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How To Apply Antiperspirant Properly

Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to smell bad than it is to smell good. But when you know how to apply antiperspirant properly, smelling good becomes less of a chore.

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Why Your Antiperspirant Routine Sucks

If you’re suffering from constant B.O., it could be that you’re using the wrong kind of antiperspirant for your skin type, you’re applying it to wet or sweaty skin, you’ve built up a tolerance to it, you’re using it at the wrong time of day, and more.

Half of being “good” at smelling good is getting experimental. If you’re not switching up your antiperspirant routine often enough, you could very well be going nose blind to your own “manly musk” that has mutated into something nasty.

So the reason your current antiperspirant routine sucks…is probably because you’re not getting creative enough.

How To Apply Antiperspirant Properly

First things first, antiperspirant belongs in your armpits. Even if you’re using a spray, you need to hit the pits because that’s where the majority of your bad-smelling sweat and bacteria will nest. Don’t try to use antiperspirant on your private parts. If it smells bad down there, it’s time for a shower with soap.

Also make sure your skin is completely dry when you use antiperspirant. If you’ve just gotten out of the shower, or if you’re already sweating, the antiperspirant won’t work properly. You might get some of the fragrance to stick, but it won’t effectively block other odors.

If you can remember those two points, you’ll be in good hands.

How To Apply Antiperspirant Spray

Sparingly is the key word when it comes to applying antiperspirant spray.

I’m not sure what it is about aerosol cans, but guys tend to go a little crazy when a nozzle is involved. Before you spray, think about how much stick deodorant you normally apply, and where you apply it. Use the same rules with the spray.

Antiperspirant sprays are just as effective as sticks, gels, and roll-ons. You don’t need more just because you can’t “feel” it working. They’re meant to go on light and be invisible against your skin. Trust me, it’s working even if you can’t see it.

The best advice I’ve ever received: you don’t want people to smell you coming. You want people to be pleasantly surprised by your smell when they lean in for a handshake or a hug. It’s easy to go wrong there with sprays.

How Often Should You Apply Antiperspirant

I like to go as light as possible with antiperspirants. If the bottle says it lasts 48 hours, and you find that you genuinely can go 48 hours without re-applying, then stick with that. It saves you money, and you’re less likely to irritate your skin.

But if you work out regularly or have a smelly job, once or twice a day is typically better. There’s really no right answer to this question. I recommend finding a close friend (or partner) to help you do a sniff test when you’re trying out a new product and want to know how long it keeps you smelling good.

If you’re applying an antiperspirant more than twice per day, you probably need to try out a new product. Consider switching to a natural deodorant, or showering more often to combat heavier odors.

Can You Use Too Much Antiperspirant?

 The benchmark for “too much” antiperspirant is easy to overshoot.

I like to think of “too much” antiperspirant as the point where you start wasting product. Antiperspirants literally block your sweat glands. You can’t block your glands “more” by applying more antiperspirant, unless the antiperspirant has already started to wear off. You’ll just leave more residue on your skin. And if you’re already sweating once the antiperspirant has worn off, applying more isn’t going to work.

That’s why antiperspirant is sometimes a catch 22 when it comes to the “right” amount to apply.

For those of you who sweat profusely, antiperspirant might simply be the wrong choice for your skin. If you’re already sweating through it multiple times per day, it might be better to switch to a deodorant that works with your sweat rather than against it.

When To Apply Antiperspirant

If you look at the label on the bottle, lots of antiperspirants are actually meant to be used at night.

I’m not a huge fan of that “hot take,” but I’ll explain the logic. Your sweat glands are significantly less active at night, so if you shower, dry off, and apply your antiperspirant, it has extra time while you sleep to block your sweat glands. This can be especially useful if you’re a night-sweater or just have really, really active sweat glands.

For those of you who are like me and will simply never be able to accept the fact that applying antiperspirant at night is “better,” you can find ways to beat the system. When you put your antiperspirant on in the morning, the trick is to make sure that your skin is perfectly dry and will have enough time to let the antiperspirant soak in.

Whenever you decide to apply your antiperspirant, the real trick is to plan it out so that your skin will be dry when you put it on, and apply it with ample time before you start sweating.

How Long Does It Take For Antiperspirant To Work

If you’d like full sweat protection, you’ll want to apply your antiperspirant at least 15-30 minutes before you’re going to sweat, at a bare minimum.

Those of you who think you’ll switch to nighttime use don’t have to worry about timing it perfectly. But for my avid morning showerers and deodorizers, try to shower first thing, pat your pits dry, and get it on ASAP. That way, while you’re eating breakfast and going about the rest of your morning routine, the antiperspirant has time to block your sweat glands. The more time you can give it, the better.

Why Do I Still Sweat After Using Antiperspirant?

If you’re still sweating after you’ve used antiperspirant, it could be one of two things. Either you applied it too late, or you’re not actually using an antiperspirant.

This is where it can get confusing. “Deodorants” and “antiperspirants” are not the same thing. Antiperspirants actually block your sweat glands, while deodorants just leave behind a nice scent to help mask your odor. You can get either product, or a combination product that works as both an antiperspirant and a deodorant.

 If you get just a deodorant (NOT an antiperspirant), you’re still going to sweat.

Alternatively, you might be sweating because you didn’t give your antiperspirant enough time to kick in. If you’re swiping your pits once and running out the door to go to the gym, your antiperspirant definitely doesn’t have enough time to absorb into your skin and work its sweat-blocking magic. Try anticipating when you’re going to sweat, and apply it early.

What Is The Side Effect Of Antiperspirant?

Rashes, breakouts, and allergic reactions are among the most common side effects of antiperspirant.

For my sensitive skin guys, if you’re reading this in the hopes that applying antiperspirant “properly” will keep you from feeling icky and itchy in your pits, I need to stop you right there.

If you’re suffering from antiperspirant side effects…you simply shouldn’t use antiperspirants. The aluminum and alcohol that kill bacteria in your armpits and block your sweat glands can serve as skin irritants. It’s not an issue for plenty of guys, but for those who do suffer from itchy side effects, using the stick “properly” won’t change the outcome.

Why You Should Switch To Natural Deodorant

Natural deodorants are often as effective as antiperspirants, without all the added gland-blocking chemicals. Especially if you suffer from frequent armpit rashes, natural deodorants will be much friendlier against your skin. 

But above all…I really like natural deodorants because I know what’s going into them. The ingredient list is straightforward, and you don’t have to worry about a study coming out ten years down the line saying some obscure unnatural antiperspirant chemical is shortening men’s d*cks worldwide.

If you’re interested, check out our guides on the benefits of natural deodorant, switching to natural deodorant, and what to expect when switching to natural deodorant.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.