Skip to Content

How To Apply Deodorant Properly: The Complete Guide For Men

If you’re battling B.O. on the daily, don’t throw out your deodorant just yet. It might just be a matter of learning how to properly apply your deodorant to help it last all day and keep you smelling good.

Table of Contents

How To Apply Deodorant Properly

Regardless of the type of deodorant you’re using, the key word is sparingly.

If you’re having trouble with B.O., rubbing your whole body down with solid deodorant, or enveloping yourself in a cloud of spray is not going to solve that issue. You’ll just smell overwhelmingly cologne-y in the morning and greasy by the afternoon. You can’t turn a 12-hour stick into a 48-hour stick by piling on the gel.

Instead, try reapplying small amounts throughout the day. If that doesn’t work, you might need to switch up the brand or type of deodorant that you’re using. Lots of guys don’t realize this, but deodorants are not one-size-fits-all. Your skin will react differently to each type of deodorant, especially depending on the ingredient list. 

Also, be aware: deodorants and antiperspirants are not the same thing. Antiperspirants (which might be labeled “deodorant antiperspirants”) have heavier ingredients that block sweat. Some people can’t use antiperspirants because the aluminum salts and alcohols cause breakouts. Deodorants simply kill odor-bacteria. They don’t necessarily block your sweat.

Best Way To Apply Different Types Of Deodorant

Solid Stick Deodorant

Those of you from the U.S. are probably most familiar with solid stick deodorants. They’re one of the most intuitive types of deodorant you can use. Twist the bottom cap to push up the compact powder, swipe it once or twice in each pit, and voila. If you twist the little cap too far and push up more than you need, you can twist it to the right to un-dispense it. Just remember to use natural stick deodorants because the benefits are more than worth it. They might be a little more expensive, but they’ll last just as long as regular deodorant.

Gel Deodorant

You apply gel deodorant just like solid stick deodorant. The only difference is that when you twist the bottom of the container, it dispenses gel from the mesh top, and you can’t retract it, so if you push up too much…you’re SOL. You’ll want to apply it right after you get out of the shower, and let it dry for a few minutes before you put on your shirt. With gel, it’s easier to over-apply and waste product. But lots of guys choose gel deodorant over solid because it won’t stain your shirts.

Roll On Deodorant

I you know what roll on deodorant is, then you know there’s no manual dispensing with it. When you uncap it, you’ll see a ball joint resting on top of a liquid stick. Swipe that ball joint along your pits a few times (you might need to do this 3 or 4 times, compared to 1 or 2 with solid and gel). Let it air dry for a minute, then you’re good to go. Lots of avid roll-on users like to argue that it combines all the benefits of solid and gel. It dries quickly, you’re unlikely to waste product, and it’s easy to travel with.

Spray Deodorant

Spray deodorants allow you a bit more creativity. They come in aerosol cans or squirt bottles, and while you’ll definitely want to hit your pits first, you can also spray them all over your body. They’re great for stinky feet. Just make sure you hold the can at arm’s length (as much as possible), and don’t overdo it.

Recommended reading: How to prevent pit stains, does coconut oil deodorant stain clothes?, and how to get deodorant stains out of polyester.

How Much Deodorant Should You Use?

Like I said, you only need a little bit of deodorant. If that’s not working all day, then you need to reapply throughout the day, or try a new deodorant.

For all you smart a**es who want me to define “a little bit” and “sparingly,” the rule is 1-2 swipes for solid and gel, 3-4 swipes for roll-on, and no more than 3 brief squirts for spray (one for each pit, and an extra as back up, if you can’t get it right the first time).

If you’re not sure whether you’re using too much or too little, think about how long your deodorant lasts, in the lifespan sense, not the day-to-day sense. Sprays might go quickly depending on the bottle size, but gels and roll-ons should last three months at a minimum, and solid sticks can go strong for over a year (be sure to throw it away before it expires).

If you’re plowing through your deodorant in a month…it might be a sign that you’re using too much.

How Often Should Deodorant Be Applied?

Once a day is the rule of thumb for how often you need to apply deodorant. Even if the bottle claims to last 72 hours…realistically speaking, you should also be showering every day, and you’ll rinse off the product.

You’ll also want to get the timing right on when to apply it. For maximum coverage, applying deodorant right after you step out of the shower allows your skin to really soak up the ingredients. Also, think ahead if you’re going to be doing something that involves sweating. Applying 15 minutes before will afford you more coverage than applying it after you’ve already started sweating.

Should You Apply Deodorant After Showering?

Yes, with one small exception.

If you shower in the evening and go to bed afterwards, you don’t really need to wear deodorant while you’re asleep. Antiperspirant companies recommend it for “continual sweat-fighting protection,” but that’s just the industrial skincare complex trying to get you to use their products quicker and spend more money.

If you shower in the morning, applying your deodorant right away is a good idea. Especially for gel and roll on deodorants, it gives the product time to dry.

Should You Apply Deodorant Before Or After Exercise?

Both is always an excellent choice, but if you only get one option, choose to put it on before.

Earlier we mentioned how most deodorants contain aluminum salts and alcohol. Even those these ingredients are not so skin-friendly, they do an amazing job of blocking your sweat glands and killing bacteria. That is, if you apply them before you start sweating.

If you put on a stick or spray deodorant after you’ve already gone through a t-shirt’s worth of sweat, you’ll just be adding a new deodorant smell to the mix, rather than preventing B.O. The best cure in that situation is a shower with soap.

Is It Bad To Sleep With Deodorant On?

Deodorant companies will encourage you to sleep with deodorant on, but that’s because they want you to use more product than necessary.

I’d only recommend applying deodorant before you go to bed if you’re dealing with some really persistent body odor. And if that is the case, you should probably be seeing a doctor. Sometimes your personal smell is an indicator of underlying health issues.

More specifically, even if you learn how to apply antiperspirants properly, if you leave it on 24/7, it will block your sweat glands and kill bacteria in your armpits 24/7, which is not necessarily healthy. Some of those microorganisms in your armpits are friendly and good for your skin. And allowing yourself to sweat is natural. It’s one reason to avoid antiperspirants in favor of natural deodorants. And if you’ve been using antiperspirants, you’re going to want to read this guide on how to remove antiperspirant from your skin.

Is It Safe To Put Deodorant On Your Balls?

I’m not going to say no, because if I do, I’m sure a lot of you are going to go home to prove me wrong.

I’ll just say it’s probably not a great idea, and “experimenting” with it might not turn out well. The skin in your nether regions is highly sensitive (as I’m sure you know). While your armpits might not mind the ingredients in your deodorant sticks and sprays, those same ingredients might irritate your balls, or even cause rashes and breakouts.

If you’re concerned about how your balls smell, stick with soap and water. That’s the gentlest, most efficient way to clean your private parts.

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.