Sure, we all spray on the sweet smelling mist from the aerosol cans or roll on the solid fragrant sticks every morning in a bid to smell great throughout the day. But have you looked beyond the brand name and the fragrance on the bottle to see if it is a deodorant or an antiperspirant? Does it matter, you might ask. Yes it does. They are two different things. You might have gotten carried away by the latest commercial from your favorite brand and ended up buying something that you perhaps did not need. So what is the deodorant vs antiperspirant debate?
Deodorant vs antiperspirant
The difference can be made out in the name itself. A deodorant will not prevent you from sweating but will ensure that you do not stink when you sweat whereas the latter will prevent you from sweating.
To understand this better, let us see how sweating occurs in the body. Most of the sweat expelled from the body comes out of the armpits. Sweating is body’s way of cooling itself off when you are hot. There are two types of sweat glands – eccrine glands and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands expel salt and water from the body while apocrine glands carry proteins and fats from the body towards the outside along with sweat. All these are largely odorless. However, when these proteins and fats react with bacteria that thrive in the warm confines of the underarm, they get fermented and cause the smell in your underarms.
How does deodorant work?
When you apply a deodorant and set out, you still perspire. The deodorant does not do anything to control the sweat. But the triclosan in it does make the underarms too acidic or salty making it impossible for the bacteria to thrive there. As a result, no bad odor! They are usually alcohol based, with a pleasant fragrance.
How does antiperspirant work?
An antiperspirant will keep you fresh and smelling good because it works to stop the sweating process itself. When there is no sweat expelled from the body, it is impossible for the bacteria to thrive there. Add to it the perfume components in the antiperspirant, you are bound to be smelling super fresh through the day. How does it work? Antiperspirants contain aluminium and zirconium compounds that plug the sweat glands and prevent them from expelling sweat.
Deodorants or antiperspirants – which is better?
Both deodorants and antiperspirants contain parabens. They are absorbed by the system and can tamper with the endocrine glands’ functioning. Antiperspirants contain aluminium which clogs the sweat glands and pores in a bid to control sweating. This can result in inflammation and swelling up of the lymph nodes. Sure, you want to control sweat, but remember that the body has to sweat in order to cool off. By using an antiperspirant, you are trying to curb your body’s natural reaction to the environment. It can cause sweat gland dysfunction. Not just that, too much use can lead to aluminium getting accumulated in the body, sometimes leading to grave reactions like hormonal imbalance and change in cell structure.
If left to choose, you can pick the lesser of the two evils which is the deodorant. However, if you must use an antiperspirant, use it in moderation, giving a few days of gap in between. Also, shower once you get back home and scrub your armpits well on days when you use an antiperspirant so that your sweat glands get a breather.
Better still, go in for natural alternatives with home made antiperspirants and deodorants that keep you smelling great and are safe for the health too.
Read about how you can make your own antiperspirants and deodorants here