The Deodorant I Stole from My Husband


Back when I was a style reporter at the Wall Street Journal, one of my favorite things to do was to pick a shopping habit or a product category and answer the question: soooo, what’s up with that? In 2016, I did a deep dive into deodorants and antiperspirants, a slice of the personal care industry that isn’t flashy or particularly appealing. But it is highly charged — think of what a ~moment~ it is when yours #fails — AND it’s a sizable business. U.S. sales neared $4.3 billion when I wrote the piece, up almost 7%.

At least part of that growth came from what industry experts called deodorant wardrobing, a fancy way of saying shoppers were buying multiple products to use on different occasions. Instead of just one stick in constant rotation, people were buying multiples. These savvy consumers wanted a deodorant to serve as their daily go-to, as well as a natural version, an antiperspirant for particularly high-stress days — and maybe one that just smells really nice, too.

Reader, I fell for my own reporting! This was a revelation to me! Suddenly the unscented stick I used for more than a decade felt super stale. I learned the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant (tl:dr the former eliminates or masks odor and often adds its own scent; while the latter is all about plugging the sweat glands) and I resolved to spice it up a bit.

Important note: I know the aluminum in antiperspirants has been the subject of much debate in the last decade, with concerns about possible connections to Alzheimers and breast cancer. I totally respect people who want to steer clear of it. But also feel the need to point out that many scientists and respected organizations, including the Alzheimer’s Association, have found no connection between the two. Check out this Teen Vogue explainer for more.

Back to my product picks! I now have four in my regular rotation:

  • My High-Stress Go-To: Secret Clinical Strength Invisible Solid Sensitive Unscented. I’m pretty sure the first deodorant my mom bought me back in the day was a Secret stick. Which is to say it’s a brand I’ve always liked and shopped in its various iterations (FWIW I don’t love the scent options, so typically buy unscented). However, reporting the aforementioned story made me realize I don’t need an antiperspirant everyday. I’m not a particularly heavy sweat-er. It seemed like overkill? So now I save it for super hot or high-stress days. This version in particular, in particular, has been fail-proof for me

  • The Natural Stick I Always Have on Hand: Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Deodorant Pure Vanilla. Pregnancy has made me hyper aware of what I put on my body and I gravitate towards natural ingredients as much as possible. I have tried a few different, super natural options in my three pregnancies and this was by far the most gentle.  

  • The Stick I Stole from My Husband and Grab Most Days: Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant. While working on the WSJ story, I noticed a few new sticks pop up in Matt’s bathroom, too. Love a dude who loves products tbqh. A few months back, I grabbed this (ahem, unopened) stick from his replenishment stash. The spa-like scent, a mix of mint and eucalyptus, is both refreshing and calming. I love the sheer application, too. It’s become my first choice most days.

  • The Fancy One that Smells Really Good: Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Deodorant + Antiperspirant. Sometimes, it’s fun to have nice things. Again, that story of mine is to credit for this discovery! It’s a cult favorite of beauty editors and it’s not cheap ($27 a pop). But it is both a deodorant + antiperspirant and has the dreamiest scent that feels fresh and sophisticated. It’s what I wear to summer weddings and date nights, no other fragrance required!

UPDATE: The super valuable piece of advice I learned in reporting the WSJ story is that if you have used antiperspirants for years and you want to switch to a natural deodorant it can take a minute (seriously, up to two weeks) for your underarms to readjust. So don’t count it out right away! Allow a little transition time.

Your turn! What under arm products do you love? How many deodorants are in your medicine cabinet? And have you tried the more unconventional forms, like a paste or a rock? (I have one of the latter and can’t seem to trust it, maybe that says more about me than the product lol.) Please share in the comments!

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