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Antiperspirants vs. Deodorants

People use two main products to control sweat and body odor: antiperspirants and deodorants.

Antiperspirants work by temporarily plugging up your sweat glands, which prevents sweat from reaching the surface of your skin. On the other hand, deodorants work by masking the odor of sweat with fragrance or other ingredients.

So, which one is better?

That depends on your individual needs and preferences. So let’s take a closer look at the critical differences between antiperspirants and deodorants to help you decide which one is right for you.

Related: How to Smell Good

Deodorants: Advantages & Disadvantages

Here we’ll explore some of the key advantages and disadvantages of using deodorants:

Advantages

Here are the primary advantages of deodorants:

  • Natural Ingredients: Many deodorants are made with natural ingredients and may result in a more gentle formula. You’ll commonly find skin-loving ingredients including aloe vera, witch hazel, shea butter, etc.
  • Synthetic Ingredients: Aside from aluminum, many deodorants don’t contain phthalates, parabens, talc, triclosan, and other potentially harmful or chemical-derived ingredients.
  • Some Moisture Control: While deodorants don’t plug up your sweat glands like antiperspirants, some contain ingredients that help absorb sweat and keep you feeling dry. Premium brands often rely on a starch-based ingredient to achieve this.
  • Environmentally-Friendly: Some deodorants come in recyclable packaging and are more environmentally friendly than plastic mass-produced antiperspirants.
  • Versatile Formulas: You can find deodorants in various forms, including gels, sticks, sprays, and roll-ons. This means you can find a deodorant that suits your personal preferences regarding application.
  • Often Cheaper: Some deodorants tend to be less expensive than antiperspirants due to fewer ingredients.
  • Fragrance: The fragrances in deodorants are usually more subtle and diverse than those in antiperspirants. You can even find unscented deodorants that rely on a single ingredient (potassium alum).

Disadvantages

There are a few key disadvantages to using deodorants, including:

  • They Don’t Prevent Sweating: Deodorants only mask the odor of sweat; they don’t prevent you from sweating.
  • They May Not Last as Long: Deodorants don’t last as long as antiperspirants, so you may need to reapply them more frequently.
  • Allergic Reaction: Men with sensitive skin may experience an allergic reaction when using a deodorant. Prolonged use can even lead to dark underarms.

Common Myths & Questions about Deodorants

Can some deodorants stop sweat?

Not exactly. Some deodorants can reduce the feel of sweat by incorporating tapioca or cornstarch into their formula. These ingredients work by absorbing sweat rather than stopping it completely.

Can you train your body not to sweat if you keep applying deodorant?

There’s no scientific evidence to support this claim. It’s more likely that you’ll end up with irritated skin from over-applying deodorant rather than stopping sweat.

Are there any risks associated with using deodorant?

For the most part, no. However, men with sensitive skin may be more likely to experience an allergic reaction. Prolonged irritated use can even lead to scarring of the skin or dark underarms.

Antiperspirants: Advantages & Disadvantages

Now that we’ve explored the advantages and disadvantages of deodorants, let’s look at the key advantages and disadvantages of using antiperspirants.

Advantages

The primary advantages of using antiperspirants include:

  • They Prevent Sweating: Antiperspirants work by temporarily plugging up your pores, which prevents sweat from reaching the surface of your skin.
  • Long-Lasting: Antiperspirants tend to last longer than deodorants, so you won’t need to reapply them as often.
  • Widely Available: Antiperspirants are widely available and come in various forms, including gels, sticks, sprays, and roll-ons.

Disadvantages

There are a few key disadvantages of using antiperspirants, including:

  • Aluminum is the Active Ingredient: Many antiperspirants contain aluminum, which can be a concern for some people. Aluminum has been claimed to cause health problems. However, cancer.org has reported no evidence to support the claims (source). Snopes even has an interesting article outlining the origins of this myth.
  • They May Cause Irritation: Antiperspirants can sometimes cause skin irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin. If you experience irritation, try switching to a different formula or brand.
  • Stain Undershirts: Antiperspirants can sometimes cause yellow stains on your undershirts. To avoid this, apply antiperspirant to clean, dry skin and let it dry completely before getting dressed.

Common Myths & Questions about Antiperspirants

Does antiperspirant make you overheat?

No, antiperspirant does not make you overheat; it only plugs the pores in the applied area (source).

Can antiperspirants make you smell worse?

It’s possible as antiperspirants significantly alter the skin’s microbiome (source).

What happens to your body when you stop using antiperspirants?

When you stop using antiperspirants, there will be a significant increase in bacteria on your skin, leading to body odor. Sweat will also become more noticeable as the antiperspirant is no longer stopping it.

The Verdict: Which Is Better?

So, which is better – antiperspirants or deodorants? The answer depends on your personal preference and needs. If you’re looking for a product that will keep you from sweating, then an antiperspirant is probably your best bet.

However, if you have sensitive skin or are concerned about the aluminum in antiperspirants, then a deodorant may be better.

About Adam

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam is an expert in all things men's grooming and style. When you don't find him reading up on the latest style trends, he likes to go jogging, attempt to distinguish the differences between IPAs, and play sports with his kids.

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