Oral Deodorizer Passes Sniff Test
By Greg Morago, Courant staff writer
Tuesday, March 19, 2002
I have not used deodorant for a week. I’ve pushed aside mouthwash, foot sprays and body talcs, too.
My signature cologne sits untouched on my dresser. Though I have
showered each day and brushed my teeth, no odor-containing or
odor–altering product has touched my skin. I’m living the hygienic
equivalent of going commando. Except for my little green pill.
My little green pill is supposed to reduce body odors from the inside.
It‘s a swallowable Mennen Speed Stick, a digestible can of Lysol. The
size of a Tylenol but the color of moss, my BodyMint pill claims to
reduce breath, underarm, foot and feminine odor (hey, what the heck?)
courtesy of chlorophyllin, derivative of chlorophyll.
BodyMint, which advertises itself as a “100 percent total-body
deodorant,” is the hot new commodity in the personal-grooming realm.
It’s flying off the shelves at pricey boutique stores such as Henri
Bendel in New York and Fred Segal in Los Angeles (two particularly
odiferous cities, where the rich and famous will go to any lengths to
smell like anything other than themselves).
Curious, I decided to forgo my usually rigorous daily hygiene
routines to test BodyMint for a week. For someone who, while neither
rich nor famous, will go to any length to smell like anything other than
himself, this was also a personal test of will. How could a little
green pill take the place of dozens of cleansing and grooming items to
which I’m slavishly devoted?
It was a week of living dangerously. It was a week I thought a lot
about smell (both its physical and psychological manifestations) while
contemplating the oddly diverse subjects of sweat glands, foot
perspirations, body image, pheromones, animal magnetism, flatulence,
“natural” living, bathing rituals, skunks, gymnasium locker rooms,
hygiene teachers and Charlton Heston. And it was a week of getting very
intimate with myself: my thoughts, my moods, me smells.
Let me pop another green pill and tell you about it.
I Am Born
I am a man, therefore I smell. I was brought up believing that men
smell, women don’t. Men are stinky pigs, and women are dewy lilacs. Men
can sweat all they want, but women don’t (and if they did, it wouldn’t
be sweat at all but a sweet “glistening.”). Sure, Dad and assorted
uncles might smell like English Leather and Aqua Velva in the morning,
but it was only a temporary curtain over the inevitable odors of armpit,
beer, smoke, wet dog and après-workout gym bag.
I am man; I was born to smell. I truly believed that. Which is why I
started at a very young age to aggressively deodorize myself. It’s not
that I wanted to smell like a woman; I just didn’t; want to smell like a
stinky man. By the time I was a teenager, I could recite the pros and
cons of every smell–good product on the market. I did them all—from Old
Spice to Brut to Canoe. My body reeked, not of sweat but Palmolive,
Vitalis and British Sterling.
Today, I have graduated from dime-store after-shaves and odor eaters
to designer lathers and lotions. I have spent ridiculous sums—$24 for a
bar of Hermes soap, $28 for a Aqua di Parma deodorant—in my mad quest to
keep from smelling the way a man was meant to smell (like himself). Oh,
and on the first day of eschewing all that, I swallow two BodyMints.
Man And Superman
There are about 2 million sweat glands in the average human body, but
men sweat about 40 percent more than women. I know the latter to be
true because Mr. Mitchell, one of my favorite grade-school teachers,
sweated lavishly. Mr. Mitchell wore a short-sleeve shirt and tie to work
every day. By the end of first period, he was sporting dark crescents
under his arms. By the end of the day they were full moons.
Besides teaching math and leading our pep rallies (he always had a
lot of school spirits), Mr. Mitchell also gave the occasional hygiene
lecture. There, with his bad moons rising, he told us that humans have
two types of sweat glands, one that cools the body and one that
regulates sweating. They former are found all over they body; the latter
(apocrine sweat glands) are found mostly under the arms and in the
groin. Tee-hee (we had to giggle when we heard the word groin). Anyway,
bacteria love apocrine sweat, and when the two meet, bacteria multiply
and give off odors.
Mr. Mitchell always had a funky smell. But that didn’t stop Miss
Shipp, our chorus teacher, from liking Mr. Mitchell—a lot. They’d take
their lunches together and could always be found huddled in the
teacher’s lounge talking or grading papers. They’d volunteer for the
same student committees. Maybe Miss Shipp liked the way Mr. Mitchell
smelled, pit stains and all. Maybe he was what real men smelled like.
Mr. Mitchell was very popular. Is it possible to be super popular and
On day 2 of BodyMint I can detect no unpleasant odor. But maybe, like Mr. Mitchell, I’m oblivious to my own funk.
Of Human Smellage
“Smell me!” I push my underarm into a co-worker’s face. “You smell
like starched shirt,” he says. I don’t believe him. I ask another
co-worker to smell the other pit. “You smell clean,” she says.
On the third day without deodorant, I should smell somewhat unclean.
And yet, surprisingly, I don’t. Could BodyMint be working so effectively
from the inside? Well, it makes sense. After all, if you eat garlic,
your body gives off garlic fumes. So my little green pill is making me
smell, well, green? Clean green?
A friend, who is perfectly happy making a meal of sprouts and
assorted lettuce, wonders if vegetarians smell better because they’re
already eating green. But then I recall all those vegetarian,
hippie-dippy granola eaters I’ve met in my life. They are the kind of
people who eschew deodorant and fast food and save all their yogurt
containers so they can be recycled into toothbrushes. And while they may
have the faint whiff of patchouli, they still stink. Body Odor visits
even the leaf eaters among us.
I do not alter my diet during my experiment. My diet usually consists
of coffee, tuna sandwiches and potato chips, takeout Chinese, pizza,
cigarettes and gin. Come to think of it, despite being a smoker, my
friends claim I do not smell like smoke. Perhaps BodyMint is also
neutralizing the fumes of Benson & Hedges Deluxe Ultra-Light
Menthols? Could it do the same for gin martinis?
The Nose Knows
Olfactory receptors in the nose are remarkably sensitive. Humans can
distinguish thousands of different odors. Women are said to have a
better sense of smell than men. Perhaps this is why my fourth-grade
teacher, Mrs. Hyde, set up a little desk for me in the hallway outside
our classroom. “This is better,” she said, handing me a Scholastic
workbook and closing the door. It was cold outside, so I kept my jacket
on—the jacket that smelled overwhelmingly of skunk.
Growing up in the lonesome Arizona desert, we were, unfortunately,
practically one with nature. You never knew if you’d find a coyote on
your porch, a snake in your garden, a tarantula at your doorstep. Or a
skunk under your home. On this day, a skunk had gotten under our house
and sprayed in the vicinity of my closet. Perhaps he even waddled into
the house, went straight to my closet and took aim at my wardrobe
(stranger things have happened in the desert).
I went to school smelling like skunk, which didn’t bother any of the
kids on my bus because the same thing had at some point happened to
them. But I was too Pepe Le Pew for Mrs. Hyde, who moved me outdoors for
the entire day.
Mrs. Hyde had a keen sense of smell. Oddly enough, so do I. I always
have. At work, I can smell a tuna sandwich or vegetable soup an office
away. If someone’s eating licorice or Fritos, I know it. If the
co-worker who has a monthly “garlic night” with his friends has eaten
obscene amounts of the stinking rose the night before, I know it.
Believe me, I know it.
And yet, on the fourth day of BodyMint, I smell nothing.
I Am Curious (Green)
Do you remember Charlton Heston in “Soylent Green”? I was 13 when the
movie, about starved masses who rely on government-manufactured food,
finally made it to the Palomino drive-in. Sitting on the flatbed of my
father’s truck (and munching on home made popcorn), I watched as Heston,
hairy and sweaty, craftily infiltrated the Soylent factory, only to
make a horrible discovery: “Soylent Green is people!!” Wow! Ick!
Today, on my fifth day of BodyMint, I have grown accustomed to one of
the little green pill’s curious side effects. No, it’s not green pee.
It’s green bowel movements. BodyMint states on its label: “May cause
stool to be greenish in color.” Boy, and how! I keep thinking about
Charlton Heston (the unwitting cannibal) and Soylent Green chips. If we
are what we eat, then I am chlorophyll. Hence, the Soylent stool.
I am only mildly worried that BodyMint, whose glowing statements of
success have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, might be turning my insides green or, worse, be made of
something scary, like Soylent Green. I go to bed thinking of Heston,
“BodyMint is people!”
Valley of the Dolls
A deodorant covers or absorbs foul odors without limiting
perspiration. An antiperspirant inhibits perspiration by either reducing
pore size or by clogging pores to retard perspirations.
I love deodorant-antiperspirants. Together, they are magic. We should welcome them with open underarms.
Or should we? On my sixth day without using my roll-on, I am
convinced that BodyMint is working and that deodorants are useless.
BodyMint, however, cost $20 bottle (a one-month supply). Sure I could
ditch my $2 stick deodorant, which bought on sale at CVS, usually lasts
me about 3 weeks. That’s about $35 a year I spend on deodorant. BodyMint
would cost me $240.
This, however, doesn’t make deodorant the automatic winner. I am a
product of the Jacqueline Susann generation; I love taking pills.
Popping a green doll is much more fun and glamorous than swiping a pasty
white stick back and fourth over a hairy patch of skin. And what of the
simple stick deodorant? Don’t you hate, when you get toward the end,
how the pasty white brick falls out of its container and onto the
bathroom tiles even though there’s at least half an inch of good
deodorant left? Why can’t they engineer a better stick deodorant?
Whatever, I am happy and, surprisingly, odorless.
Body And Soul
“Smell me!” I implore the co-worker who, after a week, is tired of
having to sniff me daily. “You smell clean,” he says. I take off my shoe
and make him smell my loafer. “Leather,” he says.
I believe him: I have pushed my own foot in my face to see if
BodyMint is working. I have whiffed my own pits like six times a day,
just to test. Nothing. Am I sweating? Yes, but there’s no adverse odor.
Maybe the little green pill is working, or maybe this is simply what I
smell like without deodorant. What if after the experiment I continue
to take BodyMint coupled with regular deodorant applications? Then I’m
sure to smell even more daisy fresh!
I realize now I’m becoming a tad too fixated on the subject of body
odor. But don’t blame me: I’m American. Americans tend to have an
obsession with being clean and avoiding natural odors. When compared
with people of other countries, we bathe more often and spend more money
on products to reduce odors. Products like BodyMint.
Today, I go off the little green pills. My experiment is completed. I
return to Right Guard and normal-colored stool. But it was amusing to
remember Mr. Mitchell, my first bottle of Brut, skunks and Charlton
Heston’s Soylent snacks.
Even for only a week, it was easy being green.
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affiliation, connection or other association by or between the owners
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