Monday, July 7, 2008

Being Allergic to Aluminum Stinks

I’ve spent the last week looking for my deodorant in all my usual stores. It’s not there. I’m afraid it’s gone for good.

I’m frustrated. I’m irritated. And in a few weeks when my last stick runs out, I’ll be smelly, too.

It stinks when you find a product you depend on, and suddenly either the stores stop selling it or the manufacturer stops making it.

I’m allergic to some metals, including aluminum. That makes it impossible for me to use antiperspirants, because they use an aluminum salt to work. I can wear deodorants that don’t include an antiperspirant, but all they seem to do is apply a little chemical-smelling perfume in an effort to out-smell the B.O. I’ve tried a bunch of them – including the infamous crystal – and none of them worked at all. It’s a sticky problem.

Then one sweet, happy day, I found an Adidas deodorant that uses something they call “Cotton-Tech.” Finally, something that works with my body chemistry! I love it. I depend on it. I can’t live without it. And now, I can’t find it. I can’t even locate a phone number to call to see if they still make it. Something’s rotten in the state of deodorants, I tell you.

This morning, I hunted online and found two online stores that appear to carry it. I guess I’ll have to pay a small fortune to have a dozen or so shipped to me, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the product arrives as advertised. If not, I’ll end up with a dozen sticks of something I can’t use. I worry that the shippers will substitute something they think looks similar. Do I smell a conspiracy? And I’ve learned that sometimes these stores are just getting rid of the remaining stock of a discontinued product, so this might be the end of my deodorant story. That’s the pits.

I wish stores had the flexibility to be more responsive to smaller groups of customers. There are a growing number of people who are trying to avoid aluminum now because of the suspected link to Alzheimer’s disease, and I’m sure I’m not the only person allergic to aluminum. I know that’s why Adidas gave this aluminum-free deodorant a chance. But I guess we still aren’t big enough of a group to convince the marketing arm of Adidas that they should continue to support this product.

I realize that retail economies force stores to carry only products that fit the largest number of customers, and large manufacturers will only continue to produce products that sell to a giant target base. If they don’t catch a whiff of success on the first try, they are quick to pull the plug.

Food allergic people are, unfortunately, becoming a larger target audience every day, so slowly but surely we’re sniffing out a few new products and resources every year that cater to us. But those of us with metal allergies are still pretty small in number, so I guess I’ll just have to be patient and bide my time until stores cater to me again.

In the meantime, I plan to support those online retailers and hope I get what I order. And if I don’t, you might want to stand upwind.

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