Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between deodorant vs. antiperspirant? Learn the main distinctions between deodorant and antiperspirant to decide which one is best for you.

Sweat. It might as well be a four-letter word. No one wants to sweat, but it’s always there, waiting to wreck a romantic evening or important presentation with odor or unsightly stains. But, we’re here to help you prevent stink and sweat! Use this guide to understand the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant to help you decide which one is best for you.

What’s the Difference Between Deodorant and Antiperspirant?

Deodorant is designed to prevent body odor caused by sweating. Antiperspirant prevents sweat by temporarily blocking your sweat glands. So, in a way, the main difference between deodorant and antiperspirant is … sweat.

How Deodorants and Antiperspirants Work

Deodorant banishes body odor by preventing the growth of bacteria on your skin. It’s a common misconception that sweat smells; it doesn’t. Sweat is a clear, odorless liquid. Your sweat starts to smell when naturally-occurring bacteria on your skin break down the proteins in your sweat. Deodorant helps prevent bacteria from building up on your skin and keeps your personal musk a secret.

Antiperspirants, on the other hand, stop sweat using aluminum salts. Aluminum salts create a thin layer of gel that sits on top of your sweat glands. This temporarily blocks your sweat glands and significantly reduces the amount of sweat that seeps through. Antiperspirants work best when they’re applied before you start sweating.

Where to Use Deodorants and Antiperspirants

While armpits are typically the sweatiest places on the body, that’s not the only place we need protection from unpleasant odors. Deodorants and antiperspirants can be applied anywhere you sweat, including:

  • Neck
  • Feet
  • Face
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Groin
  • Behind the Knees
Some formulas can be irritating on parts of your body with a mucous membrane, such as your eyes, mouth, nose, and genitals, so avoid applying deodorant and antiperspirants to these areas and be sure to read the instructions on the product you’re using.

Common Ingredients in Deodorants and Antiperspirants

Deodorants are often alcohol-based to help them kill odor-causing bacteria. Due to the alcohol in some formulas, you may notice that you may sweat more after applying. Other active ingredients in deodorant may include sodium stearate, sodium chloride, stearyl alcohol, triclosan, cetyl alcohol, dimethicone, hydrolyzed corn starch, propylene glycol, fragrance, and Cyclomethicone.

Antiperspirants are often combined with deodorants to help block both moisture and odor. Common ingredients of antiperspirants include aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, and aluminum-zirconium compounds.

Benefits of Using Deodorants and Antiperspirants

Deodorants and antiperspirants contain many ingredients that help you feel fresh and smell good. The primary function of deodorant is to control odor, not sweat. Antiperspirant is specifically designed to block sweat. Antiperspirants are also good deodorants because the active ingredients are antibacterial and help to reduce sweat, which is broken down by bacteria to form odor. All Ban® products include special ingredients to target specific sources of odor. When deodorants and antiperspirants work together, they can banish unattractive body odor and excess moisture all in one easy application.

How Often to Apply Deodorant and Antiperspirant

Most deodorants recommend reapplying every 24-48 hours. However, it’s okay to reapply as needed to stay fresh. Most antiperspirants promote 12-48-hour protection, so unless you struggle with excessive sweat, you probably won’t need to reapply throughout the day.

The most effective time to apply antiperspirant is at night. When you're winding down from your day, your sweat glands are less active, your body temperature is lower, and your skin is drier. Applying antiperspirant during this time gives it a chance to soak into your skin and protect you from sweat during the following day. Ban® antiperspirant rolls on clear, stays put without a trace and keeps you smelling fresh all day whereas deodorants may leave behind unattractive residue on your skin and clothes.

When to Use Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant

Depending on your sweat situation, you might prefer a deodorant over an antiperspirant or vice versa. For those who don’t sweat excessively, deodorant would be a good choice. However, if you plan on engaging in activities that cause you to sweat or if you find yourself with uncomfortably sticky armpits every day, antiperspirant is the way to go if you want to stay drier, longer.

Depending on how they’re formulated, many deodorants can also leave a residue on your skin and clothes. Here’s where antiperspirants come in handy. Antiperspirant goes on clear and prevents you from sweating through your clothes.

Antiperspirant Deodorant Combos

Luckily, in today’s world, you don’t have to choose. Many antiperspirants are also deodorants so you can get rid of sticky, icky, and funky all at once. Antiperspirants are often combined with deodorants to help block both moisture and odor. So if you want to keep your armpits cool, dry and smelling fresh, look for deodorant-antiperspirant combos. Antiperspirant deodorants most often come in the form of a stick, spray, or roll on.

Do I Need Clinical Antiperspirant Formulas?

If you notice that you’re suddenly sweating more, have clammy or wet palms, or feel like you sweat way more than the average person, talk to your doctor about clinical antiperspirant. People who struggle with hyperhidrosis (overproduction of sweat) may sweat even when they’re not participating in sweat-inducing activities, such as when they’re sleeping. Clinical antiperspirants provide effective treatment for excessive sweating—so if your sweat is affecting your professional or social life, you may want to try a prescription-strength formula.

Extra Tips

Here are a few tips to help you stay fresh and cool, even under pressure:

  • Apply antiperspirant at night for best results.
  • Apply a uniform amount over the entire underarm.
  • Don’t apply immediately after a shower (wait until your skin is completely dry).
  • Apply it anywhere you want to smell good.
  • Apply to your hairline to keep sweat out of your eyes during a workout.

Key Takeaways

  • Sweat isn’t actually stinky! Body odor occurs when sweat mixes with naturally-occurring bacteria on your skin.
  • Antiperspirant prevents sweat glands from producing moisture.
  • Deodorant blocks odor-causing bacteria.
  • Deodorant-antiperspirant combos protect you from both sweat production and body odor.
  • There is no proven connection between antiperspirant use and cancer, so they are safe to use.

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