The Difference Between Antiperspirant and Deodorant and Which to Use

The Difference Between Antiperspirant and Deodorant and Which to Use


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Everyone has their reasons for wearing (or not wearing) deodorant or antiperspirant—whether it’s to avoid sweating, smelling, or giving in to societal norms. But if you’re someone who opts to glide or spray on one of those products, do you know the difference between them?

Sure, their names sort of give it away: Deodorant deals with the odor, and antiperspirant takes care of the perspiration. But there’s more to the story than that. Here’s what to know about the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant, and how to know which one to use (if you opt to use one at all).

What’s the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant?

The major difference between antiperspirant and deodorant is the ingredients. Antiperspirants contain aluminum-based compounds that plug up your sweat ducts, and keeping underarms dry, Dr. Lucy Chen, a dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology tells Good Housekeeping. In some cases, antiperspirants can also decrease the kind of bacteria responsible for making sweat smell, but that’s more of a bonus than the aim of the product.

Traditional deodorants, on the other hand, are formulated to increase the skin’s acidity and kill bacteria on your skin—more specifically, the bacteria in sweat that gives it its pungent aroma, Chen explains. And, as Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab Director Dr. Birnur Aral notes, there are also some deodorants that contain fragrances to mask odors without killing the bacteria. Either way, deodorant alone won’t keep you from sweating.

Should you use antiperspirant or deodorant?

According to Chen, both are safe to use, so it largely depends on what you want them to do. If you’re not someone who sweats a lot—or don’t mind perspiring—you should be fine with a deodorant. If you’re someone whose sweat doesn’t have a strong smell, but you want to avoid pit stains, antiperspirant is an option. And, of course, there are plenty of products that are a combination of antiperspirant and deodorant that offer the best of both worlds.



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