Deodorant or antiperspirant - what is the difference between them?

Author: Katjuša Reja Mozetič

This blog from the series »Naturally beautiful", which we prepare together with Anjo Suska, instructor, vlogger, nutritional consultant, graduated sociologist, who successfully helps women lay appropriate foundations for a healthy lifestyle, is especially relevant in the warm months. In the blog, I tried to describe the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants as simply as possible, give useful tips to reduce sweating and, of course, there is also a recipe for an effective natural deodorant that you can easily prepare yourself at home.

Both deodorants and antiperspirants have a common task, which is to reduce unpleasant body odor. However, their modes of operation differ greatly. In order to understand the chemistry of their action, we must first of all understand the formation and origin of the unpleasant smell.

The science of sweating - the secretion of sweat

It's sweating a completely natural physiological process and is absolutely necessary for the normal functioning of the organism. The body performs several functions by secreting sweat:

  • first of all, sweating is necessary to regulate body temperature
  • moisturizes the skin
  • through sweat, pheromones (chemical signals) are secreted on some parts of the body
  • research shows that sweat also contains a special natural antibiotic that protects our skin from unwanted bacteria
  • some toxic substances are also excreted through the route (detoxification of the organism).

    Anatomy of sweating

    Sweating - as a way of cooling the organism - is characteristic of primates and horses. Human sweat is produced in the sweat glands. It is formed in the globular part of the gland and penetrates the surface of the skin through a tube that opens into a pore on the surface of the skin. We have two types of sweat glands:

    • ordinary or eccrine glands, which we have all over the body (about 60 for every cmskin) and mainly take care of regulating body temperature
    • scent glands or apocrylic glands, which we have mainly under the armpits, in the external ear canal, around the nipples and genitals. These glands respond mainly to emotional stimuli (fear, distress, sexual excitement, etc.).

    The two types of glands differ not only in their location in the body, but also in the size and composition of the sweat they produce. Normal glands are smaller and are active from birth. The scent glands become active only at puberty. The sweat of ordinary glands contains only water and minerals, while the sweat of scent glands also contains proteins and fatty acids. PURE SWEAT HAS NO ODOR,  which could be perceived. Unpleasant body odor is the result of BACTERIA AND YEAST DECOMPOSITION, which feed on proteins and fatty acids. That is why we perceive an unpleasant smell only in the areas where we have scent glands.

    So they are unpleasant body odor is caused by microorganisms (MO). If we want to reduce body odor, we must somehow prevent MO growth. We can do this in two ways:

    • we create an unfavorable microclimate for MO growth - they need moisture and food (proteins, fatty acids, slightly acidic pH) to grow,
    • we prevent the secretion of sweat (MOs do not have moisture and food for growth).

    It is typical for deodorants, to fight against the unpleasant smell in the first way, that is to say, to create the most unfavorable environment possible for the growth of MO. Antiperspirants pa contain substances (mostly aluminum salts) which massage the sebaceous glands and in this way prevent the secretion of sweat.


    Antiperspirants clog the excretory glands and thus prevent the secretion of sweat.

    They contain an active ingredient aluminum salts (20-25%), which react with sweat to form a gel and in this way prevent sweating.

    No sweat, no MO, no bad smell. Completely logical and simple operation... What about the side effects?

    • Antiperspirants they block a natural physiological process in our organism - thermoregulation (regulation of body temperature).
    • Antiperspirants they clog the pores and so prevent excretion of toxins (poisonous substances). With that increases the burden on the liver. You've probably noticed that sweat has a different smell if you've overindulged in heavy food and/or alcohol. This is because the body is also detoxified through sweating.
    • Through the scent glands, pheromones (chemical signals) are also secreted, which ensure adequate chemistry between the sexes, and antiperspirants block them.
    • Numerous studies have linked the use of aluminum antiperspirants to breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease. You can read more about it here or here.


    Deodorants contain ingredients that which do not prevent the secretion of sweat, but prevent MO growth. I have already mentioned that the unpleasant smell of our sweat is caused by the MOs that feed on our sweat. Therefore, deodorants contain ingredients that:
    • they bind water – they reduce the feeling of wetness during excretion and prevent the growth of MO, which absolutely need a moist environment for growth,
    • they have antimicrobial activity (preventing MO growth),
    • bind or react with fatty acids, proteins and other products in our sweat - that's how they take away food MO and have no chance of growth.

    Deodorants they do not interfere with the natural physiological process of the organism and thus have no negative effect on the functioning and health of the organism. It must be admitted, yes no deodorant offers 24-hour protection. In case of profuse sweating, a deodorant is necessary apply several times: you must first wipe the area (armpits) with a tissue, if you have the opportunity to wash it beforehand and reapply the deodorant on dry and clean skin. This way, you will definitely not develop an unpleasant smell.

    Some simple tips to reduce sweating:

    • Underarm sweating can be alleviated by waxing or shaving underarms.
    • Wear clothes made of natural and not synthetic materials, breathable tunics, linen and clothes that 'breathe' are ideal.
    • In the summer, give up drinks with ice, although I know they still graze. The body tries to warm them up to body temperature and therefore only sweats more.
    • Showering with cold water does not help with sweating, because in this case the body has to get even more blood, which stimulates sweating again. But it helps if you let cold water run over your forearms for about half a minute.
    • Avoid fabric softener for clothes that are worn directly on the body. Fabric softener is not recommended in the summer because it thickens the fibers. This makes it harder for the skin to excrete moisture.
    • Coffee, alcohol and spicy food also increase sweating, so limit their use on hot days.

    Adjustment period

    I often hear statements that natural deodorant has no effect. If you have carefully read the blog up to this point, you will understand why there is an adjustment period when switching to a natural deodorant. If you have recently stopped using synthetic deodorant or even antiperspirants and switched to using natural deodorants, your body needs some time to adjust to the change. The adjustment period varies greatly from individual to individual, both in terms of intensity and length. In addition to the personal characteristics of the individual, the chemical response of the organism is influenced by many factors such as gender, age, diet, health status, stress, taking medications, etc. Here, I would like to emphasize that the use of deodorants has a much greater impact on the chemical response of your body than the use of other cosmetic products. It is important to know that:

    • a deodorant that is effective on one person may not suit another person,
    • a deodorant that initially has no effect may work perfectly after an adjustment period,
    • Hypersensitivity reactions are most often the result of an excessive concentration of baking soda - try to use a deodorant with less soda.

    Of course, all of this applies to a healthy person who sweats normally. In case of excessive sweating or insufficient sweating, it is necessary to seek medical help.

    If you want to prepare such a deodorant yourself, the recipe is available at the link below:

    Here you can also see how to prepare natural deodorant:

    Natural deodorant, which we have prepared for you at Nona Luisa, you can explore here:

     I wish you healthy sweating, without an unpleasant smell!

    Katyusha 👋

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