8 Ways People Made Themselves Smell Good Before Deodorant

iStock.com/DimaSobko
iStock.com/DimaSobko

If you feel self-conscious about your body odor, all you have to do is stroll down the personal hygiene aisle of your local drugstore to find dozens of products engineered to make you smell good. People living through most of history didn’t have that luxury, so they had to get creative. Before deodorant, humans experimented with many natural ingredients, from ostrich eggs to mysterious whale gunk, in their quest to stink less.

1. Ostrich eggs

The ancient Egyptians were innovators when it came to smelling good. In addition to making perfumes and breath mints, they were among the first peoples to use deodorant. Their deodorant recipes were similar to their perfumes, but instead of creating luxurious scents, the main purpose of deodorant was to mask the smell of sweat. One formula called for ostrich egg, nuts, tamarisk, and tortoise shell ground into a paste with fat. Wearers applied the odorless mixture to their bodies to combat B.O.

2. Porridge balls

Prior to the advent of roll-on deodorant, people found other ways to apply fragrances directly to their most active sweat glands. In ancient Egypt, they flavored porridge with incense and rolled it into balls to stick beneath their armpits.

3. Carob

Before it became a trendy chocolate substitute, carob was used as deodorant by ancient Egyptians. Carob trees are native to the Mediterranean region, and affluent Egyptians would crush the pods and rub them over their bodies to counteract their natural funk.

4. Scented olive oil

Olives were such a big part of life in ancient Greece and Rome that they were used as the base for perfumes. Perfume makers would steep aromatics—such as leaves, roots, and flowers—in oil pressed from olives. Once the oil was infused with the scents, they would strain it and apply it to the skin.

5. Perfume baths

Another way ancient Greeks dealt with body odor was by constantly bathing. Some people in high society took scented baths before applying perfume beneath their armpits (a practice they copied from the Egyptians). In that era, it wasn’t unusual to take baths once a day—a practice that faded out in the Middle Ages when getting nude to bathe was considered impure.

6. Ambergris

Many of the most common perfume ingredients throughout history came from messy places. Ambergris, which has been used by perfumers for centuries, is a waxy substance that forms when indigestible matter clumps together in the intestines of sperm whales (how it gets out of whales and into the ocean is still debated). In its fresh state, it smells like cow dung, but when the mass is left to age and harden, it develops a sweet, musky aroma. Ambergris has largely been replaced with synthetic ingredients, but it’s still used to make some high-end perfumes.

7. Musk

Musk—a word still associated with fragrances today—first caught perfumers' attention in the Medieval era. It comes from a small sac that hangs in front of a male musk deer’s genitals, and it smells like urine when the deer secretes it. To achieve the desired aroma—sweet, earthy, and sensual—the gland must be harvested and left to dry. The substance was such a popular perfume ingredient for centuries that musk deer were placed on the endangered species list in the '70s. Today, perfumes with a “musky” scent use synthetic ingredients.

8. Carbolic acid

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cosmetics brands realized they could make money by telling women they stink. Human body odor was actually less pungent for most of history than it is now (according to a recent study, using antiperspirants consistently could make sweat smell worse), but insecure consumers were convinced it was a problem. The deodorant used 100 years ago was different from the product most people are familiar with today. It contained acid that could damage skin and clothing; one home recipe from 1903 included carbolic acid, which burns on contact with the skin.

Amazon’s Big Fall Sale Features Deals on Electronics, Kitchen Appliances, and Home Décor

Dash/Keurig
Dash/Keurig

If you're looking for deals on items like Keurigs, BISSELL vacuums, and essential oil diffusers, it's usually pretty slim pickings until the holiday sales roll around. Thankfully, Amazon is starting these deals a little earlier with their Big Fall Sale, where customers can get up to 20 percent off everything from home decor to WFH essentials and kitchen gadgets. Now you won’t have to wait until Black Friday for the deal you need. Make sure to see all the deals that the sale has to offer here and check out our favorites below.

Electronics

Dash/Amazon

- BISSELL Lightweight Upright Vacuum Cleaner $170 (save $60)

- Dash Deluxe Air Fryer $80 (save $20)

- Dash Rapid 6-Egg Cooker $17 (save $3)

- Keurig K-Café Single Coffee Maker $169 (save $30)

- COMFEE Toaster Oven $29 (save $9)

- AmazonBasics 1500W Oscillating Ceramic Heater $31 (save $4)

Home office Essentials

HP/Amazon

- HP Neverstop Laser Printer $250 (save $30)

- HP ScanJet Pro 2500 f1 Flatbed OCR Scanner $274 (save $25)

- HP Printer Paper (500 Sheets) $5 (save $2)

- Mead Composition Books Pack of 5 Ruled Notebooks $11 (save $2)

- Swingline Desktop Hole Punch $7 (save $17)

- Officemate OIC Achieva Side Load Letter Tray $15 (save $7)

- PILOT G2 Premium Rolling Ball Gel Pens 12-Pack $10 (save $3)

Toys and games

Selieve/Amazon

- Selieve Toys Old Children's Walkie Talkies $17 (save $7)

- Yard Games Giant Tumbling Timbers $59 (save $21)

- Duckura Jump Rocket Launchers $11 (save $17)

- EXERCISE N PLAY Automatic Launcher Baseball Bat $14 (save $29)

- Holy Stone HS165 GPS Drones with 2K HD Camera $95 (save $40)

Home Improvement

DEWALT/Amazon

- DEWALT 20V MAX LED Hand Held Work Light $54 (save $65)

- Duck EZ Packing Tape with Dispenser, 6 Rolls $11 (save $6)

- Bissell MultiClean Wet/Dry Garage Auto Vacuum $111 (save $39)

- Full Circle Sinksational Sink Strainer with Stopper $5 (save $2)

Home Décor

NECA/Amazon

- A Christmas Story 20-Inch Leg Lamp Prop Replica by NECA $41 save $5

- SYLVANIA 100 LED Warm White Mini Lights $8 (save 2)

- Yankee Candle Large Jar Candle Vanilla Cupcake $17 (save $12)

- Malden 8-Opening Matted Collage Picture Frame $20 (save $8)

- Lush Decor Blue and Gray Flower Curtains Pair $57 (save $55)

- LEVOIT Essential Oil Diffuser $25 (save $5)

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Get Into the Halloween Spirit With Harry Potter and Star Wars Costumes and Accessories From Hot Topic

Hot Topic
Hot Topic

Halloween is fast approaching, and that means it's time to start picking up those decorations, planning your costume, and settling down for a few monster movie marathons. Hot Topic is already way ahead of you, with a selection of costumes and accessories based on fan-favorite movies and TV shows like Harry Potter, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Stranger Things, and Hocus Pocus. We've picked out some of our favorites for you to check out below.

Harry Potter

1. Beauxbatons Hat and Cape Uniform; $60

Hot Topic

If Fleur Delacour is your favorite character from the Triwizard Tournament, then this look is for you. Beauxbatons baby blue hat and cape can now be yours to prance around in and pretend you're from the magical French academy for young witches.

Buy it: Beauxbatons Hat, Beauxbatons Cape

2. Hogwarts Zip-Up Hoodie Cloak; $55

Hot Topic

One of the most iconic parts of the Hogwarts uniform is the cloak. The sweeping black robes looked so official and mystical in the movies that it almost seems wrong not to wear one if you want to be a Hogwarts student for Halloween. These hoodie cloaks are available in all four house colors.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. Hogwarts Cardigan Sweater; $49

Hot Topic

Much like the cloak, the sweater vests and cardigans the students at Hogwarts got to wear are essential to any costume. You can choose from the four house crests and colors, so you can show your allegiance while also making a fashion statement.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Hogwarts Plaid Skirtall; $45

Hot Topic

Though this isn't a look you'd recognize from the Harry Potter movies, these plaid skirtalls—skirt overalls, basically—feature the crest and colors of whichever house you represent.

Buy it: Hot Topic

Star Wars

1. The Mandalorian Helmet; $17

Hot Topic

With the second season of The Mandalorian coming out right in time for Halloween, going as one of the show's main characters is a no-brainer. And since you probably can't pull off the Baby Yoda look, this simple Mando helmet is your best option.

Buy it: Hot Topic

2. Yoda Pet Costume; $20

Hot Topic

Baby Yoda is easily the cutest thing to emerge from the new Disney+ series, and there's no shortage of merchandise with that little green face plastered across it. From Amazon Echo Dots to slippers to LEGO sets, the little rascal is everywhere. But if you're more a fan of classic Yoda, you can impose your love of the character on your dog with this costume, complete with floppy green ears and tiny Jedi robe.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Force Awakens Rey Costume; $48

Hot Topic

Rey represents a new generation of Star Wars hero, and her costume during her time on Jakku from The Force Awakens is still her most iconic look. It's also a costume that's simple enough to throw on for Halloween and still feel comfortable in.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. R2-D2 with Pumpkin Decoration; $50

Hot Topic

When trick-or-treaters stop to collect candy from your house, greet them with this inflatable R2-D2 decoration that's primed for Halloween. Standing around 3 feet tall, this will show off your love for a galaxy far, far away and your holiday spirit.

Buy it: Hot Topic

The Nightmare Before Christmas

1. Sally Scrunchies Set; $10

Hot Topic

If you're looking to embrace your The Nightmare Before Christmas love in a more subtle way, opt for these Sally-approved scrunchies that embody the colors of the movie without going too far overboard.

Buy it: Hot Topic

2. Jack Skellington Button-Up Shirt; $35

Hot Topic

If Jack Skellington is your ultimate fashion hero, then this button-up pinstriped shirt is the ticket for you. It mimics Jack's look right down to the unique bat-shaped collar.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. Jack and Sally 'Love is Eternal' Eyeshadow Palette; $17

Hot Topic

Makeup inspired by your favorite characters is the key to completing a Halloween look, and this palette will help you make a colorful, smokey eye featuring shades seen in The Nightmare Before Christmas. You can even use these colors long after Halloween is over once you've mastered your favorite style.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Zero Dog Costume; $29

Hot Topic

The real star of The Nightmare Before Christmas has to be the dog, Zero, and now you can drape your own pooch in the ghostly visage for under $30.

Buy it: Hop Topic

Other Categories

- Stranger Things
- Coraline
- Disney
- Haunted Mansion
- Hocus Pocus
- The Craft

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