Help me get my stank... off?
June 28, 2018 1:56 AM   Subscribe

I am a champion sweater with a stressful commute that leaves me drenched with stinky cortisol sweat. My current deodorant options aren't cutting it. I am willing to throw a great deal of money at this short of getting my pits botoxed. Help me find the very best, strongest deodorant.

I've tried 'clinical strength' aluminium based antiperspirants in the past, the kind of you apply the night before, but by midday I've sweated right through them, and I also feel like aluminium deodorants make you weirdly stinkier once they've broken down, and reapplying doesn't seem to help. I'm also not nuts about the yellow pit stains that come from aluminium deodorants.

I've had the best luck with aluminium free deodorants (Iike this, reapplied frequently, but the baking soda in aluminium free deodorants really does a number on my skin and leaves me with a horrible itchy pit rash.

I'm stuck between a sweaty rock and a stinky hard place. In theory I have no problem with aluminium based antiperspirants (I'm definitely not fretting that they'll cause alzheimers), but in my experience they just straight up don't work. Aluminium free deodorants nix the stank but irritate my skin. What should I try next? Data points: I live in the UK and am totally willing to buy exotic deodorants online if that's what it takes.
posted by nerdfish to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Mr. ElizaMain has similar issues with sweat. He also tried clinical strength antiperspirant and was disappointed. He now shaves his pits and uses Sweatblock wipes and is pretty happy with the results.
posted by ElizaMain at 2:45 AM on June 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

If money is the problem with pit botox, my dermatologist said that they're very used to writing letters to insurance to get it covered. (I've been having different problems with deodorant lately, so I'm strongly considering it.)

The other thing a dermatologist can do is prescribe you topical antibiotics! That won't stop the sweat, but in theory it will stop the stench, which is caused by bacteria on your skin. I haven't tried this yet, but intend to, and my dermatologists says it often works great.
posted by 168 at 3:39 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

It strikes me that if the problem is stress and the commute, then maybe that's where you could more effectively tweak things. Maybe leave earlier in the morning when it's cooler and you can be leisurely; or find a route or a method of transport that avoids crowds and over-heated public transport; or do the commute in light, cool clothing and change when you get to work; or give yourself a wash down with some wipes after the commute. Also, you could maybe see if you can address the stress - identify what thought patterns and behaviour are leading to the physical 'fight-or-flight' signs of stress; maybe some meditation or cutting out caffeine early in the day.

If antiperspirant is the only thing you're willing to consider, try taking a shower before bed and applying the antiperspirant then. It's counter-intuitive, but it tends to be the most effective way to use it.
posted by pipeski at 3:46 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Trimming armpit hair, if you don't already, really increases the efficacy of antiperspirant. Women are probably rolling their eyes at this, but as a guy i was blown away to see the difference, as I take a medication that makes my sweat slightly yellow, so it was easy to observe on my clothes.
posted by smoke at 4:04 AM on June 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

Not to threadsit, but there's really nothing to be done about the commute. Living in London has dialled my claustrophobia up to eleven and I'm flat-out terrified of the tube. I'm in therapy and on meds, but the train could be completely empty and cool and I'd still come out covered in stress sweat.

I've also tried showering and applying antiperspirant before bed but it's no match for The Sweat.
posted by nerdfish at 4:36 AM on June 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

I can't wear aluminum antiperspirants because they make my armpits swell up in big red blisters. They didn't always, but something in my body full on rejected them about 5 years ago and I've had to come up with alternatives.

I've tried that Scmidts you link to but like you I've found that it can be really irritating if I wear it daily. I'll generally wear it only once a week, on a day I know will be extra sweaty.

Daily, I wear Tom's for Men Mountain Spring Deodorant. (It's heavy on propylene glycol, so if you've got a PG sensitivity I guess you're screwed, but it has zero aluminum or baking soda.) I put it on after my shower and have a thing of it at work and wash off my pits and reapply if I feel stinky.

Here's the thing, though: it's just a deodorant, not an antiperspirant, and the rest of my body gets sweaty, too. I think the Tom's (and specifically this fragrance) does better than any other non aluminum underarm product I'ver used at keeping me from smelling like a whole armpit, but I do still sweat. And so additionally this time of year (summer) I coat myself in baby powder after I'm dried off from a shower. It keeps me from getting personally swampy. It may be helpful for you, too.

I don't have the personal experience of stress sweat that you experience so of course ymmv, but I wish I had known about the Tom's earlier (the "women's" fragrances break down into sour smells, no bueno).
posted by phunniemee at 5:07 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Have you seen this Slate article? I have just recently purchased a number of these products and will be testing them out now that summer has hit DC.
posted by jindc at 5:19 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm a VERY sweaty person, too, and swear by Dove's Dry Spray Antiperspirant. I've tried and had good luck with several of the different scents/formulations.

Now, fair warning, it is aluminum-based, but unlike most other aluminum-based antiperspirants I've tried, it doesn't create extra stink or yellow stains. I think it's worth a shot!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 5:32 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I agree that shaving the pits, or even trimming them down really well helps A LOT.

Also, make sure you are cleaning your pits, even with a hand wipe, to remove the excess sweat and bacteria prior to re-applying helps as well.
posted by RhysPenbras at 6:22 AM on June 28, 2018

I suffer terribly from this (it's a nasty, and for those prone to social anxiety, extremely counterproductive, side effect of anti depressants).

In terms of turning this problem from a smell problem into an ugly damp patches problem, Dr Beckmann / Stain Devils Anti-Perspirant Stain Remover sprayed onto the armpits of my shirts 10 minutes before I put them in the wash whenever I remember (about once a month, probably) has been a life saver. It's cheap enough, maybe £5's worth lasts me a year. I get it from Waitrose, but I think most supermarkets sell it.

Also, drinking lots of water probably won't make you sweat more. It will reduce the smelliness of what you do sweat. That feels like a win.
posted by ambrosen at 6:53 AM on June 28, 2018

Along the theme of topical antibiotics: good old rubbing alcohol is super cheap and kills germs. If you want to experiment with how much skin bacteria contribute to your skin/sweat problems, rubbing alcohol might be a quick/easy/inexpensive first test.

I have a few challenges related to skin infection and rubbing alcohol is a big help for me. In the summer, right after I get out of the shower, I'll swab myself with rubbing alcohol in the places that need extra care. It dries pretty much instantly and I do believe it makes a big difference in keeping skin infection at bay. So--maybe you could try the same? After a shower, dampen a new clean dry washcloth and wipe down your pits?
posted by Sublimity at 7:30 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

If sweating in your commute is unavoidable maybe you can borrow practices from commuter cyclists? A fan at your desk, a change of clothes, arrive a few minutes early etc.
posted by eisforcool at 8:03 AM on June 28, 2018

I am assuming that your workplace doesn't have a locker room with a shower? If so, save your morning shower for when you arrive at work and shower then.

Otherwise... is it possible to carry the shirt you'll wear for your workday and then change your clothing (at least the shirt) when you arrive, wipe down your pits and apply fresh deodorant? Fresh clothing can make a huge difference?

Can you bring two sets of shirts and change during the day? Perhaps it makes sense to have doubles of your work shirts and change them at lunch?
posted by jazh at 8:19 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

For the stink side of things, I saw a tip to use acid acne/exfoliating products on your pits to reduce pit smell - I've been using generic salicylic acid face wash as a body wash and it solved my stinking through deodorants.

I have also used hand sanitizer as a pit-referesher in a pinch because antibacterial / usually high-alcohol.
posted by momus_window at 8:20 AM on June 28, 2018

If you haven't already, give an undershirt a try. I know it seems counter-intuitive to add an additional layer when you are already overheated, but it makes a huge difference in how much sweat gets to your outer layer of clothing.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:21 AM on June 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Along with other suggestions, I would get some underarm shields and sew them into some tshirts. Wear during commute; change shirt at work. When I go to dance festivals, I bring a couple shirts because even with effective deodorant, there will be body sweat and changing into a clean shirt (and underwear, sorry if that's tmi) feels great.

I generally don't use antibacterial soap, except for dancing/ exercising, and only on areas with sweat glands.
posted by theora55 at 8:35 AM on June 28, 2018

It may be obvious to others, but discovering that commercial non-antipersperant deodorants are products that exist radically improved my life. Old Spice Original ("round can") Formula is cheap and easy to find nearly everywhere, and it can be lathered on in thick layers that last a long time and don't cause my skin to irrupt in painful blisters. Unlike the salt crystals and all the natural products I've tried, it actually works, at least for me. It doesn't stop sweat, but it does a surprisingly good job at stopping stink. If the sweat itself is a problem, a second shirt is probably the best option.

But, I'll be following this thread for other ideas.
posted by eotvos at 8:50 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you like the Schmidt's deodorant, but your armpits don't like the baking soda, try their sensitive skin line! If you email them about this, they may even send you a replacement stick for free, even if you bought the deodorant at the drugstore or something. Their customer service is excellent.

Later on in the day when it's time to reapply, I would try wiping down your pits first with a purell wipe or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It'll kill the germs and give you sort of fresh start.

I'm sorry your commute is so stressful--that sounds really difficult.
posted by purple_bird at 9:06 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

You began with a commute problem and I was going to suggest changing clothes at or near work, or taking a change of socks, underwear, and undershirt, and changing that 3 times a day.

But then you speak of sweating 'til midday, and I don't think your commute is that long, and then you mention claustrophobia and stress, etc., so perhaps this won't help, but I change my socks, underwear, and undershirt 4 or 5 times a day. Upon arrival at work, at 10-ish (having let the first set air out, back to the first set), at 1-ish back, at 3-ish, depending on how the day is going, how late I'm working, whether I'm going out or going home.

Takes only 2 minutes if you've got a discreet place to air out these undies and a convenient changing room. This is, of course, highly dependent on your work environment, both physical layout and work culture. I'm sure to ensure that no-one can possibly glimpse my undies at my desk (I keep them in a zippered backpack). Sometimes I just do the socks, that's my biggest problem area.

I've also used armpit pads and tossed and replaced those multiple times a day.

Also, how cold is your office/work area? I found that I was sweating, not because I was hot, but because I was cold. A vest (which let's one's pits air out) helped greatly. I leave it a work.
posted by at at 9:07 AM on June 28, 2018

whenever i have problems with A Persistent Pit Stink that feels beyond the usual sweaty smell norm, i leave hibiclens foam on my underarms for the length of time it takes me to shave my legs, probably about 5 minutes or so. i don't know if this is bad for my skin or my creepy flesh biome or whatever and frankly i do not care, because it works extremely well. i have bad chronic pain which can cause horrible rancid pain sweat and hibiclens fucking annihilates it.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:22 AM on June 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Try reducing the stank with a chlorophyll supplement.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:13 AM on June 28, 2018

Make sure you’re wearing natural fibers! Polyester is everywhere now and stays stinky after washing... a wool/ silk undershirt might help a lot!
posted by catspajammies at 11:13 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you haven't tried Certain Dri, or the Rite Aid knockoff of it, it's worth a try. Most definitely aluminum-based. I second the people saying bring an extra shirt to work. When I have to, I literally carry my work shirt in on a hanger.
posted by 8603 at 11:23 AM on June 28, 2018

This stuff is amazing. You put it on, preferably after washing pits at night. Only need to apply once or twice a week. It won’t stop sweating but it really does stop your sweat from smelling. Combine with anti perspirant in the morning if you like.
posted by KateViolet at 11:32 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Lavilin is good too. I was skeptical, but it’s aces on my pit stank.
posted by mammoth at 12:37 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Chlorella in pill form works great for armpit stank.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 3:17 PM on June 28, 2018

So once Amazon served me an ad for a piece of stainless steel shaped like a bar of soap. I thought it was ridiculous, but then I read the reviews, which sang its praises of getting rid of armpit smell.

It's still a little ridiculous because you could use any stainless steel object (measuring cup, knife...), as this is a tried and true method of removing garlic smell from hands. But this means you can try this solution without buying anything.

So, stainless steel -- give it a shot!
posted by batter_my_heart at 9:07 PM on June 28, 2018

as a side note about the chlorophyll supplements - if you have any kind of stomach issues or sensitivities, take it for the first time when you know you'll be home all day, as for me there were hilariously gross bathroom-type side effects.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:41 PM on June 29, 2018

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