After listening to my constant fear mongering, my boyfriend finally agreed to throw out his favorite triclosan-containing deodorant—and then he vindictively chose not to wear any underarm products. He was convinced that, as a result, he was sweating less. So in the name of science and beauty blogging, I decided to test this theory by trying a deodorant detox for one week. Here’s how it went.
Other than getting slightly funky after my evening gym session, it was an uneventful day. Granted, my underarms were probably still caked in a lifetime of antiperspirant and deodorant use, but I considered the first 24 hours a success.
Before attempting a deodorant detox for seven days, I probably should have checked the weather forecast, because I picked the hottest, muggiest week of the year. The streets were swampy, the subway was an inferno, and my armpits were rank. Awesome!
I attended two events on Wednesday—one in the morning, one after work—and nothing makes you more self-conscious about your underarms than having to be close to other people. This was the midpoint when I couldn’t tell whether I was just hyperaware of my sharper-than-usual smell or if I was a foghorn of stink to everyone around me.
You know how they say if you skip bathing long enough, you’ll stop smelling yourself (do people say that or did I just make it up)? Lies. Every lift of my arm was a reminder that I was in no way getting used to my product-free aroma. Out of desperation, I attempted to ameliorate the situation with the makeup wipes stashed at my desk—it helped for barely an hour.
Days five and six:
I cracked. A family dinner on Friday night and family picnic Saturday afternoon (outside) broke my resolve to stew in the summer heat. They were two days of glorious freshness.
Back to the detox, my underarms were no better prepared to fight off sweat or odor on their own. By Monday morning, I was happy to return to my “powder-clean” routine.
Afterward, I ran all this by David Pariser, a professor of dermatology at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk and a founding member of the International Hyperhidrosis Society, to see if there’s any truth to an underarm detox.
“Everybody’s underarms sweat, even at rest with no activity or stress,” he says. “And if you go for a long time without using antiperspirant, you’ll still have the normal amount of sweating.” Sadly, the same goes for odor: “It’s going to happen without deodorant.”
So it turns out I could have saved myself, and everyone around me, a lot of trouble if I had just talked to an expert first.
This article first appeared on allure.com
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