October 1, 2009 9:49 AM   Subscribe

My body has become immune to every deodorant I've tried. I need advice regarding a heavy duty deodorant which won't stain the armpits of my shirts.

I have tried the major brand stick deodorants, baking soda, and was using salt crystal for nearly a year before my body suddenly overcame its power.

I use certain-dri for antiperspirant and it works like a charm, but no matter what I use for deodorant, by the end of the day I can smell my body odor.

Throwaway e-mail:

(Anonymous because coworkers, friends, and family trace me to this site and I want to resolve this before it becomes their issue.)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Rotation, rotation, rotation.

I rotate different types and use them all with the salt one.

I can't use anti-persp due to sensitivity. The only solution I have found is to keep moving every couple of days to a different one. Without this tactic, I would put Bigfoot to shame in the stench department.
posted by Seamus at 9:56 AM on October 1, 2009

FWIW, Old Spice High Endurance deodorant has never let me down.

Any reason you can't just reapply?
posted by General Malaise at 10:00 AM on October 1, 2009

Are you a boy? Have you tried girl deodorant? Secret has a higher percentage of the antiperspirant chemicals than pretty much every other brand I've looked at. And it comes in about seven hundred flavors, all of which my boyfriend will tell you smell like cucumbers and lollipops. Maybe you can find one that works for you without smelling too girly?
posted by phunniemee at 10:02 AM on October 1, 2009

Do you wear an undershirt? I've found that wearing a fairly close-fitting under shirt does enough to get the sweat off of my skin. Once it is off the skin, it is less likely to grow the bacteria which is what causes the smell.
posted by whiskeyspider at 10:12 AM on October 1, 2009

Seconding Secret...they have an unscented, although I bet the vanilla one would smell good on a man too.
posted by dejah420 at 10:14 AM on October 1, 2009

Have you thought of getting a prescription like drysol (or something else with aluminum chloride hexahydrate) from your doctor for hyperhidrosis? One application (overnight) every two weeks keeps me from sweating through shirts like a charm.
posted by kthxbi at 10:42 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

2nding Secret. Get Unscented. My boyfriend has his own and likes it over men's deodorant, though I have to buy it for him.
posted by bunny hugger at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2009

Secret Clinical Strength is really effective. The hypoallergenic formula is also unscented, if that matters to you.
posted by scody at 11:14 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

I remember reading somewhere about a treatment for excessive sweat that involved either electrolysis to kill the sweat glands or, verily, botox injections. You may not have excessive sweating, but if you kill the supply of nutrients that the organisms living on your armpit feed upon the smell would hopefully subside.

What kind of armpit products have you used? There are typically two ways those products work; they either kill the microorganisms that produce the smell or decrease/stop the production of sweat in an area. Most products are one or the other; try shopping for one that does both or get one of each kind and use those.

Do your armpits have hair? Armpit hair helps wick away body moisture and is less hospitable for odor causing bacteria.

This may sound strange, but try not washing your armpits for a couple of days. Experiment with it; try not washing for a few days but use products to cut the smell, and then try not washing them and using no products.

For myself, I haven't used any products on my armpits to affect the smell in 7 years. I'll soap up my armpits while I shower but no more than I would my chest, back, or whatever. I work as a bartender and waiter so I'm around people all the time in strange angles, handing plants and drinks, etc. I have never once noticed or had anyone tell me I have an aroma.

Good luck.
posted by ZaneJ. at 11:29 AM on October 1, 2009

If you smell your salt crystals, do they smell bad? It could be that bacteria has started growing the the crystals themselves. Try washing your crystals with some hand soap and try it again. Make sure your pits are squeaky clean before applying as well.
posted by Nerro at 11:51 AM on October 1, 2009

Seconding scody's recommendation for Secret Clinical Strength. I use the hypoallergenic version of it every day. It works really well for me, and doesn't stain my shirts. And yes, it's made for women, and I'm a man, but none of the clinical-strength versions of the men's deodorant/anti-perspirants I've found have an unscented choice. For some reason.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:56 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Mitchum has a professional strength that's near prescription. It works great. But if you're a woman, it might burn the skin off. I wound up with chemical burns after too much usage.
posted by stormpooper at 12:01 PM on October 1, 2009

Several deodorant brands now have "Clinical Strength" antiperspirants available at Wal-Mart, et al--as I found out on a camping/light hiking trip, one application can work for at least 72 hours, at least for me. I can't imagine this not being strong enough for just about anybody.

...well, almost anybody. This look familiar?
posted by Phyltre at 12:16 PM on October 1, 2009

I don't wear antiperspirant, but I do wear deodorant. Currently it's a combination of the salt crystal + Lush's Aromacreme (it's not showing up on the web site; I purchased mine at a brick-and-mortar Lush store). I've used all sorts of non-antiperspirant deodorants, from the Adidas mentioned above to drugstore men's brands (e.g., Speed Stick) to different Tom's of Maine ones, and Lush has been my hands (arms?)-down favorite. However, sometimes I do notice a twinge of stank at the end of the day. When this happens, I swab my armpits with a cotton ball soaked in drugstore-strength hydrogen peroxide solution (before showering, to avoid potentially bleaching the armpits of my clothes) and it seems to do the trick, presumably by killing the bacteria (albeit not permanently, as I have to repeat the process on occasion--like, every few months).

Oh, as data points, I'm 29 and female.
posted by penchant at 12:37 PM on October 1, 2009

If you're using Certain-Dri already and it works like a charm, you shouldn't be needing a deodorant. The bacteria growth that causes the smell is caused by moisture. If you're not still getting particularly sweaty and you're washing the affected areas daily, you shouldn't be having that bacteria growth in excess. If you are, this would be a time I would involve my doctor. If you're still getting particularly sweaty, then obviously the Certain-Dri *isn't* working like a charm, and that's what I'd start thinking about Botox or something.
posted by larkspur at 12:40 PM on October 1, 2009

Is it so important that the anti-perspirant work? I regularly use Old Spice high endurance and while I might sweat a little it never smells bad. Also, I went through a period of a few years where I was trying out other deodorants and literally every one I tried was staining my shirt. So, I went back to my old reliable and now everything's just fine!
posted by scrutiny at 12:51 PM on October 1, 2009

The next time you find yourself stinky, see what happens when you take a good dollop of hand sanitizer gel and vigorously rub it in for 20-30 seconds. I find it works like magic!
posted by aquafortis at 1:30 PM on October 1, 2009

Perhaps you're looking at this the wrong way... yes, dead bacteria is the primary cause of body odor, but also what you eat and your diet has a part to play in this, too. Perhaps investigating a change in your diet can be part of the equation in finding a solution.
posted by kuppajava at 1:40 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you haven't already consider seeing a dermatologist. They might be able to pinpoint the cause which should make it easier to come up with something deal with your problem.
posted by tommasz at 1:49 PM on October 1, 2009

Second sio42, I tend to get the best results with no anti-perspirant and just deodorant. Tom's and the like worked ok, but I found that Trader Joe's brand, unscented is the best. I have no idea if the fact that it contains cotton fibers is just marketing, but it works for me.
posted by jalexc at 1:49 PM on October 1, 2009

Maybe try wiping the ol' pits with isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) a few times during the day to kill the bacteria that produce the smell.

In stealth mode: pour a little alcohol into small bottle and hide in desk; palm the bottle and sneak into bathroom; pour a little alcohol into paper towel; sneak into stall and yank off shirt; scrub pits; fan with hands to evaporate alcohol and prevent stains; replace shirt; comb hair; stroll back to desk fresh as a daisy.
posted by Quietgal at 2:43 PM on October 1, 2009

do you drink a lot of coffee? i find coffee makes me STINK, and antiperspirant doesn't do a thing. i switched to caffiene tablets and tea, and i think i smell much better now.
posted by twistofrhyme at 3:04 PM on October 1, 2009

I use a deodorant only. The only deodorants I can find are in the natural foods section of the store. After cruising through about 8 of them that were useless, I found Tom's of Maine and have been very pleased with it. I think aquafortis and Quietgal may have your solution, a daily noontime douse of rubbing alcohol to the pits.
posted by Foam Pants at 6:02 PM on October 1, 2009

I used to use certain dri in addition to my various deodorants, but half way through the day I smelled disgusting. I finally realized that it wasn't the deodorant that was the problem--it was almost like the certain dri counteracted the deoderant. So I wasn't sweaty, but I smelled like shit.

I've recently changed to the Secret Clinical Strength that Scody linked to. I will never, ever use certain dri again.
posted by Lullen at 6:49 PM on October 1, 2009

Lavilin works amazingly effectively both for me and for my husband, a.k.a. Mr. Big Stinky Guy. (Make that "formerly a.k.a. Mr. Big Stinky Guy". Upon reflection, I realize I actually haven't called him that in quite some time. It must be working.)
posted by Lexica at 6:58 PM on October 1, 2009

Here's a kooky idea I read in an old school beauty book: To keep odor causing bacteria in your armpits under control you need to first remove most of the bacteria that is already there, then change the environment in your armpits to one that is unfriendly to the bacteria.

It suggests washing your armpits thoroughly with hot water and soap (as you probably do when you shower), then swabbing your armpits with a cotton ball of undiluted white vinegar and letting it air dry.

This creates an acidic environment that skin loves and bacteria hates. FWIW I have never tried this remedy since I don't have this problem, but all the other weird advice in the book worked for me.
posted by wiretap at 7:32 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

One other thing to consider - could there be odor trapped in your clothes and becoming more noticeable as they warm up from proximity to your body?

I've especially noticed this with permanent press shirts and synthetics: once the pits have become smelly (after say a very sweaty day or forgotten deodorant), it is tough to eliminate the smell through normal washing.

Pre-treaters I tried didn't seem to put a dent in it, what finally worked: wash the shirts in warm water with detergent and the amount of Oxyclean for "heavily soiled laundry". After the washer starts to agitate and the shirts are nice and stirred up, stop the cycle and let the shirts soak for at least 15 minutes. Finish as usual.
posted by superna at 8:27 PM on October 1, 2009

Whenever I wear antiperspirant for a few days I get the itchies. I've tried a half dozen or more deodorants, including some weird ones but they didn't work very well. I even used women's Secret for a while, but even that didn't work (and I didn't like wearing women's deodorant either)

Now I use Degree. It smells good to me and according to my wife's keen nose I still smell good at the end of a hectic day. I should note she was more than willing to tell me I stunk while testing other deodorants, so saying I smell good actually means something.
posted by jaden at 11:09 PM on October 1, 2009

Secret Clinical. I wash really, really well too (I mean, obsessively) to get the antiperspirant gunk out and wear Tom's of Maine on the weekends. That seems to help.

The combination has been far more effective than Certain Dri ever was for me.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 6:28 PM on October 2, 2009

I have loved the results from Drysol anti-perspirant. Completely unlike the over-the-counter products for my armpits. I use it every other day or so and that is plenty.
posted by olecranon at 9:21 AM on October 3, 2009

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