I have never liked antiperspirant. When I think of the ’70s, I think not of Jaws, or of Jimmy Carter shaking hands with Anwar Sadat, but of how every time an adult wearing a short-sleeved shirt raised their arm over their head you saw this colony of white crumbs in their underarms. No wonder so many people in my generation are so immature. Who would want to grow up if it meant having weird white stuff under your arms?
Certainly antiperspirant technology has improved, but I have never liked the idea of something stopping me from sweating. First of all, I’m female, and sweating is a NFRWLO (non-food restrictive weight loss opportunity) and therefore sacred. Second, there are all these rumors about antiperspirant being bad for you, and even though they’re probably bullshit, believing or professing to believe this is a good way of disguising one’s true mission, which is always that NFRWLO.
Still, I am a person who believes in at least wearing deodorant. It is a civic duty. (I live in Northern California where, sadly, few agree.) I have tried many, many deodorants, and I liked a lot of them. The problem is that the smell of one’s own deodorant becomes poignantly packed with meaning and redolent of the passage of time. Classic Mennen Speed Stick, for example, makes me ache for being young and living at home. Old Spice makes me ache for being young and in college. Tom’s of Maine Coriander calls up my 30s, when I labored under a delusion that I was getting old, which, now that actually I am, is truly heartbreaking.
I have been searching for the right new thing. I even bought something that was $27, and without getting into too much detail, it didn’t work. For a while, it seemed that there could be no meeting of my two needs: a smell I’d never smelled before, that made me not smell.
Then, one day I was at my local CVS. I wasn’t even looking for deodorant—don’t they always say love comes when you stop looking—and from the corner of my eye I glimpsed a small, fetching plastic bottle, vaguely hour-glass shaped, vaguely lavender, and the word SEXY in bold caps and INTRIGUE in small ones. Degree Sexy Intrigue! There was only one bottle left. I was intrigued. Gold vines snaked around the product name. I lifted the lavender plastic cap and smelled. Nothing was stopping me, so I sprayed. Musky, a little floral, sweet. But deodorant isn’t like perfume. Sure, once applied, they both smell like themselves and you, but the scent of a deodorant is very, very compromised by the scent of sweat, and the combination has to work, or, you have failed.
May I report unqualified success? No, that’s not good enough. I must shout it from the rooftops: I love Degree Sexy Intrigue. I love the smell, not too strong, but certainly enough to retain and even build one’s popularity. I love that I can put it on after shaving and it has a bracing after-shave effect, with no chemically sting. More than any plain old deodorant non-antiperspirant I have ever tried, in 30 years of sweating, it really gets rid of body odor. And, at three ounces—airline regulation size—I need never be without it. The best thing about it though? It reminds me of nothing. For now.
Sarah Miller writes for Lucky and Grist.org and is the author of Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl. She is from Massachusetts and lives in California. Her most recent favorite item? Degree Sexy Intrigue Body Mist Fragrance. Follow her on Twitter: @sarahlovescali.
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