Should You Be Applying Your Deodorant Before Bedtime? It Depends

Think about your bedtime routine. Do you hop in the shower to wash away the day's dirt and stress? Brush your teeth? What about lotion for your body and face? Now the next step — whether you do it or not — is what has the internet divided — applying deodorant. Whether deodorant is a part of your morning or evening routine, you may have come across this question before. Is it okay to apply the stuff on your underarms before you head to bed? Well, the answer is a little complex. Before getting to it though, you should probably understand the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant.

According to dermatologist Dr. Alan M. Dattner (via InStyle), "Deodorants usually refer to a combination of antiperspirant and odor reducer." Antiperspirants actually contain aluminum that works by blocking the sweat glands, whereas regular deodorants only mask the smell of odor with their perfume. Dermatologists generally recommend applying deodorants that contain antiperspirants before bedtime because that's when your skin is driest. 

As associate professor of clinical dermatology at Cornell University, Dr. Shari Lipner explained to Today, "We sweat less at night, so the antiperspirant can come into closer contact with sweat glands and decrease sweating." Also, it's more likely that our underarms remain drier during the night because of a lack of activity, and this gives the antiperspirant more time to work its magic. Furthermore, you don't have to reapply antiperspirant when you wake up because it remains effective for 24 hours or longer. 

What about deodorant then?

As for regular deodorant, it doesn't really matter what time of day you apply the product or how often, but morning is generally a good time because you're basically adding a layer of odor-masking product before stepping out. Even with deodorant, it's always best to apply it to skin that's clean and dry. This might not mean you have to jump in the shower again the next morning but just make sure the area is not wet or smelling bad before application. 

As for those times when you're sweating through the day and want a quick coat under your armpits, it's still good to make sure the area is dry, according to founder and Medical Director of New York's Wall Street Dermatology, Dr. Julia Tzu. "One should clean the skin prior to application of deodorant to avoid cross-contamination of the deodorant itself," she explained to InStyle.

There is also no harm in skipping both products before bedtime and letting your skin breathe as you go to sleep, especially if you're not someone who worries about waking up all fresh and nice-smelling. 

Is there a downside to wearing deodorant at night?

For sensitive skin, round the clock deodorant use (including before bedtime) could irritate. At times like these, your underarm skin will dictate what you should be doing. The important thing would be to see and respond to the signs. Finding the right deodorant that will work best for you could be the next step. You can try switching to alcohol-free options to see if that makes things better or see a dermatologist about the redness and itching. 

As for antiperspirants before bedtime, Lipner told Today, "There are no known health risks associated with wearing deodorant at night or wearing deodorant too often." Even though aluminum in antiperspirants has come under scrutiny as a possible cause for various health conditions including breast cancer, the risk associated with the ingredient is purely theoretical, according to New York-based dermatologist Julie Russak (via The Cut). 

If preventing sweating while you're sleeping is the reason you're putting on antiperspirants, you might want to look at just how much you're perspiring. According to Lipner, "There is no need to take a break from deodorant, but if you are sweating so much that you need to use it multiple times a day, you should see a board-certified dermatologist who can recommend other options."