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Dermadry® BLOG

Antiperspirants vs Deodorants: What You Need To Know

By Sam Nardi / 2021 Jun 16th
Dermadry Team

Antiperspirants vs Deodorants

What is the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant? Which one is right for you? Antiperspirants and deodorants are terms often used interchangeably, particularly since they’re often packaged and sold as a 2-in-1 product. Knowing and understanding the difference between the two can help you navigate the deodorant aisle with ease, help you feel fresh and confident all day long, and help save you from some potentially embarrassing moments!

What is the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant?

Antiperspirants have properties (aluminum salts—the active ingredient) that can temporarily halt the production of sweat. They come in different formulations, such as gels, creams, sticks, powders, and wipes. They generally come in 12%-25% concentrations, and are categorized as “regular” concentrations, clinical strength, and prescription-only.

Deodorants help prevent and conceal body odour, but do not have any properties that will reduce or stop sweat. They simply deodorize the body by counteracting the bacteria found on the skin. Deodorants can be odorless, but also come in a multitude of scents. In terms of picking a deodorant, it all comes down to personal preference. Many opt to pick a scent because they feel it gives an added layer of protection and helps them feel and smell fresh all day, while some prefer odorless as they are sensitive to smells and/or don’t want the scent competing with their perfume or cologne. Formulations can vary greatly, and many DIY recipes for deodorants exist, using ingredients such as baking soda and lemon juice.

Antiperspirants and deodorants are two different products with different properties, however they are often combined, and also sold in the same “Deodorant” is often used as a term for antiperspirant because many antiperspirants are combined with deodorants for that extra level of protection. Many are accustomed to scented antiperspirants, but these are actually an antiperspirant-deodorant combo. Be aware that if the label only reads “deodorant” then this product will not have any antiperspirant properties, so will not help decrease sweating. In summary, antiperspirants will protect you from sweat, while deodorants will protect you from odor, and many formulations are a combination of both to help protect you from both sweat and odor at the same time.

How Do Antiperspirants Work?

Antiperspirants are applied directly to the skin, which is called topical application. The purpose of the antiperspirant is to decrease the volume of sweating by creating “plugs” in the underarm, where antiperspirants are most commonly used. Some antiperspirants can be used on other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, head, back, and groin.

Antiperspirants decrease sweating by creating temporary ducts that inhibit sweat production in the region the antiperspirant is applied to. The active ingredient (aluminum) mixes with the sweat that is excreted from your sweat glands. The plugs are made of aluminum, which dissolve into your skin with the help of a liquid, in this case, your sweat. Essentially, the aluminum mixes with the sweat on your skin, dissolving the aluminum that is then absorbed into your pores, which creates “plugs”. These plugs are temporary (generally lasting up to 24 hours) and are washed away over time. Some antiperspirants require a prescription because of their high aluminum concentration.

How To Use Antiperspirant Properly

You should always follow the directives included with your antiperspirant, as these can vary depending on the concentration of aluminium and other factors. The number one tip to get the most out of your antiperspirant is to apply it before bed, so that the antiperspirant can have time to work properly and be absorbed by your skin. We also recommend applying it to clean, dry skin. Your best bet is to shower at night, pat the area dry, and put the antiperspirant on before bed. We also suggest

If you suffer from excessive sweating, a medical condition called hyperhidrosis, then antiperspirants may just not be strong enough for you, no matter how, when or how much you apply. In this case, we suggest trying an alternate treatment, such as iontophoresis, and speaking with your doctor or dematologist about diagnosis, treatment options, and the next steps.

Should I Use Antiperspirant?

There are a lot of concerns regarding the use of antiperspirants, particularly in the underarms. There is no research directly linking the use of antiperspirants and cancer or other negative health effects.

While antiperspirants are not dangerous, some people choose not to use them, for various reasons. Those who are not particularly sweaty often opt to just use deodorant to feel clean and smell fresh. Some people are allergic to aluminium or just have sensitive skin. Speaking to a dermatologist can help you determine a treatment option that works for you, your skin, and your particular needs.

In the case of excessively sweaty individuals, antiperspirants, no matter the concentration of aluminium, just will not work. For these individuals who suffer from axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive underarm sweating), they should seek alternative methods for reducing sweating and treating the condition. A first-line dermatologist-recommended treatment is iontophoresis. Iontophoresis treatment is generally done at home, using a device such as Dermadry, to halt the production of sweat in the hands, feet, and underarms. It is a natural, non-invasive method to treat excessive sweating using tap water! Learn more about iontophoresis on our dedicated iontophoresis page and consult our hyperhidrosis treatment guide to learn more about how to treat hyperhidrosis.

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