Saturday, 29 November 2008

Don't gas me, please!

Why does anyone still use aerosol antiperspirant? I stopped when I was a teenager when, left coughing from a cloud of fumes, I finally read the label and thought "Do I really want to breath in this stuff? If it's designed to keep my armpits dry, imagine what it's doing to my lungs!".

Switching to a roll-on, I gave up on the scented varieties when a classmate asked me, "What is that perfume you're always wearing? It's really nice". It was Rexona - all I remember now about the scent is that it was the green one. Embarrassed, I sought out something non-scented.

Over the years, I've tried most brands of non-scented roll-on: Revlon (don't leave the cap off, it evaporates); Old Spice in a stick (sold for men, but it worked very well on me and there was no scent); Mitcham, etc. The most irritating fact about them is that they are marketed almost exclusively for men. Trying to find a non-scented roll-on? Look in men's toiletries. (As an aside, why do women still wear a scented antiperspirant when they're wearing a completely different perfume? Hasn't someone taught them about the fragrances clashing?)

For the last 6 years, I've used a crystal deodorant and been very happy with the results. Not only is it economical: each 125g crystal lasts about three years and costs about the same as two thingies of Mitcham; but there have been very few days when my nose has wrinkled and my brain has gone "Uh oh! I can smell me!" (certainly no more than with the other products I've tried). The best parts have been the lack of marks on clothing (what is it in antiperspirants that turn t-shirts to cardboard?), the lack of sting after shaving and the drying time (rub the dry crystal on shower damp skin and, before you've towel dried the rest of you, it's dry).

The biggest problem had been sourcing them. In 2002, when I first decided to use a crystal deodorant, I scoured the shops and supermarkets and couldn't find one: Boots, Superdrug, Holland & Barrett, The Body Shop, all came up bare. I eventually purchased my first two crystal sticks in my sister's local health food shop on a visit home ($4 each plus a £700 airfare). Now even sourcing them isn't a problem; following the increased interest in green products, all of those shops now stock crystal deodorants and Holland & Barrett even sell multiple brands.

The only time I didn't use my crystal deodorant was when I travelled - then I'd revert to a roll-on because I didn't want to risk damaging/wasting/losing my precious crystal.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago: last year, I "scored" a couple of sample packs of Nivea products which included a travel sized spray-on antiperspirant, so I took one with me when I went to Site. My God! The fumes! In my regular hotel, I developed a routine of spray on the damn thing in the bathroom and rush into the bedroom to dry off, closing the bathroom door to let the exhaust fan clear away the smell. Eventually, I'd return to the bathroom once it had dissipated.

For my October Site visit, I left it until it was too late to get a room at the regular hotel so had to stay at one of the weirder hotels in the neighbourhood. On the surface, this hotel looks perfectly OK - the rooms are clean and stylish, the menu is good, the staff friendly. Scratch the surface and you'll find weird bits. The owners have an animal-print fetish, using (probably) fake horses hide to decorate chairs, pillows, bed heads. This time, my bedroom had a bathroom alcove - there was no dividing wall between the bathroom and the bedroom! This time, there was no escaping from the fumes. NEVER AGAIN.

No wonder people have asthma attacks after using spray-on deodorants. No matter how careful you try to be, the fumes will get in your face. And without a powerful exhaust fan, they take forever to dissipate.

As for me: the Nivea spray ended up in the bin. I can no longer even tolerate its scent. I now have a travel sized crystal and that's what I'll be taking with me from now on.

- Pam


Emily said...

PJ, you're dead-on about the crystal deodorants. I bought a crystal cube about 4 years ago, and am still only halfway through it (and I hate to say it, but most of it's wear & tear has been resulting from being dropped). An added bonus? I have a theory that the uprising of breast cancer may result from us women shaving our armpits, then swabbing on chemicals (read: deodorant/antiperspirant) into all those microscopic skin cuts. Coincidence? What do you think? Either way, crystals are WAY more frugal, and I've never had a scent issue - just maybe a few dampness days.

PipneyJane said...

Hi Emily

I have a theory that the uprising of breast cancer may result from us women shaving our armpits, then swabbing on chemicals (read: deodorant/antiperspirant) into all those microscopic skin cuts. Coincidence? What do you think?

Yes, I think there is a link. I'm positive that I've read reports of concentrations of aluminium being found in lymph nodes removed during mastectomies, but I can't remember where I read it. Google didn't want to oblige, tonight, either.

- Pam