Applying deodorant before sweating yourself stinky at the gym sounds like a pointless endeavor, especially since, unless you’re a Medieval peasant, you’re going to shower afterwards anyway. However, when I posed this question — whether you should apply deodorant before hitting the gym — to our Slack channel, I realized that the answer isn’t quite so simple.
On one hand, as my colleague Miles Klee pointed out, applying deodorant before the gym “would be as weird as the people who put on makeup to go for a run.” But on the other, as our art director Erin Taj emphasized, “It’s really upsetting to be around someone who smells like ass when you’re trying to concentrate.”
Both arguments make sense. You’re supposed to look ugly, and you’re supposed to smell bad at the gym — that’s simply what happens when people workout. But then again, should everyone else at the gym really have to put up with your stank because you couldn’t take two seconds to put on some deodorant for your B.O.?
Alas, I needed clarity, so I asked Jeff Jalaba, a certified personal trainer in L.A., what he thinks about applying deodorant before working out. “A good reason would be to smell better and be more courteous to fellow gym-goers and staff,” he answers, before adding that there are exceptions to this rule (you know who you are). “If you don’t have body odor, you can get away without wearing it — some people need it more than others.”
That seems reasonable. Being courteous is always a good thing, and putting on deodorant takes literally no time or effort at all.
That said, it does pose several other questions. Such as: If you put on deodorant before going to the gym, do you still need to put it on afterward? And what if you put on deodorant the night before working out? Should you still put on more? According to a short explainer on the Garnier website (Garnier has their own line of deodorants), it doesn’t really matter — but in an ideal world, less is more:
“The most effective time of day to apply your deodorant and antiperspirant is actually at night before going to bed. The active ingredients are especially effective at night because your body temperature is lower and your underarms dryer. The lower heat and extra dryness will give your deodorant more chance to work on your skin.
“Modern strong deodorants are effective for 24 hours or more, so you will be perfectly protected even the next day. Of course, if you like applying your product just before your sport or exercise session, then you can pop on a bit more. If you take a shower after your sport session, then you can spray or roll on a fresh layer. Don’t overdo it though, as you might spoil your clothes or become irritated if you apply too many layers in the same day!”
In other words, if you applied deodorant the night before attending a morning sweat sesh, you’re probably still covered. But if you want extra coverage, putting even more on won’t hurt.
The person on the machine next to you will thank you.