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Best Deodorant and Antiperspirant

By: Angela Stringfellow on January 03, 2018

Clinical-strength deodorants deliver ironclad protection all day long

If pit stains are a part of your daily life, no matter the season, you're probably a heavy sweater. When regular antiperspirants fail, doctors and users say clinical-strength deodorants really can make a difference.

First, though, get your timing right: the best time to apply antiperspirant is at night, right before bed. Since you sweat less while you sleep, the antiperspirant will be able to enter your sweat ducts and stay there. According to experts, the effect lasts for 24 hours or more, even if you take a morning shower after applying antiperspirant the previous evening. Clinical-strength antiperspirants often tell you specifically to apply at night, but this trick also works with regular antiperspirants.

If you've tried everything to tame your sweat -- and failed -- experts recommend Certain Dri Prescription Strength Clinical (Est. $6). "Readers call this product 'a lifesaver' ... 'a godsend for anyone with sweating problems,'" says Hayley Mason at TotalBeauty.

Certain Dri bills itself as "the most effective anti-perspirant you can buy without a prescription" -- and reviews say that's no joke. Thousands of users offer feedback on Certain Dri at various retail sites, where it earns very high ratings across the board. Many say it has literally changed their lives: After years of trying to hide embarrassing sweat stains (and throwing away ruined clothing), they say Certain Dri has given them back their confidence, as well as their freedom to wear clothing in colors that would ordinarily show embarrassing underarm wet spots.

Certain Dri contains 12 percent aluminum chloride, which has been clinically proven to reduce sweating, according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society (hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating). It's best for treating armpits; less effective for palmar sweating.

The major drawback with Certain Dri is that it can irritate your skin -- and that's putting it mildly, users say. Your armpits can itch, sting and burn unbearably if you don't follow Certain Dri's instructions to the letter: Apply sparingly, and never right after shaving or showering. Most users say they don't have any problems, as long as they follow these instructions religiously. Some users find Certain Dri Clinical Strength Solid (Est. $9) less irritating than the roll-on.

For less severe sweat situations, consider a milder clinical-strength antiperspirant, like those we recommend below. These are less likely to irritate your skin -- and unlike the fragrance-free Certain Dri, are available in various fragrances.

The best women's deodorants/antiperspirants

Deodorants and antiperspirants targeted specifically toward men or women don't differ much when it comes to formula -- compare the ingredient lists, and you'll see that they're practically identical. Where they do differ is in configuration -- women's applicator tips are generally smaller, men's larger and wider -- and fragrance options. Deodorants for women typically feature "light, fresh or flower scents;" those for men invoke manlier smells.  

Those who don't suffer from heavy sweating don't need the strongest antiperspirants. Most standard deodorant/antiperspirants also contain aluminum-based compounds to block sweat ducts, although generally at lower doses. Among those targeted at women, none earns more praise than Secret Clinical Strength Smooth Solid (Est. $12), which combines its active ingredient (20 percent Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY) with skin-soothing conditioners to avoid irritating sensitive underarm skin. "This nearly prescription-strength formula won't irritate," according to editors at Real Simple. "Apply it in the p.m. to give the sweat-stopping salts a chance to sink in." It comes in several of different scents as well as a hypoallergenic, unscented formulation.

Despite its name, it's actually not a solid but a gel-like substance that is dispensed through holes in the top of the applicator. Offering up to 48 hours of odor protection, Secret Clinical Strength Smooth Solid comes in six varieties, including an unscented variety for sensitive skin and a waterproof formulation that won't lose its effectiveness during a day at the pool or beach -- or when you shower after a rigorous workout. It's also adaptive; when the active ingredient is exposed to perspiration, the pH of the solution increases, prompting the formation of plugs in your sweat ducts.

Many reviewers say that Secret Clinical Strength Smooth Solid is the only deodorant/antiperspirant they've found that works after having suffered from excessive sweating and body odor for years. A few report that they've tried other Secret deodorant products in the past without success but were pleasantly surprised at how well this formulation works.

One downside reported by several consumers is that the dial on the bottom of the applicator is difficult to turn. This may be attributable to the fact that the product is meant to be used sparingly; however, a few users say it became so cumbersome that they ended up throwing the product away before using it all. Additionally, contrary to Real Simple's assertion that it's non-irritating, a few users do say it caused underarm irritation, and some say it leaves white streaks on their clothes that are difficult to remove. However, other users point out that many of these gripes are avoidable if the directions are followed precisely: applying it in the evening, every other day. Most users rave about the various scents, which they describe as light and fresh, but not overpowering.

If you prefer to apply deodorant in the morning and are concerned about noticeable white streaks on your clothing, Secret Outlast Xtend Women's Clear Gel Antiperspirant & Deodorant (Est. $5) earns rave reviews from thousands of users. Outlast Xtend is an improvement on Secret's original Outlast collection, with a new formula that offers more sweat and odor fighters for longer-lasting freshness -- up to 48 hours. With 17 percent of the active ingredient Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY (compared to Secret Clinical Strength Smooth Solid's 20 percent), it may be less irritating to some users.

Secret Outlast Xtend Women's Clear Gel Antiperspirant and Deodorant comes in eight scents, including Sport Fresh, Active Fresh and Sensitive Clean, among others, as well as in an Unscented formulation. Many reviewers say they prefer the clear gel to Outlast Xtend's solid formulations, as the solids tend to clump and fall apart, while the clear gel applies cleanly and evenly, drying quickly to leave no residue or streaks behind.

If your skin tends to be intolerant of clinical-strength deodorant/antiperspirants, Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant (Est. $5) is another option that comes in several scents, such as Original Clean, Cool Essentials and Powder Soft, as well as a formulation designed specifically for sensitive skin, Dove Advanced Care Sensitive Antiperspirant (Est. $5). Like Secret Clinical Strength Smooth Solid and Secret Outlast Xtend, Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant offers 48-hour protection. It contains zero alcohol, which can contribute to irritation in some deodorants, plus it has Dove NutriumMoisture and is one-quarter moisturizers to minimize irritation and even soothe underarm skin after shaving. It has the same active ingredient as the Secret antiperspirant/deodorants above, but in a lower concentration of 15.2 percent.

Thousands of consumers review Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant across several retail sites, where it earns very high average ratings. Most say the scents are mild and lasts throughout the day. A few users say they have sensitive skin and haven't experienced any itchiness, rashes or bumps after using this product, although like most deodorants, there are a few users who do report experiencing some irritation. Users say Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant has a creamy texture that goes on smoothly without leaving any stickiness or sliminess behind.  We saw plenty of comments from people who say they've used this brand for more than a year and are pleased with its performance. That said, a number of recent reviews say that this product now has a new formulation that doesn't work as well as the previous formulation.

The best men's deodorants/antiperspirants

When it comes to antiperspirant products targeted specifically to men, Dove Men+ Care Antiperspirant Stick, Cool Silver (Est. $15 for a pack of 4) earns more positive feedback from users than any other. It contains the same amount of active ingredient as Dove Advanced Care for women (15.2 percent Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY), as well as Dove's one-quarter moisturizer to minimize irritation and soothe skin, and it claims to offer 48 hours of protection.

Dove Men+ Care actually comes in four scents: Fresh Awake, Extra Fresh and Clean Comfort, in addition to the top-rated Cool Silver version, although they contain slightly different ingredients, such as specific fragrance ingredients. There's also a Dove Men+Care Sensitive Shield formulation for men with sensitive skin. All five earn mostly rave reviews from users, although the Cool Silver version is a user favorite and the only formulation with Dove's silver technology -- meaning it contains silver chloride. Although it's listed as an inactive ingredient, some users say it seems to work better than the other formulations.

Most users say Dove Men+Care Cool Silver goes on clean, has a pleasant scent that lasts all day, and leaves them feeling fresh even after a full workday or a sweaty workout. While some reviewers say they prefer the Extra Fresh scent (and some even say the Extra Fresh formulation seems to last longer), most agree that Dove Men+ Care leaves their delicate underarm skin feeling soft, dry, smooth and fresh, with no irritation or clumping. However, like all deodorants, there are a few isolated complaints of irritation and allergic reactions to Cool Silver as well as the other scents. Some users find that switching to another scent eliminates irritation, which indicates a possible allergy or reaction to certain fragrance ingredients.

If you need a bit more sweat protection, Degree Men Dry Protection Antiperspirant Deodorant (Est. $14 for a pack of 6), an invisible solid, contains more active ingredients than Dove Men+ Care (18.2 percent Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY). It comes in five scents: Cool Comfort, Sport, Clean, Cool Rush and Extreme Blast. For men who prefer spray deodorant, Degree Men Dry Protection is also available in an aerosol formulation, Degree Men Dry Protection Sport (Est. $16 for a pack of 3).

Most users are very pleased with Degree Men Dry Protection saying it's non-irritating and keeps the sweat at bay during a full day of work or vigorous physical activity, outlasting other deodorants they've tried that failed to block sweat and odor after a few hours. Most also note that it goes on smoothly without leaving their armpits feeling sticky, although there are those who beg to differ, complaining that it leaves residue in the underarm area. A few report that they had to throw shirts away because this deodorant bleached the armpits. On the other hand, users who wear lighter colors (or white t-shirts under their clothing) appreciate the fact that they no longer develop yellow stains in the underarms of their shirts after switching to this deodorant.

Some who swear by Degree Men Dry Protection say they've used for years. We also saw a number of comments from those who say that they used to have to apply deodorant more than once throughout the day – but after switching to this brand, they're able to apply deodorant only once in the morning for lasting dryness and freshness all day. We also saw a few reviewer comments that, despite it being labeled for men, Degree Men Dry Protection is great for women, as well, particularly in the more unisex scents like Clean.

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