I stink...therefore, I am.
Posted by Bob Whitworth on August 19, 1998 at 11:02:07:
Picking up the scent on the subject of deodorants, I followed my nose to:
“The Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things” by Charles Panati. Here is information extracted from it.
Deodorants: 3500 B.C., Near East
The problem of body odor is ancient, as are man’s attempts to solve it. From the dawn of written history, 5,500 years ago in Sumer, every major civilization has left a record of its efforts to produce deodorants.
The early Egyptians recommended following a scented bath with an underarm application of perfumed oils. They developed special citrus and cinnamon preparations that would not turn rancid in the semitropical climate and thus be themselves offensive. Through experimentation, the Egyptians discovered that the removal of underarm hair significantly diminished body odor.
Both the Greeks and Romans derived their perfumed deodorants from Egyptian formulas. In fact, throughout most of recorded history, the only effective deodorant--aside from regular washing--was perfume. And it merely masked one scent with another. For a time.
The link between sweat and odor was to be more clearly understood once the sweat glands were discovered in the nineteenth century.
(Bob’s note from his past experience writing for deodorants) Deodorants are really “re-odorants”; they merely mask the scent of sweat with another scent. This is what was inevitably done throughout history by people who chose to smell a bit better (the working classes generally didn’t care--and if they did, they couldn’t afford it). Nowadays, we call all afford to smell better. We have a choice between smelling like an “Evening in Paris” with a deodorant-- or “2 Nights in Hackensack” without one. I’d opt for the former.
Until the invention of the "antiperspirant" in this century, deodorizers never tackled the source of the problem: persistent underarm moisture. Deprived of moisture, by an “antiperspirant”, bacteria cannot multiply.
As has been said, the wearing of layers of clothing made up for not frequently bathing or heavily perfuming one’s self -- it was also less costly than using these expensive oils, perfumes, etc.
Also take into consideration that during the 18th century (and for a long time before), bathing in water was not looked upon by the masses to be healthful. (go figure). Except, of course, at Bath, Bristol Hot Wells, Bermondsey Spa, etc. Or, Dr. Graham’s mud baths.
Now air baths...that’s another story! Dr. Franklin was a proponent of them.
- Having been to both Paris and Hackensack, I've a preference!(nfm) Woodhouse 08:07:29 8/20/98 (1)
- Yes, but for which one? (nfm) Bob Whitworth 10:41:37 8/20/98 (0)
- Thanks! Lesley 20:50:56 8/19/98 (0)
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