Asking for a friend: What can I do if I forgot to put on deodorant this morning?


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Photo: Getty Images/JGI/Jamie Grill

This a.m., about halfway through my SLT class when the instructor came over to adjust my form, I had a horrible realization: “Ohmigod,” I thought, “I forgot to put on deodorant this morning.”

I started to panic, because not only was I sweating so, so much more than usual—but I straight up stank. So much so that I felt genuinely bad for the girl on the Megaformer next to me. And the worst part was knowing that since I didn’t have time to shower before heading into the office, the B.O. that had already taken hold would still somehow manage to peak through for the rest of the day, no matter how much Secret Clinical Strength ($12) I swiped under my pits. Woof.

Finding myself in this sticky stinky situation, I had to know: Is there anything you can do to get rid of B.O. after you’ve forgotten to put on deodorant? Having been in this situation before (…more times than I would like to publicly admit on the Internet), I can confirm that the solution of “wipe your armpits with a tissue, apply some D.O. and hope for the best” just won’t cut it. So I decided to ask the pros WTF to do so that my poor coworkers didn’t have to suffer with the scent of me all day long (you’re welcome, Rachel).

First, it’s important to understand why just slapping on some deodorant won’t fix the issue of odor once the damage is already done. “Deodorant is essentially a masking fragrance, and does nothing to stop bacterial growth or sweat production,” says Austin-based dermatologist Dr. Ted Lain. “The body odor is related to bacteria by-products, so with no masking fragrance, this odor is unleashed.”

So it’s all about killing that bacteria. “You can try to stop body odor by either stopping sweat production with an antiperspirant, or by killing the bacteria with an antibacterial wash,” he says. “The sweat feeds the bacteria, so by plugging the sweat ducts with an antiperspirant, the bacteria will not proliferate and the odor decreases.” Or, if the body odor has started to become a serious situation, wash your armpits with soap and water (or my personal favorite, a shower sheet) before applying deodorant.
According to David Spratte, CEO and co-founder of antiperspirant brand Carpe, the drier your armpits are before application, the better. “If you can wipe of the skin to get it as dry as possible that will help the product work best,” he says. 
And if you don’t have deodorant on-hand? “The old hand sanitizer trick always works,” says dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara, referring to the in-a-pinch solution of rubbing hand sanitizer under your arms to kill bacteria. But, she says, be sure to only use a little bit so it doesn’t irritate the skin.
…BRB, trying these.
This CBD deodorant stands up to even the sweatiest workouts, and is definitely worth keeping your gym bag. Plus, the derm-approved trick for trying out the natural stuff. 

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