Are you looking after your pits? The deodorant investigation

Reading Time: 8 minutes

I mentioned a while back that I intended to test various “safe” deodorants, where the safe part means they are supposedly without substances that cause allergic problems, meddle with your hormones or contain aluminium (which is linked to dementia, and is also the real cause of those yellow armpits on your expensive white t-shirts). If you ever bother to google the ingredients of your typical supermarket deo, you’ll most probably be shocked to find how bad many of the ingredients are considered to be.

Now, my initial problem is that I’m not a chemist, so I can only go by what my research (aka. I Google stuff) shows as potentially problematic substances. Some of these are provably bad, some are suspected bad, and some are thought to be bad. The best result would be to find a deodorant that avoids all the listed substances, and that doesn’t include aluminium. Oh, and actually works.

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And the “actually works” is really the second problem, as what do we expect from a deodorant? The reason for using a deo is to avoid the embarrassment of underarm odour and this can be done in two ways, or a combination of both: by masking the smell (i.e. put something there that smells more than your sweat) or by blocking the sweat glands from excreting sweat. The perfume sorts case one and the aluminium is for case two. And of course, if you block sweat from occurring, you also avoid the very visible damp pit stains.

So I went ahead and bought a pile of supposedly “nice” products within the category. From a spray-bottle of perfumed water to deo sticks that look and feel like something you would find in a supermarket. And a number of variants in between. So how do they actually perform?

Variant 1: The scented water spray

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This is a total waste of money. A spritz of flowery fragrance may be just the thing if you’re about to frolic and flounce around a field of lavender and prettiness, but for those of us living in the real world it does nothing at all. There is a floral rush immediately after your spray it on, which may lead you to think it does have an effect, but once your receptor cells have cleared, there is nothing there, and certainly no function beyond a tiny masking effect.

Variant 2: The “we replaced the aluminum with some another metal” or “we’ve removed this months bad ingredient”

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These make me a little sceptical as while they might be ok going by what causes cancer this month, they show no long term commitment to making products that are ok for you and your surroundings. Like the food industry, they are sneaky and you get the impression they’re just finding new ways to trick you, or sneak under your radar. Plus, the ones I’ve tried didn’t really work that well either. Watch out for the parabens that still linger on as well. This one did give me an incredible flashback to 80’s suntain lotions though.

Variant 3: The “we removed all the bad stuff and made a product that doesn’t work”

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This is an odd one, though maybe for a maker that is essentially clueless when their traditional concoction of vile substances is rendered useless, the way forward is to remove the offending substances, add in some more that sound better, and fingers crossed, hope for the best. In the case of the one below it fails miserably.

Variant 4: The “we are thinking of you and the environment and made this right from the ground up”

This category is for what I consider to be genuinely thought out products where the contents are considered from scratch, not by modifying existing formulas. Thankfully, this is where I have found the best products as well, so we have an actual win-win situation. What this means is that there are no nasties, no ingredients that are not natural, and certainly no aluminium, so your white tees are safe as well.

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This is where you should be looking, and in my experience Every Man Jack is third best. It smells nice and works up to a point, and then fails. For light use though, it’s pretty decent. And it does smell nice.

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Second best is Tom’s. Works well, though I struggle to live with the “Wild Lavender” fragrance, even though they claim it’s an “improved fragrance”. It just smells very much too strong. The deo stick does it’s job though, a solid performer.

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The best? Jason, pure natural and unscented deo stick. It does the job as a deo stick should, and there is almost no smell at all, which ties in quite superbly with my point of not smelling like the dumpster behind a tiki-bar after a busy weekend due to using a pile of products that each insist on having a strong and unique fragrance.

Summary

So there you go. As I mentioned, all these products were purchased by myself, or my wife, and trialled over the past months. Some will now be summarily binned with nary a bon voyage or feelings of loss, and believe me, I’m the guy that always squeezes that last atom of toothpaste out of the tube! Life is just too short to endure products that are rubbish.

I’d love to hear what you use, or if you even care about what you apply to your skin on a daily basis?

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7 Comments

  • Darryl 10/10/2016 at 17:40

    Easy one this. Toms is good but very difficult to source as no longer avalible in UK. Best by far is Jason (unscented) no nasty ingredients – brilliant stuff; works well, no fragrance, keeps you dry and smelling good. Can’ recommend it highly enough.

    Reply
  • Jody Moss 12/10/2016 at 13:47

    I wanted something for my teen son to use…The Jason one seems the best out of the above ones and I think you can get it in lots of healthy type shops in the UK …is it any good for wetness as he tends to get damp shirt syndrome at the end of the day due to the synthetic crappy school shirts (non-iron as Im a slack mum and ironing is not on my list…ever) Also are the stick ones ok for underarm hair i.e. they don’t pull the hairs uncomfortably and get to the actual pit to do their magic…. Well Dressed Dad have you tried the Bionsen ones? They are Aluminium free but not sure what else they have in them…

    Reply
    • nick 12/10/2016 at 13:51

      The sticks are fine, yes. Not tried Bionsen, sorry.

      Reply
  • William Bicknell 09/11/2016 at 17:44

    I quite like the body shop stick.

    Reply
    • nick 10/11/2016 at 10:55

      Good tip. I’d actually not even considered Body Shop, and I walk past their shop every Saturday!

      Reply
  • Richard M 24/10/2017 at 20:23

    I’ve just tried a large number of natural deodorants after Dermalogica stopped making my favourite. I tried Jason, Bionsen, Green People, Faith in Nature, etc, and by far the best (and most expensive, although it looks like it’ll last for ages) is L’Occitane Baux deodorant. Give it a try.

    Reply
    • nick 24/10/2017 at 21:55

      Thank’s for the tip! I’ll get one next time I pass their shop 🙂

      Reply

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