the worst deodorant

I only bought antiperspirant a few times until one of my middle school teachers – a science teacher, no less – told the class that antiperspirant was a cause of Alzheimer’s. “You can either smell bad now or lose your mind later,” was how he put it. I switched to deodorant for the next 20 years.

Eventually I settled on my brand. Old Spice Pure Sport is a good-smelling deodorant. I would’ve used Old Spice Original but my brother used that one and he told me we couldn’t use the same scent. I don’t know why I listened to him on that particular point, since I didn’t care about his opinion on anything else. I must’ve known, deep down, that he was right. You have to be your own man in this hard land. There are so many scent choices; why not celebrate my individuality? Never mind that roughly 8 million other men probably buy the same stick of deodorant. Of the three men in my house, I was unique.

In college my freshman-year roommate told me a wonderfully idiosyncratic story about his seasonal deodorant changes. He’d wear two different types of deodorant: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. It was never a strict date that he made the switch, more of a feeling in his bones that the season was changing and he had to change with it. He had a third deodorant for going out on dates. Apparently this third deodorant really drove the ladies wild. I was so taken with his story that I made a comic strip about it.

After college, when I started making enough money to pay for both my rent AND sundries, my nose began to wander. I’d stand in the deodorant isle of Target, awestruck at the selection. Why was I limiting myself to a choice I made as a kid? As a full-grown man, I should maybe reassess. Thus began the experimental deodorant phase of my life.

It was during this time I made the mistake of buying the most horrid, clingy deodorant scent I’ve ever come across. Maybe you’re saying, “What a pampered oblivious white guy. Where I’m from, deodorant smells like wet newspapers and we’re happy to have it.” But I’m not white whining about deodorant. I’m trying to save you, dear readers, from making the same mistake I did. Save yourself three bucks and never buy this deodorant:

I know: the label is nothing short of awesome. I want to smell like that bird, too. But the deodorant doesn’t smell like a mythological eagle god. It smells like a flower dipped in corn syrup and rolled into cotton candy. A manly scent? About as far from that concept as is possible. A woman’s perfume smells like a triumphant bullfighter returning from his latest conquest compared to this monstrosity. This deodorant made me wonder where the good people who crafted Pure Sport went when this got the go-ahead.

Suffice to say I threw Hawkridge into the garbage instead of exposing my friends and loved ones to its odor.

Now I’m back to where I began. Old Spice Pure Sport, a scent that never did anything wrong, is back in my medicine cabinet. I now know that antiperspirant doesn’t cause Alzheimer’s, but I rarely wear it. I’m not that sweaty in the first place, and the daily life of a cartoonist does not cause one to sweat bullets. (Until that deadline looms, amirite??)


the drought

Two years ago I wrote this post about my choice of deodorant.  I had not used anti-perspirant for years; in fact, I’d stopped cold turkey when my “science” “teacher” told me that the aluminum in anti-perspirants contributed to Alzheimer’s disease later in life.  This theory (if rumor and innuendo can be called a theory) has since been debunked.  And yet, I clung to my Old Spice deodorant like a sailor to a sinking galleon.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Old Spice.  I love the Old Spice Guy, and without millions of dudes just like me buying their product, Old Spice wouldn’t have been able to afford the salary of that Old Spice Guy.  So, really, I contributed to a classic television advertisement.

My anti-perspirant drought ended a few weeks ago on a trip to my local druggist.  Kiel’s sells an anti-perspirant that claims it is superbly efficient.  Not one to be a barnacle on the ship of history (to continue the nautical metaphors), I decided to try it out.

It’s great.  I love it.  Keeps me un-sweaty after a long bike ride to work, which I’m sure my co-workers appreciate.  And it sings me lullabies at night to ensure I get a restful and sweet-smelling sleep.

The answer really is blowin’ in the wind.  And if you happen to be standing downwind from me, the answer is a combination of witch hazel, propylene glycol, and aluminum clorohydrate.

autobiography Blog

Deodorant: A Life Philosophy

deodorantMy brother always tells me I smell bad, so I tend to use a lot of deodorant. You can imagine how excited I was to find Target selling my brand of deodorant in packages of three. You see, normally I have to buy deodorant one stick at a time, which is incredibly inefficient. Why make a trip to the store to buy just one stick of deodorant, when you can get three? They should last me months.

I had a roommate in college who bought a huge tub of shampoo. That was a really good idea. He told me he wished he could buy a year’s worth of shampoo all at once. That way, he wouldn’t have to worry about running out. I could sympathize. You already know what kind of shampoo you’re going to get, but the hassle is remembering when you need it and then physically going to the store and buying it. Why not cut out the middleman and just have the shampoo all the time, for the rest of your life?
It’s not like I’m going to change my mind about what kind of deodorant I use. My tastes haven’t changed since I was 12. (That’s a slight exaggeration.) There were actually two events that crystallized the brand and type of deodorant that I buy. The first happened when I was 12.
My science teacher, a man who infamously made us run our own multiple-choice tests through the Scan-Tron machine in class (that way, everyone could hear whether you did well or poorly), was also the man responsible for our brief “Health” lessons. This included Sex-Ed. For reasons I’m still unsure of, he decided to tell us all about deodorant. He said you shouldn’t put more than “a fingernail’s thickness” of deodorant on your underarm. Whose fingernail, and how you’d get that much deodorant on in the first place is anyone’s guess. His other major contribution to my learning was stating that the aluminum content in antiperspirant deodorants was thought to cause Alzheimer’s. His advice? “Smell bad now, or lose your mind later.” There was another option, thankfully. Deodorant (without the antiperspirant) does not contain aluminum. You could smell okay (but still be sweaty) and the possibility of getting Alzheimer’s was not increased. A perfect middle path.
I learned years later that my science teacher was full of it. There is no known linkage from wearing antiperspirant deodorant and Alzheimer’s. But by then my tastes were already solidified. No going back now.

The second event that locked in my brand of deodorant was my not wanting to be like my brother. My brother used the same brand of deodorant as I did. He got the “Original” scent. I was not about to smell like my brother, who is, in all honesty, really lame. I got “Pure Sport.” I figured, I liked athletics, and you can’t really go wrong with smelling “Pure.” It is the deodorant I have worn to this day.

(Below is an episode from my college comic strip Atticus and Glen. You can see I’ve done a lot of thinking about deodorant over the years.)