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How to Apply Deodorant for the Best Results

June 13, 2023 8 min read

How to Apply Deodorant for the Best Results

Applying deodorant seems straightforward enough. Just grab your favorite stick, give your underarms a quick swipe and boom — you’re out the door. Easy, right? Wrong.

As it turns out, many people are walking around with unnecessarily stinky armpits because they don’t know how to apply deodorant the right way. Indeed, many moves — like applying deodorant immediately after showering, swiping your underarms too quickly and choosing the wrong product for your skin — can leave you feeling damp with a not-so-nice whiff coming from your armpits.

So, how do you know if you’re swiping on your deo the right way? Read on for a few tips on how to apply deodorant for the best results.


how to apply deodorant


First, Know the Difference Between Deodorant and Antiperspirant

People often use the terms deodorant and antiperspirant interchangeably. In reality, there is a big difference between these two underarm products. While deodorant is designed to reduce odor, antiperspirant is designed to reduce sweat (perspiration).

Deodorant: Deodorants allow sweat to pass freely through the pores of the skin. Rather than blocking the flow of sweat, they use a combination of antimicrobial and absorbent ingredients (usually a plant-based starch, like corn or arrowroot) to reduce the number of odor-causing bacteria that grow on sweat. Many deodorants also contain fragrances to help mask the smell of odor.

Antiperspirant: Antiperspirants use aluminum salts that plug your underarm sweat ducts, keeping you from sweating altogether. Since they affect the functions of the body, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes them as drugs.

Underarm products containing aluminum salts are considered safe by the FDA. However, many people prefer to avoid these products, citing concerns over studies linking aluminum salts to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. 

deodorants with safe ingredients

According to The American Cancer Society, there is little evidence to prove the correlation. Still, you may feel more comfortable using an aluminum-free deodorant. Compared to traditional deodorants and antiperspirants, our aluminum-free deodorant contains safe-for-you, safe-for-the-earth ingredients and comes in a compostable push-up tube!

Shop Aluminum-Free Deodorant

Which Underarm Product Is Best?

Whether your daily, smell-good routine includes a zero-waste deodorant or a spray-on antiperspirant, deciding on an underarm product is ultimately a personal decision that comes down to your needs and preferences. For instance, if your primary concern is odor and you want to avoid questionable ingredients (parabens, triclosan, aluminum, etc.), a natural, unscented deodorant will be your best bet. 

As a bonus, choosing an aluminum-free deodorant will also help you avoid the dreaded yellow underarm stains that make your shirts look foul. Yellow stains occur when the aluminum salts in your antiperspirant interact with your sweat, causing a chemical reaction that ruins your otherwise perfectly good shirts.

On the other hand, if you can’t stand the feel of underarm wetness (or the smell that often accompanies it), an antiperspirant may be ideal. There are also combination deodorants and antiperspirants that fight both sweat and stink.

Antiperspirants are often marketed to people who sweat a lot more than the average person. But it’s worth pointing out that hyperhidrosis (the medical term for excessive sweating) only affects about two to five percent of the population.

We understand that sweat can be embarrassing at times. But sweating is a normal and healthy process that helps your body cool down when it’s overheating. Moreover, sweating provides an array of impressive health benefits: it helps you flush out toxins, boosts your immune system, aids in muscle recovery and more. So, unless you actually have a serious sweating problem, think twice before you plug your sweat ducts!

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Deodorant

Now that you know the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant and why it matters, let’s discuss how to apply deodorant correctly for maximum effectiveness.

keep your underarms clean

1. Prep the Skin

Did you know that sweat by itself doesn’t stink? The unpleasant aroma coming from your underarms is caused by bacteria breaking down the acids in your sweat. Fewer bacteria on the skin means less stink, so washing your armpits is an important first step in applying deodorant.

Keep your underarms clean by taking a daily bath or shower with a mild cleanser. Underarm skin is thinner and more sensitive than other areas of the body, so we recommend lathering up with one of our gentle body wash bars.

If you want to go the extra mile, consider exfoliating your underarms once or twice a week with a mild chemical exfoliant, such as glycolic or mandelic acid. Experts say that using chemical exfoliants can increase your skin’s acidity, making it less hospitable to odor-causing bacteria.

2. Dry Before You Apply

Many of us are guilty of swiping on deodorant immediately after stepping out of the shower. But the problem is, your armpits are probably still wet, which can make the product less effective. 

For the best results, pat your underarms dry with a towel and wait an additional 10 to 15 minutes before applying your deo. If you’re in a hurry, speed up your drying time by blasting your pits with a blow dryer on a cool setting.

3. Mind the Hair

While shaving your underarms won’t completely eliminate body odor, it can go a long way in helping you stay dry and odor-free. Hair is porous and holds onto moisture, which means it will hold onto more sweat. More sweat means more bacteria activity and, in turn, more odor. 

There’s also the fact that shaving and trimming underarm hair makes it easier for the ingredients in your deodorant to reach the skin. If the ingredients get caught in the hair, they won’t be able to do their job as effectively.

mind your underarm hair

If shaving or trimming your underarms isn’t your thing, don’t worry — you aren’t doomed to smell unpleasant forever. Just make sure you’re applying your deodorant with enough pressure so that the ingredients can get through the hair and penetrate your skin.

4. Apply an Even Coating

When it comes to applying deodorant, there is no one specific angle of application that works best. What’s more important is applying a uniform coating to each underarm. To do that, you need to make several passes over the skin with your deodorant stick (at least two to three swipes in each direction). 

Also, apply it nice and slow! Along with ensuring an even coating, taking slower swipes with your natural deodorant will make the product more effective. That’s because many natural deodorants are formulated with natural ingredients like coconut oil and shea butter that soften up when applied to warm skin. The longer you press the stick to your underarms, the easier it will glide on your skin.

5. Wait a Few Minutes Before Getting Dressed

Depending on the type of deodorant you’re using (gel, cream, spray, etc.), you may need to give it a few minutes to dry before throwing on your clothes. This extra step will ensure that the ingredients in your deodorant aren’t accidentally transferred to your shirt when you’re getting dressed. 

Earthling Tip: To pass the time, consider doing a few squats with your arms held out in front of you. On top of sneaking in some exercise, this will help speed up your drying time by maximizing the airflow to your armpits.

6. Choose Your OOTD Wisely

When getting dressed for the day, opt for clothing with a looser fit in the underarm area. If your clothes are too tight, the fabric will rub against your armpits and wipe off your deodorant throughout the day.

In a similar vein, stick to clothes made from breathable fabrics. Certified organic cotton, hemp and linen are all great options that allow for maximum ventilation to help keep underarm wetness at bay.

7. Reapply as Needed

Most deodorants on the market are designed to keep your underarms clean and fresh for at least 24 hours. That said, if it’s a particularly hot day or you’re about to go into a nerve-wracking job interview, reapplying your deo can help you stay fresh and give you a boost of confidence.

If you’re going to be reapplying your deodorant often, make sure you choose a formula that plays nice with your skin. Even natural deodorants can contain irritating ingredients that can lead to dryness, redness and itching! 

Are you on the hunt for a natural deodorant for sensitive skin? Check out our unscented deodorant! It’s formulated with gentle yet effective ingredients that neutralize odor and absorb sweat without causing irritation.

8. Use It at Nighttime

Like most people, you probably apply deodorant first thing in the morning. But as it turns out, the best time to apply your favorite stick is right before bedtime. The reason? Your body temperature drops and sweat production decreases at this time, so the ingredients in your deodorant will have a better chance to absorb into the skin and do their job. If you enjoy the feeling of a fresh application, you can always reapply again in the morning.

9. Go Beyond Your Underarms

Unfortunately, sweat and odor aren’t unique to the underarm area. The groin, breasts and other body locations with apocrine sweat glands can get smelly fast, especially in the summertime. 

The next time your undercarriage or groin starts smelling funky, give the area a quick sweep with a natural deodorant. Unlike traditional antiperspirants and deodorants, natural deodorants usually contain good-for-skin ingredients that can be safely applied to many different locations. 

natural deodorants are soothing

Many natural deodorants also help with inner thigh chafing. For example, our natural deodorant contains soothing ingredients such as aloe vera and coconut oil, providing a natural barrier that protects against painful, skin-to-skin friction.

Why Switch to Our Plastic-Free Deodorant?

It’s no secret that traditional deodorants and antiperspirants aren’t good for humans or the planet. Conventional underarm products often contain bad-for-you chemicals like parabens and synthetic fragrances that can lead to reproduction problems, skin irritation and hormonal disruption. Not to mention the vast majority of underarm products come packaged in hard-to-recycle plastic packaging that goes to a landfill.

At The Earthling Co., we believe that personal care products such as deodorant should contain healthy ingredients that are safe for you, the planet and everyone who calls it home. That’s why we set out to create a sustainable, zero-waste deodorant that uses natural ingredients to deliver long-lasting odor and wetness protection.

We’ve been loving our new plastic-free deodorant, and here’s why we think you will, too!

  • Ideal for sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin, our unscented deodorant is a must try! It’s baking soda-free and contains soothing ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter and aloe vera to hydrate the skin.
  • Made from naturally-derived ingredients. Our deodorant includes powerful plant-based ingredients to kill bacteria, neutralize odor and soak up excess sweat. 
  • No toxic chemicals.  You won’t find any parabens, silicones, phthalates or other harmful added ingredients in our deodorant.
  • No aluminum. Uncomfortable with the idea of using aluminum-based products? We’re right there with you. Our deodorant is aluminum-free (and worry-free).
  • Thoughtful packaging. Did you know that the personal care and beauty industry produces a whopping 120 billion units of packaging every year globally? Yikes. Kick plastic to the curb with our plastic-free deodorant, made from a compostable tube sourced from responsibly-managed trees.

portrait of woman holding earthling co unscented deodorant

Shop Plastic-Free Deodorant

It’s Time to Rethink Your Stink

When it comes to our personal care products, natural is best. It’s time to ditch your old antiperspirant or deodorant for an all-natural deodorant that will keep you smelling fresh without the toxic chemicals. Once you find a natural deodorant that works with your body chemistry, we promise you’ll never look back!


Image Credits

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