How Does Deodorant Work?

Deodorant works by preventing body odor and keep you smelling fresh. Use our guide to learn the best way to apply deodorant!

Whether you wipe, dab, or roll-on deodorant, you’re doing more than just masking bad odors. Deodorants are designed to help prevent body odor—and keep you smelling like a field of lilacs. While it won’t stop you from sweating, deodorant can eliminate the naturally occurring bacteria on your skin and help get rid of unpleasant body odors.

 
Does Sweat Smell?

Surprise! Sweat doesn’t smell. It is a colorless, odorless liquid that is secreted by your skin to help regulate your body temperature by keeping you cool. Your body has two main types of sweat glands; let’s take a closer look at how they work:

  • Apocrine sweat glands are found in areas with lots of hair follicles, like the armpits and groin. These glands release sweat into the hair follicles just before the surface of your skin.

  • Eccrine sweat glands are found all over the skin but are concentrated in the palms, soles, and head. These sweat glands secrete sweat directly onto the surface of the skin.
Most people sweat when they're exerting themselves or are nervous, stressed, or excited. Sweat itself doesn't give you a musty, fusty scent. It's the natural bacteria on your skin. But, don't worry, we've got your armpits, feet, and other areas you want to keep stink-free, covered.

 
What is Deodorant?

Deodorants are personal care products and are applied topically. While most people apply deodorant to their underarms, many formulas can be used anywhere you sweat. The only areas you need to avoid are those with mucous membranes, like the eyes, mouth, nose, and genitals.

Body odor is caused when the bacteria on your skin breaks down the proteins found in sweat. Deodorants are classified as cosmetics by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and typically contain a pleasant, odor-masking fragrance. They are most commonly available in solids, aerosols, and liquids.

Stick deodorants are applied using up and down motions until a thin layer of product covers your underarms, groin, or feet. To use this type of deodorant, turn the dial on the bottom of the product until the plastic cap easily pops off. Then, be sure to raise the deodorant stick enough so the plastic container will not rub against or irritate your skin.

Aerosol or spray deodorants work best if used before getting dressed. Shake the can for approximately 10 seconds before applying to clean, dry skin. Next, hold the can a few inches from your skin and coat the area with an even layer of spray.

Antiperspirant deodorant combinations should be applied to clean skin at night when your body temperature is lower, and you are less prone to sweating. Applying product at night allows the antiperspirant deodorant to absorb into your skin and coat your sweat glands to prevent sweat the next day.

Liquid roll-on deodorant delivers exceptional overall protection because it goes on wet and then dries on your skin. Applying liquid deodorant allows it to cover a larger surface area and easily contour to the unique shape of your armpit.

 
Best Ways to Apply Deodorant

Most people apply deodorant as part of their morning routine. But, if your deodorant has antiperspirant in it, using it in the morning can make it less effective. For best results, apply antiperspirant deodorant combos after showering at night. Nightly application gives the formula time to soak into your sweat glands and protect you from sweat during the night and throughout the next day.

No matter what type of deodorant you apply (solid, aerosol, or liquid), it’s essential to let your deodorant dry completely before getting dressed. Waiting for your deodorant to dry will help prevent those all too familiar white deodorant streaks from staining your clothes.

Depending on the weather, your activity level, and how much you naturally sweat, you may need to reapply your deodorant throughout the day to keep your stink at bay. If you exercise regularly or enjoy athletic activities, it’s key to apply deodorant before and afterward to keep you smelling fresh—not funky.

 
Difference Between Deodorant and Antiperspirant

The main difference between deodorant and antiperspirant is that deodorants are designed to prevent body odor while antiperspirants prevent sweat.

Because deodorants do not contain aluminum salts, like antiperspirants, they do not keep you from sweating. They contain certain compounds, like triclosan, which make your skin too salty to sustain bacterial life. They also contain fragrance to keep you smelling fresh, lanolin alcohol to keep your skin soft and smooth, and other odor eliminating ingredients.

If your skin is sensitive to certain odor eliminating ingredients, our Purely Gentle Roll-On is specially formulated for sensitive skin to help prevent allergic reactions.

 
Health Facts About Deodorant

It’s always important to be aware of what you are putting on and in your body. You may have heard that using antiperspirants and deodorants—particularly those containing aluminum salts—may increase your chances of developing breast cancer. However, no clinical evidence supports this theory. A 2002 study analyzed the relationship between breast cancer and antiperspirants or deodorants in more than 1,600 women. The results did not show an increased risk of cancer among deodorant or antiperspirant users.

 
Key Takeaways

  • Deodorants do not keep you from sweating but help control odor after sweating.
  • Sweat is a colorless, odorless liquid that helps keep your body cool.
  • Body odor is caused when bacteria on your skin breaks down the proteins found in sweat.
  • Many deodorants can be used anywhere you sweat to minimize bacteria.
  • Depending on your activity level, you may need to reapply your deodorant throughout the day to stay fresh.

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