What do a workout session, a stressful experience, and a hot day have in common? All three make you sweat buckets and leave you dealing with the smelly repercussions. We all know that sweating is a natural bodily process and is functional for the most part. Everyone sweats to some degree. On one hand of the spectrum, we have some people who rarely sweat; on the other are the unfortunate souls who sweat a lot. The former cannot always understand the uncomfortable struggle of the latter, but we do.
Unfortunately, sweaty men are no longer considered paragons of strength and manliness like in the olden days. Instead, the sweating has become associated with foul body odor (reasonably) and bad hygiene (unreasonably). While sweating is the primary cause of body odor, it isn’t always a marker of bad hygiene. For example, some men take showers in the morning at home and are sweating through their shirts by the time they make it to their office, which can be because of a medical condition. For others, the amount they perspire is related to their genetics, diet, medications, and other environmental factors. Whatever the reason, sweating a lot and bad B.O. can put men in awkward situations and damage their confidence.
Luckily, antiperspirants and deodorants can help. These products are a godsend for people who sweat a lot or have stinky sweat. By learning how to use deodorant and antiperspirant and making them a part of your daily routine, you can control your perspiration and reduce odor. This guide can help you figure out how to use deodorant in a smarter way to make the most of its effects. Hint: it’s all in the timings and application. Read on to understand the basics of these products, which one is better, and how to use each for the most benefits.
The Science of Sweating
To truly choose the best type of deodorant or antiperspirant and learn how to use deodorant, you must grasp the science of sweating. Seeing it as a natural body process that may hinder your progress when it happens in excess is an important way to be solution-oriented in combating body odor and excess sweat. We’ve all learned a little about how sweat functions to cool down the body, but body odor and sweating through clothes are related to the more complex functioning of sweat. So yeah, thermoregulation, got that down, but what’s my body punishing me for by making me wet and stinky? Well, let’s learn about it.
The sweat mostly consists of water, and an average human being loses about a liter of water through their skin, sweating in a day. So why doesn’t everyone need a shower every other hour? When we think of odor hotspots in our body, the armpits are particularly implicated and blamed, but we actually sweat through all of our skin. We just don’t notice because it is minimal and usually has no smell. Areas like the underarms and groin are more prone to produce body odor due to a mixture of circumstances. One, if excessive sweating is the bane of your existence and the biggest issue in your hygiene and confidence, you might have hyperhidrosis. This is a medical term to describe an excessive sweating disorder, where the sweat produced is more than what’s required. This leads to a greater risk of wetness in the underarms and body odor.
The second important distinction you need to know when learning how to use deodorant is the two types of sweat glands, one being more infamous than the other. The standard, friendly glands known as the eccrine glands, located all over the skin, work smoothly by steadily producing clear, odorless sweat. While the composition of the product of the eccrine glands is not 100% water, it only contains salts, urea, etc., which do not smell unpleasant.
The bad guy in this situation would then be the apocrine glands, where most of the smelly, sweaty stuff happens. These glands, in comparison, are larger, found in odor hotspots, and produce more potent perspiration after a person reaches puberty. The sweat, while concentrated, is still not responsible for the stench that emanates from you. That confidence-shattering factor is created when the perspiration interacts with the bacteria present on our skin. The apocrine glands are found closer to hair follicles as well, which worsens body odor production. These three factors conspire and communicate, concluding that their reaction will produce a less-than-fragrant scent.
What is Deodorant?
Deodorant is an umbrella term for any fragrance that is a perfume, but it has a specific function. Available in different forms, deodorant is an effective way to counter body odor. While perfume is a scent, deodorants are scented hygiene products that combat unwanted smells associated with sweating. Depending on the potency and brand, it can have a long-lasting effect on your odor and can last throughout the way. So if an unwanted smell is what’s slowing you down and making you feel self-conscious, deodorants can drastically improve your lifestyle.
The function of deodorant is to focus on the bacteria that react with and break down perspiration. They are the primary cause of body odor; hence they are addressed. Deodorant has ingredients like alcohol that modify the skin’s pH level where they are applied, creating an acidic state. Since the bacteria on the skin cannot survive in such conditions, they are killed, and body odor is eliminated. There are different forms of deodorant available in the market, and choosing which one is up to your preference. Roll-on deodorants are most common and require direct contact with the skin, so you know you’re rolling away worries of a bad smell. Spray deodorant is your alternative to your perfume routine and masks the bad odor, replacing it with a fresh fragrance. Gel deodorants are also a good alternative, where you push a small amount of gel out of the bottle onto your hands and rub it on your armpits for a few seconds.
What is Antiperspirant?
Antiperspirant is confused with deodorant and can even be fused with it in a two-in-one product, but it has a unique purpose. While deodorants are the perfect solution to body odor, excessive sweating that shows and leaves stains still drives men crazy. For them, the odor is secondary because the persistent feeling of wetness, no matter the weather or number of showers, hinders them. Well, for antiperspirants, sweating is the enemy, hence the name. This product utilizes its ingredients to stop sweat production, leading to greater comfort and productivity, as it gives you control over your time spent stressing about perspiration.
Aluminum has been found as an effective way to block sweat by sealing the sweat ducts in your apocrine glands, stopping it from being produced on the skin. Antiperspirants include aluminum as a principal ingredient, either in the form of a safe compound or salts. After application, the sweat ducts are clogged, and you will not experience wetness. This also includes body odor management, as the sweat that bacteria utilize to create the smell is no longer available. The potency of aluminum matters as well, as 1% will not magically dry up all your sweat. In terms of how to use deodorant, its effectiveness may be hindered by an aluminum concentration that is not adequate to deal with your perspiration levels. Antiperspirants contain other ingredients to accompany aluminum, like antibacterials or hydrating materials that ensure your skin health is in order.
Should You Use Deodorant or Antiperspirant
Now that you know the difference between these products, the next step is choosing which one you should use. Antiperspirants are an excellent option for men who want to control how much they’re perspiring. So if you think you sweat a lot all the time, antiperspirants are your best bet of getting that under control. On the other hand, if you sweat even more than a lot, look into clinical strength antiperspirants.
Even if you’re not sweating all that much, but your underarm wetness is causing you irritation, this product will manage to keep your armpits completely dry all day (or longer). Antiperspirants can be as effective for up to 48 hours, making it the obvious choice for men who are constantly on the go. Deodorants, on the other hand, may require reapplication throughout the day to remain effective. Before you go running towards the antiperspirant aisle, be sure to clear it with your doctor. It can be unsafe for you to use antiperspirants if you have impaired kidney function.
However, if your primary concern is managing your unpleasant body odor, deodorants should be your go-to. These products are formulated with active ingredients that target odorous bacteria, allowing you to walk around smelling fresh confidently. There are also greater varieties available with deodorants, ranging from spray to roll-on stick and gel products, giving you more choice in how to use deodorant.
Antiperspirants are also not completely helpless in the odor-control department. Remember that body odor is caused by a combination of sweat and bacteria. Since antiperspirants block sweat glands to reduce sweat, they also help reduce body odor. In fact, limited research suggests that antiperspirants and deodorants are both effective at reducing bad odor due to sweating. So it basically just comes down to whether you want a product with aluminum that helps control your sweating or a product that simply manages body odor.
If you’re like us and are still having trouble deciding, don’t worry. You can have the best of both worlds by using a combined deodorant and antiperspirant product that can help reduce sweating as well as unpleasant body odor. You can easily find these products marked as 2-in-1 antiperspirant-deodorants or something similar. If you’re still unsure about whether a product is a combo product, check the ingredients. For example, if aluminum, aluminum chloride, or another aluminum salt isn’t an active ingredient, the product is not an antiperspirant. Likewise, if an antimicrobial like baking soda or alcohol isn’t listed, the product will not work as a deodorant.
How To Use Deodorant Right
It may seem like a no-brainer when you ask yourself how to use deodorant, but the process, albeit simple, can be improved to give you better results. Here’s how.
- Start fresh to stay fresh. Wash your underarm skin with water and a gentle soap or cleanser. This will help eliminate the dirt and impurities, so they don’t come between the product and the skin.
- Dry the skin before application. The moisture can lower the effectiveness of the product and stop it from setting correctly.
- Apply the deodorant and completely cover your sweat glands. You don’t have to stick to your underarms. You can apply the product to your thighs or behind the knees, where you sweat a lot. Check the product label to find out what places it is safe to apply the deodorant too. Just in case we need to say this: don’t apply deodorant to your groin or face.
For roll-on deodorant: apply two to three upwards and downwards sweeps on the skin until you cover the area evenly. If you have hair on the skin, you may need to press harder to get complete coverage.
For spray deodorant: shake the product a few times and then apply it to your skin from a distance of three to six inches.
For gel/cream deodorant: apply the product on the skin and rub for 10 seconds. Don’t use too much product as it might get on your clothes.
- Let your deodorant dry for a few minutes before putting on your clothes. This will let the product set and safeguard your clothes from the notorious deodorant white streaks.
- Reapply during the day as needed. Try to clean and dry your skin using a cleansing cloth before every reapplication for best results.
Tip: Apply deodorant before exercise to get optimum odor control. Once you start sweating, the product will not be as effective at managing body odor anymore.
Tip: Apply the deodorant at night, preferably after a shower, since you tend to sweat less then. Reapply again in the morning to keep your armpits fresh.
Tip: Switch up your deodorant every few months as your body can get used to the product. If you can, alternate with your two favorite products throughout the year to retain the deodorants’ effectiveness.
How to Use Antiperspirant Right
Like with deodorant, the way you apply antiperspirant can determine how long the product lasts and how effective it is. With antiperspirants, timing is key. Deodorants can help manage body odor even after you’ve started sweating (not as effectively, obviously, but close enough). Unfortunately, the same is not true for antiperspirants.
These products need time to work and need to be applied before you start sweating. Aluminum doesn’t block your sweat glands immediately after application, so applying it in the morning two minutes before you start sweating will do close to nothing to reduce sweating. This is why the best time to apply antiperspirant is at night after a shower since we naturally sweat less at night. You can reapply again in the morning, but the product from the night before will be doing most of the heavy lifting, reducing sweat during the day.
Here is how you do it right:
- Clean the skin to remove grime. You need to apply antiperspirants to clean, dry skin for them to start their sweat-stopping process.
- Dry the skin thoroughly. Moisture, be it water or sweat, will get in the way of the active ingredients in the product and limit effectiveness by washing off the product before it can start working.
- Apply a thin, even layer of the antiperspirant to the skin. You can apply the product wherever you sweat the most, but once again, refer to the product label first and keep the antiperspirant away from your face and groin.
- Wait a few minutes for the product to set, and then wear your clothes.
Voila: You’re ready to have a sweat-free day!