Deodorant vs Antiperspirant


One of the ways guys are lucky is that we don’t have to worry as much as women about cosmetics. We don’t wear makeup, don’t have to worry about our nail polish, and most of us have short, easily managed hair.

When it comes to how we smell though, guys should make sure they’ve got a good antiperspirant or deodorant, especially if they work out regularly. But what’s the difference between the two, anyway? And which is better?

Why Does Sweat Smell?

Sweat is in fact mostly odorless; it’s mostly water, with some trace minerals and elements that make it a bit salty. What makes sweat really stink are the bacteria that collect and multiply in its presence as a byproduct of chemical processes.

So to stop from getting smelly, we have two choices: kill the bacteria, or stop our sweat glands from excreting any in the first place. Which is exactly why there are two categories.


Simply put, deodorant kills the bacteria that feed on sweat. It tends to do this by leaving behind a layer with enough salt or pH to kill any bacteria that try to take advantage of your sweat. Most deodorants also add some scents of their own to mask whatever leftover body odor there is, and give you a more pleasing aroma.

One possible side effect of using deodorant too often is that you will basically make the bacteria on your skin evolve to become more resistant to it. Or put more precisely, you’ll kill off most of the bacteria that the deodorant works on again and again, leaving behind the ones that it doesn’t until they become the majority. Switching your deodorant every year or two is a good way to avoid this possibility, or if you’d rather just use less deodorant altogether, keeping your armpits trimmed or shaven and dry goes a long way to help.


Rather than focus on the bacteria, antiperspirant attacks body odor at the source: by blocking your sweat glands. It contains trace amounts of aluminum, which are absorbed into your skin and temporarily clog some of your skin’s ability to sweat. Like deodorant, it tends to also add some pleasing masking scents as well, since it is generally less effective: some deodorants only block 20% of your sweat, and the really strong ones are harder to get.

There are some concerns about antiperspirant’s affects on breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. While the link to cancer has so far seemed empty, studies are still pending for a firm answer on other effects. Either way, the risk seems fairly small, and there are no confirmed health risks to its use.

Most products tend to use a mix of both deodorant and antiperspirant, ensuring that they reduce body odor from every angle at once. This might be the best solution if you notice that you have unusually strong body odor, or if you sweat regularly without quick access to a shower afterward, but otherwise most men are fine with a basic deodorant and occasional antiperspirant on hot days or before a workout.


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