Friday, May 8, 2009

The Great Deoderant Scam

I've been a faithful user of deodorant for how long? Since I was maybe 13. Problem is that I am a bit allergic to the stuff that really works. After a few days of using it I start to itch under the arms and if I stop using it the itching goes on for a couple of days. And besides that I still don't smell that good at the end of the day, even though I shower everyday.

I usually swim in the local community pool a couple times a week and shower at the pool where I don't have access to my deodorant. What I noticed was that I don't have that dreadful body odor they scare us about in the TV commercials for the next day. So I began to wonder why. I reasoned that it's the chlorine in the water that makes me smell like the pool but at the same time must me killing all the odor causing bacteria. I'm sure you know that when you sweat the sweat doesn't initially smell bad. It takes a little time for those little germs to produce and I guess reproduce.

Thinking about the fact that plan old rubbing alcohol kills some 99% of all germs/bacteria (fill a little bottle with it and use it instead of that hand sanitizer stuff which is just alcohol combined with some jell) I decided to try splashing a little under the arms after my shower. Guess what no more smell, works in fact much better than the deodorant and the cost is next to nothing.

I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who shaves under the arms but they might try some other medical disinfectant such as what they sell here called Lyso Form. And of course the alcohol won't stop one from sweating. But maybe if you aren't worried about smelling bad you won't sweat so much.


Most people sweat when they exercise or exert themselves, are in a hot environment, or are nervous, anxious, or under stress. This type of sweating is both natural and healthy.

Sweating is usually only a minor nuisance. The odor is probably more troublesome. Although perspiration is practically odorless, perspiration can sometimes cause an unpleasant smell when it comes into contact with bacteria on your skin."

I suppose there could be some downside to destroying the natural bacteria on part of your skin, but I'm thinking it can't be worse that putting those other chemicals on it on a daily basis.


  1. This is not a very bright idea. huiman bodies naturally have a smell, it's true for all animals, and therefore for humans too. EAch one of us has a natural body scent that is uniquely personal and that is precious because it conveys a whole bunch of informations, for instanace a woman's natural body scent tells he partner when she's most fertile. These are all mechanisms that lie so deeply buried that we do not notice them anymore, yet they are esential, for instance again, for our pets to recognize us. Natural body scents are also a good way to communicate with our partners at a very deep level: the fresh (fresh!) sweat of a man is highly sexy because it contains lots of ferormones and lots of testosterone which both aid the female arousal. Babies also use smell to recognize their mom, and probably each and everyone of us still has the memory of our mom's smell buried dep somewhere. (Yes, most of what we do with our natural scents is connected to our most basical and animal stuff: sex and mother-child relation!)

    Now, this unique smell is, yes, caused by bacteria. but the bacteria that colonize our skin are not all the same. Some are the good guys, that have been living with us since the start (as a race, not as individuals) and that serve us protecting us from aggressions from the bad guys. These good guys fed on your sweat and on the small flakes of dried out skin we shed continously and in exchange do their patrolling job. This is a sort of "outer skin" that surrounds the real skin, a further leve of protection. These good guys give us part of our unique and individual body scents, while the rest is created by food, hygienic habits etc.

    Killing these good guys using a too powerful way to cleanse the skin make room for the bad guys that colonize our bodies and can cause *bad* body odors as well as skin infections (bacterial, yeast, or fungi) and a bunch of other stuff. Now, by rubbing the alchool under your armpits, you essentially create a favaorable environment for these bad guys to reproduce and colonize your body. Also swimming in a highly chlorinated pool holds the same risks, and that's one of the rasons why it's so easy to catch skin illesses in pools!

    if you feel you smell "too human" you shlud try to cleanse your body regularly but very, very mildly 8to the point of stopping using any soap and use only oils!), avoid any non-perspirant material (stick to natural fibers like cotton, silk, linen, wool etc.) and avoid all type of skin-depleting treatment, like rubbing alchool on the skin! At first you will smell yourself more strongly, but as weks pass you will start notinging the smell less, both because you will get used to the fact that you have the smell of a human being and because your bacterial flora will slowly start to rebalance, with the good guys winning over the bad guys. If after a few moths you think you still smell foul, you probably have a deeply-rooted skin infection of some kind and will have to help your skin rebalance with the help of a good dermatologist.

  2. A very well thought out response that I don't really disagree with in general. Maybe I will give the no nothing on the body a try. But I have to admit to some skepticism and I also don't think that killing the bacteria on two small areas of the body can do that much harm. It has the rest of the body to grow on. I would agree with your comment about the pool except that I've been swimming in chlorinated pools all my life and never gotten a skin infection other than some fungus between the toes a couple of times. But then it is probably unbalancing my natural bacteria, however, I can't give it up as it's too good for me in other ways.

    And yes the natural scent can be very sexual. I sometimes remind Luisa that when she was fresh from Italy and I met her in California I was very attracted to her in that way.

    We can agree also that the push to make everyone use commercial deodorant is a big scam.

  3. On the fact that unbalancing bacteria in just one or two spots can't cause much harm, I could tell you of the vaginal bacterial infection I got this spring after a particularly bad bout of this year's flu... ^____^

  4. Sorry but I can't resist saying I'd rather hear about that area after the infection was cured. But it's interesting that you feel one thing led to the other. I could suppose that staying in bed with a lack of air movement in the area and the higher body temperature from the flu would create a nice growing environment.

    I am continuing my experiment with alcohol under the arms so we will see what happens. But also starting today I'm going to be minimizing my use of soap when I shower, hoping that it will cure my dry skin problem.

    Think about taking vitamin D supplements or getting plenty of sun. Seems recent research points out that lack of it is one of the reasons people get sick more often in the winter. It's also very good for the heart.

  5. I have the same sensitivity to deodorant, same symptoms, and have gotten worse with age... (after 30 in my case). Shopping at the Parafarmacia near my work the other day I decided to give the deodorant section and whirl and I found sound great products. All for extremely intolerant and sensitive skin, granted NOT chemical free. I picked one called "Defense Deo" by BioNike (no relationship to Nike shoes). No itching, no skin reactions, so far.
    There is aluminum in the product, which for some odd reason I didn't pick up on and do not like. Anyway, there were many other great choices, so you may try to shop around a bit. Stay away from any supermarket deodorants, that is for sure.
    I am a person that simply needs deodorant if I want to keep my friends, loved ones, and job!
    by the way... congrats on your daughters first communion.

  6. The aluminum is the ingredient that keeps you from sweating. When you are home some time, try the rubbing alcohol splashed under you arms and see what happens. My experience is that I still sweat but I don't smell bad.