I am a brand loyalist. I use many of the same products from week to week, year to year, with very little experimentation. If I develop a strong love for a product, I have a very hard time branching out and trying something new when said product is unavailable. More than a decade after Bath and Bodyworks stopped selling them, I’m still mourning the loss of their sparkly brown eye-shadow sticks. I really don’t like change.
So, I was very much not looking forward to having to give up my deodorant for my plastic challenge. My old standby is Mitchum, both a deodorant and anti-perspirant. For at least the past eight years, this has been my deodorant of choice. However, it comes in plastic.
When I took a visit to Lush a month or so back to find some lotion and hair products, I saw a shelf featuring deodorants in bar form. I wasn’t quite ready that day to take the plunge and buy one (and, thankfully, still had at least a couple of weeks worth of Mitchum left in my cupboard at home), but eventually the morning finally came when there was no fooling myself into thinking I could get any more gel out of the empty Mitchum container. So I went back to Lush.
There were two plastic-free varieties available: a patchouli bar, amber in color and sort of like a frozen cube of jelly, and an oval powder bar with a wax seal on the bottom to keep the bar from crumbling. The sales’ lady strongly recommended that I get the patchouli bar and also a dusting powder to apply over it to help keep moisture down, but the dusting powder was of course in plastic, and I didn’t love the smell of the patchouli right off the bat; so I went with option two, the powder bar, officially called T’eo deodorant, which has a citrusy and lavendar-ish smell. The sales’ woman politely asked if I have sensitive skin. I said yes without hesitation, so she looked a little afraid for me when I declared I was buying this powder bar anyway. The T’eo bar, she tried to persuade me, can sometimes irritate underarms, especially for people prone to dry skin. She must have thought I was crazy when I said I wanted to try it anyway.
The first week of using my new deodorant was very unnerving. As the wise Lush woman had said, after using the T’eo bar two days in a row, I noticed some red bumps under my right arm, and it stung viciously when I grated the powdery, pummus-like bar across my skin. The first five or so days, this continued to be a problem, but after that, my skin seemed to adjust. I realized I was pressing the bar quite aggressively against my armpits at first, believing lots more powder might mean lots less smelliness. But once I learned that I didn’t need to scrape the bar so hard and repetitively on my underarms, the bumps cleared, and I started to consider problem number two—the feeling of sweat.
Because I’ve always used an anti-perspirant, I’m not at all use to a feeling of slickness under my arms. The first day that it reached 90 degrees in Chicago and I was trying this new under-arm regimen, I felt extremely concerned about the sweat building up there. I had to work all afternoon at the store Hazel where I’m a part-time employee, and I tried hard (initially) to resist asking my co-workers to smell me and be honest about their findings. Finally, I couldn’t handle it anymore—the not knowing—and my kind co-worker agreed to give me a scent test. Surprisingly, she said I smelled fine.
In the weeks since, I’ve realized that this new deodorant seems to be working. Yes, I do feel the unpleasantness of wetness sometimes, and the bar is starting to crack a little down the center—it isn’t totally easy to apply and is a little crumbly—but overall, I feel like this experiment has been a successful one.
I really like the smell of the bar. I like that this deodorant doesn’t stain my clothes. I like that I’ve broken my addiction to anti-perspirant in using this new product. And particularly, I like that I have found a replacement deodorant that not only avoids plastic, but one that also forced me to go outside of my comfort zone and try something new. Heck, I might even try the patchouli next.