What’s the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant?
When you’re standing in the aisle of deodorants and antiperspirants, you may feel a bead of sweat trickle down your neck due to the endless options of this toiletry. Your familiar brand and scent may call out to you, but are you really choosing the right option for your needs?
For starters, deodorant and antiperspirant are both designed to counteract odor from sweat.
“Initially, sweat starts as an odorless liquid mostly comprised of water, salt and proteins,” says Dr. Alex Means, a dermatologist at Aurora Dermatology in Oshkosh, Wis. “The formation of an unpleasant odor is a result of the metabolic activity of bacteria in the armpit region, influenced by various factors like dietary intake and age.”
Antiperspirants differ from deodorants because they are designed to decrease sweat as well as mask odor.
“As you sweat, the antiperspirant is pulled into your sweat glands, plugging them up,” says Dr. Means. “When your body senses that its sweat glands are plugged, it stops producing additional sweat.”
The main active ingredient in antiperspirants is aluminum chloride salt. Because this chemical is absorbed into the skin there have been concerns about antiperspirants causing breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. However, to date, there is no concrete evidence linking antiperspirants to either condition.
Deodorant’s main function is to mask the smell of sweat by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, using antimicrobial agents. Perfumes, fragrances and essential oils are then added to further mask potentially bad scents.
While antiperspirants and deodorants are both helpful in serving their respective purpose, the main disadvantage of both is that they can stain clothing. This means you should be careful when applying the product before heading out for the day.
Additionally, some people find antiperspirants can be slightly more irritating to the skin than deodorants, another important factor to keep in mind.
So, how do you know which one to pick? Dr. Means suggests identifying your main concern point.
“For people who want a product to decrease their perspiration as well as odor, antiperspirants should be used,” says Dr. Means. “For people who don’t sweat a lot or don’t like the feeling of antiperspirants and don’t want to have body odor, deodorants are a good choice.”
About the Author
Margaret Weiner is a senior at Marquette University studying public relations, corporate communications and business administration with a concentration in communication leadership