90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Monday, September 10, 2012

A History Of Deodorant: From Ancient Egypt To ‘Sure’

(Flickr/Clean Wal-Mart)

Most of us probably haven’t given much thought to the humble deodorant that’s sitting in the medicine cabinet. But as science journalist Sarah Everts found, deodorants and  antiperspirants have had a complicated and fascinating history.

For instance, ancient Egyptians had perfumes that were specifically focused on covering the stink of humans. But formulas to block odor have only been in wide use for a little over a century, Everts told Here & Now‘s Sacha Pfeiffer, and we have advertising agencies to thank.

And the early formulas had problems: they irritated sensitive skin, and often discolored or even ate through clothing. In an article for Smithsonian magazine, Everts writes about how advertising made antiperspirants mainstream.

Sarah Everts also says that she finds the dichotomy of attitudes towards sweat fascinating: humans are embarrassed by sweat, but at the same time participate in activities that encourage sweat production such as going to the gym and sweat lodges.

Guest:


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Sylvia

    It all came about because “sweat” was related to being working class. Semiotically, not sweating indicates a life of leisure, as do long fingernails, being rich enough to afford a protein diet to be slim, and having the time to develop a tan.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

August 18 33 Comments

More Americans Are Flocking To The South

A New York Times interpretation of census data finds the South is seeing significant in-migration for the first time.

August 18 10 Comments

As Pot Laws Relax, Restrictions On Research Still Tight

The firing of a University of Arizona doctor highlights the complexity and politics of marijuana research.

August 15 8 Comments

Facing Backlash, SeaWorld Expands Killer Whale Habitats

SeaWorld has faced criticism over its treatment of captive killer whales since the release of the documentary, "Blackfish."

August 15 9 Comments

Training Police To Put Aside Their Biases

Criminologist Lorie Fridell says police officers can and should be trained to recognize their own internal biases.