Complete Shopping Guide to Buying Deodorant in China

Avoid the Smellpocalypse: Buying Deodorant in China

Deodorant in China - Learn it, it's very useful!
Deodorant in China – Learn it, it’s very useful!

Anyone considering going to China has probably done some research on the food, language, and culture of China.

But have you done your research on buying deodorant in China?

Buying deodorant in China is challenging – but not because Chinese people are more accepting of smelliness.

Your 个人卫生 (gèrénwèisheng, personal hygiene) is just as important in China as it is at home!

Instead, buying deodorant in China is difficult because, genetically, many East Asians do not have body odor.

Not of East Asian descent and worried about stinking up the metro cars in Shanghai with your un-deodorized armpits?

Never fear, deodorant is available in most cities across China if you know where to look (and have the Chinese speaking skills to ask for help!).

Chapter #1 – Buying Deodorant in China

Chapter #2 – Nationwide Chains

Chapter #3 – Key Vocabulary

Chapter #4 – Practice

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Buying Deodorant in China is Hard Because (Most) East Asians Don’t Have Body Odor

DID YOU KNOW – It is estimated that fewer than ten percent of Chinese people use deodorant.

That leaves 2.3 billion armpits deodorant-free.

This is not just an untapped market (although deodorant companies are certainly trying to figure out how to enter) or cultural difference.

Body odor is largely biologically determined and it turns out that many Chinese people simply don’t have the same underarm stink that many suffer from.

Buying Deodorant In China - Earwax and Body Odor Correlation
Buying Deodorant In China – Earwax and Body Odor Correlation

To explain, we need to understand the gene ABCC11.  This gene determines not just body odor, but also whether or not you have wet or dry earwax.

That same gene that produces wet earwax also produces the chemical that, when fed upon by bacteria, creates body odor.

People of European and African ancestry have wet earwax somewhere between 97 and 100 percent of the time.

Conversely, 80 to 85 percent of East Asians have dry earwax.

This is all to say, a much smaller proportion of people in China have body odor!

Nationwide Chains for Buying Deodorant in China

1. Watsons 屈臣氏(qūchénshì)

Buying Deodorant in China? Go to Watsons!
Buying Deodorant in China? Go to Watsons!

This Hong Kong-owned chain is the largest health care and beauty chain in Asia.

Unless you are in a very small, less-developed city, Watsons is your best option for buying deodorant in China.

Watsons also carries products like toothpaste, makeup, skin care, basic first aid products, and shampoo.

These stores are sometimes stand-alone shops but most frequently found in malls.

Buying Deodorant in China - Watsons has Deodorant! Phew
Buying Deodorant in China – Watsons has Deodorant! Phew

If you feel like practicing your Chinese, use the store locator function on the Watsons website to find the one nearest to you.

Not yet confident in your Chinese literacy skills?

Ask a friend, classmate, or coworker. This brand is widely recognized.

The type of deodorant most commonly found at Watsons is a roll-on liquid deodorant.

NOTE – The deodorant section is normally quite small, so be prepared to try a different brand, scent, and style from the type you use at home.

2. Supermarkets and Convenience Stores

Buying deodorant in Convenience Stores in China
Buying deodorant in Convenience Stores in China

Supermarket availability of deodorant depends on the size of your city. 

Cities with more cosmopolitan populations such as Beijing and Shanghai are more likely to have deodorant than smaller cities.

Foreign-owned supermarkets like Carrefour and Walmart are your best bet for finding deodorant.

Remember that the brands and packaging for deodorant may be quite different from your own country.

You may need to ask a store employee to find the right section.

3. Online Stores

Buying Deodorant in China - Keep your hygiene in check
Buying Deodorant in China – Keep your hygiene in check

If you cannot find your preferred brand, scent, or style of deodorant in a store, online shopping is always an option.

Be aware that you will likely pay a significant premium if you expect to buy the same brands you purchase at home.

Taobao is the best option for finding a wide range of both domestic and imported deodorants.

Taobao is primarily in Chinese (and if you search in English, you will only find the most expensive choices), so you might need to ask a friend for help if you aren’t confident in your Chinese reading skills.

With new technology you can even scan a picture of your favorite deodorant brand online and search for a matching image within Taobao!

Key Vocabulary for buying Deodorant in China

Word and PinyinEnglish Definition
止汗露 (zhǐhànlù)Anti-perspirant
香体膏 (xiāngtǐgāo)Deodorant
香体膏在哪里?(xiāngtǐgāozàinǎlǐ?)Where is the deodorant?
体臭 (tǐ chòu)Unpleasant body odor
腋窝 (yè wō)Armpit

Put your newfound knowledge into practice!

Buying Deodorant in China - Smell Good!
Today’s Chinese goal: Smell like a daisy!

While finding deodorant may seem like an annoying and unnecessary challenge, this is also a great learning opportunity!

Use this B.O.-inspired challenge to explore some new online or offline retailers and acquire some new vocabulary.

When you force yourself to go out of your comfort zone you will be surprised at how quickly you learn Chinese!

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Deodorant in China – FAQ’s

How do you say Deodorant in Chinese?

香体膏 (xiāngtǐgāo) is deodorant in Chinese?

How do you say Personal Hygiene in Chinese?

个人卫生 gè rén wèi sheng is personal hygiene in Chinese.

Can I buy Deodorant in China?

Yes you can at a number of nationwide chains (like Watsons and Mannings), Convenience Stores and Supermarkets.

How do you say Anti-Perspirant in Chinese?

止汗露 (zhǐhànlù) is anti-perspirant in Chinese.

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  • LTL Avatar Alexander Krasnov
    Alexander Krasnov , Student Advisor

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