Consumers often use the terms deodorant and antiperspirant interchangeably but they are very different products both in function and regulation by the FDA. Understanding the differences between deodorant and antiperspirant can help in making an informed decision about which one is best suited for your needs.
What Causes Smelly Armpits?
To understand the mechanism of action or how deodorants and antiperspirants work, it is necessary to review how body odor is produced. Our bodies produce sweat as a way to regulate our body temperature. As our bodies secrete sweat, it evaporates to produce a cooling effect. Sweat is odorless but can be broken down by bacteria resulting in pungent molecules (thioalcohols) associated with body odor. Those that sweat a lot are therefore more susceptible to body odor. This can be addressed by either reducing sweat production, neutralizing these volatile odor molecules, or making the environment under our arms less favorable to odor producing bacteria. Antiperspirants target the first mechanism or method of action while deodorants target the second two mechanisms.
Purpose of Deodorant:
Deodorants are cosmetic products that only reduce body odor and do not impact sweat production. Deodorants are not regulated by the FDA since they do not impact the structure or function of the body. They allow the body to naturally sweat but reduce body odor by neutralizing odor molecules produced by the bacteria or by adjusting the environment under the arms making it difficult for the bacteria to proliferate and produce odor molecules. Thioalcohols have a low vapor pressure and are therefore volatile. They have a strong negative odor even at low doses. Ingredients like cyclodextrin can trap these molecules and prevent them from being volatile rendering them odorless to our noses. Our Saltair Skincare Deodorant works by not only neutralizing odor molecules but adjusting the environment under the arms to prevent underarm odor for up to 24 hours.
Our natural skincare deodorant contains a beta hydroxy acid to reduce the skin pH thus reducing the ability of the bacteria to break down sweat and create body odor. We created a baking soda free deodorant as baking soda can be an irritate resulting in skin redness. Our Saltair Skincare Deodorant provides a number of additional cosmetic benefits aside from reducing body odor including reducing visual hyperpigmentation or darkening under the armpits, preventing ingrown hairs, and smoothing the skin surface.
Ingredients Typically Found in Deodorant:
Deodorants typically have odor absorbing molecules or compounds such as cyclodextrin or zinc ricinoleate to neutralize or bind the volatile odor molecules. While deodorants cannot claim antimicrobial properties or the product would be considered a drug, they can sometimes contain essential oils or ingredients such as baking soda that inherently have antimicrobial properties and limit bacteria proliferation under the arms. Newer deodorants focus on acidic ingredients to reduce skin pH and thus limit the odor causing potential of bacteria. Some ingredients can be multifunctional such as salicylic acid to both acidify the skin and provide antimicrobial properties. Deodorants can utilize fragrances to help mask breakthrough odor or give a pleasant scent to armpits. Deodorants never contain aluminum salts, the active ingredient in antiperspirants. If a “deodorant” contains an aluminum salt it would be considered adulterated and removed from the market because it contains an active pharmaceutical ingredient or drug active.
Additional Skincare Ingredients Found in Saltair Deodorant:
The star ingredient in our skincare deodorant, salicylic acid, is oil soluble and fully dissolved in the stick. On contact with water in the skin or sweat the salicylic acid will acidify the skin. It’s “skin activated acidification” which translates to a natural reduction in body odor. Salicylic acid brings more to the table than just odor elimination. It exfoliates to smooth the skin and reduce ingrown hairs. Exfoliation also reduces visual hyperpigmentation that can be caused by shaving irritation. Our skincare deodorant also contains zinc ricinoleate which neutralizes odor by absorbing odor molecules. Tamanu oil, native to tropical Asia and Wallacea and rich in fatty acids, was added for its known ability to improve the appearance and condition of skin and brown algae to help balance the moisture barrier.
Purpose of Antiperspirant:
The purpose of an antiperspirant is to reduce sweat production which can then help reduce body odor. An antiperspirant can be both a drug, reducing sweat production under the arms, and a cosmetic, reducing body odor. Antiperspirants contain aluminum salts that plug up sweat glands, limiting sweat production and therefore decreasing odor. These aluminum salts are listed on an FDA monograph. The Over-the-Contour Monograph for antiperspirant drug products outlines the required dosage and format of the aluminum salts in an antiperspirant as well as labeling and production of the product. Antiperspirants are also offered in a variety of strengths and go through required testing to quantify antiperspirant efficacy.
Which Option is Right For You?
The decision to use antiperspirant vs deodorant is dependent on your main goal. If the goal is to reduce sweating then an antiperspirant is the product to use but if you want to reduce body odor only then a deodorant is the right product to select. Your goal may change and evolve as well. Sweat production can vary depending on the season with summer bringing elevated temperatures, your level of physical activity, or medications you are taking.
Both deodorants and antiperspirants are offered in the same formats including gels, sticks, aerosols, wipes, and creams. Selecting the format is based on personal preference. Antiperspirants are offered in a variety of strengths and adhere to strict testing guidelines while deodorants are not required to go through any clinical testing for efficacy. When selecting a deodorant, choose one that has an hourly odor reduction claim as it has been through clinical testing to obtain such claim.
If you want to maximize reduction of odor and sweat production it is recommended to apply antiperspirant at night and a deodorant in the morning. Optimal time of application of antiperspirant is at night when the body perspires less. The aluminum salts are able to penetrate and create sweat plugs to prevent the body from sweating. Morning application may be difficult to get the most out of an antiperspirant because the sweat glands are more active. In the morning you can apply deodorant to help reduce body odor without negatively impacting the sweat plugs created by the antiperspirant the night before.
Knowing the distinctions between deodorants and antiperspirants can help you make the best decision between the two or pairing the two together to control your body odor and sweating effectively. Don’t stress, which can cause sweating, as Saltair offers a great option to keep you smelling your best!