The longest, hottest part of summer is upon us. High temperatures in August for much of the country range in the 80s to 90s, and 100-degree days are not uncommon in many states. Just thinking about this kind of heat is enough to make you sweat. But while sweat is unavoidable during the dog days of summer, smelling icky isn’t. “All of us have our own ‘odor signature,’ largely determined by genetics, overall health, and, of course, personal hygiene,” says Alicia Barba, MD, a dermatologist in Miami, FL. “Body odor, or BO, occurs when bacteria interacts with sweat, which is otherwise odorless.”
Keep scrolling for smart ways to stop odor and smell fresh through a hot day.
Start in the shower
Obvious but key: taking daily showers. Suds up with a fragrance-free wash, like Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash ($7; target.com), to eliminate odor-causing microorganisms, paying special to attention to areas where you tend to sweat the most. Avoid using loofas or cloths, cautions Dr. Barba: “These bathroom accessories host and harbor bacteria, mold, and yeast.” Once showered, dry off completely before dressing as bacteria also likes to breed on wet skin.
Prep your pits
You have two types of sweat glands, eccrine and apocrine glands. Odor is caused by the interaction of surface bacteria and secretion, particularly from the apocrine glands, which are found mostly in areas with body hair, like the underarms and groin, explains Dr. Barba. While grooming is a personal preference, keep in mind that underarm hair can contribute to the intensity of odor.
If you start to feel super sweaty or stinky, make sure you’re using an antiperspirant. “Deodorants work to counteract odor while antiperspirants temperately block your sweat ducts to prevent secretion,” says Dr. Barba, who recommends Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant ($7; walgreens.com) as it also keeps the skin moisturized and helps prevent chafing.
Be strategic about when you apply it, too. If you shower at night, apply antiperspirant before bed. “Sweat production is lowest at night, giving the active ingredients a better chance to get into your pores and block perspiration come morning.” Otherwise, swipe it on at least 15 minutes before heading outside.
Freshen up on the fly
Whether it’s from a clammy commute, a stressful meeting, or an intense workout, sometimes it can feel like your deodorant is failing you. Stash a set of antibacterial body cleansing wipes in your bag, and you’ll never leave home unprepared. We like Yuni Shower Sheets ($15; sephora.com), which gently cleanse and naturally deodorize the skin. For added freshness, spritz an invisible dry spray, such as Secret Active Fresh ($5; target.com), over your sweatiest spots (think your lower back, under your boobs, and on your booty).
Rethink feminine hygiene
Okay, let’s be clear: The vagina is not meant to smell like bouquet of flowers. But the unique elements of summer — sweat, saltwater, chlorine — mixed with the hair and sweat glands on the external vagina (fun fact: it has more sweat glands than anywhere else on your body) can breed bacteria that causes your unique smell to change. “Keeping the vagina clean should be at the top of your daily feminine ritual, especially as summer starts to heat up,” says Sherry Ross, MD, an OBGYN in Santa Monica, CA, and author of She-ology. “Using a gentle, pH-balanced wash made specifically for the vagina is ideal.” She recommends Summer’s Even Gentle Foaming Wash ($4; amazon.com). Avoid using traditional body washes on the area, she adds, as they can leave behind a film that also contributes to bacteria growth and odor.
Finish with fragrance
Adding pleasant smells is a great safeguard. Look for tropical fruits, bright citruses, and sheer floral notes (lily of the valley, freesia, and lilac). Apply fragrance to the outer forearms, suggests Sherri Sebastian, perfumer and founder of Provision, luxury fragrances and apothecary offerings. “This area seems to keep the integrity intact and allows the fragrance to gently scent the air around you.” She’s also a big fan of using scented body lotions and oils, like Provision’s Manifest ($75): “The concentration is low, but since it covers your skin, you can enjoy a more nuanced experienced.” Whatever you choose, don’t layer on products with different scents in an attempt to hide odor.