I am not known for my noncarcinogenic lifestyle. I prefer aspartame to agave, reheat takeout pad Thai in its original plastic container, and think most wines pair best with a cigarette. So my newfound opposition to aluminum-based antiperspirant has nothing to do with conflicting reports that it causes breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.
My beef lies in a bottom-drawer graveyard of crisp, white blouses, quickly abandoned for their yellowing armpit seams. For a long time I believed — shamefully — that the yellow stains were a by-product of my inherently foul sweat, but I learned recently it is in fact a chemical reaction between aluminum-based antiperspirants and laundry detergent. (Although, for the record, my sweat is inherently foul. Even at the end of a weeklong chemical-substance-beauty-product detox I did once while traveling alone.)
Last year, I switched to the Tom’s of Maine deodorant on sale at the gentrifier’s bodega in my neighborhood. But then I found myself buying up emergency sticks of Secret in drug stores all over town. Cheating got expensive. So for the past month, I tested eleven non-aluminum deodorants to see if the hippie-dippy stuff could stand up to my stench, or whether I’d have to go back to black.