Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant: What’s the difference?

deodorant versus antiperspirant

If you are like most people, you find a deodorant or antiperspirant that works for you and you stick with it. After all, nobody wants to smell of body odour or walk into work with huge wet armpit stains on their dress shirt. I am lucky in that I am not a big sweater and as a result, use a deodorant. Some people however, sweat more than others and go for an antiperspirant to avoid the embarrassing pit-stains. What is the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant? Read on…

Deodorant: How does it work?

Deodorant basically does what is says it will do, that is, prevent unwanted odour (it does not prevent sweat). Our body odour is produced by the bacterial breakdown of sweat. Ingredients within deodorants are essentially designed to eliminate or mask the smell caused by the bacteria.

Deodorant vs. AntiperspirantI have been using Tom’s Original Care Deodorant Stick for the past four years. Let’s take a look at the ingredients:

  • Propylene glycol
  • Water
  • Sodium stearate
  • Aloe vera leaf juice (organic)
  • Witch hazel water
  • Glyceryl laurate
  • Fir needle oil
  • Chamomile flower aqueous extract
  • Hops [CO2] extract – help eliminate the odour
  • Woodspice fragrance (natural) – helps mask the odour and smells like the forest!
  • Caprylic/capric triglyceride
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Silica shells?
  • Cymbopogon schoenanthus (Organic Lemongrass Oil)

For the most part, all of these ingredients are recognizable. I had a look at Tom’s website and was glad to see that they listed not only all of the ingredients in their deodorants (and all other products), but also the purpose and source of each.

Antiperspirant: How does it work?

Antiperspirants are designed to prevent our body from producing sweat by blocking sweat from reaching the skin. Aluminum is the active ingredient found in most antiperspirants. Aluminum blocks the pores so that sweat cannot pass through. There have been many claims that aluminum is linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. It appears that further research is required to totally validate these claims. Some types of antiperspirants contain forms of aluminum which have been found to interact with sweat to cause yellow staining on clothes. We have all seen this before on ourselves or a friend and wondered where the yellow came from. Well, mix an aluminum complex and sweat and there is the answer.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients for a typical antiperspirant: Old Spice Swagger Sweat Defence

Other than the aluminium, which I have mentioned above, I do not recognize any of the antiperspirant’s ingredients as being ‘natural’. Old Spice is not claiming to include only natural ingredients so; I do not fault them for that.

Summary: Use deodorant or antiperspirant?

I am not advocating the use of one or the other, but personally, I would much rather be using a product that contains natural ingredients if given the choice and would try to avoid aluminium is possible. Additionally, some dyes and fragrances found in antiperspirants and deodorants have been seen to cause allergic reactions and skin irritations.  This is another reason to go ‘natural’ if you can.

Other than Tom’s deodorant, Neal’s Yard is another natural deodorant that I have used and liked. There are lots out there, so do your research and take a look at the ingredients of the antiperspirant or deodorant that you currently use.