Men have been obsessed with covering up body odor for centuries -- the first known deodorant dates back to the ninth century. Today, with so many options, deodorant or antiperspirant, roll-on or stick, musky or spicy, a trip to the drugstore is enough to make you break a sweat. We'll keep you dry. Here's your no sweat guide to men's deodorant.
Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant
Odor comes from bacteria reacting with sweat. The alcohol in deodorant turns your skin too salty or acidic for bacteria to thrive and it contains perfume to cover up the stink. On the other hand, antiperspirant is designed to keep you from sweating altogether. "Chemicals (usually aluminum-based compounds) in antiperspirants work to plug up your pores to keep your armpits dry," explains Dr. Mona Gohara, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine. What you find at the drugstore is usually a combination of both.
Stick vs. Roll-on
Whether you prefer a stick or roll-on, gel or spray, all formulations work the same for the most part. "It comes down to personal preference," says Dr. Eric Schweiger, a New York City-based dermatologist and founder of Schweiger Dermatology. "Hairy men may prefer a spray, for example, while someone else may prefer the elegance of a gel."
What about all-natural deodorants?
"Natural deodorants and antiperspirants often contain plant extracts, mineral salts and baking soda," Dr. Schweiger says. "For some people these work well, but for others these 'natural' products are not effective enough." A major warning for Latino men to consider is that, "Men with darker, olive skin tones, natural ingredients have a higher propensity to cause an adverse reaction and rash that can cause hyperpigmentation (or dark spots) and discoloration," Dr. Gohara adds. "[They] should use mild products, like fragrance free for sensitive skin." Plus, even though a deodorant or antiperspirant says "natural," it might still contain added fragrances that can cause irritation. You're better off with one that's unscented -- that's code for less irritating.
All men's body chemistry works different. "Try out a new deodorant for a week," Dr. Schweiger advises. "If you have irritation or do not see improvement, try another product or talk to your dermatologist." You may need something stronger or an antiperspirant that's prescription strength.
How and When to Wear
"For deodorant to be effective, apply it when you're completely dry," Dr. Gohara says. You can use a blow dryer on low heat to quickly dry your pits if needed. Morning or night, it works the same. If you sweat a lot or use a stronger formulation, slab it on at night. "The best time to apply deodorant or antiperspirant is right after showering," says Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, a San Diego-based dermatologist. Tip: If you have curly hair (like a lot of darker-skinned guys), try clipping your armpit hair to help you sweat less.
If your pet peeve is yellow stains on your whites, which is caused by aluminum bonding to your sweat, put on a single layer instead. Rinsing your shirt with cold water will help minimize the stains. If you're worried about those embarrassing white marks on your shirt, try a gel deodorant instead.
WHAT TO TRY
There are plenty of options to keep you dry and stink-free. Just be sure to give products a chance before assuming they don't work and chucking them. "I would suggest trying a new product out for 7 to 10 days since it takes a few days for your skin to respond to a new formula," says Dr. Benabio.
Mitchum Power Gel, $3.99
This clear-drying and alcohol-free gel provides all-day protection. Plus it doesn't leave any residue.
For Super-Sweaty Guys
Gillette Clinical Strength Antiperspirant/Deodorant, $4
With prescription-strength wetness, odor protection and skin-conditioning ingredients, the dermatologist-tested gel prevents sweating and soothes sensitive skin.
For Sensitive Skin
Dove Men+Care Clean Comfort, $3
The non-irritant formula offers 48-hour odor and wetness protection.
For Green Dudes
Tom's of Maine Men's Long Lasting Care Deodorant, $5
An aluminum-free formula, it offers 24-hour protection with natural ingredients like hops and zinc.
bathroom counter with deodorants- ©istockphoto.com/norgen