DeodoRant – Movement Labs


I had a “Deodorant Episode” yesterday.  As I was relating the whole story to KMN this morning, I realized it was funny.  (At least, it was funny to me.) I spent the day wondering if a Deodorant Episode in was blog-worthy.

Then, I sat down tonight and opened up my Google Reader (Yeah, yeah, I know.  I have to migrate.  Eventually.  I’ll get to it…) and read 50 After 40’s rant about wearing ties.  If he can rant about ties, I can rant about deodorant.  I mean, just look at the word.  If any word was asking for a rant, it’s deodorant, right?  How did I never notice this before??

Besides, it’s my blog.   As I stipulated at the start, I’ll write about whatever I want.  Ready? GO:

A few days ago, the trusty stick of deodorant I brought with me from the US pretty much gave up it’s very last smear of deodorizer.  “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just pick up a new one!”  So later that day, in the grocery store, I went looking…and found…not one stick of deodorant.  *sigh*

OK, fair enough.  To be honest, deodorant use among Chinese people seems to be pretty low.  I’m not saying this because they stink (because generally, they don’t – in fact, the gym here is ridiculously UNsmelly).  But of the Chinese people I have been comfortable enough to survey (<— friends and family, not random strangers on the street), most of them don’t use deodorant.  I suspect there are both biological and cultural preferences at play here.  And that’s totally, 100% OK with me.  But personally?  I (and those around me) will fare much better if I partake.

But I wasn’t totally surprised that I couldn’t find any in the grocery store.  Unlike in the US, grocery stores here don’t always have the same selection of HBA (Health & Beauty Aid) products as specialty “personal care” stores do.  So yesterday, I stopped into such a personal care store – and I specifically chose one in a place where lots of Caucasians shop (figuring they might have a higher demand/better selection).  After a bit of hunting, I found this:

Yep, that's about it.

Yep, that’s about it.

This section is probably 20% of what you’d find in the average US store – and I actually feel a bit bad for any Singaporean who walks into a US store looking for deodorant.  S/he would probably faint at the selection.  We Americans sure (think we) like our choices!!  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that more selection is always better. I’m just saying that this is…considerably less selection that I’m accustomed to seeing.

I should say – there were also some aerosol/spray deodorant choices a few shelves down that I failed to capture in the photo.  But that’s not how I roll (Get it? I prefer to ROLL), so I examined these options a bit closer.  And further inspection revealed that most of the options on the top and middle shelves were alcohol-based, clear-gel type products.  Since we’re getting all personal here, I will admit that I’ve always found applying an alcohol-based product to my freshly-shaven armpits to be rather…painful.  So those were out, too.

I’m also not into super-duper antiperspirant ingredients.  I’d like some odor-control, but figure that sweat is pretty natural (annoying, but natural).  So I eliminated a few options because I was leery of “48 Hour Perspiration Protection”.  [And who goes 48 hours without a shower in Singapore, anyway?  I can hardly go 6 hours…  And more often, I’m ready to hop back in after 10 minutes!  Forty-eight hours?!?]  I peered more closely at my remaining options, and noticed something rather alarming:


Excuse me. Did I just read that correctly? “Whitening”?!?!?

Singaporeans, you’ve gotta help me out here.  I am begging you.  I understand that most people of Asian decent find lighter skin to be desirable (at least historically).  But…ummm….whitening….your….armpits???  I double-checked to make sure that Dove hadn’t started making toothpaste when I wasn’t looking. Nope.  Definitely deodorant.  Whitening?!??!

I was – and still am – totally baffled.  But seeing as how I’d like to keep my armpits the same color as the rest of me, and don’t really need to add any MORE chemicals to what’s already in the deodorant to begin with, I left the “whitening” brands on the shelf.

Apparently, I am more fussy about my deodorant than I thought.

Ultimately, two options remained: Lady Speed Stick, in either “Wild Freesia” or “Orchard Blossom”.  Neither thrilled me (I prefer Unscented or Powder Fresh, in case you were curious), and since I didn’t really feel comfortable uncapping and sniffing deodorant sticks in the middle of the store, I gambled on Orchard Blossom.

I gave it a shot last night.  And all I can say is . . . my armpits now smell like Starbursts.


I guess there are worse things.

Also, I’ll be picking up a few sticks of Powder Fresh the next time we are back in the US.

Every day, it’s an adventure, folks.

*OK, I’ll admit – this wasn’t exactly a rant.  But it was close to a rant.  Can I plead artistic license?

Anyone out there using any “natural” products for deodorant?
Preferably ones that won’t turn my clothing white (ie, baking soda is out), since I wear a lot of sleeveless tops.

Anyone going on a date tonight?
KMN and I are going to heat up some leftovers, turn off our technology, and have a read-paper-books festival.

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  1. Katrina Lee March 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    Lol seriously the funniest thing I’ve read today 🙂 And can I just say, if you need a case of your preferred deodorant I’m sure we can gather some funds to save you! Please don’t whiten your armpits…that’s just….odd.

    • Holly KN March 29, 2013 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      Well…it’s not even 9 AM for you, so I’m not sure that’s saying much. 😉 But since you were probably up at 5 or so, I’ll take the compliment.

      Also? You’re so sweet! I think I’ll stick with what I have for now, but will have my eyes peeled for other local possibilities (this was just what I found in one store). We’ll be back in the US for a visit in a few months, and just in case, I’ve already added “Deodorant” to our “To Buy” list. 🙂

  2. Sarrilly March 29, 2013 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    hahahha you totally crack me up!!! yes, I definitely noticed the “whitening” part before you mentioned it too!

    K this is slightly unrelated, but I found another blog (via one of my fave bloggers) reviewing replacement options for Google Reader. You might have already heard of them, but figured it was worth passing along! 🙂

    Love ya!

    • Holly KN March 29, 2013 at 10:49 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the tip, Sar. Will be checking that out, pronto.

      I’ve read up on a few, but inertia has prevented me from doing anything more than reading…and thinking that I *should* do something! 🙂

    • Erica G March 30, 2013 at 1:48 am - Reply

      Thanks for the chuckles! I am still baffled on the whitening part though. And yes, powder fresh is indeed best!

      • Holly KN March 30, 2013 at 11:53 am - Reply

        Hi Erica, thanks for stopping by! If this was your first time here, then you certainly got an unusual introduction you just got to the blog…sorry about that! 😉

        Glad to have another powder-fresher on board. But if you’re ever thinking about making the switch to Starburst scented, just let me know. I can hook you up! 😉

  3. Heather March 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Do you need us to ship you some?

    • Holly KN March 29, 2013 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      I’m OK for now – we’ll be visiting the US in a few months anyway. Worse comes to worst, I’ll just smell like candy until then. 😉

      But I DO want you to save a run for me! 🙂

  4. Logan @ Mountains and Miles March 29, 2013 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    HA! I feel you! I studied abroad twice in college and the first time was in South Africa. While they definitely had more of a selection than you had, they were just weird and different. A lot of them were the liquid roll-on types and I just didn’t like it. I made my parents ship me like 5 deodorants in their next care package, ha.

    The whitening of the armpits seems a little overkill to me, but hey…maybe here in the US there is armpit bronzer? I wouldn’t put it past us…

    • Holly KN March 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      HAHAHA! It’s funny, too, because we packed and shipped a lot of stuff (my husband’s firm paid for the shipping), including food stuffs. We have, like, sixteen tubes of toothpaste (which we could easily get here); but alas, I failed to properly consider the deodorant situation. I will now know for future reference. Thankfully, deodorant is pretty small, and lasts a loooong time. [And the sticks here are actually super short, comparatively. So I won’t have to live in Starburst territory for too long. 🙂 ]

  5. Allee @ Griselda Mood March 29, 2013 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    Haha, whatttttt?! Whitening deodorant?! I’d use it just as a scientific experiment. Buy that some Crest Whitestrips and see which part of your body gets whitened the fastest! Ready, set, whiten!

    • Holly KN March 30, 2013 at 11:49 am - Reply

      Hahaha. You are hilarious. Do you think the white strips would double as a waxing? I sense multi-tasking possibilities galore…. 🙂

  6. Kristen L March 29, 2013 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    Hahaha — I noticed “whitening” in the photo before you said it — so hilarious! I prefer the fresh scent too. You are too funny — your armpits smell like Starbursts! Haha.

    Sounds like a fun date night! We are going to a friend’s house for a BBQ!

    • Holly KN March 30, 2013 at 11:51 am - Reply

      BBQ. Yum… That’s one low-level, constant craving I have out here. To me (as someone who grew up in a four-seasons state), hot summer days = BBQ, cold salads, and fruit. It’s always hot here, so I’m always wondering when someone will be throwing the drumsticks on the BBQ, and who’s making the pasta salad! 🙂 [Although the locals hugely prefer their roasted meat on noodles, with or without lots of steaming broth…]

  7. Meg March 29, 2013 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    I can bring a stick in May if you want– just let me know what kind 🙂 Those are some very puzzling options they’ve got there…

    • Holly KN March 30, 2013 at 11:51 am - Reply

      I haven’t exhausted my local options, and the Starbursts are holding steady for now – but I’ll def. let you know! Thanks!! 🙂

  8. Cecilia @MommiesRUn March 30, 2013 at 3:03 am - Reply

    Wow. Now I’ve seen everything. Whitening your arm pits? I love other cultures. It’s just fabulous to learn about others. I wonder if the Chinese diet plays any role in their not needing deodorant as much as we do?

    • Holly KN March 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      Hm. I don’t know for sure, but my 100% Chinese husband lived in the US for 12 years, and ate pretty much like a somewhat-healthy American (albeit perhaps with a tad more rice). He still didn’t use (or need) deodorant. Me + workout + deodorant vs Him + workout + deodorant? I’d win the stinky contest EVERY TIME!

      [*The scientist in me knows that a sample size of 1 does not a study make.]

  9. Jules March 30, 2013 at 5:36 am - Reply

    Holly, I love reading about your Singapore adventures!! Have to say I’ve never really thought of whitening deodorant as weird lol, because there’s whitening everything in Malaysia. I think people just associate white with being clean (and fresh)!

    • Holly KN March 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      Really? You don’t think there’s a skin tone issue at play, too? That’s interesting.

      To me, the idea that a WHITER armpit would be FRESHER is … hilarious, actually. To me, a whiter armpit means someone was a bit over-zealous with the deodorant application! 😉

      • Jules March 30, 2013 at 9:11 pm - Reply

        Yes SE Asians generally equate being fair (in skin tone) with being of a higher social class in society. But not sure who looks at people’s armpits though, so not sure how much of that is at play here hahaha.

  10. Grace March 30, 2013 at 8:33 am - Reply

    AHHHHHH DON’T get me started on the whitening everything in Asia (there may be a rant about that soon, it’s been annoying me for 15 out of 28 years of my life – ever since I started buying my own moisturiser). My face wash is ‘lightening’ (I don’t know what that means. My face is still fat…lies!!)

    Re deodorant – the beauty/ pharmacy stores like Watsons or Guardian have better selections, I promise! Still limited but better than the lone whitening stick in a sea of roll-ons.

    • Grace March 30, 2013 at 8:45 am - Reply

      (As in, try other personal care stores. Maybe larger ones? Downtown? They have better selections than candy-scented Lady Speed Stick. I can’t remember what I last bought but it didn’t smell like candy… the last time I bought any was last year before I carted six sticks home from the US…)

      • Holly KN March 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm - Reply

        I brought a bunch of other stuff from the US, and *thought* about deodorant, but just neglected to realize it would be such a problem. Will keep my eyes open downtown. At least I’m not stinking in the meantime, so we’re all good. [Although I may be attracting bugs, with all of my “Orchard Blossoms”…?]

    • Holly KN March 30, 2013 at 12:12 pm - Reply

      This was a actually at the Guardian (I think that’s what it is) at Fusionopolis. Short of going to Holland V or Cold Storage, I thought I might have a decent chance of finding a selection catering to Caucasians. Negative. Perhaps Holland V?

      [Also, I *almost* texted you this photo the other day, I was so curious about your thoughts on “whitening”. You didn’t disappoint… 🙂 ]

  11. Amy @ Writing While Running March 30, 2013 at 9:08 am - Reply

    If you give me your address, I will send you any and all kinds of deodorant. Believe me, I need to pay it back from when I was in China and literally could not get it at all. A few weeks after I told people this in the US, I got way more deodorant (and tampons) than I needed. I am serious, I would love to help!

    • Holly KN March 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm - Reply

      I was lucky enough to have taken lots of shorter trips here before actually moving – so I knew there were a few items I needed to bring (like, feminine hygiene products and Monistat!). The deodorant just completely caught me off guard. I think I’ll save up your offer for now – as I’m making do with the candy scent, and am hopeful that here (as opposed to China), I will be able to find something more to my liking. And we’ll be visiting the US in a few months anyway – I think I can make it until then. But the next time I have an HBA emergency, I’ll be calling you. 😉

      Also…Did you have the same issue with whitening products in China? [Or were they all in characters & you couldn’t read them….?]

      • Amy @ Writing While Running April 2, 2013 at 3:18 am - Reply

        Oh, yes of course. Whitening of everything. And I could read! Anything that had the character “bai” (white), I knew to stay away from.

  12. Elena April 3, 2013 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    Going to try to say this in the most culturally sensitive way possible.

    Asian women’s armpits often become darker and discolored as the result of genetics. Due to cultural standards, aesthetics, personal preference, etc, they prefer not to have this discoloration (and I would probably be bothered if it happened to me too). Hence whitening deodorant.

    Annnnnyway, as a Crunchy Hippie (TM) I have tried almost every “natural” deodorant brand. And they all work the same – not at all. Because in addition to hippie I am also a Sweaty Italian. I could win the sweating Olympics. I’m sweating right now and it’s probably about 65 degrees in my house and I’m sitting still doing nothing more strenuous than typing. My current deodorant is an extra-hippie brand by a local-ish small business called Soapwalla. It’s made of i think, shea butter coconut oil, and lavender tea-tree and clove oils. It doesn’t work for more than five minutes and I’m horrendous at the gym. I like it though – I need my personal space and armpit smell is a good buffer.

    Related: Why no, I’m not going on a date tonight. I wonder what could be the problem?

    • Holly KN April 3, 2013 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      So…if it doesn’t work, then why do you bother? [Sorry, had to ask.] I understand crunchy hippy, but it’s just too dang hot here for it to be fair for me to go sans deodorant.

      Also, stay tuned, because I just got some verrrrrry interesting info about the “whitening” aspect from a friend who works in the HBA industry. I’m hoping she’ll agree to do a Q & A, because her input was pretty interesting. 🙂

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