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8 Common Deodorant Mistakes Women Make That Make Them Smell

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Beautiful young woman using deodorant under armpit in bathroom during morning time. Girl applying deodorant roll on after shower on underarms. Girl using antiperspirant roll-on at home after waking up
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For some, common deodorant mistakes include anything and everything that might make you smell the slightest bit human. However, I've got a different take on it: The worst deodorant mistakes are ones that could be making you a little bit unhealthier — clogging your pores, causing buildup, and possibly putting you at risk for sensitivity. But yes, they do also happen to make you smellier.

In America, we've come a long way from Colonial times, when we cleaned our teeth with herbs and bathed a few times a year. However, studies are now starting to learn that all the harsh soaps and other ingredients could be pushing us in the wrong direction when it comes to smelling clean.

Basically, people sweat for a reason, and if you're looking to smell like wildflowers every second of every day, no matter what it costs, you might be harming your body's natural functions. In this article, you won't hear me talking about obliterating your sweat glands. Instead, you'll hear me talk a lot about over-washing, the relationship between good and bad bacteria, and the natural ingredients you can use so you feel great about yourself.

Mistake #1: Using Your Regular Deodorant For Workouts

Your average deodorant might make it through your morning commute, but when you exercise, your body is sweating intensely. This is a good thing, of course, when it comes to fitness. However, your usual deodorant might not be enough to keep the smells at bay.

Solution: A Deodorant Made For Exercise

This Herbal Clear Sport Deodorant is specifically made to tackle odor during the most intense of workouts. It uses tea tree and lichen to eliminate odor-causing bacteria and absorb wetness, but it does so without any aluminum, alcohol, dyes, or artificial bactericides. It also goes on clear and won't leave a residue.

According to a reviewer: “I've been using this deodorant for about 8 years. I love it, protects me with all the exercise classes I teach. Goes on smoothly and no cakiness or residue left behind. I now have my twin nieces on it and they love it. With all their workouts playing college softball, they are very pleased that they do not smell any odor.”

Mistake #2: Showering Multiple Times A Day

It might seem counter-intuitive, but scientists are finding that showering too often could actually make you smell worse. According to dermatologist Richard Gallo, "Good bacteria encourage the skin to make antibiotics that kill off bad bacteria," and washing too often (especially with harsh soaps) get rid of these good bacteria.

Solution: Freshen Up In Between Showers

If you shower before work, after a workout, and before bed, consider using these individually wrapped GoodWipes deodorizing body wipes instead. Not only are they pH-balanced and hypoallergenic, but they actually help fight odors and soothe skin with ingredients like tea tree and aloe. They're also biodegradable and large enough for full-body use (or just as a spot refresher).

According to a reviewer: “I'm a Fitness Professional, always on a tight schedule and constantly on the go. After teaching a fitness class, I'm soaked in sweat and wet clothes. Using the wipes save me time versus a shower in the gym so I can get to my next client. There's no residue left on my skin when I use them, I don't feel sticky and they have a nice "slight" refreshing scent. Highly recommend.”

Mistake #3: Relying On Fragrance

Covering up a smell and getting rid of it are not at all the same thing. In fact, when a company lists "fragrance" on a label, it's not required by law to explain what exactly those fragrances are comprised of. As a result, they could be filled with harsh chemicals that are irritating your skin and eliminating the good bacteria that helps you to smell better naturally.

Solution: Choose Ingredients That Fight Odor — Not Cover It Up

It's USDA-certified organic, entirely free of fragrances, and even considered edible. North Coast Organics deodorant uses things like coconut oil, arrowroot powder, and therapeutic-grade essential oils to keep you fresh by fighting odor and absorbing sweat. Reviewers love it because it's "made of all natural ingredients, is unscented, not at all sticky, and is great for those with sensitive skin." Some reviewers have noted that there’s a coconut smell to it, though.

According to a reviewer: “I wanted to find something more gentle for my pits. I was skeptical that a "natural" product would work for me but, after a couple months, somehow, this is still performing well as a daily deodorant.”

Mistake #4: Using The Wrong Soap In The Shower

You might think that the more soap you use, the fresher you'll smell, but some soaps alter the microorganisms that dictate how your body smells: “Your sweat doesn’t produce any odor, so your odor is really from the microorganisms that are drinking or eating your sweat,” says Dr. Julie Horvath, who's an expert on armpit bacteria. When we use harsh antibacterial soaps with harmful chemicals, “we’re wiping out all of the good bacteria."

Solution: Wash With The Right Ingredients

It skips all the harsh chemicals, preservatives, and detergents, and instead uses naturally antibacterial and antifungal tea tree. This natural body wash is also extremely hydrating, and it relies on a blend of hydrating ingredients like aloe vera, sea kelp, oregano, peppermint, and vitamins E, B1, B2, and A to keep your skin's moisture levels balanced.

According to a reviewer: “I was looking for something to combat underarm body odor. I can't tell you how much research I did and how much time I spent looking for the right product, including a plethora of home remedies that were unsuccessful. [...] It has been a TOTAL life changer for me. After two or three uses, I noticed an immediate difference. I wasn't waking up smelly sour (yuck - I know. I'm a really bad night sweater!) and throughout the day there was minimal smell.”

Mistake #5: Confusing "Sweat" With "Odor"

It's entirely possible to sweat buckets and still not smell. In fact, sweating is a totally naturally detoxification function, and allowing your body to do so actually helps you to smell better in the long run. On the other hand, products that stop you from sweating, like aluminum-based antiperspirants, actually block where sweat comes out of, which some people find results in sweat coming from other, unblocked ducts.

Solution: Block The Smell Without Blocking The Sweat

Because it's made from aluminum chloride-free mineral salts, Crystal Body deodorant stick coats your skin in a clear, non-sticky layer that stops odor without stopping sweat. It essentially blocks odor-causing bacteria, so your body can sweat without the smells that sometimes accompany it. The key is to use it on clean skin like after showering.

According to a reviewer: “So when I first saw this as a “deodorant” I thought it was ridiculous. It sounded stupid to be rubbing a rock on my armpits and thinking it would keep me from smelling. Well...it works!”

Mistake #6: Expecting "All Day Protection" To Really Mean All Day

In order for a brand to label their product with the words "all-day protection," the FDA only requires that it reduces sweating by 20% over 24 hours. As a result, depending on how much protection you want, your stick might fail only a few hours after application.

Solution: Mini Deodorants

These adorable Lavanilla travel minis are made from gentle ingredients without parabens and aluminum. There’s not even baking soda which some people are sensitive to. They come in a vanilla scent, and the tiny containers that fit effortlessly in your bag or desk for reapplication throughout the day.

According to a reviewer: These minis are a relatively new addition and haven’t racked up many reviews yet, but reviewers for the full-size option wrote, “I've been using this for several months now and am super pleased with it. After I had my son 22yrs ago, my body chemistry changed and I've had to use extra strength antipers/deo for years. I've tried a number of other natural solutions, but this the only one, so far, that has kept me confident.”

Mistake #7: Skipping The Exfoliation

Whatever deodorant you're using, if you choose to remove hair from your armpits, then you're at risk for ingrown hairs and clogged pores that can trap dirt and contribute to odor.

Solution: A Gentle Scrub That Gets Rid Of Dead Skin

Exfoliating your underarms could help to limit some of that odor, because you're getting rid of the dead skin and dirt that might be trapped there. This Shea Moisture body scrub uses ingredients like sugar and cocoa seed butter to remove dead skin and nourish. Activated charcoal and ginger help deepen the clean. Plus, the formula has no sulfates, parabens, or phthalates.

According to a reviewer: “My sister suggested I get this and now im in LOVE and cannot understand I how I lived without it before. I use it for my whole body but I specifically love it to exfoliate my underarms once a week.”

Mistake #8: Harming Your Microbiome

Basically, our skin is supposed to have a balanced mixture of good and bad bacteria, but by wiping out the good bacteria, the bad bacteria (like actinobacteria, which is partly responsible for foul-smelling armpit odor) goes unchecked.

Solution: Replenish Good Bacteria

Repopulate the surface of your skin with good bacteria using Mary Ruth’s skin treatment. It comes in a convenient spray that uses no harsh chemicals or alcohol, and instead contains 100 million CFUs of probiotics. It works at a microscopic level to help irritations, acne, sores, dryness, and unwanted odors.

According to a reviewer: “I started off today going to a children's soccer game, followed by the farmer's market (outside), followed by another children's activity outside, followed by mowing my 3/4 acre lawn with a push mower. The temp today is around 80 and sunny. Not scorching, but I've worked up a good sweat. [...] I've substituted the MaryRuth spray for the magnesium oil spray in the armpits (and other random areas of my skin) for the last few days. I'm extremely impressed. I don't stink. Heck, I have NO scent. This stuff has really done wonders for preserving my natural skin flora.”