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A $6 Foot Powder to Preserve Romance and Freshness

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Everyone likes to brandish a bullhorn for the cool recommendations: the 10-hour red lipstick, the sheet mask that feels like first class, the $265 cold-pressed serum, Boy Brow. Sure, shout it in the streets.

But it takes a special kind of maniac to tout the less aspirational. Who will admit where she’s found the best anti-dandruff shampoo, the most precise tweezers for ingrown hairs, the gentlest cortizone cream? When sockless-sneaker season arrives, who will pass on the secret: you need foot deodorant.

Shh, it’s me.

Early last summer, I texted Emily to tell her about my latest find. It was the solution to all my ills, I insisted; a game-changer, a revolution! It was foot deodorant, and I had to spread the news. (I owed her.)

At the time, I had just purchased my first pair of white, fashion-ish sneakers. I was late to the trend, but enthusiastic. (I have since run through two pairs; literally, run through them.) I wanted to wear them with all my best stuff—with high-waisted cropped jeans, with short, floral-print dresses, with track pants, with camelflage come fall, and, oh, without my boyfriend, who turned to me the second I took them off after walking in them for the first time, and said, “Mattie, your feet smell.”

“They do not!” I said. But then I went into the bathroom in a huff and sniffed; it wasn’t good. I set off in search of a fix. The internet recommended washing my shoes (no) or slicking my feet with deodorant, which, when tried, felt like Elmer’s Glue. GQ dedicated an entire slideshow to those little socks that look like hammocks, and they’re fine, except they sometimes give me blisters and seem to like to hide deep within the recesses of my drawers.

Finally, on a stroll through Duane Reade, I spotted Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X. The bottle looked industrial; like it wouldn’t tolerate moisture of any kind. It was formulated with exclusive “sweatmax©” science. It cost $6.01! I decided to chance it. Not since I deviated from my usual at Sushi Yasaka on West 72nd Street and tried the salmon donburi bowl has blind faith been so rewarded. This stuff is incredible.

To use it, I shake about a teaspoon of the powder into the heel of each sneaker and tip the sneaker downward to evenly distribute. Then, I slip my feet in, tie my laces, and don’t think about my feet until I discover them, hours later, clean and odorless.

Some tips: At least until Aesop makes us a limited-edition version or Dr. Scholl’s issues it in millennial pink, store Odor-X in your medicine cabinet. Your top shelves don’t deserve the visual assault. And please, no imitators. In an act of pure desperation, I once bought Gold Bond’s “maximum strength” foot powder, and by the time I took my sneakers off, each toe looked like a pecan snowball cookie. I’m sorry, it’s true. The particular genius of Odor-X is that it leaves no trace of itself behind. Like the best deodorant, it is unremarkable. It doesn’t need a bullhorn or a billboard. It just does the job. Psst, you’re welcome.

—Mattie Kahn

And now for some regular deodorant...

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