Summer is unofficially here, and while that suggests sunnier days — sandal season, outdoor hangouts, intimate moments with frozen desserts — it also says a lot. And a lot from sweat. Nothing makes you feel quite as self-conscious as showing up to work or a social event with juice stains dripping across your shirt. Not to mention the private hell that scurries around feeling sticky, wet, and let’s face it: stinks.
Of course, you can always reach for deodorant (which neutralizes and masks odor) or antiperspirant (which is designed to reduce perspiration) when showering is out of the question. But there’s only so much they can do if you’re already sweating and smell funky—even the most fun scents can’t completely mask musk. Plus, who has the time or patience to keep applying throughout the day? That’s why the folks at TikTok are swearing by an alternative product to reduce that stink — and it might already be on your bathroom shelf.
It’s PanOxyl Foaming Wash ($10, Target)—a hugely popular, affordable acne-fighting cleanser. And it turns out that it can also double as a powder-less, crumbly solution for BO, Lindsey Zubritsky, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Mississippi, tells SELF. This is because its main ingredient, benzoyl peroxide, kills bacteria on the skin. Not only can these microscopic insects contribute to pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads, but they’re also responsible for that not-so-great smell when the temperature is outside a million degrees. “Sweat, by itself, doesn’t smell bad,” says Dr. Zubritsky. Instead, “body odor is the result of your sweat mixing with the bacteria on your skin. So benzoyl peroxide won’t stop you from sweating, but it will reduce the load of bacteria under your arms, or wherever you apply it, thus stopping the odor.”
For best results, Dr. Zubritsky recommends leaving the white, paste-like cleanser on your underarms (or anywhere you tend to get sweaty and smelly, say, your feet or groin area—just never, ever. in the vagina or around the opening of the vagina; Stick to spots where pubic hair grows) for one to two minutes before rinsing it off in the tub or shower, and apply it three to four times a week, max. And if you have sensitive skin or prefer to err on the gentle side, try a face wash with about 4 to 5 percent benzoyl peroxide like CeraVe’s Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser ($16, Target), which Dr. Zubritsky says is generally safe for all skin types. Choosing a higher percentage (like the 10% in PanOxyl cleanser) or using it too frequently can dry out your armpits, she says, and possibly cause irritation or an allergic reaction (a major reason why you should always test new products before. Spread them on your body—no matter what). regardless of your skin type).
However, for the most part, benzoyl peroxide is a safe ingredient that may become a staple next summer. Just be sure to rinse well—this holy grail of skincare can, unfortunately, bleach your favorite summer tank!