Step outside on a sweltering summer day and you know that keeping perspiration in check requires far more than a daily swipe of deodorant. Sweat is a full-body affair. It leaves our hair greasy, melts our makeup, and makes us hot and uncomfortable in even our most intimate areas. As we enter the steamy days of late summer, we’re devoting an entire week to all the ways sweat affects us — and all the best products for dealing with it.
We tackled the body from nose to tail, solving problems ranging from thigh chafing to foot sweat, and consulted a wide range of experts, including dermatologists and podiatrists, endurance athletes, makeup artists tasked with keeping clients shine free under stage lights, and even TikTok perspiration sage Madame Sweat. And while our exploration of all things sweaty goes far beyond deodorants, we’ve got plenty of those, too, from clinical-strength anti-perspirant wipes so powerful you need to apply them only once a week to all-natural, aluminum-free formulas that absorb sweat using ingredients like baking soda and charcoal.
Whether you sweat a little or a lot, check back here daily, as we’ll be adding stories on all the ways to manage perspiration, no matter where it pops up. Welcome to Sweat Week at the Strategist.
Writer Dominique Pariso, a self-described “very hot sleeper,” tried all manner of keeping herself cool at night: breathable linen sheets, a temperature-regulating duvet, cranked-up AC. So she decided to test this more advanced sleeping system, which circulates cold water to the mattress pad to keep it as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Her verdict: “From the very first night, I never had to toss and turn to find the cool side of my mattress — the system really did keep my bed feeling cool all night long. I could even keep my comforter on.”
Most conventional sunscreens melt away little by little as you sweat, making them less effective at protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. There is no official label to look for that proves whether a sunscreen is sweatproof or not, but you can look for ingredients like perlite and silica that give sunscreen more sticking power. To save you time, we talked to dermatologists and athletes who spend a lot of time working out in the sun about the sweatproof sunscreens they use and love.
By far the most popular kind of sweatproof sunscreens we heard about were stick sunblocks like this one from Blue Lizard, which comes recommended by two dermatologists: Dr. Hadley King and Dr. Orit Markowitz. King says that mineral sunscreens in stick form work better because they tend to go on thicker, meaning they “provide good coverage and don’t come off easily with sweat.”
Professional beach volleyball player, Traci Callahan recommends this mineral sunscreen from Skinceuticals. “I wear sunscreen every day when I am outside on the sand. I apply it 15 minutes before I arrive at practice, which lasts around two hours. This sunscreen is my favorite because it’s easy to apply, goes on smooth, doesn’t run into my eyes, and I never get a sunburn,” she says.
A few months ago, writer Chloe Anello noticed lots of brands posting about boxer shorts for women. “Temperatures had already hit 90 degrees. Suddenly, even my sweat shorts and bike shorts felt too heavy and sticky,” she writes. She gave into the pressure and picked up a pair of on-sale boxer shorts at J.Crew to see if they could keep her cool while looking cute, and they did. She’s since worn them out to dinner, to doctor’s appointments, on dog walks, and more. “Not only have I received more compliments on them than any other (actual) shorts I own,” she says, “but they are also easier and breezier to wear in heat than any other shorts I own.”
For this special Sweat Week edition of senior writer Karen Idorio Adelson’s On the Run column, she spoke with pro mountain runner and coach Sally McRae, the winner of this year’s Badwater ultramarathon. Known as “the world’s toughest footrace,” Badwater is a 135-mile race through Death Valley, where the daytime temperature can top 120 degrees. McRae breaks down everything she wore and brought to get her through this very sweaty, 30-hour journey.
McRae found this hat on Amazon back in 2018 when she ran Badwater for the first time and needed a way to cover up the exposed skin on her face and shoulders. “It really took away the intensity of the heat,” she says. “Obviously, I’m still feeling it, but not having that sun beat down on my face was key.”
Replacing electrolytes lost through sweat is incredibly important in a race like this, and McRae relied on Nuun for maintaining the right blend of these essential salts like sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
Anyone who’s experienced ball sweat — and the chafing it can cause — knows it falls at the top of the uncomfortable-areas list. The four dermatologists we spoke with say the best way to treat and prevent ball sweat is actually a combination of things: products to stop sweat, others to prevent chafing, and powders to soak up any extra moisture. Which products you need — and how many of them — depends on how much you sweat.
The first line of defense against ball sweat is to apply a product that stops the sweat before it can lead to any sort of chafing. This cream-to-powder deodorant is technically not an antiperspirant because it doesn’t contain aluminum (which remains the only FDA-approved ingredient for stopping perspiration), but it does contain a moisture-absorbing tapioca starch that helps protect against sweat.
Heavier sweaters may require more than a sweat-stopping product to ensure their groin area stays as dry as possible. That’s where moisture-absorbing powders come in. This one is formulated specifically for use down there and comes recommended by Dr. Samer Jaber of Washington Square Dermatology. “It helps absorb sweat and kills the fungus that can worsen irritation,” he says. It’s not the first powder from Zeasorb we’ve heard about: Lots more dermatologists recommended another powder from the brand to folks dealing with underboob sweat.
According to the seven experts we spoke with, there’s a two-step approach to dressing for hiding sweat: The first is finding pieces designed to keep you cool by preventing sweating in the first place. After that, you want to look for ways to minimize the appearance of the sweat you can’t avoid. They shared their picks for both types of pieces in all categories — undergarments, dresses, shirts, pants, and more.
Although it’s not on display to the world, an undershirt can be a workhorse in helping you stay dry. Valerie Halfon, a stylist and the founder of Shop With Val, says Numi “patented a technology to help absorb underarm perspiration.” The underarms of its tops are lined with a proprietary sweat-wicking material to keep moisture from showing though. “I’ve been recommending this product to my female clients for years,” Halfon says.
If you have to wear a blazer to work, choose a summer style that won’t leave you sweltering. This Theory number is a favorite of both stylist Julia Gudova’s and stylist and personal shopper Dina Scherer. Its linen fabric “is super-breathable and has stretch” so you can move around comfortably, Scherer says.
When it got too hot to work from home in sweatpants (hello, heat waves), many of us turned to an equally comfortable but far less suffocating solution: sweatshorts. Like your favorite cutoffs, sweatshorts should be supercomfortable and make your butt look great. Just about every clothing brand you can think of makes a pair of sweatshorts, which means there’s no shortage of options to sift through. To help you find the best ones for men and women, we talked to a bunch of stylish people about the ones they wear and love as well as a few they’re looking to pick up.
Several people mentioned Todd Snyder x Champion sweatshorts, including stylist Donnell Baldwin and Brian Davis, owner of vintage-clothing store Wooden Sleepers. Davis has them in navy with a seven-inch inseam. “They’re comfy enough to lounge around at home but considered enough for an emergency ice-cream run,” he says.
First-grade teacher Vanessa De Riggs has multiple pairs of these sweatshorts from Everlane. “They remind me of a cool version of gym shorts. Plus, they come in cute colors, are comfy, have pockets, and fit really well,” she says, adding that she likes to roll the waist down one fold to give an even more flattering fit.
In the summer, keeping makeup in place seems nearly impossible. A clean winged-eyeliner look smudges into an unintentional smoky eye, or foundation somehow melts right off. But there is makeup out there that won’t budge for hours, no matter how much you sweat. We spoke to seven makeup artists and two beauty writers about the sweatproof primers, setting sprays, mascaras, and more that can endure everything from commute-induced sweat to the New York City marathon.
Nearly all of the experts we spoke to said properly layering products is key for a sweatproof look — especially when it comes to face makeup. Five of them recommended starting with a face primer atop which you can pack layers of foundation. Celebrity makeup artist Amy Zdunowski-Roeder says this one from Becca is ideal for anyone prone to oily, sweaty skin: “It tightens your skin and keeps your makeup looking fabulous during the steamiest of days.”
Both makeup artist Brittany Whitfield and Cosmopolitan beauty editor Ruby Buddemeyer sang the praises of L’Oréal’s Voluminous X Fiber Waterproof Mascara. The drugstore mascara comes with a primer on one end (which Buddemeyer sometimes uses alone for a “softer” look) and a fiber-based mascara on the other that “builds serious volume and defines every single lash,” she says. And unlike other hard-to-remove waterproof mascaras, Buddemeyer says this “comes off easily with an oil cleanser or balm.”
While sweating anywhere on your body isn’t exactly pleasant, underboob sweat can be particularly icky. It occurs not because this area necessarily sweats more than the rest of the body — rather, moisture tends to get trapped where your breasts meet your torso. Although the heaviest sweaters among us may require a three-product solution, the dermatologists we spoke with noted that some people may just require something that stops chafing, say, or an item that absorbs excess moisture.
Although you could theoretically apply whatever anti-perspirant you use on your pits to the skin under your breasts, dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian says you should be mindful of “using one that’s unlikely to irritate the delicate skin” there. Both she and dermatologist Dr. Heidi Waldorf say that Dove’s alcohol-free anti-perspirants are gentle enough for the task, in part because they contain moisturizing ingredients that soothe skin while the product works to stop sweat.
The experts say that people who experience friction caused by their bras may want to apply a chafe-reducing product to the area after any anti-perspirant has set in. Dermatologist Dr. Hadley King recommends the Body Glide stick, which she says “works well to create a barrier between your skin and workout clothing to reduce friction.”
There will always be times when you’ll sweat — like when you’re working out, sleeping, hiking, or trying to do much of anything when you’re stressed. That’s when sweat-wicking clothing comes into play. Our list includes a mix of clothing made from synthetic, blended, and organic fibers, all of which will keep you much drier than that middle-school field-day T-shirt you cannot bear to toss.
Exercise requires the most heavy-duty moisture wicking, especially if you’re a heavy sweater. Most options out there are synthetic, but some brands are making an effort to offer natural fibers, especially wool, as well as natural-synthetic blends. When we spoke to athletes about the best clothes for exercising in the heat, the Boston-based brand Tracksmith got a couple of mentions. Tracksmith uses merino wool in lots of its performance pieces, including its Harrier tops for men and women, which are 89 percent merino yet are lightweight and breathable enough for serious workouts on seriously sweaty days.
For everyday clothes that wick away sweat, you can cast a broader net and look at even more natural-fiber options like airy cotton weaves, linen, hemp, and bamboo. Mary Futher, the founder of Kaia Naturals who goes by the name Madame Sweat on TikTok, tells us that, for daily wear, “bamboo breathes and wears beautifully” and won’t hold on to sweat or odor. She’s a fan of Boody Wear’s basics for women and men, which can be worn on their own or as layering pieces.
Since everyone has different body chemistry and scent preferences, there’s really no such thing as the “best overall deodorant.” But after chatting with five dermatologists, three personal trainers, and three men’s-grooming experts, we’ve found a range that should include something that will work well for you.
Certain Dri is two of our experts’ favorite brand for dealing with excessive sweating, which is why we named it the best roll-on anti-perspirant for heavy sweaters. “One of the keys when you’re using it is to apply it at night,” says Jeremy Fenton of the Schweiger Dermatology Group. “You want the aluminum to settle down into the sweat glands,” which is harder to do during the day when you’re actively producing sweat.
If any type of aluminum anti-perspirant irritates your skin or if sweat isn’t a big problem for you, it may be time to try a deodorant-only product. As Chad Beightol, the owner of men’s-grooming boutique Consigliere, explains, a good natural deodorant employs ingredients that “fight the bacteria that cause odor.” Beightol told us that after trying out a bunch of natural deodorants, he found this eucalyptus-scented stick works best for him.
After an intense workout or a day under the hot sun, you might find your scalp (and hair) looking rather oily and greasy from all that sweat. Because there’s no real way to stop a scalp from sweating, a quick solution to making it look less sweaty is dry shampoo. These are a few that hairstylists recommend.
Actress and writer Liz Carey is an excessive sweater, which has caused her more than a few embarrassing moments. Over the years, she has tried tons of products and found a select few that “cover me from top to bottom and are discreet enough to apply in a pinch.”
This natural deodorant, the only one that has worked for Carey, doesn’t leave white marks on your clothes. It’s also ecofriendly since you can order refills for the reusable applicator.
On days when deodorant alone isn’t enough, Carey lines the underarms of her shirts and dresses with these discreet pads for extra absorption. “They’re small enough that you can easily place them into the arms of the most summery of dresses,” she says.
Strategist writer Dominique Pariso calls this mini handheld fan “the closest thing you can get to sticking your head in a freezer on a steamy subway platform.” The fan fits in her fanny pack and is incredibly effective at keeping face sweat from dripping into her eyes.
When faced with heavy sweat, lots of sunscreens will either melt away or clog your skin. Strategist contributor Maggie Slepian says this “Stay-Put” sunscreen actually does what it promises — while still feeling light and breathable — even when she “sweats buckets” hiking at high altitude.
The feet have the highest concentration of sweat glands (roughly 125,000 on each sole) of any body part, so it’s not surprising that foot sweat is a big problem. Dermatologists and podiatrists share the best ways to deal.
Socks made of wool or moisture-wicking athletic fabrics help keep feet dry, but on days when you can’t wear socks, Summer Soles absorb sweat and help avoid that “slip and slide” feeling in sandals.
Mary Futher, founder of Kaia Naturals, is known as Madame Sweat on TikTok, where she dispenses her advice on staying dry to her 40,000 followers. Here, she shares her favorite products for those looking to go the natural-deodorant route.
Futher says people who are “super, super-sweaty” sometimes have better luck with creams because they contain more moisture-absorbing powder than stick deodorants do.
Crystal deodorants contain mineral salts which may have natural antimicrobial properties that can stop odor.
Aluminum is the ingredient in anti-perspirants that inhibits sweat, so can a natural, aluminum-free deodorant actually keep you dry? We spoke to dermatologists to find out and rounded up some natural options that absorb moisture and mask odor.
It won’t stop sweat like an anti-perspirant, but this natural deodorant features tapioca, cornstarch, and baking soda that will keep you dry, according to dermatologist Annie Gonzalez.
For sensitive-skin types, dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar likes this organic deodorant that’s free of synthetic fragrances.
Hot, humid weather leads to thigh sweat, which leads to the dreaded “chub rub.” Here are our expert-recommended options for dealing with chafing, including lotions, powders, and protective shorts.
A clear favorite among thigh-chafe sufferers, this stick glides on smooth, lasts for hours, and is full of moisturizing ingredients like aloe, pomegranate oil, and grape-seed oil.
For a physical barrier against chafing, fashion blogger Liz Black swears by these protective thigh sleeves.
Sweating isn’t just a daytime issue. If you sleep hot, you know how frustrating it can be to wake up with sweaty sheets. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for sheets that stay cool all night.
Experts love cotton percale sheets for sweaty sleepers because they’re loosely woven for maximum breathability.
These sheets combine soft cotton with Tencel, a fiber derived from the pulp of eucalyptus trees, that excels at wicking away sweat.
With roll-ons, gels, and fragrance-free sticks for sensitive skin, our women’s deodorant megalist has something for everybody.
This budget-friendly natural deodorant is a favorite of several Strategist editors and contributors — and thousands more reviewers on Amazon.
This drugstore anti-perspirant stops sweat, doesn’t leave any white residue, and is even gentle enough for eczema sufferers.
For guys looking to eliminate BO and unsightly sweat stains, we asked dermatologists to recommend their favorite men’s deodorants and anti-perspirants for both heavy and mild sweaters.
According to dermatologists, the trick to using this prescription-strength anti-perspirant is to apply it at night. That way, the aluminum can settle into sweat glands — which is harder to do during the day when you’re actively sweating.
If other anti-perspirants dry out your skin, dermatologist Corey Hartman recommends this formula that contains moisturizer and a less irritating form of aluminum.