Over the years social awareness has encouraged more and more people to use deodorant and antiperspirants to reduce sweating and odor.Although sweating and odor may have been common in a factory or outdoors, it was less acceptable in an office environment.

Attitudes regarding personal hygiene vary greatly around the world. In some countries men accept sweating as natural and part of being a man. It is fairly common throughout the world for odor to be less acceptable than sweating. In some countries people deny that they smell at all whereas in others different products are used other than antiperspirants. In some parts of Asia people rub their armpits with ground up crystals of alum, known as tawas, which are very similar to the active ingredients in modern antiperspirants and work in exactly the same way. Elsewhere in Asia, people apply limejuice by hand or from a cloth, and in Russia apple vinegar is a traditional remedy.

Normally our body temperature is in balance – i.e. the heat entering the body is the same as the heat going out. However, if heat input increases then this balances shifts and we become hot. To re-establish the heat equilibrium our body needs to increase heat output this is achieved by sweating. Sweating can also occur in emotional situations when a person becomes nervous or embarrassed.

Antiperspirants reduce sweating by controlling the flow of underarm sweat and mask body odor. Deodorants, on the other hand, prevent odor by using perfume and by reducing the levels of underarm bacteria. However, they do not stop sweating.

All of these ingredients have been thoroughly assessed by expert scientists. Combined, they provide a safe and effective means of controlling sweat and body odour.

Perfume & skin conditioners

Perfumes and fragrances are used in most deodorants and antiperspirants to mask body odour and provide a feeling of freshness to the user. Virtually all antiperspirant and deodorant products will contain some emollient oils to sooth and soften the skin by preventing water loss. In roll-ons and sticks, these also give a ‘gliding’ feeling as the product is applied. The moisturisers used in antiperspirants are usually glycerin or vegetable derived oils. Most antiperspirants will also contain masking oil to stop the product drying out into deposits, thus minimizing what shows up on either skin or clothes.

The active ingredients of antiperspirants and deodorants are often dissolved in alcohol because it dries quickly once applied to the skin and gives an immediate sense of coolness. Thus, alcohol is a common ingredient in many roll-ons, aerosol deodorants and some gels. Skin that has been sweating will sometimes have quite a greasy feel to it. Silica is a natural mineral which is often used in antiperspirants and deodorants to mop up this oiliness so that users no longer feel the greasy after-effects of sweat.

Some antiperspirant products also include an ingredient called PEG-8 Distearate which makes it easier to wash the product off in the bath or shower at the end of the day.


Depending on the type of product, antiperspirants usually contain salts to actually reduce the flow of sweat from the skin. These salts work by dissolving in sweat and leaving a thin coating of gel over the sweat glands. This coating reduces the amount of sweat on the skin for a number of hours after the antiperspirant is applied. Aerosol and roll-on products will most likely contain ACH (Aluminium Chlorohydrate), whereas sticks, gels and other solid products are most likely to contain an antiperspirant salt called AZAG (Aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY). These salts provide the safest and most effective means of controlling sweat.

Some people may be concerned about the use of aluminum in antiperspirants and other everyday products, believing that it can damage health. For example, it has been suggested that aluminum is a possible contributory factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

Difference between deodorant and antiperspirant?

The fundamental differences lie in the way these products work, and potentially affect health. Essentially they each use different chemical processes for minimizing body odor. Certain ingredients in either product may be unhealthy, but deodorant is frequently cited as a better alternative than many antiperspirants.

Antiperspirants contain fragrance, but they also contain chemical compounds that block the pores to stop the discharge of perspiration. No sweat, no odor.

Deodorant allows the release of perspiration, but prevents odor by combating it with antiseptic agents, which kill odor-causing bacteria.

Some choose antiperspirant, because rather than cover the odor, they prefer to eliminate it.

Consumer advocacy groups continue to voice concerns over questions regarding common health and beauty products, including deodorant and antiperspirant. Certain studies indicate potential health risks associated with aluminum compounds found in many antiperspirants. Similar studies find like risks with parabens found in some deodorants. Both have been tenuously linked to serious illnesses, including breast cancer. Manufacturers and various health agencies claim such studies are flawed, stating concerns are unfounded.

Despite assurances, many healthcare professionals recommend deodorant over antiperspirant, believing that obstructing pores and preventing perspiration may not be the healthiest choice. Consumers are left to make their own judgements.

Those who would rather forgo a typical antiperspirant or deodorant are beginning to look for more natural alternatives. There are several brands of natural deodorant that are currently available. However, these products do not always contain purely organic ingredients, so check labels carefully before purchasing.
Sources: Antiperspirants Info, Delicious Organics

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