My husband, Mike, has been really good about getting on board with the green changes we have made as a family over the past few years. He takes out the compost, eats the beets from the CSA, and uses whatever natural shampoo I put in the shower.
The one tricky spot with him, as it is for so many people with the best intentions, is getting off of conventional antiperspirant deodorant. It’s ironic that this is one of the hardest personal care changes for people to make when it is one of the most important. When I used traditional antiperspirants I developed big, painful cysts under my arms. Fortunately these were benign, but it definitely makes me think there could be a real link to breast cancer.
Plus, the artificial fragrances are harsh – loaded with hormone-disrupting phthalates and especially offensive to the olfactory-sensitive like myself.
For years Mike has been using Gillette, which was relatively non-offensive but still a fragrance I noticed if I nuzzled up close. More recently he bought a couple tubes of Old Spice, unassumingly on sale at CVS, and not only did I notice the scent on him, but I noticed it on my baby after he gave her a bottle.
So I was able to make him a deal: try a variety of suggested brands and just see (or smell.) If nothing truly works for him, he can go back to Gillette. But the Old Spice is leaving this house, regardless.
This smell test will put the deodorants through an initial round of home/office use and, if they pass, be followed up by the exercise test which may consist of a CrossFit workout or a really long run. In advance, we thank the brands who were generous enough to send samples for this test and apologize to those who cannot win this body odor battle.
Paige: The smell in the container is iffy. It’s scented with cinnamon and bergamot but smells faintly like licorice which I strongly dislike. But smelling Mike’s underarm two hours later I am pleasantly surprised and accuse him of switching it with something else. He did a 40-minute home workout and afterwards still smelled fantastic. But he claims the stress of the office is the true test, and after coming home from a long day, he smelled pretty much the same as always.
Mike: I wouldn’t have picked its “Bergamot and Cinnamon” scent as my first choice. To be honest, I’m not sure what bergamot is — a kind of dog? It seemed a little overpowering when I shoved my nose into the stick, but when applied, it didn’t cause any of my desk plants to wilt. Smell aside, my pits seem to the handle the new deodorant well. No extra sweat in all three locations. So far, so good.
Apparently we get to be the first blog to try out this new deodorant – pretty cool! Mike already uses a few Herban Cowboy products and we love that it’s a more masculine natural brand. They say SPORT is their answer to Old Spice, which the founder actually used to use! And it certainly smells like a conventional deodorant – so much so that I had to email the founder to make sure the fragrance didn’t include phthalates (it doesn’t).
Paige: On first wear to the office, Mike sweats through his golf shirt (do you think the next challenge should be to get him off golf shirts?) He doesn’t smell bad, but he is clearly missing the antiperspirant factor with this one. And after a 12 mile run no one comes back dry, and fortunately he didn’t smell any worse than usual.
Mike: Herban Cowboy’s generically named “Sport” passed the pre-applied smell test better than Real Purity. It was more refreshing, and well, less cinnamon-y. However, it proved to be less effective for me in the all-important work setting. I ended up pretty sweaty. (Hope no one noticed.)
Paige: I continue to be pleasantly surprised at how well Mike is holding up without the antiperspirant he thought he needed. This might be our favorite so far.
Mike: The claims of “24-hour odor protection” left me skeptical, and while Tom’s pleasantly smelling “Mountain Spring” (complete with a small picture of said mountain spring) did perform near the top of this little test, there’s no way it lasted a full day for me. Sorry officemates.
Paige: The good folks at Schmidt’s sent us two varieties to try. I have a personal aversion to lavender so I directed Mike toward the Cedarwood and Juniper. It smells like a Christmas tree and I’m afraid Mike will find it to be just one step away from patchouli. But people do swear by this homemade stuff (as well as Soapwalla Kitchen Deodorant Cream which I will allow Mike to skip as we narrowed our trial down to six.)
Mike: I’ve applied deodorant via a stick, roll-on, or spray, but never before have I used a mini-spatula — the preferred method for Schmidt’s “Cedarwood and Juniper.” With it, you’re supposed to take a pea-sized scoop out the stuff and mash it into your hairy armpits.* (*Note: not the actual word-for-word description.) Besides being awkward to use, Schmidt’s didn’t do the trick for me and burned a bit. Although, I have to admit measuring a pea-sized scoop of deodorant at 5:30 a.m. isn’t an easy task and I may gone a little overboard.
Paige: I use the JASON Tea Tree Deodorant Stick so I am totally biased. I do reapply occasionally throughout the day, but it has held up through my hardest CrossFit workouts and hormonal pregnancies. Except that Mike used the wrong one: the Aloe Deodorant.
Mike: Jason’s “Aloe Vera” smelled harmless enough. Let’s say on the scent spectrum it falls on the exact opposite side of Old Spice’s “Hawkridge,” the overpowering, chemical-filled deodorant I bought on sale at CVS that spawned this whole challenge. However, along with JASON’s benign smell on the stick came some serious stink on me. JASON scored poorly on the smell-and-sweat-o-meter. Really sorry officemates.
Paige: Again, I would like to give JASON the benefit of the doubt because Mike didn’t use the one I asked him to nor was he willing to try it at a later date.
Paige: Big ups to the Australians! This one made it to us just in the nick of time for the challenge, and it’s a good thing. The scent was super mild but more than held up to a long day at work.
Mike: Like Jason, this roll-on didn’t have much of a distinguishable smell; however, unlike the guy above, it kept me relatively dry throughout the day. In fact, it landed at the top of the natural bunch.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! And overall, the contestants did mush better than Mike anticipated. Almost all of these passed the test and each is affordable and easy to purchase. Mike can’t promise he won’t use a conventional antiperspirant for a job interview or marathon, but he is happy to accept a natural brand for everyday. See, you can green your man!
Disclosure: Some brands sent us free samples for review. Regardless, our opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here.