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'Horses sweat. Men perspire. Ladies glow.' So sayeth my gran, who had an aphorism for every occasion.
Whatever way you do it, everyone perspires to a certain degree, whether it's only during physical activity, or problem sweating (also known as hyperhidrosis).
~*~Me and my sweat~*~
In my early teenage years I probably sweated more than average. Not to the extent that it was a medical problem, but enough that I carried a can of antiperspirant in my schoolbag and was a bit paranoid about raising my arm to answer questions. Once I emerged from puberty, though, things settled down and I no longer perspired as heavily (I also lost a few spots, my crush on Jason Priestly and the belief that Beavis and Butthead were, like, the funniest thing ever). As a rule, one application of anti-perspirant will last me the whole day. I usually use Sure or Mitchum, but have been known to buy whatever's on offer.
~*~How did I end up buying this, then?~*~
A couple of reasons:
1. I had to give a presentation to all my work colleagues (and there's over 100 of them). If I feel well-versed on the topic, have had time to prepare and can crack a few jokes, I really don't mind public speaking. If, however, I have had little input, almost no time to prepare, the SMARTboard is playing up, it's a sultry afternoon and the natives are getting restless; *then* I start to panic. I talk too fast, my hands shake and my palms get sweaty. None of this is insurmountable, but I really didn't want the worry of leaving wet handprints on documents that other people would have to handle.
2. I had a function to go to at which I was one of the guests of honour (I know. I think everyone else in Belfast must have been dead/unavailable that day) and at which I would be expected to shake hands with dignitaries. I would also be expected to play chasies and do some disco-dancing with a bunch of sugared-up three year olds. I hate shaking hands with people who've got sweaty hands and so I didn't want to inflict the same thing on anyone else.
~*~Where did I get it from?~*~
Although it's not prescription only, I've never seen this in the shops. I found it in a roundabout way: I was looking for cheap perfume for me and toothpaste for the dog online (I know: my life is so rock 'n' roll) on the Chemist Direct website and there was a link to it. It sounded like just the thing for my situation, although I didn't fully research what it was or how it worked at the time.
~*~How much did it cost?~*~
Deep breaths everyone: £11.50. More deep breaths: for a weeny 50 ml bottle.
~*~What's in it?~*~
I don't normally do ingredient lists because I find them a bit dull and unnecessary, but something that stops you sweating for 5 days is probably going to contain some kind of magic (or cancer-causing chemicals), so best to know what you're letting yourself in for. That said, I can't imagine the full ingredient list is going to mean much to anyone who isn't a chemistry major so suffice to say that, amongst other things, it contains aluminium chloride and aluminium chlorohydrate, which are the ones that people tend to get worked up about.
~*~How do you apply it~*~
Last thing at night before bed, as this gives it a long time to be absorbed before you shower/bathe. The instructions say to spray the area thoroughly and massage it into the skin, and then perform your ablutions as you normally would the next day. It can be used anywhere, although I'd personally exercise extreme caution about using it on the face or girl/boy bits. Obviously, if you don't want your hands to absorb it then wear plastic gloves.
I initially tried this just on my hands and it did such a good job I thought I'd try it on my underarms. In truth, I was expecting it to sting like bejesus, but it really doesn't. Even though I'd shaved my underarms earlier that day there was no pain whatsoever - it just felt like I'd sprayed water on myself and massaged it in.
~*~Does it work?~*~
Yes. Scarily well, in fact.
When I used it on my underarms I expected it to perform as well as a bog-standard anti-perspirant, but it exceeded that: my underarms remained dry through normal activities, exercise, gardening and walking the dog. For the benefit of you lovely Dooyooers, I even stuck my hand under my arms to check whilst out walking (which earned me some strange looks from other dog-owners) and I was as dry as a bone. It also lasted through an evening function at which it was terrifically warm (because my eejit friend chose the table right next to the restaurant's industrial oven vent). The dryness lasted for the full five days as promised on the label.
When used on my hands it lasted for a slightly shorter length of time: 2-3 days on average. Given that the average person washes their hands many more times than they wash their underarms, though, this is probably to be expected.
The website claims that the product was designed for people with hyperhidrosis and that it can be used on hands, feet and underarms. Obviously, I can't comment on the truth of this claim as I don't have that medical condition, but the spray does entirely stop my average level of perspiration, and kept my palms completely dry at a time of high stress and anxiety.
- It works. I suspect some people will be put off by the ingredients list, and it's certainly not something that I would use all the time, but I imagine for people that are caused social mortification by problem sweating, this would be an absolute lifesaver.
- It doesn't sting. Although I imagine if you sprayed it on freshly shaved underarms it might make you wince.
-No white marks. This is a big plus for me, as I hate getting ready to go out and then discovering my sides are all covered in tell-tale marks.
-Convenience. It is nice to spray your arms once and then forget about it for the best part of a week.
-The price. £11.50 is a LOT for an antiperspirant. The manufacturers claim it should last 6 months if it is only used once every 5 days but obviously that is dependent on how much you spray and whether you find you need to re-apply more frequently. I've had a check on the manufacturer's website and there doesn't seem to be any sample sizes you can test to see whether it works for you before you fork out a lot of money for a very small bottle.
-The smell. There isn't one. So if you want fragrance, you'll need to apply a body spray.
-Availability. I've only seen it online, so obviously you're going to need a debit/credit card if you want to buy it.
-Drying effect. When used on the hands, I found the skin around my joints was becoming quite dry and flaky, which it normally wouldn't be. This was remedied with a good moisturiser but I only use Perspi-Guard on my hands on very rare occasions because of this. My underarms were unaffected.
-The ingredients. There are a lot of scare stories about the aluminium content in anti-perspirants causing cancer but, to the best of my knowledge, nothing has been definitively proved.
-Possibly harmful if used incorrectly. Sweating is the body's way of regulating its temperature and so it would be wise not to apply this all over. You could, of course, just leave your bellybutton unsprayed and use it as a kind of a tap, but I fear that would earn you odd looks in polite company.
~*~Is it worth buying?~*~
If you have the occasional function to go to at which you don't have to worry about perspiration, yes. Or if you sweat like Lee Evans in a sauna and have got £11.50 lying around this may be just the thing for you. Otherwise, if regular antiperspirant works for you, I'd stick to that.