10 Things No One Ever Tells You About: Deodorant

Michelle Grossman

Photo by Yury Minaev/iStock/Getty Images

Every morning we wake up and go through the steps of our hygiene routine in an almost robotic way — wash face, brush teeth, apply deodorant. By now, we’ve heard probably more than we need to about face wash and toothpaste, but what about deodorant? We know that it smells good, keeps us smelling good, and that we can’t go a day without it. But, just what is it? How does it work, and how is it best used? Below, we have the answers to the questions about deodorant you probably never even asked yourself (but definitely should have).

1. Deodorant kills bacteria. Surprisingly, sweat is nearly odorless. Instead, the odor comes from bacteria, and deodorant contains antibacterial ingredients to prevent that smell.

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2. But, it doesn’t completely stop the sweating. When your deodorant label reads “all day protection” it is only required, by the FDA, to reduce sweat by 20 percent. Meanwhile, “extra strength” deodorants are required to cut down on sweat by 30 percent.

3. Try switching deodorant brands every few months. If you’re using the same kind of deodorant over and over again, you can actually become immune to it. To make sure your deodorant is doing its job, be sure to switch it up every six months or so.

4. Deodorant is unisex. The only difference between men and women’s deodorants is the fragrance and packaging. Other than that, the ingredients are essentially the same. If you’re ever in an emergency where you need to borrow your guy’s deodorant, don’t worry, it will get the job done!

5. The yellow stains are a mystery. Believe it or not, no one, including deodorant makers, are exactly sure where those yellow under arm stains on your shirt come from. However, the main theory is that the aluminum-based ingredients in antiperspirants somehow react with either sweat, skin, shirts, or laundry detergent, causing the stain. So, if you want to prevent those annoying stains, try opting for a deodorant that isn’t aluminum-based.

6. Apply your deodorant before bed. Nighttime is the best time to apply deodorant because it won’t be blocked by sweat and it will have plenty of time to do its job more effectively.

7. Not everyone needs it. It’s true, and there’s a simple way to find out if you do or not (warning: it is a little gross). Oddly enough, it’s your ear wax that will tell you whether you really need deodorant or not. If your earwax is dark and sticky, hold on to your deodorant. But, if it’s white and flaky, you’re good to go without it, because dry earwax producers are actually missing a chemical in their armpits that the odor-causing bacteria feeds on.

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8. Hand sanitizer can act as deodorant’s stunt double. The alcohol found in hand sanitizer kills the bacteria in your underarm that causes odor, while it also quickly dries up, so there will be no sign of wet underarms. However, constantly using hand sanitizers as an antiperspirant can dry out your underarms, so while we don’t suggest completely trading in your deodorant for hand sanitizer, in an emergency, it will do the trick.

9. Use deodorant on dry feet. If you apply deodorant to the bottoms of your feet at night, it will help fight off any foot odor and wetness the next day.

10. And, also on killer shoes. We all know the pain of shoes that literally rub the skin right off your feet. Applying a clear deodorant to the sides of your feet will create a barrier between your skin and the shoe, ending all of your painful peep toe problems.