From humble beginnings, Chris Caley and Melanie McVean developed a unique natural deodorant paste which was free from nasty chemicals. Now they are the entreprenuers who founded No Pong, the deodorant which has gained a massive following.
Get to learn more about Chris and Melanie in our interview below -
When did you first start making natural deodorant?
We were making a variant of No Pong for about a year before we decided to turn it into a real-world product, so around 3 years ago. It was quite a different product to the one it is today!
The idea of applying a deodorant paste with your fingers seems quite different (I love it), what are the benefits to this type of application?
We believe it’s healthy and natural to be in touch with your body. As outdoorsy people we’ve always been used to applying lotions and creams for different sports, so the idea of a deodorant paste comes quite naturally to us.
We’ve actually had a couple of really humbling moments because of the way No Pong is applied. One customer contacted us to let us know that because it’s applied with her hands, she detected a lump in her armpit. Thankfully it turned out to be benign, but it’s a good example of showing there is a benefit in being in touch with your body.
Another customer got in touch to tell the story of her daughter, who has a Neuromuscular condition similar to Muscular Dystrophy. She can’t use sprays or rolls-on as she has difficulty holding them and making the movement required to apply them. However, she is able to reach her armpit with her hands, and to quote her:
“You have brought back to a young lady, some dignity in achieving one of life's simple & basic every day task to an able body person.”
We still tear up when we think about that! We never would have thought we would have such an impact on anyone’s lives when we set out.
Another benefit of being a paste is that it means we don’t need to use any plastic in our packaging as many stick, roll-ons and sprays do! We’re surfers and love the ocean, and have made a personal commitment not to use plastic anywhere in our packaging, and it’s all 100% recyclable
What are the health issues connected to using conventional deodorants and which ingredients should be avoided?
This might sound counter-intuitive coming from a natural deodorant company, but we’re science people as well and the truth is, the jury is still out.
There are lots of ingredients to be mindful of, and to be honest there is some conflicting research around some of them. Aluminium is known to have potential to cause mutation to genetic code. Parabens are known to mimic hormone functions, particularly oestrogen, and its well known effects on breast cancer. Triclosan is a common anti-bacterial found in traditional deodorants, and actually banned for use in soaps by the US Food and Drug Administration, but not in Australia.
However, the scientific jury is out on the real-world, long term effect of many of these as used in deodorants. At the end of the day though, why use these ingredients at all if you don’t have to?
No Pong is simple, natural, doesn’t contain any contentious ingredients and our customers would say is even more effective than traditional deodorants.
Which alternative ingredients do you use to replace chemicals and preservatives in your deodorant?
It’s not so much a matter of replacing, or switching out ingredients compared to traditional deodorants. No Pong comes from a different sheet of paper. No Pong works by creating a water-resistant layer using coconut oil and beeswax, and uses this to carry the other bacteria busting and absorbent ingredients in No Pong.
Chemical preservatives are often added to other products to reduce the microbial growth that can occur when products are used in the real world.
Because No Pong is not water based, and is antibacterial by design, it’s naturally preserved and has an extremely long shelf life. Microbes hate No Pong, they just can’t survive!
How do you see the natural deodorant industry evolving in the future?
We think the natural deodorant category will grow quite a bit. As people start to cotton on to the fact that that natural deodorants can be simple, and ridiculously effective we think they will attract more and more attention.
That said, not all natural deodorants are created equally, and there are definitely some products out there that don’t really do what they say on the tin!
Before you started No Pong, what types of deodorants were you using and why did you stop using these deodorants?
We’ve always been fairly health conscious, but we used to use low fragrance roll-ons without thinking too much about it. After losing a relative to cancer, Chris particularly became more aware of what he was putting on his skin and eating, and around the same time we started experimenting with making a whole range of natural products from sunscreen and zinc, to deodorant.
As people are becoming more aware of their health and natural products, there are now quite a few natural deodorants on the market, what makes No Pong stand out from the others?
No Pong does what it says on the tin! One of the things we do differently compared to other skincare and deodorant brands, is focus on doing one thing, really well.
Rather than having a huge range, with loads of variants, or other non-deodorant products in our range we’re committed to being the best possible Natural Deodorant Company we can be, and creating the best possible customer experience anywhere! As an online focused business, being really customer-first is an area we know we have to really be outstanding in.
We’re also about to bring out a version for people with sensitive skin which has been a long time in development and we’re quite excited about.
Why is it particularly important for breastfeeding mothers to use natural deodorants?
It is particularly important for women in general, particularly those women who plan or want to breastfeed to avoid as many toxins and chemicals as possible. This is because toxins and chemicals are stored in adipose tissue, which is mainly in the breast and then can be passed through breastmilk to the baby.
In regards to using natural deodorants, per se, well, this is a contentious one! Melanie is also a Registered Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and there’s actually some controversy around use of essential oils during pregnancy and lactation.
Many natural deodorants use essential oils, either as an active ingredient or as part of their fragrance so it’s important for breastfeeding mothers to be aware of the ingredients in any natural deodorant they choose.
That said, there is a lot of information out there and not all of that information is evidence or research based. We use high quality essential oils in our product to add a fresh scent and not for therapeutic value.
There is no current evidence that any of the oils we use in No Pong are not safe in pregnancy and/or lactation. The percentage of actual essential oils per whole tin of No Pong is less than 0.5%. These oils are a lovely blend, so that fraction is further diluted.
We are advocates for knowing exactly what goes into the products that you put on your body, so we publish the full list of the ingredients, including all of the essential oils in our fragrance on our website here: http://www.nopong.com/directions/
What has been the most rewarding aspect of creating No Pong?
Without a doubt the overwhelming groundswell of support we see, feel and hear from our customers every day. From the hilarious, to surprise that it really works, to just the sincere thanks we often get for creating this product, it is truly humbling. Without our awesome customers there would be no No Pong, so thank you!
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