Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Doesn't Kill You Only Makes You Smell Bad

Every once in awhile, Jeff will get all concerned about my deodorant, specifically that it is going to give me boob cancer.

"Aluminum has been linked to lymph node cancers and to Alzheimers!" he cries, presumably after secretly paging through my Self magazine while on the toilet.

At this point I usually grab my Lady Mitchum and take a deep sniff. "Wait, who are you?" I say, all confused, and then I pretend to walk into a wall. I am hi-larious.

But, truth be told, I do have sensitive underarms that get all rashy when faced with most products. And Jeff gets so sincere when he prosthelytizes about my pits that I figured it wouldn't hurt to try something new.

Which brings me to Tom's of Maine.

If you held a gun to my head I would not use that Crystal deodorant shit (nothing with the name Crystal is ever worth it. See also: Crystal meth, Crystal Pepsi, Songs From the Crystal Cave by Steven Seagal), and Tom's is the only other natural option carried at Duane Reade. I settled on lavender, which seemed inoffensive, and came home to announce to Jeff that I would honor his wishes and not die a painful death at the hands of powder freshness.

At this point I would like to share with you a heart-warming story of my coming-of-age. The scene: my 8th grade social studies class. I was sitting as per usual, taking notes on the Byzantine empire (or something else I have since entirely forgotten) when I noticed a foul, musky stench reminiscent of sweat and sour milk. I sniffed to my left and to my right, wondering which greasy preteen boy had neglected to shower that week, when it finally dawned on me that it was I who smelled. At the tender age of 13, I had suddenly stopped smelling like Play-Doh and pie and sugar and spice and had begun to reek of awkward hormones and sebum and mildewy back issues of Tiger Beat. Horrified and humiliated, I clamped my arms to my sides and kept them there until I got home that night, and I've been a deodorant devotee ever since.

I've smelled pretty decent for the past 15 years (with a few notable exceptions, most involving shots of Jameson, cigarettes, and forgetting to brush my teeth), so imagine my surprise when halfway through my workday yesterday I discovered that I smelled like ass. Well, mildly lavender-scented ass, like ass that had been stored in a drawer with a potpourri sachet and some mothballs for a few seasons.

Tom's! Why you gotta do me like that? And why can't your toothpaste taste as good as Crest, while we're on the subject? No one wants to lather up with fennel at the end of the day. Jesus. Are you mental?


  1. I once tried a natural deodorant too and had the same problem. I used mine for two weeks, though; I thought persistence of some sort would pay off, like maybe my sweat glands needed to get used to it. No such luck. But let me tell you, I will never question that my fiance' loves me cause he stuck with me through all that stinky-ness. God bless him.

  2. For a non death-inducing aluminum free deodorant that keeps from looking like, and still smelling like, a hippie (no offense hippies!), try Adidas. It helps my inner hypochondriac but still keeps me smelling fresh.

  3. I'm impressed it took you until this age to step into that Tom's of Maine trap. I mean... you went to Wesleyan!

    Just remind Jeff that your other option is injecting Botulism Toxin (BoTox) into your armpits every 6 months to prevent sweating and stinking.

  4. Sorry about your stinky pits Una. Let me be the first to defend Tom of Maine, not for his deodorant (what exactly did you think was going to happen??) but for his tooth paste: I've been using it for 31 years, basically since I fell in love with a hippie chick who used it (and she "turned me on" to Dr. Bronners, also still the soap I use). So I can vouch that it is excellent.


  5. Hi Una,

    I couldn't stick with the toothpaste but have discovered a lunchtime reapplication of tom's lavender does just the trick for me so don't give up on him yet. As someone who works in cancer care, I valiantly tried the crystal route but lasted about an hour! The only good crystal in my life so far has been 'crystal barbie' circa 1985.

  6. Hi Una,

    As someone who clicks on pretty much everything that you link to on this blog, I know the power of the hyerlink blue font...

    In addition, I appeal to your appreciation for online shopping...

    Could you post a link to

    If you and your followers bookmark it find their chosen online store at this address, a percentage of the sale goes to Partners in Health, a great organisation that is doing some vital stuff in Haiti.

    Great if you feel it's appropriate for the blog, if not, I'll be reading anyway.


  7. I too have tried Tom's of Maine deodorant. Epic fail. One year later it sits in my cabinet, untouched, as a reminder never to buy it again. I appreciate the effort but Tom must be stopped.

  8. Glad I'm not alone, guys. And I can't believe I wrote a whole post about my armpits.

    Am I devolving?

    PS Claire I will get that link on the site, thanks!

  9. Thank you for being my guinea pig! I was considering trying Tom's deodorant. I have serious pit issues, so if you're having problems, I'm sure I will.

    I just switched to Tom's toothpaste. It takes some getting used to, but if I have to endure one more brushing with wintergreen flavored toothpaste, I would need to start mailbombing the Crest factory! I use the Tom's whole care Spearmint. It is a bit baking soda-ey, but I'm loving it.

  10. Hahaha. I laughed out loud at this several times. Thank you for being such an awesome writer.

    Also: fuck Tom's. I tried using it, and actually did use it, for about a year or so. I know, I KNOW. In addition to not keeping me from perspiring/sweating, it also made me break out in a terrible rash because of the tree sap or whatever the fuck is in it. Neg.

    However: Adidas actually *does make a deodorant that both works and does not contain alumninum. It's really hard to find. Here's a link.

    I don't know why it's so goddamn expensive on Amazon. Maybe they discontinued it or something, because when I used to buy it in the drug store it was the same price as all the others. Meh.

  11. I have the same problem with my Meyer's organic shower cleaner. I need science keeping me fresh and clean.

  12. I'm in total agreement with you on this one. Tom's deodorant makes me wish for alzheimer's so that I'd have an excuse for smelling so bad only two hours after putting on deodorant. And fennel toothpaste? How is it that all kinds of great stores are going out of business but fennel toothpaste is still mass marketed? I just don't get it. And, I live in Maine, so one would think that it'd make sense. It doesn't.

  13. I haven't used deodorant in at least 5 years. I tried Tom's, the spray kind. It broke me out horribly. Avon makes a liquid deodorant that works and it's nt expensive. it will just require you that have a commited relationship with an Avon lady.

    You can always make your own with lemon juice, glycerien and rubbing alcohol or vodka.

  14. I agonized over this for months. Years, maybe. I went on about it to my Secret-using friends long after they'd lost interest. I honestly tried every natural product out there. Until, my dear, Arm and Hammer changed my life...Try the A&H Essentials Natural Deoderant. It works. Seriously. That Mitchum stuff will give you boob cancer or alzheimer's and I can't have that, I enjoy your writing too much.


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