Deodorant Wars: Where Are They Now? Edition
November 13, 2012
Once upon a time, I noticed that deodorant labels had kind of lost their damn minds. It was no longer enough for a deodorant to promise you the basic trinity of Shit You Want It To Do — keep you dry, keep you non-smelly, keep your clothing not completely streaked in white chalky goo — because suddenly one single tube was promising at least seven different things. PH balance! Active Body Responsive! Moisturizing! Skin Nurturing! Smoothing! Hair Minimizing! Continually Renewing Fragrance! 24-hour wetness stank protection so yo ass don't even need to SHOWER with this shit, baby!
And it needed to do all that while also looking less like a plastic tube of B.O. balm and more like some kind of fancy ornate perfume bottle with lots of pretty swirls and metallic accents.
It's hard out there for a deodorant, apparently.
So also once upon a time, I combined these Overly Deep Thoughts On Deodorant Labels with my compulsion to anthropomorphize inanimate objects and create elaborate soap operas with them. (WHAT.) Thus, the Deodorant Wars were born and I managed to accrue quite a collection of deodorants purchased specifcally for the series. Most of which I shoved in a drawer and never used, because DOVE CLINICAL PROTECTION FTW.
And yet I could never quite bring myself to throw the extra tubes out, because 1) they weren't even opened, in most cases, so WASTEFUL, and 2) they were my friends. Even the bitchy ones who picked on poor Tom's of Maine.
ANYWAY. OH MY GOD. GET TO THE POINT, SELF. A couple months ago I ran out of Dove deodorant. And yet despite making multiple trips to Target and the grocery store, I keep forgetting to buy more. I'll stand there in the toiletries aisle, my little hamsterbrain working so hard to remember That Thing I Need that it's practically smoking, and then...OOOOH CHAPSTICK LA LA LA.
BREAKING: I'm an idiot.
So I've been forced to dig into my emergency stash of emergency deodorants. Most of which I purchased all the way back in 2008, and are marked with expiration dates of 2010. But I figured maybe -- just maybe, like prescription drugs and the Kardashians' 15 Minutes — those expiration dates could be stretched a little, or ignored outright.
So today I'd like to give y'all an update on our old friends. Where Are They Now? What Do They Smell Like? Who Got Fat? Who Went On To Make Millions From Inventing That App You Totally Could Have Thought Of, Goddamit?
NAME: Secret Flawless Invisible Solid
SCENT: Totally Fresh
WHERE IS SHE NOW: God, more like, "Totally Forgettable," riiiiight? I can't tell you what this was supposed to smell like, because now it's little more than a vaguely perfume-y baby powder scent. And "Powder Fresh" was a SEPARATE OPTION besides "Totally Fresh," so like, I don't even know. It's like, Secret Flawless got married and had a couple kids and moved to the suburbs with the minivan and just gave up on herself and her metallic-edged blooming lady flower. It's sad, really.
VERDICT: Peaked in high school, but still capable of long-lasting odor protection.
NAME: Degree Women Body Responsive
SCENT: Sexy Intrigue
WHERE IS SHE NOW: OMG, stop embarrassing yourself! It's all too much. It's a damned "MY MOM DRESSES TOO SEXY & STEALS MY BOYFRIENDS" episode of Maury. The girly pink-and-green swirls with the metallic leopard print? Stop. Just. Stop. And "Sexy Intrigue" IS NOT A THING THAT SMELLS, DEGREE. And while this was part of the "Fine Fragrance Collection," it basically smells like Ex'cla-ma'tion crossed with a little baby powder.
VERDICT: My seventh-grade self would have been all over this shit.
NAME: Degree Girl Invisible Solid
SCENT: Just Dance
WHERE IS SHE NOW: Girls don't want to wear their moms' deodorant, because moms like to go to bed at least once in a 24-hour period and girls just wanna have fun, party all the time, just dance, it'll be okay, everybody just da-ance.
VERDICT: Don't be fooled by the sleek black packaging, this is NOT the deodorant companion piece to Lady Gaga's Fame perfume. (I KNOW BECAUSE I OWN THAT. WHAT.) "Just Dance" smells kind of like citrus-scented (wait for it...) baby powder. And it works just like every other invisible solid deodorant on the planet BECAUSE THAT'S ALL IT IS. (I know. We're all deeply, deeply shocked that "girls" have the same basic underarm needs as "women" or like, "human beings in general.")
NAME: Secret Scent Expressions Invisible Solid
SCENT: Bella Bloom
WHERE IS SHE NOW: Much like Degree's attempt to capitalize on Lady Gaga's circa 2008 chart domination, I'm guessing this was Secret's sneaky unlicensed take on the Twilight Saga. (Though I don't remember seeing options like "Edwardian Sparkles" or "Full Moon Musk" and have to say I'm a little disappointed in you, Secret.) And much like the hoopla surrounding Twilight, this ridiculously overworked label looks a little dated and mock-worthy now.
HOWEVER. Bella has a secret, y'all:
Underneath her vadge-shaped lid is a iridescent pink cover with a raised blooming lady flower that actually MARKS THE DEODORANT WITH SAID BLOOMING LADY FLOWER. That's some next-level branding shit, Secret, and I have to applaud you for it. Even though I accidentally replaced the cover upside down and kind of mangled it.
VERDICT: It smells like baby powder, works just okay.
NAME: Suave Invisible Solid
WHERE IS SHE NOW: The same as it ever was. And is, and shall be. Suave don't play no stupid label games, making up bullshit scents and trying to dress up like some kind of goddamned sparkle-covered whore-tube. Suave always knew what Suave wanted: Graduate, go to a decent state school for undergrad, then maybe an Ivy for law school, not that Suave is gonna be dick about it; Suave just got really good grades and worked hard, you know? Suave got what Suave wanted, and also paid off Suave's loans in under five years because Suave knows how to fucking budget, y'all. Respect.
VERDICT: If you're ever in the market for vintage expired deodorants (I dunno, check Etsy), I highly recommend you stick with Suave. This one still has the strongest scent and actually works as an actual deodorant/anti-perspirant better than any of the ones I tried. Though I must unfortunately take exception to the "Goes on clear!" promise. Sure, it's clear on your skin, but any fabric within a three-foot radius is gonna get all kinds of streaked up.
NAME: Tom's of Maine Aluminum-Free Deodorant Stick
WHERE IS HE NOW: Spent some time in the Peace Corps, got a little sidetracked by the Occupy movement before moving to Portland and getting super into urban farming. Raises chickens. Won't stop talking about the chickens. All his friends are like, will you just eat the chickens already? Knows where all the farmers' markets are and good places for brunch. Sells reclaimed vintage pens on Etsy, like the kind you turn upside down and the lady's shirt falls off. Still smells really, REALLY fucking hard like lavender oil, like wow.
VERDICT: Shut up, Tom.