I mean why not? Yesterday we did a Double Take on Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant, so today let’s look at the first one I got in trying to find a replacement for my beloved and discontinued Dermalogica — Baxter of California. IS IT GOOD OR NAH?
WAIT WHAT IS BAXTER OF CALIFORNIA, THAT SOUNDS PRETENTIOUS
They’re a line of men’s grooming and toiletries products, offering stuff like beard oil and hair pomade and shaving cream and such. But they’ve also got a fairly robust collection of facial skincare items, including sulfate-free face wash, toner, SPF 15 moisturizer, a clay masque, and eye cream. Whaaaat, I’m actually pretty impressed, and tbh that face wash might go on my shopping list. Anyway, being a Design Snob, I really dig the clean yet non-boring aesthetic in play here, so I figured this was worth trying (at least I wouldn’t hate looking at it?). The full-size 2.65oz stick is about $19 at Amazon and Dermstore most other shops who carry the line; being unsure whether I’d like it, I grabbed the 1.2oz travel sized stick, which can be had for $10-12 at Baxter or eBay or assorted other online retailers.
WHAT IS THIS STUFF?
It’s a non-antiperspirant deodorant — no aluminium compounds or other stuff that aims to stop sweat. It’s got a bunch of ~botanicals~ which sound nice but like how much spa treatment do your armpits really need?
INGREDIENTS : Propylene Glycol, Water (Aqua), Sodium Stearate, Methylpropanediol, Glycerin (Plant Derived), Fragrance (Parfum), Allantoin (Comfrey Root Derived), Ethylhexylglycerin (Plant Derived Preservative), Octenidine HCL, Prunus Domestica Fruit (Plum) Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Chamomilla Recutita Matricaria (Chamomile) Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium (Yarrow) Extract, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Extract, Lycium Chinensis Fruit Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn) Fruit Extract.
Sodium stearate is a salt of stearic acid, which is found in a bunch of fats like palm oil, and is used as a texture/thickener here. Methylpropanediol is an organic glycol that’s used primarily as a carrier and delivery/penetration assistant for other ingredients. Allantoin is an A+ skin soother, healer, and keratolytic. Octenidine HCL is an antiseptic/antibacterial agent (presumably the primary anti-stank active ingredient here). Plum oil is probably included as a fragrance agent, tea tree oil is one of those things that’s recommended for seemingly everything, yet has little to no solid clinical data showing any significant benefits — but it smells nice, so okay. Witch hazel is a great conditioner and anti-inflammatory (maybe helpful if you frequently have shaving irritation?), chamomile extract is likewise a great soothing antioxidant. Okay all the rest of these are fancy botanicals which are fine, but we’re not talking about a $90 face serum here IT IS ARMPITS, I DON’T CARE IF THERE’S SEA BUCKTHORN SHIT IN IT.
Anyway, this all sounds great to me — particularly the lack of baking soda, which IME usually feels kinda gritty in deodorant formulations, which I don’t love. My main concerns with any armpit-slather would be 1) does it have anything likely to trigger irritation on thin, delicate, frequently-shaved skin (NOPE), and 2) is the active ingredient A Bad Guy i.e. something that could contribute to the propagation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or suchlike (in this case, not that I can see in my remedial googling). The retroactive bad news for me is that when I was looking at my beloved old Dermalogica Environmental Control (RIP), I discovered that it contained triclosan, which is A Bad Guy, and something whose use in random consumer products is now strongly discouraged, based on questions about its safety and its potential for contributing to antibiotic-resistant microorganisms — it’s even been banned in Minnesota, and most major manufacturers have eliminated it from their products sold in the U.S.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
It’s a fairly firm clear gel-like solid — if you ever used Dermalogica Environmental Control (RIP), the texture and appearance is pretty much exactly like that. Baxter bills the scent as “musky herbaceous” and … yeah, I guess that’s pretty accurate? The “herbaceous” dominates for me — its got a floral-leaning botanical thing going on, maybe a little bit fruity, and the musk element lends a sort of faint powdery sweetness to the mix. This, to me, is surprisingly “feminine” smelling for a product marketed primarily to men, so if you dig similar products but might pass this one up because of a Manly Smell, NOPE. Like, this is definitely not a scent you’d find in a Right Guard variant. (Or at least I assume not, but then it’s been a long time since I went around uncapping and sniffing products in the men’s deodorant aisle at the drugstore.)
ANYWAY. The texture is pretty lightweight and non-sticky. It applies easily and smoothly, with no weird buildup or smears. It feels slightly more damp on my skin for slightly longer than the Dermalogica did, but that’s okay. It doesn’t feel unpleasant and as long as it both works well and doesn’t leave marks on my clothes, I’m cool with it. The price is slightly annoying, but again, this is comparable to the Dermalogica Environmental Control (RIP) in both price and texture/how thickly it applies — i.e., it applies thinly and not much is needed to be effective, and my sticks of the Dermalogica lasted monnnnnnths — way longer than drugstore deos usually lasted for me, and I would guess (tho I haven’t finished a stick yet, obvs) longer than the much-cheaper Schmidt’s would last since that one applies quite heavily in comparison.
HOW DOES IT DO THO?
It does pretty great! Again, this is a deo-only product, so it’s not meant to stop sweat or absorb moisture or anything — it’s just meant to prevent Unwanted Noisome Effluvia. And as far as I can tell, it does its job well. Plus since this one is totally clear, it doesn’t leave any visible smears or marks on my clothes. Will it work for you too? I don’t know! Everyone has a slightly different skin biome, and your individual bacterial profile (what a gloriously appealing phrase) and body chemistry would probably determine how well it works for you.
THE VERDICT : GOOD! I really like this one, and despite having other deos on my shopping list to try in future, I can definitely see myself coming back to this one and repurchasing over and over. It’s easy to use, seems pretty effective, smells nice (but not so shouty that the scent is readily detectable or fights with your perfume/cologne), it’s attractively packaged. DO YOU NEED IT? I mean, if you’re hunting for the perfect clear stick deodorant with a nice yet non-loud scent and you’re willing to pay nineteen bucks a stick? Then it’s definitely worth a try! (Maybe get the travel size if you’re unsure.)
DIG IT? Gonna try it? Any comparable stuff I should know about? Tellllll! <3