Why You Should Think Twice Before Sharing Your Deodorant

Sharing is caring, right? When it comes to some personal items, it may be better to err on the side of stinginess for the sake of your health. According to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, toothbrushes, razors, towels, and other personal items can spread bacteria and viruses from one person to another. 

In some cases, these contagions can be dangerous. For example, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can be transmitted through shared items, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) could spread through personal items that can cut the skin (or that come in contact with open wounds), such as shaving razors (per UNAIDS).

Another item that could pose a health risk when shared is deodorant. One 2022 survey conducted by Drive Research found that 35% of people share deodorant with a significant other, family member, or friend — and of those who share deodorant, 71% do so at least once a week. However, there's a reason why you should keep your favorite roll-on stick to yourself.

Sharing deodorant might make you sick

If you (or a friend) forgot to stock up on deodorant, you may be tempted to share. However, experts say that the risk of developing smelly underarms isn't so bad compared to the risks of sharing deodorant sticks. Cosmetic dermatologist Neal Schultz explained to HuffPost that antiperspirants — which are often referred to as deodorants — often harbor bacteria, fungi, and yeast, which can then be transferred between people when swiped on the skin. True deodorant, on the other hand, is designed to kill bacteria and is less likely to lead to infections.

However, Dr. Marnie B. Nussbaum, a board-certified dermatologist, urges against sharing either antiperspirants or deodorants. "People tend to use deodorant after shaving which can leave microscopic cuts in the skin allowing blood-borne pathogens to be transferred via deodorant," she told Good Housekeeping. These pathogens can include serious diseases such as HIV (as mentioned previously), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you've already developed a habit of sharing deodorant with others, a safer choice may be to use products that don't come in direct contact with the skin. Swap your solid or gel deodorant with a spray type instead.