Consistently, it’s around 4pm in the afternoon as I peel the underarms of my shirt/dress away from my moist pits that I ponder, why me?
I’ve always considered myself a generally sweaty person – not just under my arms, but sadly, in other areas liquid can gather too (lower back, thighs, between my boobs, under my eyes after a particularly humid commute).
And while I’ve come up with some coping strategies to deal with those areas you probably didn’t need to know about now I think of it, the perfect deodorant still eludes me.
It got me thinking… maybe I should try two very different deodorants under each arm for a week to see how they stacked up against one another.
The natural deodorant – Sukin Natural Deodorant, $6.99
How this natural deodorant works
The best way to describe the Sukin Natural Deodorant is... it's 'everything free'.
Sulphate-free, aluminium-free animal derivative-free, detergent-free, petro-chemical-free, artificial colour-free, synthetic fragrance-free, triethanolamine-free, mineral oils-free, paraben-free. Not price free though.
The Australian-owned and made brand is also 100 per cent vegan and carbon neutral, and isn't tested on animals. Basically it doesn't exist.
As for how it works, this deodorant won't stop you from sweating. But it'll mask your natural odour thanks the addition of Zinc Phenolsulfonate.
How the natural deodorant felt
Honestly, the Sukin Natural Deodorant's spray bottle baffled me. Mainly because I wasn't sure how I was going to control where the product ended up as other deodorants can leave your skin feeling sticky or strange if not applied directly onto your underarm surface area.
The first time I applied the product, I sprayed it too close and immediately felt drips run down my right side. Thankfully Sukin's formulation doesn't leave you with that icky friction feeling others do, so I was able to wipe it off and get on with it. I sprayed from further away for the rest of the week to avoid that drippy feeling.
The product also had a cooling effect - it pretty much felt like I'd sprayed peppermint tea under my pits, which was nice... once I got over the fact it felt like I'd sprayed peppermint tea under my pits.
It was also really, really easy to wash off. Scrubbing off stronger deodorants can irritate my underarms, so being able to do a quick once over with my loofah was much appreciated.
How the natural deodorant smelt
This deodorant smelt amazing fresh out of the bottle. So much so I'd almost use it as my summer scent.
But unfortunately I found its lavender, tangerine and mandarin fragrance didn't hang around under my arm for long at all. A sniff test under my right armpit and on my top at the end of each day confirmed as much - all I could smell was my own brand.
To be fair, the application instructions do specify to 'apply when required', so a few extra spritzes throughout the day probably would've nixed that.
The clinical strength deodorant - Rexona Clinical Protection Antiperspirant Deodorant Summer Strength, $10 (two for $20)
How the clinical strength deodorant works
Next to the calming presence of the natural deodorant, the Rexona Clinical Protection Antiperspirant looks intense. It's white and red with silver swishes and little grey hexagons that are presumably the iron-clad fence that keeps your sweat out.
The 'clinical strength wetness protection' boasts motion activated odour protection and heat resistant molecules, which I like to think of as figurative bodyguards that tell my BO to piss off whenever I lift my arms above chest height.
Although the product is dermatologically tested, the ingredients list reads a bit like a Russian nuclear lab.
And its activate ingredient is a compound of aluminium which works by 'plugging up' your sweat ducts to prevent the flow of sweat to the skin's surface. Research into the link between using aluminium deodorants and anti-antiperspirants after shaving, and breast cancer is currently inconclusive, but it's a genuine concern for some.
How the clinical strength deodorant felt
This clinical protection deodorant comes in a stick cream formula. Rather than 'spray liberally' or 'apply as needed', the instructions are far more specific - turn the wheel two clicks for the recommended dosage. Yes, dosage.
It also warns not to apply on broken skin and to discontinue use if irritation occurs.
I found the product glided on smoothly, and it felt soft on my skin - not wet or sticky. I didn't need to flap my arms up and down to try and dry the product before putting my top on, but it did leave me with white marks on my black singlet.
Washing it off was also a mission. Even after layer upon layer of body wash, it still felt like product residue lingered on my skin.
It's such a hard feeling to describe... I'll settle with squeaky, if that makes any sense at all.
How the clinical strength deodorant smelt
The product's scent is completely clinical and fresh. It's not here to muck around.
But the thing I liked best about the clinical protection deodorant is how it stops you from smelling expired. Don't get me wrong - the same sniff test as above revealed I definitely smelt, but of the product, not BO.
Which deodorant worked better for me - natural or clinical strength?
Please, don't hate me. But for me it's clinical strength all the way.
Despite the product's downsides (the squeakiness!!!), knowing my co-workers won't get a whiff of me gives me the peace of mind I need to wear sleeveless clothes and exist during summer.
It also kept me dryer under-pit - this mostly comes down to the clinical strength ingredients, which the natural deodorant's couldn't compete with.
That said, if choosing natural products is a priority for you, don't discount natural deodorant. You just have to put in a little extra work. Keeping one at the office and one in your gym bag (ha, or handbag) is the easiest way to reapply when you feel like you're starting to smell.
It's easy done, especially considering the product won't wreck your clothes or make you feel overly sticky.
Ultimately, it's a personal choice, but one thing is very clear.
Don't wear natural deodorant under one arm and clinical strength under the other, OK? It's uncomfortable and stressful.
Have you tried either natural deodorants or clincal strength formulas? What did you like/not like about them?
On a somewhat unrelated note, have you ever heard of a foreskin facial? Mamamia Out Loud discuss below.