The Surprising Difference Between Antiperspirant and Deodorant

The Surprising Difference Between Antiperspirant and Deodorant

In this article, we’ll explain what deodorant and antiperspirant are and help you understand which one is best for you. Let’s dive in.

For the casual sweater, the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant isn’t that important. They grab whichever one is most convenient, smear it on, and move on with their life. 


But if you have a tendency to get a little extra sweaty from time to time (or, let’s be honest, every day), then you’ll probably want to understand exactly what each of these personal hygiene products is, how they work, and what they do. That way, you can better know what products to use to help manage your own perspiration situation. 


In this article, we’ll explain what deodorant and antiperspirant are and help you understand which one is best for you. Let’s dive in. 

What Is an Antiperspirant? 

Let’s start with antiperspirants. What are they exactly and what do they do? Well, let’s look to the name as a clue. “Anti” means “opposed to” or “preventing” and “perspir” refers to sweat. So, essentially, an antiperspirant is a product that prevents you from sweating. 


Typically, antiperspirants will work by using the active ingredient aluminum. When applied, aluminum forms a gel that temporarily plugs and blocks the sweat glands in the skin, reducing the amount of sweat that is released. 


Plugging the sweat glands may sound a bit intense and, indeed, people have wondered if aluminum may be harmful to the body. However, there has been no evidence to suggest that antiperspirants are bad for you and there is no known reason to worry about them.

What Is Deodorant? 

Let’s move on to deodorant and break it down in a similar way. The prefix “de” means “removing” and “odor” refers to the bad smell that sweating can sometimes cause. So deodorant is a product that removes or prevents body odor.  


Now, before we go any further, let’s clear up a misconception. Sweat itself does not smell bad. In fact, just like water, it is odorless. But when your sweat mixes with bacteria on your skin, it can create B.O., especially in certain body areas that have more bacteria on them than others. 


So deodorant actually works by targeting and killing the bacteria on your skin, preventing it from building up and interacting with your sweat. That way, your body doesn’t produce those bad odors. 

Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant 

As you can see, deodorant and antiperspirant are actually quite different, which may surprise those of you who have been taught to use the words interchangeably. Antiperspirant makes you stop sweating while deodorant only prevents body odor. So if you only put on deodorant, you won’t smell, but you still will produce as much sweat as you would without any kind of product. On the other hand, if you use antiperspirant, your sweating will be reduced.


Because it reduces the amount of sweat that you produce, an antiperspirant can reduce body odor, too. But you still might sweat a bit, which means that your body might still smell bad. That’s why there are many products that actually do both in one. That way, you are fighting both sweat and body odor but you only have to put on one product. 


Looking for a way to help manage your sweating problem? Try Social Citizen’s sweat-proof Social Tee, guaranteed to stop 100% of sweat stains. 

How to Choose the Best for You 

You’re probably wondering now whether you should be using deodorant or antiperspirant. Here is a short guide to help you out.


You should use deodorant if:


  • You do not sweat excessively
  • You’re not worried about wetness showing through your clothes
  • Your primary concern is body odor
  • You want to avoid underarm sweat stains, which the aluminum in antiperspirant can sometimes cause

You should use antiperspirant if:


  • You sweat excessively
  • You sweat to the point that you might drip or show sweat through your clothes
  • You’re more concerned about managing your sweat than you are about body odor
  • You don’t mind the risk of potentially staining the underarm area of your clothing yellow

You should consider an all-in-one antiperspirant and deodorant if:


  • You sweat excessively
  • You also have concerns about your body odor
  • You don’t mind the risk of potentially staining the underarm area of your clothing yellow

Differences Between Deodorant and Antiperspirant 

There are a few more key differences between deodorant and antiperspirant in terms of their use that you should know about. 

Deodorant Facts

Deodorants use active ingredients like antibacterials and fragrances. 


The most commonly used antibacterial agent in deodorants is alcohol, but different deodorants may also use ingredients like activated charcoal, baking soda, and coconut oil to naturally fight bacteria. You can even make your own deodorant at home with common household ingredients if you want to.


Ingredients commonly found in store-bought deodorant include:


  • Cetyl Alcohol
  • Dimethicone
  • Hydrolyzed corn starch
  • Propylene glycol
  • Fragrance
  • Cyclomethicone

Deodorants are used by applying them directly to the armpit. While some people suggest using them in other locations, too, they are designed for the underarm and may not always work in other areas.


Tips for using deodorants effectively include:


  • You should apply deodorant after showering and drying off
  • You can reapply deodorant throughout the day for extra protection
  • A few swipes of deodorant are usually more than enough
  • Deodorants are available in fragrance-free options if you are sensitive to fragrances
  • There are a wide variety of deodorant fragrances on the market, so you should usually be able to find a scent you like

Antiperspirant Facts

As we mentioned above, the most common active ingredient in antiperspirants is aluminum. Indeed, aluminum is the only ingredient recognized by the FDA to work as an antiperspirant. There are companies who claim to make “natural” antiperspirants with other ingredients, but the only way you can be certain that the product you are buying will truly reduce your sweating is if it includes one of the following ingredients:


  • Aluminum chlorohydrate
  • Aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex glycine
  • Aluminum hydroxybromid
  • Aluminum sulfate
  • Sodium aluminum chlorohydroxy lactate.

Antiperspirants come in a variety of strengths. There are regular-strength antiperspirants widely available in stores. Clinical-strength antiperspirants are stronger, with higher levels of the active ingredient aluminum, but you don’t need a prescription to buy them. Perscription-strength antiperspirants have the highest levels of aluminum and are made for people who suffer from excessive sweating. You can’t buy them without a prescription from your doctor. 


Tips for using antiperspirants effectively include:


  • You should apply antiperspirant after showering and drying off or before going to bed. You can also do both for extra protection.
  • Antiperspirant ingredients take time to kick in, so they won’t work immediately after application
  • To improve its effectiveness, you can gently pat or massage the product into the skin
  • Antiperspirant can be safely applied to areas other than the underarms
  • Most antiperspirants work for 12 to 48 hours, so you don’t need to reapply them

How Social Citizen Sweat Proof T-Shirts Can Help You

Sometimes, deodorant and even antiperspirant simply aren’t the best choice to help you with your perspiration problem. Maybe, for example, you want to fight perspiration but you don’t want to risk getting yellow stains on the underarms of your favorite clothes, which can happen when you use antiperspirant. Or maybe you simply sweat so much that antiperspirants and deodorants aren’t enough.


If either of these things applies to you, you might want to try one of Social Citizen’s sweat-proof Social Tees. Designed for people who struggle with extra sweating, the Social Tee is made to keep you dry, cool, and comfortable throughout the day. The built-in hidden underarm pad is guaranteed to stop 100% of sweat stains while absorbing excess sweat so it doesn’t show through your clothes. They’re also made with bamboo to fight bacteria and body odor.


Whether you choose to use it in tandem with deodorant, antiperspirant, or both, the Social Tee is a powerhouse at keeping you smelling fresh and feeling dry. Best of all, it looks just like any other fashionable t-shirt in your closet, so that nobody knows you’re wearing anti-sweat clothing. Check the Social Tee out in three stylish colors and men’s and women’s cuts. 



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