The other day, I was on the subway and I caught a whiff of something…unpleasant. Granted, the subway is host to all sorts of smells, from good to bad to get the hell out of there but this one was different. I recognized it because, well, you recognize your own brand. With horror, I realized I could smell my crotch. Orm at least, I thought I could. I had just showered a couple of hours ago at the gym, but you know how it is—sometimes a shower isn’t quite enough.
I’m always low key paranoid that I smell bad and I go through pretty great lengths to mitigate potential B.O. I often shower twice a day (especially in the summer), I manscape downstairs to help control moisture and funk, and I never leave home without applying fragrance (and usually wear it even when I’m home alone). But even the most diligent among us has his moments and this, I dare say, was one of mine.
I also always (always) wear deodorant and have been known to, in a pinch, use it in places that are not my armpits. It’s a somewhat desperate act that’s not a great idea for a few reasons. First, deodorant can contain some harsh ingredients that can irritate skin on other areas of your body, particularly sensitive areas like your groin. Second, it’s only tested on armpits, so the potential for reaction usually isn’t even known. Plus, if you’re using antiperspirant, which contains aluminum to stop sweat, that could open a whole new can of potentially irritating worms (the FDA only approves of aluminum use under your arms). Basically, using deodorant off-label like that raises a tough question: Do you need the odor protection so much that you’re willing to potentially cause other skin problems?
It’s exactly this question that Dove Men+Care set out to solve with its new range of Whole Body Deo, a new product category that, honestly, falls firmly into the “why didn’t they think of this sooner?” category.
The mere existence of whole body deodorant is reassuring to me because, well, it means I’m not alone in my B.O. struggles. In fact, when developing these new products, Dove conducted extensive consumer research and found that 76 percent of men were interested in deodorant for parts of the body apart from their armpits, particularly to control odor in areas like around their chest (53 percent), private areas (44 percent), inner thighs (37 percent) and butt (27 percent). Sign me up for all of the above, please. And so, I became one of the first editors to test drive the new Whole Body Deo range and, not to keep you in suspense, I can confirm that it rules.
It comes in three formats: a spray, a stick and a cream (more on the nuances of these formats later) and two scents, one with shea butter and cedar and the other with aloe and bamboo. I smelled both, and favored the latter for its natural and fresh (but not chemical-y) vibe.
The aluminum-free formula across all formats is carefully designed to address odor in a variety of ways. The hero ingredient is zinc neodecanoate, a unique combination of zinc salts that not only traps and gets rid of odor molecules that are already there, but also sits on your skin and helps prevent new odor from forming. It also contains lactic and mandelic acids to help support the skin’s microbiome. When the microbiome is out of balance, “bad” bacteria, like the kind that causes odor, can flourish. Lastly, the formula is gentle and moisturizing—thanks to ingredients like glycerin, plant-derived waxes, and oils—and helps nourish and soothe even sensitive skin.
The first format I tried was the deodorant spray ($11.98) because it’s my preferred form in general (easy to apply, quick to dry). The fragrance is strong at first, like what you’d get with a typical deodorant or body spray, but dissipates quickly so it’s not overpowering. It left a nice freshness behind in both scent and feel. The feel is important, I realized, because I noticed that if I didn’t feel fresh, I was more likely to think I also smelled. I used the spray most often under my arms, across my chest and torso and in my groin and butt areas. I think the spray application is especially great for areas like the groin, where you don’t necessarily want a lot of excess moisture or greasiness. It also allows for a hands-free application (plus a nice cooling sensation) and dries instantly. The spray, I found, is also great if you’re trying to cover a large area, especially with the 360 degree spray nozzle so you can even spray it upside down.
I tried the deodorant cream ($11.98) next. This ultra-moisturizing format feels like a lotion and was designed for sensitive areas like your groin. Because of its lotion-like qualities, it’s also able to be massaged through body hair more effectively and does have a hands free applicator tip on the tube, though I found I still needed to rub it in. One bonus is that, unlike the spray, the cream contains moisture-absorbing cornstarch, which also helps to control sweat and moisture (which contribute to body odor). I used it on my feet—I found it soothing on my crusty hooves—and a few other smaller areas of my body, but I couldn’t see myself using the cream in place of the other formats very often.
Which brings me to the Deodorant Stick ($11.98), which was the sleeper hit for me. As a spray fan, I was surprised at how much I loved the stick, but I believe that the best grooming products should be multifunctional and this one delivered on multiple levels. First, the deodorizing aspect is real—the scent is not overpowering in this format but does leave a freshness behind that sticks around for a very, very long time and helps control odor throughout the day (I noticed that the areas I applied it still smelled fresh hours later). It also contains moisture-absorbing arrowroot powder and silica. I like that it is small enough to use for spot treatment or in very specific places, like your inner thighs, under folds in your skin, and of course, your armpits.
But beyond the odor-fighting capabilities, it is also a damn good anti-chafe stick. One day I couldn’t find my usual anti-chafe product, so I decided to apply the deodorant stick to my inner thighs, butt, and pits before I hit the gym and was shocked at how effectively it prevented any sort of my usual chafing—and felt better than my old product. The plant-derived waxes in the formula left a smooth finish on my skin that wasn’t sticky, greasy, or powdery, but still allowed enough slip that my skin felt like it had never chafed in its life. Similarly, at the urging of Diane Keenan—associate director of personal care R&D at Unilever, who helped develop the Whole Body Deo range and who told me it was also good for post-manscaping protection—I applied it after I got my monthly back, sack, and crack waxing. She was right. None of the usual post-wax irritation I normally see a day or two afterward popped up and walking around with freshly-smooth bits was way more comfortable (no stickage here). I realized it was because the wax-based formula provided a protective barrier but it was still moisturizing enough that my skin stayed happy at its most sensitive time.
After weeks of testing the various formulas in the Dove Men+Care Whole Body Deo range, it’s become a staple in my routine. I keep the spray in my gym bag and use it not just as a traditional deodorant but also as a body spray that helps my post-workout shower feeling last way longer. I also keep a stick in my bag to apply both before and after my workouts to help reduce chafing and further squash potential odor that could come up later. I keep another stick in my home bathroom and another in my travel dopp kit (you can never have enough odor and chafe protection, in my opinion). It’s one of those products that has truly changed the game for me. Best of all, next time I catch a whiff of something unpleasant on the subway, I’ll know for sure that it’s not me.
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