Which Deodorant Really Reigns Supreme? We Put 5 To The Test

Deodorant, love it or hate it, is pretty much everyone's best friend come summertime. While you might have been able to get away with skipping a swipe or two during the colder months, it's almost impossible to do once the humidity starts to roll around (and, in turn, you start to sweat more).

But what deodorant works the best? Do sprays reign supreme, or is all-natural the way to go? Should deodorants designed for men become go-tos for ladies? To find out, we rounded up five staff members and asked them to ditch their normal deodorants and test-drive completely different types. Find out which deos came out victorious — even in the sweatiest of circumstances.
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Ash Hodges, Office Operations Assistant
Regular Deo: Old Spice Deodorant
Alternative: Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant

"My quest for a good deodorant started in early middle school, when I started to shave my armpits and legs for the first time. Despite how keen I was to finally start shaving like my mom and all of my friends, shaving was not nearly as keen on me. I wrestled with blotchy, red hives and scores of ingrown hairs, and it only got worse as I aged and my hair became more coarse. I also searched relentlessly for a good deodorant that didn't feel like fire on my raw, chapped underarms.

"Years went by, and I tried dozens of different razors, Nair (by far, worse than shaving), and waxing (made my legs bleed!), until I finally gave up and embraced my hairy legs and pits. It was a slow process, especially during the summer months. I would occasionally run home, frantic, after a particularly mean joke from a stranger and shave it all off again — only to be confronted once more with angry red welts in very unfortunate places.

"Luckily, I have since come to peace with my pits. I now proudly wear cut-off shirts and happily let my leg hair blow in the summer breeze. However, my sweat-related problems continued — women's deodorant, I found, is not made to be used on pit hair. Again, came product after product as I tried to find one that didn't clump on my hair, mat it down with a paste, or work at all through my forest of luscious underarm locks. Fortuitously, one day, on vacation a few years back I forgot my own sub-par stick and had to use a tube of men's Old Spice that was lying around. Clump-free and smelling like my brother, I never looked back.

"The main downside to using men's deodorant is that it is made in quite pungent scents. Perhaps this is to deal with the allegedly 'XTREME' man smells, perhaps it's because men prefer to smell as if they've used a whole bottle of cologne — we may never know. However, smelling like an Axe factory accident is not a quality I particularly relish in myself. When I had the opportunity to try the Dove spray-on for this experiment, I lunged at it. Maybe this would be the answer to my underarm dilemma!"
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"The first day was love/hate. When I sprayed it on in the morning, the high-pressure blast was icy-cold and actually hurt a little. I couldn't see how much I was using, the product being clear, so I just doused the area in question and hoped for the best. Dripping from my underarms and feeling put out, I headed to work thinking I already had my verdict.

"It was just a couple hours in, after my pits had dried from my overzealous application, that I had a change of heart. I work a very physically taxing job, and I'm usually already damp by noon — but not today! I happily ran around all morning, shattering my iPhone's pedometer's step goals and feeling no worse for the wear. By the end of my shift, when I usually either reapply or slink back home to shower and change, I was still feeling fresh enough to head out and grab a post-work drink with friends.

"By day five, I was still cringing at the thought of actually applying it, so I thought it was as good a time as any to test out the 48-hour guarantee — would it last the full two days and save me the teeth-grating morning ritual?

"Well, 48 hours and one lengthy Brooklyn bike ride later, I can definitely say that it'll keep your pits dry and relatively smell-free under even the hottest, sweatiest circumstances. When I finally got home after the strenuous ride, I was dripping with sweat from every pore in my body...but still completely dry under my arms. Congrats, Dove, you made a pit-hair compatible women's deodorant!"
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Kelsey Miller, Senior Features Writer
Regular Deo: Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant
Alternative: Oyin Handmade Funk Butter (yes, that's the actual name)


"Recently, I've been using Dove's new spray-on, which I like, though I'm not wild about aerosols in general. It's a good one for sensitive skin, though. Going into this experiment, my biggest hesitation was, plain and simple: stinking up the office. I wasn't looking forward to pit stains either, but I can live with those. Being the stinky girl at the office (or being self-conscious about being the stinky girl) is no fun.

"It’s not my first time using natural deodorant. Back in the '90s, my mom had us all use that old-school crystal-salt thing for a while (my mom was kinda crunchy). That stuff did NOTHING. It was a very damp and smelly time in my life. So, going into this experiment, I was hesitant, but looking forward to seeing if natural deodorants had gotten any better."
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"With the Funk Butter, you kind of smear it on like a paste — and that took a few tries to get right. You really do only use a pea-sized amount, and any more will leave bits and pieces crumbling off (you’re probably going to get a little crumbling anyway, but nothing major). This stuff looked like mud, but it smelled great — like coconut and sunblock. It wasn't overly fragrant, though, which I like.

"I gotta say, I was incredibly surprised at how effective it was. The first day I wore it, I was running around the city in 85-degree heat and I found it 100% as good as the regular stuff at keeping me smelling fresh. My underarms were slightly more damp but honestly, it wasn't noticeable — zero pit stains. I did go back to my old antiperspirant for just one day, when I had a speaking gig. At that point, I still didn’t quite believe in Funk Butter (all evidence aside), and I wasn’t going to risk having my picture taken in a fancy-pants dress without a high-octane sweat-killer. Plus, had I worn the Funk Butter, I probably would have been tempted to smear on extra layers and that’s the big no-no with this stuff (see: crumbly bits).

"Aside from the application process, this stuff works just as well as any deodorant I've used. I also didn't hate smelling faintly of coconutty sunblock all day. I'm gonna finish up this pot of Funk Butter and see how it goes from there. This stuff held up on some pretty hot days, but we'll see if it lasts me through a New York August without a stinky mishap. If so, I might never go back to my old antiperspirant. I never loved the idea of chemically blocking off my sweat glands, and now I realize it might not have been worth it anyway. This stuff is that good."
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Stacey Gawronski, Contributor Network Editor
Regular Deo: Gillette Clear Gel Deodorant & Antiperspirant
Alternative: Crystal Body Deodorant Stick

"I typically use Gillette Clear Gel Deodorant & Antiperspirant. I started using it a few years ago, when my fiancé and I started dating. I think I must've stayed over and forgotten my own deodorant the first time I tried it. Eventually, I just stopped buying women's deodorant and began wearing the Gillette exclusively.

"I really grew to like the smell of it, which was never more obvious to me than when I started using the Crystal Body Deodorant Stick, which is fragrance-free. I found myself sniffing around for a scent, for proof that I was actually wearing something, but nothing. That was weird at first. I think I worried that I was going to smell. Not that I viewed the strong-smelling men's-deodorant scent as masking any body odor, but I'd just gotten used to the smell."
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"For the first couple of days, I had no issues using the new deodorant (even though moistening the top before applying was a bit strange at first). But on the morning of a marathon I was getting ready to run, I hesitated. Running experts say not to try anything new on race day. Switching deodorants probably wasn't a big deal (certainly not like wearing a new sports bra or new sneakers), but I was a little nervous that I'd sweat too much or smell. I almost reached for the Gillette that morning, but I decided to stay true to the experiment.

"As far as I can tell, it worked just fine. Of course, at the end of the three-and-a-half-hour race, I was quite sweaty, but that's a given. I didn't notice a particularly funny smell, or any smell at all. In fact, when I was packing up my stuff to return to NYC the next day, I took a whiff of my running shirt and was surprised to find that it barely smelled at all! No one would've guessed that I'd just run a grueling 26.2 miles in it.

"I haven't gone back to my original deodorant, and might not. I think it's pretty cool that the Crystal stick claims to last a full year. That's a long time for deodorant, and I'm not sure I buy it. One deodorant for $5.99 that'll last you a full year?! One thing I don't like about it is the burning sensation it produces in my pits when I apply it after shaving. It goes away quickly, but there's still a moment of 'ouch.' Aside from that minor annoyance, I see no real reason not to continue using it."
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Mallory Heyer, Freelance Graphic Designer
Regular Deo: Secret Outlast Antiperspirant & Deodorant
Alternative: Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar

"I’ve been using the Secret Outlast Antiperspirant & Deodorant for at least the past five years. It works really well for me, but I have always wanted to try to switch to a natural deodorant. Those attempts have always embarrassingly failed, so I’ve become quite loyal to the Secret brand.

"When I found out I was going to have to use apple-cider vinegar for the next week as my deodorant, I was really hesitant. I warned all of the people that I sat next to that I may smell awful, and I gave them permission to tell me to sit somewhere else if that happened. I had hope for the apple-cider vinegar, though, when someone told me that it’s effective in getting rid of the smell of cat pee! So, if that works, surely it can combat my body odor. I also really appreciate that it’s just one natural ingredient."
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"Every morning, I would shake up the apple-cider vinegar bottle, put a bit on toilet paper, apply it to my pits, air out, get dressed, and go. The first day I didn’t let the vinegar dry first, which caused the vinegary smell to sink into my clothes. It was mildly embarrassing when I was on the subway and had to reach above my head for the pole and could smell it. That was the only time I could smell it for the whole week, though! There wasn’t any stench, even my own natural blend.

"Since it was working so well on a day-to-day basis, I really wanted to put it to the test by biking to work. I brought a little Tupperware container with the apple-cider vinegar, just in case I needed to reapply. My ride is around 25 minutes, and it was around 78 degrees when I left. Upon arrival, my armpits were definitely wet, but they were odorless! I changed my clothes and didn’t have to reapply the vinegar. I asked my seat neighbors multiple times if they could smell me, and they assured me that they couldn’t. So I biked to work three more times, stink-free!

"After the experiment was over, I went back to my normal deodorant, which felt fine and comfortable, but I do see myself using the apple-cider vinegar again. I can foresee using the apple-cider vinegar most days, and saving my traditional deodorant for when I need something easy to travel with."
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Taylor Bryant, Beauty News Editor
Regular Deo: Dove Original Clean Antiperspirant Deodorant
Alternative: Degree Men Cool Comfort

"My history with deodorants has been a fairly uneventful one. I rotate them on an 'I've used it all up' basis, and while I suffer from a (mild!) odor problem from time to time, it's not an issue I've felt like I needed to devote too much time to solving. I've been using Dove and Secret since maybe middle school (I will say that I experimented with Tom's natural deo once, and let's just say I wasn't a fan), and I've never really felt compelled to branch out to try others.

"I pretty much leaped at the chance to try out the men's deodorant for this mini-experiment (although Funk Butter was pretty tempting as well). I didn't have too much prior knowledge on the difference between male and female deos. But I, for some reason, assumed that men give off stronger BO so, ingredients-wise, it would help combat my often lingering post-deodorant scent."
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"The smell reminded me of certain high school and college exes. Not necessarily in a bad way, but in an 'every time I take a sniff of my pits, I think about texting them to see how they're doing' way (so, yeah, maybe in a bad way). I never realized how much I associate smells with people until I was forced to walk around with a scent I typically link to someone else.

"I thought that this week would be a good time to start training for a 5K (I'm not at Stacey's marathon level just yet), and it definitely held up during my failed run attempt — as well as during a hot yoga class and a heat-wave weekend here in NYC — in an apartment with NO air-conditioning, might I add.

"But, fragrance aside, I can't really say I noticed much difference between the Degree deodorant and my former one. There were a couple of times when I found myself needing to reapply in the middle or by the end of the day, something that I never had to do with my Dove or Secret deos — so, in terms of its extra odor-fighting abilities, I was disappointed.

"In order to dispel any confusion when it comes to differences between 'men's' and 'women's' deodorants, I spoke with Secret's resident sweat scientist Kati Bakes and cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson of Beautystat.com, who both gave me pretty much the same (disappointing) answer: The ingredients are essentially the same. 'The mechanism of protection does not largely change between men and women (pH gradient; superficial-plug formation), so the design intent would be similar,' notes Bakes. 'Also, any odor-fighting technologies could also go across both types of products since both sexes typically require odor protection.'

"Bakes notes that, for women, some of the concerns when it comes to deodorant focus on stress, 48-hour odor protection, and how clear it goes on. Fragrance and packaging are also factors. 'The more floral and 'feminine' type of scents are...geared toward women, and the more 'masculine,' musky, woodsy types of scents are going to be put in the men's deodorant,' Robinson says. 'In terms of packaging, the men's deodorants might be a little wider based on body size. There will be a difference in color.'

"There's also this fun thing we've come to know as the Pink Tax: women's self-care products are generally more expensive than men's. In fact, the Degree deodorant marketed toward women is a dollar more than the men's (which doesn't seem like a lot, but it can add up). And the men's deodorant is significantly larger, meaning that it'll last longer. Yep, ladies, we're getting ripped off.

"I think I'll stick to my middle school go-tos (if only to stave off unwanted nostalgia). At least, for the time being."
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