I didn’t have strong feelings one way or the other about my high school reunion. I’m not super into bars or mingling. Thanks to social media, I also felt relatively up to date on classmates’ lives, or at least the highlights. However, my best friend was excited about the reunion and apparently “being a good sport” is my signature personality trait.
So, I found myself at my high school reunion — in a bar — mingling.
It was actually nice to catch up with people. There was an open bar, soft pretzels on the buffet line, and a cheerful if not slightly awkward vibe — the makings of a decent night. But then, I started to sweat.
I pressed my wrists against my cocktail glass, willing the melting ice to send an urgent message back to my body. I fanned myself with the a junk mail postcard I found in my purse. My sweat glands took no notice. I started to apologize in each new round of small talk, evidently going all in on making it weird.
At one point the wife of a classmate (i.e., a total stranger) offered me her tissue pocket pack, a move that was simultaneously both very sweet and completely mortifying. I knew the tissues were way out of their league, but I accepted anyway. Years later, my brain still likes to remind me of that interaction when I’m trying to fall asleep.
I should have anticipated the night would have gone that way. Full disclosure — I had the junk mail postcard for that exact kind of scenario. In fact, I keep a junk mail postcard in nearly all of my purses, because I often need an impromptu fan. I am a sweaty person.
I sweat along my hairline, face and neck, seemingly more than the average person. Interestingly enough, I have no issues with my underarms, hands, or other body parts. It’s like I was unknowingly granted a wish the first time I pitted out in junior high. Side note — if I had been aware, I probably would have wished for Doc Martens or a chance meeting with a young Jared Leto (SWOON), but I guess this is cool too.
I have figured out some workarounds, like keeping a portable fan in my bathroom and office. When walking somewhere, I anticipate the time I will need to stop sweating. For the most part, though, I’ve accepted it, much like how I accept that I will always put USBs in upside down or have to make multiple laps around the grocery store. It is what it is.
That’s why I was surprised to discover that having excessive facial sweat (hyperhidrosis if you’re feeling fancy) is a whole thing. It’s a thing people talk about; a thing people treat. A thing I didn’t know to even ask about when I accepted my lifetime of well meaning but inadequate tissue packs.
I did some research (cough, read a Buzzfeed article, cough) and ordered SweatBlock antiperspirant wipes. They are designed for underarms but multiple reviewers reported success using the wipes on their face. You dab the wipe on your skin, let it air dry, and go to sleep. One application controls sweating for up to 7 days.
First observation: it’s not a pleasant sensation. As my skin dried, I felt sharp pin-prick tingling that ranged from uncomfortable to itchy. I wanted to face-plant into a tub of Aquaphor. I silently apologized to the dedicated products of my skincare regimen. I could imagine them cringing in horror from behind the door of my medicine cabinet.
The betrayal would be worth it, though, if it worked. So . . .did it? Kind of.
The SweatBlock wipes helped my sweating, but did not eliminate it.
In situations where I might have been the only person sweating, I noticed a significant improvement. I was less likely to sweat when outside, especially if I could find a shady spot. When I tidied the house while jamming to 90s pop music, my kids didn’t point out how sweaty I was (rude, by the way). I was cool as a cucumber when I bagged my groceries at Aldi.
However, at times when an average person may also be wiping their forehead or upper lip, SweatBlock was not a miracle-worker. I continued to sweat heavily when exercising or if in the sun on a hot and humid day. I also noticed increased sweat as I approached the 7 day mark.
Still, there was enough of an improvement that I wonder if I should reevaluate some of the things I dislike. Is it possible I was simply uncomfortable and embarrassed because of sweat? If I sweat less, is there a chance I could be . . . outdoorsy? That I may like bars? Mingling?
Well, probably not.
If I end up in those situations, though, maybe next time I can relax, enjoy the conversations, and keep the junk mail postcard in my purse. And that’s good enough.