Did Your Deodorant Stop Working?

The deodorant/antipersperant aisle at the store is full of options. Sporty, teen, extra strength, spray, invisible, transdimensional, does the dishes too, etc.

I used Secret because that was what my mom used… and I stuck with it for years. One day, I noticed that it wasn’t working as well as it used to. The powder fresh scent wasn’t lasting as long, and I was starting to feel sweaty. Betrayed! By my favorite deodorant! Oh, the horror!

Heartbroken, I switched to another brand — Suave, if you’re curious. I’ve more or less been switching between the two every few years now, and it seemed to keep my armpits happy. And by happy I mean feeling clean, dry, and not noticeably smelly.

But now that I’ve reached my 30s, I’m noticing a lot of body changes. The pre-menstrual migraines are a thrill, for sure. And now neither one of my two favorite deodorants work anymore!

I spent a good ten minutes in the deodorant section, reading labels and sniffing at lids and wondering which little stick would be my savior. And, I’ll admit, pining a little for the easy choice I used to have when it came to armpit care.

Finally, I got the bright idea of sample sizes. I’d wanted to try Degree, because I have this image in my head of Degree being the stink annihilator… but I didn’t want to commit to a full tube in case I hated it. I was also curious about Dove, because I like their soaps and figure they can probably make a nice deodorant. I found both in the “trial size” section and grabbed them.

Now I’m wearing two different deodorants (Degree on the right side and Dove on the left) and giving them both a test drive. So far, I prefer the smell of the Dove, but the Degree lasts WAY longer. But they’re both working far better than my tired old stick of Suave was. In the end, I’ll be satisfied with either one.

Still, I wanted to find some scientific explanation for why deodorant stops working for some people.

It all seems to come back to bacteria. A hot, sweaty underarm is a great place for some kinds of bacteria to thrive — so it’s not actually the person or the sweat that smells. It’s the bacteria! A deodorant can cover up the smell of the bacteria, or include antibacterial agents to kill the bacteria. Some deodorants also contain antiperspirants, which are designed to stop you from sweating at all.

So maybe — and I’m not an armpit scientist here — the bacteria adapt to that particular brand of deodorant. I’ve also read that your body can absorb the deodorant more quickly over time, so that may also contribute to pitstick malfunctions.

In any case, I’ve got two good candidates to be my new deodorant… and hope that I can get back to the Suave/Secret combo someday.