This Is What Happens When You Give Up Deodorant For A Week

When I was 12, my mom sat me down and killed three birds with one stone, giving me the menstruation, shaving, and personal-hygiene chat in one sitting. She handed me a box of tampons (which scared the shit out of me for years), a razor, and deodorant, and that was that. Fast-forward to about a month ago: I was shopping the aisles of CVS for all the basics (lipstick, tampons, lipstick), and it came to my attention that I'd been buying the same stick of Dove Original Clean for the past 10 years.

Many of us reach for deodorant daily without a second thought, mainly because we've had it ingrained in us from a young age that it's simply what people do. I distinctly remember flipping through the pages of The Care & Keeping of You (that awkward "body guide" for girls battling puberty), and reading all about deodorant (and how to insert a tampon correctly) with my group of friends. It fascinated us — we thought it was cool and sophisticated — and looking back, I can't help but laugh at that. I've always considered deodorant to be an everyday essential, but is it really as crucial a step as I've been taught?

I've come across a handful of people who forego it altogether, and when I've asked them why, most of them explain that they just don't find it necessary. Did they not read The Care & Keeping of You, or what? Perhaps they just made informed decisions on their own? Among the deodorant-free crew are Matthew McConaughey, Cameron Diaz, and Julia Roberts herself. McConaughey says he prefers his "natural scent," which somehow makes me find him even sexier.

With all this in mind, I made the split decision to nix deodorant from my routine for a week. My beauty regimen is already complex enough; taking even a few swipes out of it would be a blessing.

I went into my experiment with undeterred optimism, and maybe a dash of denial. This will be a breeze! I thought. It's only a week! And for the first two days, everything was literally breezy (which, you know, helps with sweat). The R29 offices are usually kept icebox-level cool — it's not abnormal to see people cozied up in sweaters during the summer. So other than discreetly blotting my pits with paper towels in the bathroom post-subway ride, I didn't have any issues.

It wasn't until day three — when my boyfriend Mike came to visit me — that shit got real. Meaning: The temperatures got ridiculously hot, and sweat started to create mini swimming pools in every crevice of my body. Mike showed up out of nowhere to stay with me for the weekend. Sounds cute, right? My long-distance lover-boy surprised me! Romance is alive! Well, let me assure you that there is nothing romantic about sharing a small bed with someone in a tiny room with sub-par air-conditioning during one of the most sizzling weeks of summer — even if I had been wearing deodorant.

Of course, Mike wanted to do all the outdoorsy things, so the good GF in me obliged — but still didn't mention the little experiment I had going on. We walked through Central Park, biked to lunch, had a picnic down by the river, and after getting into bed when we finally got back to my apartment my boyfriend cleared his throat — a nervous tick he has when he knows he's about to say something that will piss me off — and said: "Babe, please don't take this the wrong way but you smell rank."

Mildly horrified, I disentangled myself from him and beelined for the bathroom. In all our years of dating, he'd never commented on my "stench" — but to be fair, I had always been wearing deodorant. Once I was safely behind closed doors, I gave my pits a whiff (no sexy way to say that) and proceeded to jump in the shower.

After my much-needed rinse, I shamefully doused myself in some Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue. (Was this cheating?) When I walked back into the room, Mike was sitting on the bed, staring at me like my dog does after chewing up one of my shoes. "Okay, it's honestly no big deal. Everybody sweats. Everybody smells sometimes. Sorry I mentioned it, okay?" He was right. I'm sure even Matthew McConaughey stinks after an intense rock-climbing session (something I assume he does weekly). And Cameron Diaz is basically a surf guru, so I'm sure she gets hit with BO from time to time. It's natural. I decided to let him off the hook, and finally told him about my no-deodorant challenge.

The remaining four days without deodorant proved rather uneventful. Mike stayed another day, but since we stuck to indoor activities, I didn't note any odor issues. On the last day, I worked out (a rarity for me) and didn't smell peachy afterward. But, this time around, I found it didn't faze me nearly as much, especially since no one was around to er, sniff me.

So yeah, I had that one bad (and bad-smelling) day. But when I wasn't aggressively sweating — which bonds with the bacteria on your skin and causes odor to arise — I realized I don't mind my own natural scent at all. It wasn't pungent or offensive. I also liked how skipping this morning step streamlined my routine, and in the long run might have saved me some cash. According to the Huff Post, Americans spend $18 billion a year on deodorant and antiperspirant — is it just me, or is that pretty wild?

I never thought I'd be saying this, but I actually think I'm going to be saving my deodorant for dire situations, like when I know I'll be sweating buckets and things could get really gross, really fast (or when my boyfriend is in town). In fact, I've gone without it for about two weeks now and so far, so good. Even my twin sis — who is always the first to be brutally honest with me — hasn't mentioned a thing. So while I value my lovely mom's advice above anything, I think if I ever have kiddos of my own, I'll give them the whole deodorant spiel, but with my own, take-it-or-leave-it twist.
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