top of page


Deodorant: A History of Scents, Smells and Why You Should Use It!

Giancarlo Oliveri

Volume 4 Issue 4

May 29, 2024

Deodorant: A History of Scents, Smells and Why You Should Use It!

Image Provided by Elaine Ching

Disclaimer: If you wear deodorant this does not apply to you, but you are more than welcome to read along!


Good morning, Spartans! It is the dawn of a new school year! New classes, new teachers, new friends, and new weather patterns thanks to global warming! Undeniably, this building feels a lot warmer, causing many to sweat, perspire, and swelter, with interesting scents to come about. A sure-fire way to prevent certain odors is deodorant.

The colorful history of deodorant dates back to the Ancient Egyptian civilization, where they incorporated oils, fruit, or even aluminum crystals (ouch!) as antiperspirants, effectively masking the stench stemming from the boiling Sun that still wreaks havoc on our building (Oars and Alps, 2013). Similarly, the Ancient Greeks incorporated natural techniques to smell pleasant, bathing regularly in baths scented with fragrant and aromatic oils, even spraying incense in the air (Oars and Alps, 2013).

Following their innovation, the wealthiest of upper classes across numerous civilizations such as the Yuan, Ming, or Qing dynasties of Classical China, the Classical Mexica, Aztec, or Incans of South America, or popularly, Marie Antionette and the rest of the Versailles Third Estate in the late 1700s, used deodorant, most typically, in the form of perfume, typically, floral scented.

However, contemporary deodorants similar to the ones used today rose to popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, developed and patented by Edna Murphey in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, titled “Mum” (Humble Brands, 2023). Originally, a waxy cream, the packaging differed from modern sticks of deodorant, arriving in a metal tin, and containing zinc, later evolved to contain antiperspirant ingredients such as aluminum compounds to control sweat and odor, connecting back all the way to the Ancient Egyptians (Humble Brands, 2023)!

Now with this history lesson adjourned, I beg the question, do you want their work to go to waste? The Egyptians who pounded aluminum into crystals, the Ancient Aztecs who pulverized flowers into fragrances, and most recently, the incomparable Edna Murphey, who revolutionized how Americans would smell for years to come. Do you want their work to be all for nothing? Why neglect decades, even centuries, of human evolution and innovation? It used to be a privilege to smell pleasant, and now, you have the absolute, undeniable, and unbeatable right to every historical figure, and every person in this school to mask the musk! If you want to benefit the rest of humankind, do me, the rest of the student body, and the rest of the human body a favor, and wear deodorant.



A Brief History of Deodorant – Humble Brands

When Was Deodorant Invented and Why? | Oars + Alps (

bottom of page