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Can Antiperspirant Last for an Entire Week? We Tried It

How one dose held up through workouts, showers, the subway and a sunny soccer game.

Summer -- the season of sweat -- is officially here. On the sweat scale, I’m definitely not a glower; I leave a puddle on the treadmill (TMI, sorry) when I’m finished. So when I got a chance to try Sweat Block, an antiperspirant that claims to last for seven days without reapplying, I jumped at the chance.

I went in with very low expectations, and also some trepidation. Secret Clinical Strength is my daily deodorant of choice, and while it’s not perfect, it does the job nicely. How could Sweat Block possibly keep my pits from sweating for seven days? And would I have huge tumors under my arms afterwards?

Ron Robinson, a cosmetic chemist and the founder of Beauty Stat, cleared a few things up. Classic antiperspirants usually contain aluminum salts like aluminum chloride or aluminum chlorohydrate, which plug the sweat glands to prevent perspiration. While these ingredients have been around forever, they are not without controversy. Recently there’s been some concern that aluminum-containing antiperspirants can cause breast cancer. “Some studies have suggested that aluminum may potentially increase the risk of breast cancer, though many experts have claimed that the studies were flawed,” Robinson said. “And the FDA has not seen any conclusive evidence of risk.” Good enough for me.

Sweat Block comes packaged as individual wipes, with eight wipes in a box for $18.99. The directions say you should apply it before you go to bed at night, and to wait at least 24 hours from the last time you shaved to prevent irritation. “SweatBlock is typically more effective than other antiperspirants because of the formula, the unique application method and the timing of application -- at night while sweat glands are less active,” Chase Purles, the founder of Sweat Block, told me. “[It’s] different because the solution is applied directly to the skin without fillers, waxes, gels, etc. It’s just pure formula.” Sweat Block contains a high concentration of aluminum chloride, which Purles claims is stronger than the aluminum salts found in commercial antiperspirants. Seven days is an average, though. Purles said the effects could last anywhere from two to 14 days, depending on activity level and body chemistry.

Here’s what happened when I used Sweat Block for a week, through multiple hot subway rides, workouts and showers:

Evening of application: I completely disregarded the “Don’t shave within 24 hours of application” rule and promptly regretted that decision. I patted it under both arms without rubbing, and within a minute or two it started to sting and itch. After a few more minutes, it felt like a million fire ants were living in my armpits. It also smelled disconcertingly of bug spray, though the smell dissipated and was gone by morning.

Day 1: Thankfully the itching and burning totally disappeared, though the area was a bit tender when I shaved in the shower that morning. I worked on my computer most of the morning, then I went for a three-mile run in the hot sun. While I could feel myself sweating elsewhere, my pits stayed dry. I took a shower then walked to and from my kids’ school to pick them up. Dry the whole day.

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Day 2: I did an hourlong high intensity interval training class. My pits were sweat and stink-free during and after the class. I showered and ran errands on foot around NYC for the rest of the day. Dry!

Day 3: I went for a 2.5 mile run in the sun, then sat in the sun for an hour watching a soccer game. I felt mildly sticky but not swampy. (My bra was another story though. If only someone would come up with a solution for the dreaded “running bra boob sweat” phenomenon.) The Sweat Block's FAQ addresses this, sort of. While it’s only formulated to be used under the arms, “many of our customers report success with SweatBlock elsewhere on the body such as head, neck, back, hands and feet.” I’m not brave enough to put it anywhere near my cleavage, though. Bottom line? Pits still dry.

Day 4: I did a morning workout at Tone House after a sticky commute on the subway there and back. I was afraid that it was starting to fail, because there was a bit of stickiness intermittently throughout the day. After a shower, though, I was dry the rest of the day.

Day 5: I cleaned out my closet in my stuffy apartment and was definitely getting a bit sticky and ripe, though nowhere near my usual level of disgustingness. To prevent any sort of odor, I used a swipe of Soapwalla’s lovely natural deodorant cream for some freshness (it doesn’t contain any aluminum -- I wanted to see this through for the whole seven days, but this was a small cheat).

Day 6: I ran around to appointments, went to the office and took multiple trips on the subway. I showered twice this day (morning and evening), but was still mostly weirdly dry.

Day 7: I went to SoulCycle and after that decided it was time to reapply my Secret. But I think I could have stretched it out one more day.

I’m not sure I’ll scrap my regular deodorant for  SweatBlock, but there are definitely situations when it will come in handy -- for example, like when I’m moderating the beauty panel at our upcoming “How I’m Making It” conference this Friday (got your tickets yet?).  You won't be seeing me sweat. 

Front page image: mtoome/iStockphoto