Can Your Deodorant Really Stop Working?
Ideally, you want all your beauty products to work, but there are a few product genres where imperfection is totally unacceptable, and frankly, the flaw can ruin your entire day. Some examples? Tampons… Yeah, you want those to perform. Shampoo? I don’t know about you, but if I have to get my hair wet, I better walk out of the shower with locks that feel and look fresh and clean. And then, of course, there’s deodorant.
Raise your hand if your hand if you’ve used a deo stick for months and months, only to suddenly decide that, thanks to sweat and odor, you need to switch up the formula. It also probably made you wonder if your deodorant can really stop working, or if it’s your bod that suddenly revolted?
While this problem hasn’t plagued me since high school, and you better bet I’m damn pleased, I have heard plenty of my friends complain about this issue. So is it fact or, you know, a load of crap?
According to dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler, the first thing you need to understand in order to even address this issue is how the unpleasant smell forms under your arms and where it comes from. She explains that sweat doesn’t have an odor, but the odor develops when sweat causes fluid from the apocrine glands, present under your arms, to stick to the hair follicle. When this fluid comes to the surface, Dr. Wexler says that bacteria breaks down the protein and fatty acids present in the fluid. The result? Odor.
With that being said, the odor is a result of bacteria and sweat working together in destruction. Another thing Dr. Wexler says you need to know? "A deodorant cannot be an antiperspirant, but an anti-perspiration can be a deodorant,” she says. Simply, you can find a product that takes care of sweat and odor, but if it is strictly labeled a “deodorant,” it won’t stop you from sweating.
Knowing that will help you pick the right product. So can that product stop working over time? She says it’s unlikely. "It may be common to develop a tolerance to oral medications, but apocrine glands are usually responsive to topical therapy and uncommonly developed tolerance. It is only under unusual circumstances that a loss of efficacy can develop,” says Dr. Wexler.
Still feel like you’re sweating more? Your hormone could be the blame, among other things. "Examples of conditions changing the amount of sweat produced are pregnancy, breast feeding, menopause, and chemotherapy. These may all create increased sweating,” says Dr. Wexler. "There are also certain medications, foods,diseases, exercise, weight issues, and the list goes on.”
If it has more to do with the fact that you can’t smell your deodorant’s supposed rain fresh scent, you might be experiencing “nose blindness,” which is something Secret took into consideration with the launch of the brand's new Fresh Collection, which debuts March of 2017.
According to Pamela Dalton, Olfactory Expert at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, nose blindness is when "scent receptors in the nose become desensitized to smells that frequently surround us,” and therefore, we stop smelling the scents. There are two types. Dalton explains that short-term nose blindness happens after a few sniffs of something and the intensity fades (a candle burning, your mom’s apple pie baking), while long-term nose blindness means your nose and your brain stop responding to the scent.
And yep, this can happen with your deodorant, too.
"We knew that one way to fight this was to change the perfume character in the product to wake your nose back up,” explains Julane Becker, who works in Secret Research & Development, when discussing the science behind the new line.
"As we started researching how to do this within deodorants, we explored different ingredients that would help enhance the scent experience. We screened thousands of perfume materials and ultimately tested a select few on over 500 noses across multiple countries.”
The technology that they used works to keep the scent receptors in your nose open, so you continue to get whiffs of the fresh notes for up to 48 hours.
So to put the age-old myth to rest, your deo is doing the work, but maybe it’s just not the right one for you. It’s definitely not the most enjoyable product to test (especially when it goes wrong), but with hundreds of formulas out there, you can be sure you’ll find one that gels with your lifestyle. Still confused? Your derm can help point you in the right direction.