Before starting your search for the best clinical-strength deodorants, the first thing to do is decide if you’re actually interested in a deodorant or an antiperspirant. The difference? “Deodorants mask the smell of sweat or unwanted odor by adding fragrance or by decreasing bacteria that cause odor. Antiperspirants decrease the amount of sweat coming from the skin by plugging up the sweat glands with salts,” explains board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Lisa Chipps, who spoke to Bustle for this article. Combining the two is usually the most effective way to go, so below, you’ll find a mix of both clinical-strength antiperspirants and deodorants, starting at just $6.
When you see "clinical strength" on a product’s label, that indicates a higher concentration of the active ingredients that work to decrease perspiration, says Dr. Chipps. “Most over-the-counter antiperspirants contain aluminum salts,” she explains, so find one that contains up to 15% aluminum chloride — the maximum amount an OTC product can have — or a high concentration of one of the other aluminum salts approved by the FDA. If you find that you’re still sweating more than you’d like, apply your antiperspirant/deodorant twice daily rather than just once (but be sure to read the label on your specific product to make sure you’re using it correctly).
If over-the-counter products still aren’t cutting it for you, see your board-certified dermatologist or heath care provider to talk about prescription-strength options. And in the meantime, try out any of the best clinical-strength antiperspirants and deodorants from the list ahead.
1. The Overall Best Clinical-Strength Antiperspirant
With 12% aluminum chloride, this roll-on antiperspirant from Certain Dri is one of the most powerful antiperspirants you can buy over the counter. You only apply it every few days, as it offers 72 hours worth of benefits: Use it at bedtime on completely dry skin — so at least 30 minutes after showering. The brand even suggests using a hairdryer on the cool setting to make sure your skin is entirely dry before rolling it on. Certain Dri also discourages people from applying this antiperspirant after shaving, as it can cause irritation on skin that has cuts or is already irritated.
If you want something a little less intense, check out the brand’s also-effective Everyday Antiperspirant Deodorant, which can be reapplied daily in the morning.
2. The Best Clinical-Strength Antiperspirant/Deodorant For Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin and find most underarm products too harsh, try this antiperspirant/deodorant from Vanicream. Like everything the brand makes, this was designed for people with very sensitive, easily irritated skin, so it’s free of the most common, potential irritants and allergens, like fragrance, parabens, dyes, and gluten. It does contain 20% aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex gly (the highest possible percentage you can get of this particular aluminum salt in an over-the-counter product), so it’s still an extremely effective antiperspirant, albeit a gentle one.
3. The Best Scented Clinical-Strength Deodorant
Love a scented deodorant? Then this clinical-strength antiperspirant/deodorant from Secret is for you. It comes in solid form and boasts the brand’s classic, “Completely Clean” scent, which smells subtle and refreshing. Designed to work for up to 48 hours, it dries down almost instantly, so you can get dressed immediately after putting it on.
4. The Best Clinical Strength Antiperspirant Wipes
Once a week, you can dab one of these clinical-strength deodorant wipes under your arms at bedtime for up to seven days’ worth of sweat control. You can still wear deodorant daily — think of these as a backup.
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Sweaty feet happens to all of us, but it can lead to uncomfortable chafing and blisters. If that’s something you’re dealing with, try this Carpe antiperspirant lotion. It’s made with aluminum sesquichlorohydrate, along with talc and eucalyptus oil to keep your feet feeling comfortable, dry, and fresh. For maximum efficacy, use at night and apply again in the morning on a daily basis.
Lisa Chipps, M.D., M.S., F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Beverly Hills, CA