If you are trying to decide on the best antiperspirant for you in order to keep both sweat and smelly pits at bay, you will find that there are a multitude of options out there for men to decide upon.
To break down the differences in the application methods, I want to first touch lightly on the difference between antiperspirants and deodorants.
Do You Know The Difference Between an Antiperspirant and Deodorant?
While we dedicated an entire post on this specific point, here are a few takeaways to understand when deciding on a product to on your pits.
Antiperspirants are products that are designed to block your sweat glands from secreting sweat throughout the course of the day.
Therefore, if you sweat constantly and don’t want the appearance of big rings from appearing underneath your pits, then you will want to be sure that you pick up a stick, roll on, or spray that says specifically on the side that it’s an antiperspirant.
If uncertain, if you look at the back of the product you will see not only a list of ingredients, but also a block that says the ‘Active Ingredient’.
Nearly all antiperspirants on the market contain an aluminum compound that will help to block your sweat glands from perspiring.
While there is a lot of misinformation about aluminum in antiperspirants being bad for you, there hasn’t been a clinically found direct link to breast cancer per the National Cancer Institute (source).
So what’s a deodorant then?
Deodorants on the other hand are the fragrance emitting side of the stick. They help for you to achieve that lumberjack or fresh scent that so many men desire.
But beyond scent, deodorants for the most part, will also contain some mixture of ingredients to fight the foul-smelling bacteria as well.
Therefore, it’s important to understand that you will still sweat with a deodorant, however, you will likely not have poor body odor.
Key Properties of Stick vs. Roll On vs. Spray Deodorants & Antiperspirants
When comparing all of the popular applications methods, there are incredibly distinct properties between all 3 variants.
Stick Deodorants Are The Supermarket Stalwart
There is no denying the popularity of the stick deodorant.
Men have relied on this version of antiperspirant and deodorant delivery for decades.
Coming in either gel, solid, or somewhere in between, stick deodorants are incredibly convenient given their nearly ‘no-mess’ benefit when stored (more on this in a minute).
Stick deodorants often rely on Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly (say that 10x fast), for its antiperspirant properties.
Now if you are looking for vegan or animal cruelty free deodorants, the stick variety will be the most popular type for this segment as well.
Roll On Deodorants For Clear Application
Roll on deodorants are squarely between both stick and sprays when it comes to their texture and application method.
Applied similar in nature to a stick deodorant, roll on deodorants are essentially a ball-top bottle with a liquid or gel solution at the bottom that contains all the deodorant and antiperspirant properties.
Unlike solid stick deodorants, roll on’s go on wet, ultimately requiring men needing to wait for it to dry before they put on their favorite undershirt. Most roll on deodorants will feature water as the leading ingredient and clearly responsible for the ‘wetness’ feeling.
However, with a roll on, the solution that is applied to your underarm is clear. This means that if you are wearing a black dress shirt, polo shirt, etc. you don’t have to be mindful of white streaks being left along the edges of your shirt when pulling it over your head.
Spray On Deodorants and Antiperspirants Are Coming Back
In our mind, spray deodorants and antiperspirants are wildly underrated. While we will get to the pros and cons in just a minute, sprays will pack both the antiperspirant (Aluminum Chlorohydrate) and deodorant in the same can that is backed by a propellant.
While there is an incredibly poor stigma that is attached to all aerosol cans, spray deodorants included, it’s important to know that they aren’t nearly as bad as they once were.
Back in the day, old aerosol cans were packed with chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs), which would deplete the ozone layer. Thanks to the Montreal Protocol, this harmful propellant has been banned from all modern aerosol canned products.
Therefore, if you are environmentally conscious, sprays are a bit better than previous iterations.
Beyond the propellant, many modern sprays are absent of alcohol and water. These varieties of sprays are often marketed as ‘dry’. This simply means that they don’t give you a sudden comfortable blast of cold wet mist to your arm pit when applied.
Pros & Cons Stick vs. Roll On vs. Spray Deodorants & Antiperspirants
While we highlighted the three different application methods for your favorite antiperspirant or deodorant above, each product category comes with its own set of both pros and cons.
Here are a few that we identified:
Stick Deodorant/Antiperspirant Pros
First and foremost, sticks provide unparalleled control. Therefore, there is very little waste other than over-application when using a stick.
Sticks also come in a variety of forms including solid, soft solid, gel/solid hybrid, and gel. This will allow you to explore all the different options in order to get the best performing stick to suit your lifestyle.
One incredible asset that sticks hold over the roll-on or sprays is their size, especially if you live in the United States. Unfortunately, many of the roll-on or spray deodorants come packaged in a size greater than the 3.4oz allowed by TSA when traveling in a plane. Therefore, if you are doing a short weekend trip and plan on packing all your gear as a carry-on in your favorite Dopp kit, then stick is the best way to go.
Stick Deodorant/Antiperspirant Cons
Leaving white marks on the side of your clothes when pulling them over your head in the morning is incredibly frustrating. You can try to wash out the white residue with a wash cloth or paper towel, but no matter how hard you try, somehow it just doesn’t go away!
Unfortunately, this has always been a downfall of stick deodorants. However, the gel sticks will largely prevent this residue but may not be nearly as effective at warding off sweat.
Spray Deodorant/Antiperspirant Pros
Beyond being ‘dry’ as mentioned above, spray deodorants and antiperspirants are incredibly easy to apply and work really well. With most modern companies claiming 48hrs worth of protection per application, sprays will keep your pits dry and free of foul smells.
White residue is a thing of the past when it comes to sprays as they go on clear. Therefore, if you don’t like clumping, white streaks, or any other nasty things that come from your standard stick, then you will love a spray.
Lastly, and perhaps the most important, is that when using a stick deodorant, many men experience chemical burns after prolonged use. Since sprays are completely different compound, you shouldn’t experience this same level of irritation found in sticks.
Spray Deodorant/Antiperspirant Cons
Sprays have largely two primary downfalls – vapor and size.
Some sprays when applied, will tend to be a bit cloudy in nature. It can lead to an overwhelming feeling, especially if you are trying to apply this in a small bathroom. Some men are turned off by this, while others may just simply stand in their bedroom when applying the spray daily.
Another huge downfall of sprays is their size and traveling. Nearly all the popular brands on the market are larger than the TSA allowed 3.4oz. This means that you can never travel with them unless you plan on checking your bag.
Roll On Deodorant/Antiperspirant Pros
Similar with sprays, roll on’s tend to go on clear ensuring that there is no clumping that occurs hours after application.
Their incredible compact size makes them nearly as portable as sticks when tossing them into your gym bag or carryon luggage.
Roll on’s are also great for men who have sensitive skin but want to have the antiperspirant protection.
Roll On Deodorant/Antiperspirant Cons
Of all the deodorant and antiperspirant types, roll ons are the least popular. This means that when visiting the grocery store on the weekends, you will be lucky to find more than 5 brands on the shelf. They do tend to have a better selection online through retailers.
A key sticking point to roll on’s will be their wetness. As we eluded to earlier, when its 6am and you are getting ready for work, many men don’t like spreading a cold liquid under their arms.
Beyond being wet, roll on’s do require that you wait a few minutes to dry before putting on your shirt to prevent an uncomfortable swampy feeling.
What’s Your Preferred Method?
As you can see above, there are many different pros and cons when it comes to the type of antiperspirant and deodorant that you use underneath your arm.
While you have more options with the stick varieties, we do highly recommend men to check out the best new sprays on the market. While sprays might seem to be a novelty from the onset, after the first application you will likely be hooked and never go back to sticks or roll ons again.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.