Saturday, June 8, 2013

Armpit science

A year or two ago I decided to stop wearing deodorant.  I always hated the stuff viscerally and finally got sick of slapping chemicals on myself to change my smell.  It turns out that deodorant creates its own need; that is, having that crap on your armpits actually makes you smell worse until you slather on more of it to cover it up.  I wrote about this at the time and discovered that there are other folks I know doing the same thing.  It is a strange conspiracy where people all assume everybody else uses deodorant and yet it isn't truly necessary.  A win for marketing certainly.

Recently I have been noticing that I smelled a little more than usual.  Somehow, whether it be through temperature, habit, or simply awareness, I have found that there is a greater necessity for aroma suppression.  I did some reading on the subject and discovered that the reason armpit odour is a thing is bacteria living there.  Why exactly they hang out there and make such a mess isn't clear to me but I know what people do when they want to smash bacteria; they use alcohol based liquid in a squirt bottle and rub it on their hands.  The obvious question arises to the scientist in me - will hand sanitizer work as an effective deodorant?

Now you might not immediately set off to test this sort of question but I sure would!

The answer, it turns out, is that hand sanitizer is a damn good deodorant!  I tried slapping it on and despite being unable to hear the screams as millions of underarm inhabitants died drunken deaths it felt good to massacre the little buggers.  Just using it twice a week made a tremendous difference and did not have any unpleasant side effects like buildup and unpleasant manufactured scents that using regular deodorant once did.  I don't intend to use it constantly or anything but this seems like a very effective solution.  It makes me less of a purist I suppose but I am willing to compromise a bit on principle for stench reduction.


  1. I actually use a mineral stick that I buy at Shoppers. Since I started I noticed that there is almost no smell.

    I did learn as well (for women), that the same bacteria you speak of, can build up on bras and therefore increases the chances of stink. So it's good to try and get a good hot clean every once in awhile to make sure you kill the bacteria.

    Interesting stuff.

  2. My solution after working out is salt (which, if I understand correctly, is basically what that mineral stick mentioned above is). I was looking for deodorants that would not cause skin reactions at some point and I found one that was just saline solution, and it occurred to me that if salt murders underarm bacteria then I could just use salt instead of paying someone for a spray bottle of salt and water.

    Salt also removes the smell of garlic from your hands after chopping garlic - although that one is not bacteria related.