When it comes to personal hygiene, smelling bad is one of our worst fears. For most, 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 build-up, and possibly putting you at risk for health problems. 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. Now, people shower daily whether they feel dirty or not, and we're determined to rid ourselves of bacteria that could be the cause of unwanted odors. However, studies are now starting to learn that all the harsh soaps and antiperspirants 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 detoxification 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 that you can use to smell your freshest.
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 kill odor-causing bacteria and absorb wetness, but it does so without any aluminum, alcohol, dyes, or artificial bactericides. It also goes on clear, won't leave a residue, and reviewers say, "I apply this in the morning and by the time I get done working out at night I'm still smelling fresh."
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 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 refresher for your armpits).
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 "fragrances" 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 killing 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 unscented 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."
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, thickeners, and detergents, and instead uses naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal tea tree to get rid of body odor. Natural Riches body wash is also extremely hydrating, great for issues like eczema and ringworm, and reviewers say, "Any unpleasant or very dominant and embarrassing odors you might carry, whether it be foot, underarm, etc; this will do the trick!"
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-filled antiperspirants, could weaken your eccrine glands and cause you to smell worse over time.
Solution: Block The Smell Without Blocking The Detox
Because it's made from aluminum chlorohydrate-free mineral salts, Crystal Body deodorant roll-on 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 detox naturally without the smells that typically accompany it. Reviewers say, "I've tried everything, and this is the ticket," and it comes in a convenient quick-drying roll on form.
Mistake #6: Expecting "All Day Protection" To Really Mean All Day
In order for a brand to label their deodorant with the words "all-day protection," the FDA only requires that it reduces sweating by 20 percent. As a result, depending on how much you sweat, your deodorant might fail only a few hours after application.
Solution: Travel-Friendly Deodorants
These adorable Freedom travel minis are made from gentle, healthy ingredients without parabens and aluminum. They come in three fresh scents (like lavender citrus) and tiny containers that fit effortlessly in your bag or desk for reapplication throughout the day, and reviewers say they are "truly amazed at how effective this deodorant is!"
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 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. Body Essentials body scrub uses awesome ingredients like Dead Sea salt, golden honey extract, and coconut milk, all of which help to exfoliate, fight bacteria, and moisturize.
Mistake #8: Harming Your Microbiome
Studies have found that antiperspirants can actually make you smell worse by altering your armpit bacteria. 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 (strands like Actinobacteria, which are responsible for foul-smelling armpit odor) goes unchecked.
Solution: Replenish Good Bacteria
Repopulate the surface of your skin with good bacteria using Dermatic Probiotic 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.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.