I stink
January 15, 2009 10:30 AM   Subscribe

How do I deal with late-day b.o.?

I am not sure why, but recently I have started to have more b.o. than before. I have always been someone who sweats easily, but my antiperspirant and deodorant have been able to handle it. Recently however, I often feel that late in the day that I am starting to smell.

I am not sure what to do. I am in my early 30s. I work in an office setting, but I am also often in front of large groups teaching. I tend to use antiperspirant/deodorant combos like Right Guard and Speedstick (the clear-gel kinds).

Any ideas? Should I keep cologne at my desk for late in the day? Is there a stronger deodorant out there?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I usually keep a trial size antiperspirant/deodorant in my purse or desk drawer, along with a travel sized toothbrush and toothpaste. Some days are just stressful and stinky.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:39 AM on January 15, 2009

You might try keeping deodorant at your desk so you can reapply as necessary. I always keep at least one stick in my desk just in case...
posted by bananafish at 10:40 AM on January 15, 2009

1) Try a hypoallergenic deodorant. Your deodorant may be causing you to sweat.
2) Buy two or three different deodorants, and rotate through each one for a few days. I have no idea why this works.
posted by Nahum Tate at 10:41 AM on January 15, 2009

Certain -Dri (comes in solid or roll-on) is more effective than regular antiperspirants. I know it sounds crazy, but you apply it at night.
I order it from drugstore.com because it's not always available inlocal stores
posted by mmf at 10:45 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've suffered from Hyperhidrosis in the past, so I feel your pain. Luckily there are far stronger anti-perspirants out there.

Triple Dry and Odaban are two that I've used. These are anti-perspirants that you actually put on before going to bed ; you shower as normal in the morning, and off you go. They are incredibly effective, and you can usually cut down application from daily to once every two or three days after a while.

These are unscented anti-perspirants. I usually use a lightly-scented deodarant in the morning as a cover in the armpit area, and cologne for the rest of that sweet-smellin' goodness.

The whole apply-at-night-shower-in-the-morning thing sounds completely counter-productive, but it works. Applying in the morning isn't as effective and will ruin your garments.
posted by sektah at 10:47 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Degree clinical strength has been a godsend for me. I'm not too stinky, but my pits sweat like a mofo. I also noticed that weight loss helped reduce my sweating.
posted by LouMac at 10:47 AM on January 15, 2009

Oh, and I've tried Right Guard and Speedstick in the past - found them utterly useless. Right Guard seemed to increase my sweating.
posted by sektah at 10:49 AM on January 15, 2009

Using hand sanitizer under your pits as a mid day "bath" might help. It kills the bacteria that causees the odor. Wash, dry well, and reapply antiperspirant/deodorant. You should notice a change.
posted by pearlybob at 10:55 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

From your choice of deodorants, I assume (and only assume) that you're male.

Try shaving your pits. You don't have to go all smooth or anything, just run a trimmer through it all.
posted by adipocere at 11:01 AM on January 15, 2009

I favorited mmf's comment but also wanted to loudly second Certain Dri. Put it on at night and use a regular heavy-duty antiperspirant/deodorant during the day. It's a bit more expensive than other antiperspirants but it WORKDS.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:16 AM on January 15, 2009

Certain-Dri and the other hardcore apply-at-night antiperspirants work well, although they can make your pits itchy. CVS carries a store-brand version.

If you're more concerned about stink than wetness, the Crystal deodorant is a good stink-fighter and can be used on multiple areas of the body. However, since it's not an antiperspirant, it won't reduce sweating.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:27 AM on January 15, 2009

1. The above-mentioned Odaban at night. It rules.
2. Tom's Natural Deodorant in the morning.

This way, you've got something to stop the sweating, and something to stop the stink (though Tom's products are pretty mild).

3. Bleach your undershirts. As a general rule, I have a load of laundry that's just undershirts and socks, and they get plenty of bleach mixed in. It does wonders as far as keeping the stink down.
posted by god hates math at 11:27 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have found liquid roll-ons (Dry Idea) much much stronger than gels.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:40 AM on January 15, 2009

Seconding the degree clinical strength. I started using that a few months ago, and it's worked wonders.
posted by jnaps at 11:54 AM on January 15, 2009

Replace your undershirts often. They can hold bateria that re-awakens when sweated on.
posted by Gor-ella at 11:56 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Whenever you have a major change in your body's regular behavior like that, it's time to visit a doctor for a checkup, just to be sure. Changes in BO could be related to any number of health problems, including approaching borderline diabetes.

If you haven't had your yearly physical lately, you should have one anyway...
posted by lockle at 11:59 AM on January 15, 2009

Oh yes! I can't believe I forgot to mention--when you do laundry, spritz the underarms of your shirts with white vinegar before washing. It will remove that sweaty smell that seems to get baked in in the drier. (I don't remember if it works on shirts that already have that, though I *think* so, but it definitely prevents it from setting in). I've done this for years on all sorts of fabrics and it's always worked and I've never had a problem with colors running or anything.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 12:00 PM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

I've noticed that if I reapply antiperspirant during the day, I am stinkier for days afterward. The conclusion I came to is that when I feel like I smell enough to need a reapplication, I'm contaminating my deodorant with armpit bacteria. Then I'm swiping those guys right back into my underarms the next morning after a thorough shower, and it sets me up to stink faster. Since coming to this conclusion, I always wipe the top of the deodorant off pretty thoroughly with some tissues right after applying, unless I was straight out of the shower. The problem seems to have gone away. Maybe my theory is bunk and I'm just randomly stinkier sometimes, but there it is.
posted by vytae at 12:08 PM on January 15, 2009

"If you're more concerned about stink than wetness, the Crystal deodorant is a good stink-fighter and can be used on multiple areas of the body. However, since it's not an antiperspirant, it won't reduce sweating."

The crystal is actually an aluminum salt crystal. Aluminum salts are the active ingredients in antiperspirants.

You may want to run this change past your doctor as changes in body odor can be indicative of other changes in the body. The bonus is that while you're there, your doctor will be able to hook you up with some of the serious antiperspirants.
posted by 517 at 12:09 PM on January 15, 2009

Another suggestion/question: Check your clothing - all of it. Maybe have a good friend do it - we stop smelling ourselves. Because, as I learned from working at a drycleaner for years (and in dealing with vintage clothing), certain materials retain the scent of body odour more than others - namely, synthetics. (There is nothing like the smell of yeasty crotch rising from those things that blow steam through pants. Nothing.)

Drycleaning doesn't remove perspiration odour, and certain washing modern habits might need to be supplemented, and so you might need to work with your clothing too. If your shirts have any synthetic blended in them, or if you wear a jacket or other layer that doesn't get cleaned every time you wear it, that might have absorbed the scent. Try a cotton undershirt. B.O. clings to polyester like, well, stink to a monkey.

Adding baking soda to your wash, and vinegar to your rinse will help with washable items.

Make sure you're washing whites in hot water, and drying until they're bone dry. In fact, this article is great for summarizing the problem with modern-day washing and gives best-practice suggestions.

For dryclean-only items, test to make sure they're colourfast, and then sponge the areas like the armholes, neck and back where you might perspire. Airing things well in sunlight is good practice too.

Items like these are an option, but the adhesive can cause damage to some clothing.

Good luck - and well, thanks for recognizing that there might be an issue. Nobody wants to be the person who stages the intervention, as much as nobody wants to be Smelly Cat.
posted by peagood at 12:11 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I tend to use antiperspirant/deodorant combos like Right Guard and Speedstick (the clear-gel kinds).

I would stay away from the gels and roll-ons. I've found that the white anti-persperants work a lot better, and you need less of it.

As for brands, I think Degree is one of the best out there.
posted by sixcolors at 12:21 PM on January 15, 2009

Synthetic fibers seem to retain the stench particles for later reactivation way more than natural ones do for me. I've ruined a bunch of acrylic sweaters with my armpits (my stench is my super power), so I stopped buying anything with acrylic. I refuse to own dry clean only clothing. Try to draw some connections between what your shirts are made of and how stinky they get.

I use certain dri at night (it will bleach your clothes, so let it dry before putting a shirt back on if applicable) and a regular deodorant in the morning. My armpits still smell awful on certain days, but my office refuses to stay at a suitable temperature for humans.

On preview, seconding sixcolors: gels have never worked for me ever.
posted by giraffe at 12:28 PM on January 15, 2009

Oh, I forgot to add: soak anything with a lingering stench in Oxyclean for a couple of hours. I saved a couple of beloved shirts doing this.
posted by giraffe at 12:29 PM on January 15, 2009

You could wear a tshirt underneath your normal shirt?
posted by jhighmore at 1:02 PM on January 15, 2009

1. Get some antibacterial Wet Wipes and a tube of Clinique roll-on deoderant (the best I've tried so far)
2. Enter bathroom, remove shirt
3. Clean armpits thoroughly with Wet Wipe
4. Flap arms like a chicken until residue dries
5. Apply Clinique
6. Flap arms a little longer
7. Replace shirt
8. ???
9. Profit!

Also, peagood, sorry to derail slightly, but I've got a really nice coat that has, unfortunately, Hoovered up a great deal of armpit stench. I've tried stuff like Febreeze on it with no real joy. It's cotton moleskin with either satin or silk lining. WHAT CAN BE DONE?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:26 PM on January 15, 2009

Here's something that works for me: try putting on an Alum-based crystal antiperspirant immediately after washing. Make sure you're still a little damp or wet down the crystal first, otherwise it goes on painfully. I put non-aluminum chlorohydrate stick deodorant (as opposed to antiperspirant) on over this — Trader Joe's unscented— which helps because otherwise the crystal makes your skin so dry that you'll chafe.

The crystal seems expensive, but it lasts a whole year! And alum is a fairly benign chemical compared to the standard a.p. in commercial products.

Interestingly, neither product works for me on its own, but the combo is magic.
posted by Araucaria at 3:35 PM on January 15, 2009

517 writes "The crystal is actually an aluminum salt crystal. Aluminum salts are the active ingredients in antiperspirants.

"You may want to run this change past your doctor as changes in body odor can be indicative of other changes in the body. The bonus is that while you're there, your doctor will be able to hook you up with some of the serious antiperspirants."

Not all salts are alike.

The crystal is Alum (ammonium or potassium aluminum sulfate). It has been used medicinally for thousands of years and has no known health side-effects.

There are indications that aluminum chlorohydrate, used in standard commercial antiperspirants, may have long-term health effects.
posted by Araucaria at 3:44 PM on January 15, 2009

I noticed the same thing at about age 30. Prior to that, just applying the deodorant to the hairy part of the underarm was good enough. After that, I've had to cover a much wider swath of the underarm area. That did the trick.

(I like the Mitchum unscented clear gel. No residues, works well, and doesn't conflict with any other scents I might choose to apply.)
posted by gjc at 5:21 PM on January 15, 2009

Seconding what vytae said: deodorant sticks can get contaminated. Try using a new stick. Also, Speed Stick and Right Guard never worked very well for me. I've had good luck with the Degree anti-perspirant and deodorant invisible stuff.
posted by paulg at 5:38 PM on January 15, 2009

Nthing the whole "Yeah, that happened around 30", as well as Nahum Tate's suggestion way up thread to rotate through various types of antiperspirants. About every nine months to a year, I have to get a new brand of antiperspirant.
posted by eclectist at 12:13 AM on January 16, 2009

Seconding hand sanitizer in a pinch. Re-apply deodorant after if dries, if possible. The hand sanitzer kills bacteria, which is what makes your pits stink.

Do not do this right after shaving or waxing!
posted by TrixieRamble at 12:18 PM on January 16, 2009

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