wouldn’t be many considering Hong Kong is so modern/Western. Huh. Was wrong!

    • I didn’t find the deodorant options all that different in Hong Kong than in the rest of China, but I only looked at Watsons and a few other stores there. There’s always Nivea and Adidas brand roll ons if you can’t find anythign else.

      I wish you luck with your budding relationship! Just remember that it’s those cultural differences that keep it interesting!

      • Adam W

        Thanks. 🙂

        I’ll take all the luck we can get, considering he’s currently in HK and I’m in the US. Haha. Oh, long-distance relationships…

  8. It’s been a couple of years since I last lived in China, but I used to be able to buy a variety of Adidas Anti-perspirant roll-on deodorants in Langfang, an hour outside of Beijing (or maybe two hours depending on traffic!).

    I know that you’re more likely to find western products nearer Beijing than many other parts of the country (and I certainly couldn’t get it in Guangdong in 2002, nor in Hubei in 2007), but not only I could get it in Watsons, I could also get it in the local (non chain) cosmetics shop on a university campus! Of course I was looking in the guy’s section – not sure if that makes a difference.

    Anyway, on other stints I’ve done the desperate for deodorant thing!

    Also, do you know that the URL in your subscribe link doesn’t work. It starts with https:// and to make it work, I had to drop the s (ie http://).

    • I’ve seen the adidas variety in most watsons stores and supermarkets in large cities, but I haven’t heard any good reviews on it. Did it work as well as what one would buy in the west?

  9. Yes, the Adidas worked fine – it seems to be the same as what you get here in Brisbane (Australia). That said, I don’t normally use it, because I don’t like roll-ons, I much prefer spray.

  10. I personally prefer solid stick, but it seems only roll-on and spray are available. Besides adidas, Rexona is another major brand sold in Watsons and Walmart. Rexona is distributed by Unilever, in the US, the name’s Degree. So it’s safe to say that deodorant and antiperspirant are accessible in China. I get my supply of Sure unscented on Taobao. If you don’t understand Chinese, just write down the brand name, and have a Chinese pal buy for you on Taobao. Also, in China, we don’t distinguish antiperspirant from deodorant. They come TWO in ONE in this market. Chinese avoid using the term deodorant, because we think it suggests something negative. Truth be told, only 20% of Chinese smell, and I’m a lucky one.

  11. sex

    There is certainly a great deal to know about this issue.
    I really like all the points you’ve made.

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