What’s That Smell?

As the days go from hot to hotter, one question keeps popping into my head: what’s that smell? Unfortunately, the answer can usually be found under my arms. That’s because I’ve been test-driving natural deodorants and they don’t all work exactly as advertised. Isn’t there something out there to keep the funk away?

There are three things I’m looking for in a deodorant: effectiveness, cover smell and ease-of-use. They’re all connected through some sort of armpit flowchart and finding the deodorant that hits all of my criteria proved to be a difficult task. It’s like discovering Deodorant El Dorado. My testing process was unscientific but practical. I picked a deodorant, wore it for a day, and then decided if it passed all three tests. Sadly, out of all of the samples I tried, only a few actually seemed to keep the stink at bay for any significant period of time.

LUSH makes a powder deodorant for men called Guv’ner that was great for covering up my natural smell but added on a mix of sage, lavender and patchouli that left me wondering if I was just leaving a Jimi Hendrix tribute concert. The unscented Naturally Fresh stick by JASÖN didn’t use any kind of cover smell, but I found myself wanting more protection after I had to reapply midday. The best deodorant I tried was Soapwalla’s unisex deodorant cream. The peppermint/lavender/tea tree oil combination was unoffensive to my sensitive nose and, more importantly, still detectable even the next morning. Effective? Check. Smells good? Check. Easy to use? Not quite. This deodorant comes as a cream, which means you have to dip your fingers in and apply it manually. Definitely not as easy to use as a regular deodorant stick. I’m not really complaining, though, because, as Meat Loaf says, two out of three ain’t bad.

No single product seemed to have everything I was looking for in a convenient little package. If it smelled good, it didn’t work. If it worked, it wasn’t easy to apply. In the end, I realized that the natural men’s deodorant market is still trying to figure out what men want. Let me make it easy for you, manufacturers: We want a deodorant that works. We want a deodorant that smells good or doesn’t smell at all. We want a deodorant that takes 10 seconds to apply and requires no clean up. This is a big category and more and more men are realizing that wearing aluminum in their pits is a bad idea. That means it’s time for some serious anti-funk innovation. Can you smell what I’m saying?

JASON KESSLER is a lifestyle writer/columnist for Bon Appetit, Food Republic and a slew of other publications. Follow him on Twitter @TheHungryClown.

Jason Kessler

Jason Kessler

Jason Kessler is a lifestyle writer/columnist for Bon Appetit, Food Republic and a slew of other publications. Follow him on Twitter @FlyDine.
Jason Kessler

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