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I sweat a lot. Not profusely, but enough that I am self-conscious about it sometimes. I don’t care when I’m at the gym, but commuting around disgusting, sticky New York City in the summer while trying to stay professional-looking is often a challenge.
I’d more or less accepted this state of affairs, investing in Secret Clinical Strength and wearing loose, flow-y shirts and dresses when the temperature starts ramping up. Then, three years, ago I discovered Sweat Block, and I have been buying a new box every summer since.
Sweat Block ($18.99 for 8 pads) smells bad, burns slightly, and has ugly packaging. But it is the No. 1 selling anti-perspirant on Amazon, and I am here to tell you why: You will not sweat for a solid week after you use one wipe.
Traditional anti-perspirants use aluminum salts that essentially plug your sweat glands temporarily to prevent you from sweating. (If a product doesn’t contain aluminum, it can’t be called an anti-perspirant, per the FDA; it is then designated a deodorant.) Sweat Block works the same way, but it has a higher concentration of aluminum than traditional drugstore anti-perspirants and isn’t in a gel or cream format. It’s in a concentrated wipe that you apply directly to your pits.
At this point, you may be freaking out and asking “But isn’t aluminum in anti-perspirants bad and might it kill me?” There is a proliferation of so-called natural deodorant brands on the market now (like Native) thanks to the fear that aluminum in anti-perspirants causes breast cancer and/or Alzheimer’s. There is no conclusive evidence of either one of these things, and I’m going with the American Cancer Society and the Alzheimer’s Association, who agree you should not freak out about it. Lots of people subscribe to the “why take a chance?” school of risk management, but this is a risk I’m willing to take because natural deodorants just don’t work. I might as well smear Crisco on my armpits for as much good as natural deodorants do me.
Application is not like a traditional stick. You are supposed to pat, not rub, the wipe onto your underarms at night before you go to bed on clean, ideally not-freshly-shaved skin. (It will burn like crazy if you apply it on freshly shaved skin — trust me on this.) The next day, you can shower and do all the things you normally do, except without sweating. One application really does last for a solid week. I’ll have a rivulet of sweat running down my back and into my bra after emerging from the deepest pit of hell that is the New York City subway in August, only to have under my arms remain dry.
I don’t use Sweat Block consistently, though. I end up using three or four wipes throughout the summer that I save for particularly busy or scorching weeks. I’m not afraid of aluminum (as evidenced by the cases of Secret I’ve gone through in my lifetime), but I do think there’s something to be said for letting your body do what it’s meant to do. So I don’t like to artificially plug things up indefinitely. Also I’m terrified my sweat glands are going to become conditioned to it and it will stop working. There’s also no evidence that this is possible, but who wants to risk that?