Why doesn't this spray deodorant work?
February 7, 2012 10:59 AM   Subscribe

On my doctor's orders, I switched deodorants, and now my armpits stink. Please help.

Male, 30s, USA. For years Old Spice High Endurance was my deodorant of choice, until a few months ago I developed painful cysts under my arms. My doctor said it was because when I applied deodorant, it pulled open the hair follicles and allowed them to become infected. He put me on antibiotics and told me to switch to a spray deodorant, specifically Right Guard. So I did, and the cysts went away, but this new deodorant just isn't doing the job. I wash my pits with antibacterial soap and spray on the Right Guard at 8 in the morning, and by 4 in the afternoon I'm a little bit ripe, and by 7 in the evening I'm downright appalling.

So what can I do? Do you know of a better spray deodorant brand? Is there a better technique for applying the Old Spice? Should I just carry the Right Guard around with me and reapply it a couple times a day? Help me, please; I do not wish to offend.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
the technique you're looking for is "whore's bath"...clean damp towel, swab out the area, reapply spray.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:07 AM on February 7, 2012

If you shave or at least trim your armpit hair it will be much easier for the spray to evenly coat your skin. Otherwise lots of it gets caught in the hair.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:07 AM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Shave the pits and try rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. I had a friend who couldn't use regular deodorant for a similar reason, and he said it worked like a charm.
posted by bunderful at 11:14 AM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

What about trying a roll-on deodorant? I would think the drag would be less than a solid stick deodorant because it's a liquid, but you'd get more coverage than a spray. The bummer is dry-time, but maybe worth a try.
posted by cecic at 11:15 AM on February 7, 2012

The one time I tried a spray deodorant (Axe, if you must know), it had the same effect on me. After a few hours I absolutely stank, to the point that I worried I'd developed some horrible medical problem until I made the connection with the spray deodorant.

Try a rolling ball or gel deodorant. Less friction on the pits than the bars.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:16 AM on February 7, 2012

The few times I've used a spray on deodorant it was the Sure Unscented variety. It worked quite well, and had the advantage - unlike many others - of not making me smell like a whore's closet.
posted by strixus at 11:19 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

plain old baking soda. wet it slightly to make a paste. It is incredibly cheap, non-cancer causing (or cyst causing as the case may be) and absorbs the odor. Yes, of course, you are going to feel odd the first time you do it.
posted by JXBeach at 11:22 AM on February 7, 2012

If you're already having problems with cysts, don't shave with the grain. Either clip the hair or shave with the grain so it's not such a close shave. Shaving with the grain led to some sort of painful cysts or ingrown hairs for me.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:26 AM on February 7, 2012

Make sure your deodorant is an actual "deodorant" and not just an "anti-perspirant."
posted by duckhorn at 11:28 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Shave your armpits.

I don't like the deodorants containing Aluminum and I use this:

I love the scent but not everybody does. I buy it in Europe for a fraction of the US price.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 11:32 AM on February 7, 2012

As a female (who shaves her pits), I have developed cysts in the past. I'd say it happens once every two-three years. I always figured it was because I applied my deodorant too soon after shaving. I've never switched my deodorant over it, though

How many times have you had these cysts? If you've been using the same deodorant for a decade and only had one instance of developing cysts - maybe consider switching back to it.

...or maybe try a natural deodorant like Tom's?
My boyfriend uses Kiss My Face liquid crystal deodorant which surprisingly lasts. Other attempts at natural deodorants have resulted in him and past exes stinking by the end of the day.
posted by KogeLiz at 11:32 AM on February 7, 2012

I am a recent convert to Crystal deodorant. It will keep my pits completely stink-free for three days whereas Old Spice High Endurance works for about 12 hours and the others maybe 8 hours. It would probably last even longer, but a long weekend hiking & camping is as long as I've gone without a shower to test it. I use the rock variety, but they have spray varieties too. The rock doesn't grab at all -- just wet it, rub it on, and let it dry (I use a blow dryer for super quickness). Maybe that would work for you. If not, try the sprays. In my experience it really is a miracle product that I wish I would have tried years ago.
posted by Balonious Assault at 11:38 AM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

Make sure your deodorant is an actual "deodorant" and not just an "anti-perspirant."

I'm not sure what duckhorn means by this. Anti-perspirants are a subset of deodorants; there are deodorants that aren't anti-perspirant, but all anti-perspirants prevent odor by denying the odor causing bacteria the moist environment they thrive in.

I'll second the recommendations for giving gel anti-perspirants a try. The application is a lot smoother than cake-style sticks, and shouldn't pull the hair follicles. Your old brand is available in that form, I use their high endurance gel myself.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:41 AM on February 7, 2012

I switched years ago to the crystal deodorant type as people have mentioned and have never looked back! It can be reapplied at any given interval and I can't say I've ever had any irritation from using it. The salts in the crystal kill the bacteria. It's the bacteria that cause the smell. Roll-ons, etc., are the Febreeze of the underarm world ... e.g. they just mask the real cause of the problem.

Kill the stinky bacteria, your problem goes away!
posted by kuppajava at 11:46 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

The trick with the crystal deodorant is that your skin needs to be wet, you need to get the salts to dissolve onto your skin. I do it just after my shower and it works quite well. You do need to do it every day too, or the bacteria recolonize the area and start to stink again.
posted by bonehead at 11:54 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Buzz the hair down to 1/2in or so and use gel deodorant. Rubbing alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel will kill and smell buildup. The worst of the smell is caused by bacteria rather than your sweat on its own.
posted by the jam at 12:13 PM on February 7, 2012

Whoops, shaving *against* the grain gave me cysts. Definitely shave with the grain (for me this means gliding the razor upwards, in the navel to head direction, let's say) or just use clippers.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:43 PM on February 7, 2012

Nthing using a beard trimmer so you can actually get the spray to the pit. You may end up less funky just because there's less hair there, too.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:06 PM on February 7, 2012

I wouldn't shave all the way to the skin. Armpit hair grows in all kinds of directions, so there isn't a clear grain to follow. I'd trim very close (with a beard trimmer or clippers) and try a gel antiperspirant/deodorant. Also consider getting a soap that contains tea tree oil; it has natural anti-bacterial properties and may cut down on the stinky bugs.
posted by quince at 1:35 PM on February 7, 2012

There are other brands of spray deodorant, like Arrid.
posted by twblalock at 2:22 PM on February 7, 2012

My husband used to use crystal deodorant, but for him, it wore off after 8 hours and he complained that re-applying it at that point did not provide adequate stink-control. Now, he uses Benedetta spray deodorant and raves about it. The ingredients are alcohol and essential oils. They offer trial sizes.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:04 PM on February 7, 2012

I can almost guarantee you that your problem is that you are buying Right Guard deodorant and not Right Guard anti-persperant deodorant. The deodorant alone doesn't really work. It just covers up the smell. The anti-persperant prevents you from sweating in the first place.
posted by cnc at 3:46 PM on February 7, 2012

Radwolf76 points out that antiperspirants are a subset of deodorants, but there's at least one exception to that, which I have raved about in previous armpit AMF posts: Driclor. It stops you sweating COMPLETELY, not just a little bit, but I mean totally bone-dry for about 5 days after one application. It can sting a bit after you apply it, but the stuff works. That said, it *doesn't* prevent you from getting ripe in there (although the lack of sweat certainly cuts that down a lot) so perhaps a day after application you can use a deodorant to keep things fresh.

(The most comparable thing in the US is CertainDri, which has about a 12% Aluminum Chloride content, but Driclor has about 20%.)
posted by holterbarbour at 3:49 PM on February 7, 2012

I too get cysts in my pits, and have horrible BO when I don't deodorize. It sucks. I no longer use regular deodorant either because it make for many more cysts. Here's what worked for me (mostly, still get some cysts regardless of deodorant):

Use a beard trimmer or clippers to cut your pit hair short.


Use a wet deodorant crystal. They're just mineral salts, and have worked wonders for my funk.

posted by Th!nk at 4:18 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've used rubbing alcohol to good results (I think). The way I do it is: wash with soap, rinse. Wash with rubbing alcohol, rinse. Towel dry (with clean towel nearly every day) and then again apply the rubbing alcohol and let it air dry.
posted by gjc at 5:01 PM on February 7, 2012

I've never seen anyone else suggest this, but I'm going to post it anyway. In light of the fact that the smell is caused by bacteria, I recently tried Triple Antibiotic Ointment (generic Neosporin) and it seemed to work. At night, I cleaned and dried my armpits, applied a medium amount of ointment and went to bed. In the morning I showered and used my regular anti-persperant. It really seemed to take away the smell and lasted for a week or more. YMMV
posted by CathyG at 7:59 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Underarm bacteria are really good at colonizing clothes, too, and they love living in synthetic fabrics. Try switching to an all-cotton shirt.
posted by flabdablet at 9:17 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another thought: when you're washing out your pits with that antibacterial soap, are you using a washcloth? It makes a big difference. And if antibacterial soap isn't doing the job, try an anti-dandruff shampoo with zinc pyrithione in it. That stuff plus a washcloth will go a long way toward impoverishing your underarm ecology.
posted by flabdablet at 2:38 AM on February 8, 2012

« Older Where to find cheap Long Island Iced Tea in NYC?   |   Cars for/fighting/in grim opposition to Cancer Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.