The 6 Best Deodorant Hacks, According to Dermatologists

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While body odor is natural and happens to everyone, there are times where the pungent smell can get overwhelming. But in the era of TikTok becoming the Web MD of all things beauty hack-related, we’re in information overload. What are effective and legit ways to hide the B.O.? And what deodorant hacks have we been tricked into and should stop doing? 

That’s where we turn to the actual experts. We ask New York dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD and Perrysburg, OH dermatologist Hope Mitchell, MD to break down everything we need to know about body odor. See six of their best deodorant hacks (and the myths they want to debunk) below.

Featured Experts

  • Dr. Hope Mitchell is a dermatologist based in Perrysburg, OH
  • Joshua Zeichner, MD a dermatologist based in New York City

Body Odor Causes

Knowing why your body is starting to smell is the first step in masking odor. As Dr. Zeichner explains, body odor is caused by bacteria on the skin that interacts with sweat. “Sweat naturally is odorless, but as natural bacteria breaks down, the sweat [can] cause a foul smell,” he says. 

Dr. Mitchell adds that there are two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands, she says, produce sweat primarily composed of water and salt, which can help regulate body temperature. Apocrine glands produce a thicker type of sweat that contains proteins and lipids and are found in areas like the armpits and groin. While body odor is primarily caused by the interaction between sweat and bacteria, she says that it can result from a combination of different factors such as hormonal changes, diet, stress, anxiety, medical conditions and poor hygiene. When you figure out why you have body odor, you can figure out which products will work best for fighting it. 

The Best Ways to Fight Body Odor

Dr. Mitchell says that the most effective way to combat body odor is a combination of good hygiene practices and using products that are specifically designed to target odor-causing bacteria. She and Dr. Zeichner list the following as the best—and easy—deodorant hacks: 

Use Antibacterial Soap

Dr. Mitchell recommends using antibacterial soap when showering to cleanse skin thoroughly and to focus on areas prone to sweat, such as the armpits and groin area.

Pick Deodorants (or Antiperspirants) Wisely

Dr. Mitchell recommends looking for deodorants or antiperspirants that contain ingredients that reduce sweat production and neutralize odor, such as aluminum compounds, and antibacterial agents like triclosan. 

Go Natural (But Be Cautious)

If you’d prefer to go the natural route, ingredients like tea tree oil will stop bacterial growth, Dr. Mitchell says. Other ingredients such as baking soda, coconut oil and essential oils can help neutralize odor and provide some antibacterial properties. 

While Dr. Zeichner says most natural or homemade solutions are safe, he says you do have to be careful in case they cause irritation. Dr. Mitchell adds that homemade deodorants can be effective for some individuals and not for others. It depends on ingredients used and individual body chemistry. “While homemade deodorants can be a natural and cost-effective alternative for some people, they may not provide the same level of effectiveness and reliability as commercial products,” she says. “It’s essential to experiment with different formulas and ingredients to find what works best for your body and lifestyle.”

Consider Benzoyl Peroxide

A popular hack making its round on social media is grabbing your closest benzoyl peroxide cleanser or serum and scrubbing it on your pits. Does it work? Dr. Zeichner explains that benzoyl peroxide has antimicrobial properties that can lower the bacteria levels known to cause odor. But Dr. Mitchell says that while it can help with smell, it’s important to note that it can cause dryness and irritation at higher concentrations. Not to mention that it won’t stop you from sweating. So if you’re going to follow this trend, she says that it is most beneficial when used alongside antiperspirants and a comprehensive hygiene routine. 

And while benzoyl peroxide has been a hot topic as of late with concerns the ingredient can cause cancer, both experts say not to fret. Concentrations in over-the-counter products are generally considered safe.

Reapply When Needed

The best deodorant practice is to always apply it to clean and dry skin. You’re most likely already applying deodorant in the morning after you shower, but Dr. Mitchell says to consider applying throughout the day, especially after sweating excessively or performing extensive physical activity.

Wear Breathable Clothing

One of the easiest things you can do is wear clothing that won’t cause you to sweat a lot. Dr. Mitchell suggests wearing something that is made from natural fibers, such as cotton, to help keep sweat and bacteria at bay.

Body Odor Myths

With every beauty hack comes a handful of myths that are actual B.S. Dr. Mitchell says that while there have been concerns that the aluminum compounds in antiperspirants could be linked to breast cancer, scientific studies have not conclusively proven this. The American Cancer Society even states that there is no convincing evidence to support this idea, so don’t be afraid to use antiperspirants. 

Dr. Mitchell says it’s important to steer clear of harsh scrubs and cleansers that can strip the skin of its natural oils. These disrupt the skin’s microbiome and increase bacterial growth. You’ll also want to avoid products that contain alcohol, which can dry and irritate the skin and lead to inflammation and worsening odor. 

While your favorite fragrance might seem like a quick and easy fix, she says it only masks smell temporarily (plus it may irritate sensitive skin depending on the ingredients), so using a deodorant is still your best bet to fight body odor.

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