Question: Have you ever alerted a loved one to their pervasive B.O. before realizing with a deep, discouraging whiff that it's actually…you?
Because I have. Summer is always particularly hard on me, and it's not just the mosquitos in my hair or the fact that I alone release enough sweat to end a drought. Rather: I smell bad, all the way through September. Finding a natural deodorant that actually cuts the stank in the middle of summer has always been my white whale. Typically, I have to switch to an aluminum-filled antiperspirant to handle it.
To be fair, I'm no stranger to natural deodorant. If anything, I'm more like a guinea pig, having tried both first-gen versions and newer, baking-soda-free deodorants you can find at the grocery store—all to varying degrees of success. Most formulas operate in basically the same way: They work by absorbing sweat with naturally derived powders (arrowroot powder, baking soda, and charcoal, to name a few) and cutting the odor with something more appealing, like essential oils.
But Kosas Chemistry AHA Serum Deodorant has taken a totally different approach to the concept of deodorizing underarms. Instead of simply soaking up sweat, which serves as something of a buffet for odor-causing bacteria, it targets the bacteria themselves with a blend of alpha hydroxy acids—specifically, lactic acid, mandelic acid, and shikimic acid, which may not have the same name recognition as the others but offers key antimicrobial properties.
This combination of acids lowers the pH of your underarms to the point that bacteria just can't hack it—climate change on a micro scale, if you will. It also comes with a few other perks, like brightening dark underarms, which can result from friction over time. And it also reduces the chances of ingrown hairs, since the acid blend does what acid does best and exfoliates.
At first, the idea of rolling acid onto my armpits, particularly after shaving, sounded unpleasant at best and excruciating at worst. I'm cool with a burning sensation on my face ("It's working!") but on my underarms? No, thank you. But there was no problem in practice—it rolled on easily and dried almost instantly, so I didn't even have to wait before getting dressed.
I put it to the test a few times, wearing it while melting in a hot car, during an hourlong walk in muggy, 85-degree heat, on a long run, and for a vinyasa yoga class in my stuffy bedroom. Each time I started sweating within minutes—natural deodorants won't ever do much for sweat, so that was to be expected. But afterward, once the sweat had dried and I was lying flat on my back beneath the AC unit, I also…didn't smell bad. That's a big deal, considering that even the antiperspirant I'd been using couldn't keep it at bay.
In fact, I didn't smell like anything at all. I tried the Serene Clean scent, which is supposed to be reminiscent of a spa but actually didn't smell like anything—to my nose, at least, which as we've determined is pretty good at picking up on scent. But confronted with the choice of bad versus nothing, I'm satisfied with smelling like nothing. (There's also a fragrance-free option, for the easily irritated.)
It's a new staple in my summer routine. Sweat I can live with, especially if it doesn't come with a side of stank—and at that, this Kosas deodorant goes above and beyond.
Originally Appeared on Glamour