At one point or another, we all deal with sweat and unpleasant body odor. If you’re partaking in vigorous exercise, are slugging through a record-hot summer, or simply prefer to have extra protection, you may have wondered if there are ways to increase your deodorant’s effectiveness. It turns out, there are—as long as you know the right tips and tricks. Read on to discover the hack that will make your deodorant more effective. After you try this, your sweat won’t stand a chance—and you can feel like your most confident self.
Before we get into how to make deodorant and antiperspirant products last longer, it’s important to understand the nature of body odor and how these products fend it off. First of all, sweat itself is not smelly. “Body odor happens when bacteria on your skin come in contact with sweat,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. “Our skin is naturally covered with bacteria. When we sweat, the water, salt, and fat mix with this bacteria and can cause odor.”
Deodorants work by making your skin less hospitable to these scent-producing bacteria; they also often contain fragrance to mask unwanted odors. Antiperspirants, on the other hand, typically contain aluminum-based compounds that block sweat pores and limit the amount of perspiration that reaches your skin in the first place, according to Healthline. That means body odor never has a chance to develop.
Ever heard of an armpit detox? Well, now you have—and it could be the secret to more effective deodorant and antiperspirant. According to Erum Ilyas, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, it can be effective, although maybe not for the reasons you think. “I have had patients tell me that they hear that an armpit detox ‘rids the body of toxins’ or ‘helps lymphatic drainage,'” she says. (Lymphatic drainage eliminates swelling that occurs when medical treatment or illness blocks your lymphatic system, according to Cleveland Clinic.) Those reasons simply aren’t true. Instead, the mask helps draw bacteria, yeast, fungus, oil, and sebum from the skin, which can clear your pores and aid your deodorant in eliminating bacteria-related scents, she says.
Creating an armpit detox mask is easier than you might think. According to Ilyas, you can use a one-to-one ratio of bentonite clay to apple cider vinegar. “Clay in a detox mask is usually added to help draw excess oil or sebum away from the skin,” says Ilyas.
This can remove residue from aluminum-based antiperspirants, Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Mount Sinai, told BuzzFeed. Apple cider vinegar, a known antibacterial, is meant to “eliminate bad bacteria and allow new healthy bacteria to replace it,” says Zeichner. Leave the solution on for five to 20 minutes, and remove it with a warm washcloth. As long as you dilute the apple cider vinegar with clay—which makes it less irritating—you can apply the mask as frequently as you’d like.
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Another way to treat your underarm area is with a sugar scrub, which is a type of physical exfoliant. “Physical exfoliants are products that work by manually removing buildup through the abrasive or gritty quality,” says Ilyas. These can be effective at eliminating bacteria, which can reduce odors, and exfoliating the area to reduce sebum and product buildup. That exfoliating nature can also reduce the likelihood of ingrown hairs. “Lastly, sugar tends to hold onto moisture and can hydrate as it exfoliates,” says Ilyas.
To make a sugar scrub, simply add a pinch of sugar to your cleanser or to a device such as a loofah or brush, says Ilyas. Don’t worry about adding too much or getting too rough, which can happen with other physical exfoliators. “It’s hard to go overboard with sugar because it naturally dissolves and the abrasive quality goes with it,” says Ilyas.
Creating a DIY armpit detox or sugar scrub may be one trick, but this method is foolproof. “The most important way to make antiperspirants last longer or work more effectively is to apply them at night,” says Ilyas. “They take time to take effect and will be far more effective the following day by having the opportunity to form the precipitates needed to physically block the sweat ducts.” Surprisingly, this even holds true if you shower in the morning, as the reaction stays in place for around 24 hours after application—whether you shower or not. So, the next time you run through your nighttime skincare routine, you just might want to dedicate a second to a swipe of antiperspirant.
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