Did you know that you have more sweat glands on your feet than on your armpits? So, if you’re noticing your feet getting stinky and sweaty, you’re not alone. It’s totally normal for feet to be sweaty.
And where there’s sweat, there’s bacteria. Add that to a moist environment where bacteria multiply and that’s a perfect recipe for body odor.
Knowing this, you might be wondering why deodorants are marketed for use on your armpits, but not your feet. If the feet are more likely to get sweaty and stinky, how come deodorant ads only show people using it on their armpits?
Can you use deodorant on your feet? Yes, you absolutely can. Deodorants and antiperspirants can be used on feet (and other sweaty body parts) to help eliminate odor and reduce sweating. There are a few things you should consider, however.
There are many different deodorants on the market that come in different packages, different textures, and with different ingredients. Some of them will work better on your feet than others.
In this article, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about using deodorants and antiperspirants on your feet and other tips for stinky feet.
What Causes Stinky Feet?
Having stinky feet is a very common problem that dates back to the beginning of humankind.
Even in Biblical times, washing one’s feet and putting perfume oils on them was an act of care and respect. People have been fighting foot odor for ages.
The main cause of smelly feet is trapped sweat. Because your feet have thousands of sweat glands and they get worked all day by you walking and moving, they produce a lot of sweat.
Unfortunately, most of that sweat gets trapped inside your shoes with nowhere to go. It doesn’t get evaporated as quickly as the sweat on your forehead because it’s not exposed to air.
Trapped sweat creates a perfect environment for odor-causing bacteria to grow and multiply. To make matters worse, feet often have rough skin patches with layers of dead skin cells that contribute to the growth and spread of bacteria. The result? Stinky feet.
Can You Put Deodorant On Your Feet?
Yes, it is safe to put deodorant on your feet. In fact, deodorants and antiperspirants are very effective at eliminating stink and sweating on your feet, not just your armpits.
Most deodorants can successfully block the smell of feet for up to 4-6 hours, whereas antiperspirants can block sweat production for up to 24 hours.
Of course, not all deodorants and antiperspirants will work for every person’s feet. Just like our armpits, our feet can have different sensitivities and needs.
Let’s talk about what works for most people and how you can get the most out of your deodorant.
What Kind Of Deodorant Can You Use On Your Feet?
Regular deodorant that is made for your armpits can work well on feet. There are some deodorants on the market that are specifically marketed for feet. But there isn’t really a big difference when it comes to the ingredients, so any deodorant that works on your armpits should work just as well on your feet.
You have a choice between deodorants, antiperspirants, natural deodorants, and powders. What works for your feet may different than what works for others, so you might have to go through a bit of trial and error before you find the product that works for you.
Antiperspirant Vs. Deodorant
Although these terms are often used interchangeably, antiperspirants are not the same as deodorants. Deodorants are made to “smell good” and mask any body odors. They also often contain antimicrobial ingredients that help reduce the number of odor-producing bacteria.
Antiperspirants are made to reduce the amount of sweating. They often contain aluminum-based ingredients that work to block your body’s sweat glands from producing sweat.
Antiperspirants are often made with deodorants mixed in – a 2-in-1 product that both blocks you from sweating and provides a pleasant scent.
So which one should you use on your feet? It’s up to you. Both products will work on your feet. If your problem is smell alone, and you don’t think your feet produce too much sweat, to begin with – a deodorant might be enough. It will help mask the smell and kill bacteria, allowing your feet to smell fresh and clean longer.
If you notice that your feet are often sweaty, and if your shoes are often humid after you remove them – that’s a good sign that you might want to use an antiperspirant-containing product. You can opt for one that has no scent or one that has deodorant ingredients that make it smell fresh.
Is Aluminum In Antiperspirants Safe For The Feet?
There have been some concerns about using antiperspirants on armpits because the aluminum ingredients in them have been linked to breast cancer.
Many women are worried about increasing their breast cancer risk, so they opt for deodorants without antiperspirants or choose “natural” antiperspirants that contain baking soda and similar sweat-absorbing ingredients instead of aluminum.
But is there really any risk from aluminum on your feet? Studies suggest that “if you have normal kidney function, your kidneys can usually process the amount of aluminum from antiperspirants and cosmetics that is absorbed through your skin.”
It’s up to you if you want to accept the risk, but science doesn’t appear to see a link between antiperspirants and cancer, especially in people with healthy kidney function.
Deodorants Made For Feet
We mentioned earlier that there are some deodorants on the market that are specifically marketed for feet. Are they better for your feet than regular “armpit” deodorant?
We compared the ingredients between them, and concluded that there isn’t really a difference between foot deodorants and traditional deodorants.
The main difference is marketing. Foot deodorants often come in larger packages that are easier to apply to feet. They have labels that show you how to use them on your feet. But other than that, they’re almost identical to regular deodorants that you can find at your local pharmacy or grocery store.
Just like regular deodorants, foot deodorants have a variety of scents and ingredients. Some of them contain antiperspirants like aluminum, while others don’t. Some of them use essential oils, and others – synthetic fragrances.
Ultimately it is up to you which deodorant you decide to use on your feet. We think it’s important that you have a separate deodorant for your feet so that there’s no risk of cross-contamination with your armpits.
But whether that deodorant needs to be foot-specific is irrelevant since they all work the same. Just find one that has a pleasant scent and addresses your needs.
Stick, Spray, Or Roller
Foot deodorants and armpit deodorants come in different formats: sticks, gels, sprays and rollers. If you’re wondering which type of deodorant works on your feet, there are a few things you need to consider.
The most important thing to think about is how the product will feel on your feet when you’re walking around.
- Stick deodorants and antiperspirants are solid. They tend to have a dry texture after you apply them, and are comfortable enough to wear on your fit without the fear of slipping and sliding in your shoes. However, stick deodorants often leave a white residue on your socks and the insides of your shoes.
- Gel deodorants are softer than sticks and are usually transparent. They are better at being “invisible” and not leaving behind a residue. However, they might feel pretty slippery and uncomfortable to wear if you’re putting them on the bottoms of your feet.
- Spray deodorants work pretty well on feet. After you spray a deodorant or an antiperspirant all over your feet, it dries quickly and your feet remain dry for hours. They can sometimes leave behind a residue but it’s usually not as visible as residue from stick deodorants.
- Roller deodorants are super easy to apply, but they are thin and runny. They can take a few minutes to dry and can feel slippery on your feet. If your roller deodorant contains no antiperspirant ingredients, your sweat can mix with the deodorant and create a slippery substance on the bottoms of your feet that can make it really uncomfortable for you to walk. This is usually not an issue if your roller deodorant is also an antiperspirant and prevents your glands from producing sweat.
- Paste or cream – Some deodorants and antiperspirants come in a tub. They have the consistency of a thick paste or cream. These can be great to use on the feet because they aren’t very slippery or wet.
As you can see you have a lot of options when it comes to deodorants and antiperspirants that you can put on your feet.
The biggest thing to consider is how comfortable your feet will be with each specific type of product. You want to look for something that dries fast and doesn’t leave a slippery residue on your feet. If you’re wearing dark socks or open-toe shoes, you also want to be mindful of your product leaving visible white marks.
How To Apply Deodorant To Your Feet
Once you’ve figured out the type of deodorant you want to put on your feet, you’re probably wondering where you should apply it. Where exactly do the sweat and bacteria come out from? Is it the soles of your feet or the tops?
It’s a little bit of both. We recommend putting some deodorant on the tops of your feet first – from the tops of your toe knuckles to the arch of your foot, stopping just before the ankle.
Then apply some deodorant to the bottom of your foot – between the ball of your foot and your heel.
Do not apply any product directly onto the ball and heel of your feet because it can make walking uncomfortable and those are not the areas where most of the odor comes from.
Before you do this, make sure you start with clean and dry feet. The last thing you want to do is add product on top of sweat and bacteria that’s already there.
Socks or No Socks?
You can wear your deodorant or antiperspirant with and without socks.
If you’re planning on wearing socks, consider the following:
- Cotton socks are best at eliminating sweat and reducing the growth of bacteria
- Synthetic socks are not the best option, even if you wear antiperspirant
- Allow your deodorant to fully dry before you put a sock over your foot
- White and grey socks are best if you’re worried about your deodorant leaving white stains
If you’re not planning on wearing socks, any deodorant or antiperspirant should work just fine. One thing to keep in mind is that the product texture isn’t too slippery or sticky so that you don’t end up rubbing your feet against your shoes and developing callouses.
You should also make sure to let your deodorant dry before you put your shoes on.
Can You Use The Same Deodorant On Your Feet As You Do On Your Armpits?
If you love the deodorant that you use on your armpits, and it works really well for you, you can definitely use the same kind of deodorant on your feet.
It’s very important that you don’t use the same exact stick of deodorant on both your feet and armpits. Using the same product for both can lead to cross-contamination.
Since your feet are more likely to harbor fungus and bacteria, you run the risk of transferring them to your armpits and wreaking havoc on those sensitive areas. Nobody wants athlete’s foot in their armpits!
It’s best to have two separate products for each area. If you use the same brand and scent for both, we highly recommend labeling them with a marker so that you don’t get them confused.
Other Tips To Prevent Smelly Feet
Using a good deodorant or antiperspirant is just one part of the equation when it comes to smelly feet. Here are a few more things you can do to ensure your feet are fresh and odor-free all day long:
- Wash your feet at least once a day with antibacterial soap
- Keep your toenails clean and trimmed. Remove any dirt and grime from underneath your nails.
- Remove dead skin off your feet using a pumice stone
- Use chemical exfoliators containing AHAs and BHAs on your feet once a month
- Soak your feet in a warm bath with epsom salts and vinegar once a week
- Disinfect the insides of your shoes regularly – you can use a regular house disinfectant spray and let them air out for a few hours afterward
- Sprinkle some foot powder over your feet and on the inside of your shoes. Made with baking soda and corn starch, it can help absorb sweat and kill bacteria much like deodorant does
- If nothing helps, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription-strength product. Some people’s feet just sweat a lot. There are things your doctor can recommend that will help.
Smelly and sweat feet are totally normal, so don’t feel embarrassed about it. Thankfully, there is an easy solution in the form of deodorant. Just find the type that works for you and apply it to your feet.
Don’t be afraid of using regular “armpit” deodorant on your feet – all deodorants are made of similar ingredients so you don’t have to buy anything special for your feet. Just remember not to mix products for your feet and armpits to avoid cross-contamination.
We hope you find these tips helpful to keep your tootsies fresh and clean all day!
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