Lately, I have noticed that some people tend to confuse the terms antiperspirant and deodorant. It makes sense, in a way, because they both work to achieve the same thing.
Let’s face it, none of us wants to smell bad. And, for some, we also concerned about the amount of sweat we produce.
I’ll start with my own experience. Many, many years ago, I tried using antiperspirants. I developed small, painful lumps in my pits. That went away when I changed to a deodorant. My husband had a similar experience. Today I understand why, and I’ll get to that shortly.
Both types of products – antiperspirants and deodorants – have essentially the same goal. And that is to eliminate body odor. It’s how they do it and the ingredients they use that matter.
How Antiperspirants Work
If you break the word down, then you have an idea how it works:
- anti – this is a prefix meaning preventing or suppressing
- perspire – defined as “give out sweat through the pores of the skin as the result of heat, physical exertion, or stress”
Therefore, an antiperspirant works by seemingly preventing sweat. Except the don’t actually prevent sweat, they work by clogging the pores. The sweat still happens, but it likely finds another outlet. Or it could back up in the body.
This isn’t really a good thing. We sweat for very good reasons. Two of them are to remove toxins from the body and to help cool the body down. So clogging the pores may not be a good thing. I believe that the problems I encountered when using antiperspirants was due to the build up of toxins that were unable to leave through the pores.
The active ingredients in antiperspirants are aluminum salts. That fact alone is enough to make many people want to stay away from them since there are some reports linking aluminum to breast cancer.
It’s also interesting to me that antiperspirants aren’t required to fully stop sweating to use that name on the label. According to this Huffington Post article, “the FDA only requires that a brand cut back on sweat by 20 percent to boast ‘all day protection/ on its label.” That explains why you find antiperspirants paired with deodorants and perfumes – what the antiperspirant doesn’t catch, the deodorant or perfumes will make smell better.
How Deodorants Work
There are two answers to this question. The primary goal of a deodorant is to prevent body odor. It’s right there in the word:
- de – this is a prefix denoting removal or reversal
- odor – a distinctive smell, especially an unpleasant one
There are a number of ways that a deodorant can prevent body odor. Before talking about them you first need to know the source of the odor. There are bacteria on your skin that grow and thrive in sweat. These bacteria are responsible for body odor. Most deodorants employ more than technique for preventing body odor:
- Antimicrobials -The best deodorants have antimicrobial properties that prevent the growth of the bacteria. No bacteria, no odor.
- Odor-aborbing Substances – Products such as baking soda will absorb odors.
- Perfume or fragrance – These are added to many deodorants. Their function is to actually mask the smell of body odor. You may find fragrance as an ingredient in ‘unscented’ deodorants. They’ll be listed as ‘masking fragrances.’
If you’ve read this blog for long, it won’t surprise you to know that I believe the best deodorants have no fragrance at all. Even if you’re not sensitive to fragrance, ask yourself why you would need a fragrance in your deodorant? In a world where every product comes with a fragrance, why do you want ALL of those smells? Better to find a deodorant that works well and doesn’t NEED fragrance to hide the fact it doesn’t work well!
Do you use antiperspirant or deodorant? Or did you even know the difference?