“The phrase ‘I don’t sweat, I glisten’ and things like that all feed into the idea that women are supposed to hide basic human functions and clearly they shouldn’t have to—people sweat, and everybody is different," says Katie Sturino, founder of Megababe, author of Body Talk and body acceptance advocate. “We’ve reached the golden age of getting real about beauty and the things that we deal with every day in an unfiltered manner. I found that by allowing women to acknowledge that they have sweat on their clothes from their boob sweat would make them feel less alone and more empowered."
With that ethos in mind, we've hit our peak in sweat-stopping possibilities. Until recently, we only had two choices in the fight against summer stink: Deodorants, which manage odor, and antiperspirants, which use an aluminum compound to stop sweat and odor. But now, there are formulas that fight sweat in new ways, deos that can be applied practically anywhere on your body, and enough products to have a full underarm skincare routine. Let’s talk about sweat, baby.
The latest ways to stop sweat
“The purpose of sweat is to help your body maintain a normal body temperature and cool you down when your body temperature goes up, which can occur in the setting of exercise, work, stress or hot temperatures, among other causes,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Centers.
What you may not realize is that sweat, on its own, is odorless. It only starts to stink when it combines with bacteria on your skin, which means clearing away that bacteria is key to keeping B.O. at bay. And these days, the traditional formulas we've relied on to get the job done are up against some serious competition.
1. Acid-infused formulas
A new class of glycolic acid-based products that address sweat via exfoliation. “Glycolic acid may be used to reduce body odor by reducing the skin’s pH and as a result reducing the amount of odor-producing bacteria,” Dr. Garshick says. “By exfoliating away the dead skin cells it may prevent buildup and also help reduce the potential for ingrown, as well as hyperpigmentation.”
The new Megababe Cream Deo ($14) is made with a 5 percent concentration of alpha-hydroxy acids that block bacteria and prevent odor while also evening out discoloration and preventing ingrown hairs. It's super easy to apply thanks to its squeeze-top tip, and leaves skin soft and supple. Then, there's Kosas Chemistry Deodorant ($16), an underarm serum that uses a blend of AHAs to fight BO, soothe and brighten skin, and prevent ingrown hairs. Saltair also recently launched its refillable Skin Care Deodorant ($10)," which combines pore-clearing salicylic acid with zinc, algae, and nourishing oils to help neutralize odor.
2. Deodorant "dusts"
For a different type of sweat solution, Kaia Naturals founder Mary Futher (who's better known on TikTok as (Madame Sweat") looked to the chalks that mountain climbers and gymnasts use to keep their hands dry. That inspired her to create Kaia Naturals The Sweat Powder ($35), which can be brushed onto skin wherever you’re perspiring. Finely-ground magnesium carbonate instantly soaks up sweat while zinc oxide minimizes chafing and natural antimicrobial apple cider vinegar works to help prevent odor.
Megababe's Bust Dust ($16) functions similarly, using corn starch to absorb moisture while lavender works as an antibacterial (it's also got aloe and chamomile to soothe skin and prevent irritation). Think of these products as upgraded Gold Bond: They soak up sweat and leave you smelling like roses in the process.
3. Antibacterial soaps
According to dermatologists, one of the main culprits behind B.O. is improper washing—if you aren't whisking away all of the bacteria and buildup (particularly under your arms), it's more likely to start to stink. "Remember to properly cleanse the skin in this area to eliminate buildup and sweat, and use a gentle cleanser that won’t strip the skin of its natural oils,” Dr. Garshick says.
Brands have taken note of this important odor-fighting step and introduced products that make washing the right way a cinch. Megababe's Space Bar ($8) has activated charcoal and tea tree that detoxify your pits, Kaia Naturals' Underarm Bar ($25) comes with gentle antibacterial benefits, and DuraDry's Odor Control Body Wash ($20) is designed to cleanse your pits from the inside out in the shower.
4. Armpit "skin care"
“I think [armpit care] is the new skin care,” says Futher. “Your underarms are one of the most neglected areas of the body and yet it's one that can cause you grave discomfort. Smelling isn't pleasant and there is sweating, but also itchy armpits from bad shaving habits. Razor burn and bumps are not exactly fun to have and yet people don't want to spend the time or energy on it because it's something you can't see.”
With that in mind, we're seeing more and more skin-friendly formulations making their way into the armpit-care sphere. Armpit discoloration, for example, is normal and common, which explains why skin-brightening ingredients like niacinamide are increasingly being added to new formulations—like Dove Even Tone Antiperspirant Deodorant ($7), Nécessaire The Deodorant Gel ($15), and Dermadoctor Total Nonscents Ultra Gentle Brightening Antiperspirant ($30).
5. Full-body sweat stoppers
Full-body deodorants are also trending, like the Boscia Prebiotic + Probiotic Freshening All-Over Body Deodorant ($25) and Curie Full Body Deodorant Spray ($14). Carpe also offers a range of "sweat lotions" targeted for areas including hands, feet, face, and underboobs, which use ingredients like silica microspheres and colloidal oatmeal to absorb sweat. “Whole body deodorants are designed to address odor in all areas of the body and are often formulated to spread and absorb easily in areas such as the buttocks, under the breasts, back, and neck,” Dr. Garshick says. “They are often formulated with nourishing ingredients to minimize potential irritation.”
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