Why Antiperspirants Can Make You Smell Worse

Millions of people across the world use deodorant or antiperspirant. In fact, deodorant-donning adults apply 8.6 times per week on average. But did you know antiperspirant and deodorant could actually make you smell worse?

We did a bit of research to get some answers. Here’s what we found.  

Why Antiperspirant or Deodorant Can Make You Smell Worse

In short, antiperspirant can make you smell worse because it alters the composition of bacteria in your armpits. And if you're a heavy sweater but only use deodorant, you may find yourself still sweating, which can make you smell worse.

Now let's dive into a deeper understanding of why antiperspirants and deodorants can make you smell worse. 

First, check the label on your product. Are you using deodorant, antiperspirant or a deodorant/antiperspirant combination? There's a difference!

Deodorants don’t actually stop sweat — they just target the bacteria on your skin to mask the smell of body odor.  

Antiperspirants, on the other hand, are aluminum-based. These products are designed to stop sweat. They form a gel-like substance that blocks your sweat ducts, preventing or reducing the amount of sweat your body produces.  

Read more about the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant here.

Research published in the Archives of Dermatological Research found that antiperspirants can increase the level of odor-causing bacteria in the armpit, which could lead to underarm odor.

In the study, the subjects agreed to stop wearing deodorant or antiperspirant for a month. Researchers then examined the diversity and amount of armpit bacteria before, during and after they resumed using deodorant.

This change in daily hygiene habits caused the subjects’ armpit bacteria to alter. Although the study's sample size was very small (nine participants), consistent results showed that long-term use of antiperspirants “can lead towards altered odor production of the armpit.”  

What to Do If You Wear Deodorant But Still Smell

Don't throw away your antiperspirants just yet. If you're a sweaty person, you'll still need antiperspirant. However, you may want to change the way you apply antiperspirant to make sure you're getting the most of out the product.

Our bodies adapt to antiperspirant after a few months of use. For the best results, apply antiperspirant at night before bed. Your skin has more time to absorb the compounds and work effectively.

Read more: Antiperspirant Not Working? How to Apply Antiperspirant Correctly

If you do experience additional underarm odor, try switching your deodorant or antiperspirant. You can try clinical-strength or prescription options, or natural deodorants. Keep in mind it may take some time and trial-and-error to find the best deodorant or antiperspirant that works for you.

Other Factors That Make Your Sweat Smell Worse

Antiperspirants and deodorants aren’t the only factor that can make your sweat smell worse. Certain food, drinks and stressful situations can also increase armpit and body odor.

  • Food. A few hours after eating or drinking certain rich foods, it can seem as though the smell is seeping out of your pores. Foods like garlic, Brussels sprouts and onions contain and secrete more sulfuric compounds that make you stink.
  • Drinks. Having a few drinks the night before can also affect your sweat.
  • Nervous sweating. Stressful situations trigger the fight-or-flight response in your nervous system. They signal your apocrine glands (the smellier of your two types of sweat glands) to perspire.
  • Certain medical conditions. While rare, certain medical conditions can also cause body odor.

Overall, sweating less will reduce armpit and body odor. To best manage armpit sweat and make your deodorant or antiperspirant more effective, try a Thompson Tee sweat proof undershirt for men and women. These patented undershirts feature an integrated underarm barrier that absorbs moisture, blocks odor and prevents underarm sweat from seeping through your outer layers. You won't have to deal with wet marks or yellow stains anymore. Pair it with your favorite deodorant or antiperspirant for best results! 

Try a Thompson Tee risk-free today.