Are You Using The Wrong Deodorant?

Oh, deo. It’s inspired '90s garage-band tunes and a vast variety of olfactory experiences. Who can forget Sex and the City's Aidan insisting on hoarding five separate Speed Sticks? Much like foundation and SPF, the deodorant is a mysterious creature.

Let’s start by breaking down the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant. “Antiperspirants are over-the-counter deodorants that contain FDA-monograph-approved ingredients that interact with the sweat glands to help stop perspiration,” explains cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson of Beautystat.com. “Deodorants are products that work to mask underarm odor. They often contain a fragrance or perfume, along with an active ingredient called triclosan that is commonly used and works to prevent bacteria from growing, which in turn helps prevent odor.”

He notes that deodorants do not prevent wetness, but antiperspirants do. The various application vehicles often come down to a texture preference, says Robinson. To find out which application type is best for you — and our picks for keeping your pits nice and fresh this summer — read on.
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Stick
The most commonly used type of deodorant goes on dry and is typically solid white. The downside is that some formulas can mess with your all-black outfit. Secret Invisible Solid Antiperspirant and Deodorant leaves no destruction in its wake on your LBD. If you’re afflicted with hyperhidrosis and/or seduced by words like “clinical,” then this formula is for you.
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Or try...
For a deo-only stick (read: no antiperspirant), try Lavanila's popular option, which helps stop odor sans aluminum.

Lavanila The Healthy Deodorant, $14, available at Sephora.
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Or...
Eschew gender norms altogether and head over to the men's deo section. Typically, it's much easier to find sticks without anti-perspirant there — not to mention clean, unisex scents that don't smell like lavender cotton clouds.

Old Spice
Swagger Deodorant, $3.97, available at Target.
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Spray
Thankfully, these are a vast improvement over the aerosol sprays you probably got to know too well if you ever studied abroad in Europe. However, Robinson notes: “The spray form is limited in terms of the level of active ingredients that [it] can support.” I tested out Degree’s new MotionSense Dry Spray in Fresh Energy, despite my irrational fear of it desiccating the ends of my hair as I sprayed it onto my underarms. But, simply looking away and keeping your mouth closed during application makes the entire process easy-peasy. It feels dry to the touch, doesn't transfer to my clothes, and yields a fresh, shower-inspired scent, even after a particularly grueling workout.
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Or Try...
Dove's spray-on antiperspirant is quick-drying, so you don't have to worry about it getting on your clothes. Plus, it comes in a range of scents you won't mind catching a whiff of throughout the day — like this crisp, clean cucumber melon.

Dove Cool Essentials Dry Spray Antiperspirant, $5.49, available at Dove.
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Cream
I had my doubts about this formula’s sweat-wicking capabilities. I also had yet to find a natural deodorant that wasn’t utterly abysmal — until I gave Soapwalla Deodorant Cream a go. It’s sodium laurel-sulfate and aluminum zirconium-free, which makes it a good choice for pregnant women and anyone looking to go more natural without, you know, going au naturel. Using a cream means you need some kind of apparatus to get it onto your skin, which is a challenge in and of itself. However, I improvised with a tissue, swiping it on to avoid fingertip dry-out, and it worked pretty well. While I wouldn’t use this formula pre-Bikram, it’ll do the job for day-to-day sweat and even a moderate workout.
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Or Try...
Meow Meow Tweet offers a cream formula without baking soda or clay, perfect for those with underarm sensitivity to these natural ingredients. Instead, this jar boasts dietary magnesium and arrowroot powder as the active ingredients to stop odor and moisture.

Meow Meow Tweet Baking Soda Free Deodorant Cream, $14, available at Meow Meow Tweet.
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Roll-On
Roll-on deodorants feature a ball at the top of the bottle that rolls and applies the product in liquid form to the skin in a thin layer. Ban Roll-on Antiperspirant and Deodorant comes in an unscented iteration, if you’d prefer not to compete with your fragrance. Roll-ons typically boast smaller packaging, making them good travel candidates.
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Or Try...
Fresh's formula, which has sugar to help prevent bacteria, which leads to odor.

Fresh Sugar Roll-on Deodorant Antiperspirant, $19, available at Sephora.
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Gel
Formerly the only option for New Yorkers with dark wardrobes, twist-up gel formulas are fantastic for the cooling effect they impart in warm summer months. My longtime love when the mercury tops 75 is Lady Mitchum Clear Gel Antiperspirant and Deodorant in Shower Fresh.
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Fancy
Many perfume franchises charitably refer to one of their stick-form offerings as a deodorant, but few of these tackle sweat well enough to earn my respect. Two I’ve found in my extensive research that impart perfume-quality scent and simultaneously keep stench-wetness at bay are Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Deodorant and Kai Deodorant. I'd switch to harder stuff come 80-plus degrees, but these are good options for moderate climates or a day when you’re skipping CrossFit.
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Or try...
One of the latest fancy formulas to launch is from Tom Ford, who packed his fresh, summer-ready scent into this vanity-worthy stick.

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Deodorant Stick, $52, available at Sephora.
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