Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
What you choose to use on your pits is a personal choice—but many of us start a routine as teenagers and never think to reevaluate this decision even after decades have passed. Consider your options before deciding how you’d like to maintain your armpit game.
Decide how down you are to get sweaty.
Antiperspirants reduce sweat by blocking pores (usually with an aluminum-based compound), while deodorants use alcohol-based ingredients to make your skin more acidic and less hospitable to stink-causing bacteria. Antiperspirants—especially clinical-strength products—are stronger than deodorant, and they can cause stinging or redness in those with sensitive skin. If that’s you, opt for deo.
Apply antiperspirant only to dry skin.
Deodorant can go on wet, but the sweat-blocking stuff is most effective and least irritative when applied to clean, dry skin. Putting it on at the start of your day (not just pre-run) will give your body more time to absorb the formula. Toronto runner Helen Racanelli says, “I wait until I’m completely dressed and done with my hair and makeup, so it doesn’t sting my skin.”
Be confident in your choice.
Some women are concerned about a possible link between breast cancer and aluminum-based antiperspirants. The National Cancer Institutes and the Mayo Clinic say no study has pointed conclusively to a link, so don’t fret if you’re dedicated to your anti. But if stressing is making you work up a cold sweat, relax and just use a natural deodorant instead. Natural deodorants tend to have a shorter shelf life, so use them within six months, or toss if the aroma changes.