Whole Body Deodorant Is Everywhere—Do You Actually Need It?

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Written By Paklay Zablay

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If you’ve ever applied deodorant somewhere other than your armpits, you’re not alone. Whether it’s your thighs, under-boob, or lower back—sweat (and the super-fun smells that come with it!) is a full-body experience. And yet, for some reason, antiperspirants and deodorants have only been targeted to our underarms. That is, until recently.

You might have noticed that whole body deodorants suddenly seem to be everywhere. The Lumē commercials alone are ubiquitous, but now body care brands like Secret, Dove, and Native have products targeted to our entire bods. So what’s the deal?

“In a fairytale world we wouldn’t sweat at all. But in reality we all sweat—and not just from our underarms,” says Ed Currie, co-founder of whole body deodorant brand AKT London. Currie and Andy Coxon are former performers on London’s West End who created their hero product, The Deodorant Balm, to help fellow cast members feel—and smell—fresh after long days on stage. “Our colleagues would use AKT on their foreheads, forearms, under breasts, and pubic area. Of course the underarms are the main culprit, but often it just relieves that anxiety in other areas too.”

Whole body deodorants promise to reduce uncomfortable sweat and smells from head to toe—but do they actually work? Ahead, experts answer all your questions about full-body deos—plus, our top product picks.

What is full-body deodorant?

First, a quick reminder that deodorant and antiperspirant are, in fact, different things.

At its simplest, “Deodorant is designed to control body odor by neutralizing or masking the smell of sweat produced,” explains Teresa Song, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical. “Deodorants may contain antimicrobial agents to inhibit bacterial growth, fragrances to mask odors, and ingredients to absorb moisture.” Keyword: absorb; on the other hand, antiperspirants contain aluminum salts, which physically block sweat glands, and are therefore more generally more effective at reducing moisture.

Originally, both antiperspirants and deodorants were designed for our underarms because they’re the main culprits for serious sweat and B.O. But anyone with a body knows they’re not the only culprits. People have used underarm-specific products for off-label uses for, well, ever—so it was only a matter of time before formulas developed for the rest of the body were created. “Since we can sweat anywhere on the body and cause unwanted odor to develop, full-body antiperspirant can be applied throughout the body,” says Song.

Can you actually use full-body deodorant everywhere?

Pretty much! But there are caveats. As Song points out, it’s important to pay attention to the active ingredients. “Certain antiperspirants may contain aluminum chloride, which can cause irritation on sensitive skin on the body, such as groin folds,” says the dermatologist. “While other deodorants may only contain humidity-absorbing powders, which is less likely to cause irritation and can be applied elsewhere.”

Currie explains that AKT was designed to be used anywhere externally on the body—including the face; the product is even used on movie sets under wig laces. “It’s more hygienic to apply as it’s a balm—you can simply wash your hands before applying to your face,” says Currie.

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