Types of Deodorant
Despite popular belief, sweat doesn't actually cause body odor; the odor is produced when bacteria breaks down sweat. That's where deodorant comes in. Applied to the skin (typically the underarms), deodorant contains antibacterial and other ingredients that hinder the bacteria that break down sweat and cause the odor, effectively stopping body odor before it starts. Some deodorants also contain scents to help mask body odor. Deodorant does not, however, prevent you from sweating.
Antiperspirants use aluminum-based ingredients to create temporary plugs in the sweat ducts, reducing underarm sweating. They don't mask or reduce odor directly. However, because body odor is caused by the bacterial breakdown of sweat, you may experience less body odor as a result of not sweating as much. Antiperspirants are often used by people who sweat profusely and want to avoid the embarrassment of sweat-soaked armpits. Most, but not all, mass-produced products include both antiperspirant and deodorant ingredients for maximum odor- and sweat-fighting protection.
These products don't contain aluminum or other chemical ingredients found in traditional deodorants and antiperspirants. Some people opt for natural deodorants because they want to avoid aluminum and other chemicals, while others find that they're sensitive to certain ingredients commonly used in traditional deodorants/antiperspirants and turn to natural deodorants as a result. Natural deodorants won't stop you from sweating, but they can help to reduce odor.
Types of Deodorant Applicators
Using deodorant to mask
odors isn't a new concept for most, but hundreds of years ago, before regular
bathing became commonplace, people used heavy colognes to mask B.O. It wasn't
until the early 1800s that chemists began making products that could prevent
body odor and sweating. The earliest manufacturers of antiperspirants made
extremely messy pastes and creams that were difficult
to apply. Mass-produced aluminum-based products came about more than 100 years
ago. They came in the form of creams, solids, pads, dabbers, roll-ons and
powders. Over time, the popularity of some of the application types waned.
Today deodorants come in a variety of forms and formulas:
sticks are the most popular form of
deodorant/antiperspirants. They typically don't leave the skin wet after
application, and usually come in a solid white or clear formula. Some solid
sticks tend to leave white residue behind on clothing.
- Gels are applied in a similar way to solid sticks, but
they go on clear. The gel formula is generally pushed up through holes or slits
in the applicator. Gels are wet when applied and require a few minutes to dry.
- Roll-ons feature a ball at the top of the
bottle that can be rolled to evenly distribute the product, which is usually
light and gel-like.
and lotions must be applied with the
fingertips to the underarms, although some lotions come in spray bottles. These
usually require a few minutes of drying.
sprays come in aerosol cans and
typically go on dry.
What's in Your Deodorant?
Sweaty -- and stinky --
pits at the gym are commonplace, but sweaty situations can occur anytime and
anyplace, whether you like it or not. Believe it or not, perspiration is
actually good for you; it's a natural function that cools the body down.
Although it is blamed for foul body odor, normal perspiration itself doesn't
have much scent at all. Bad odors are usually produced by bacteria living on
the surface of the skin, which thrives on sweat.
However, sweat from stress
is a different matter. It comes on fast, can be hard to control and does give
off a foul odor. That's because, when you're nervous or excited, you sweat from
apocrine glands located in your underarms and pubic region. Secretions from
normal sweat glands (eccrine glands) are watery and mostly odorless, but
apocrine secretions contain 20 percent fat and protein; bacteria thrive on the
stuff, and you're left dealing with the pungent odor.
There are two key factors
that affect people's favorability when it comes to deodorant: One is
performance, and the other is feel and smell. Most over-the-counter
antiperspirants/deodorants contain an aluminum-based active ingredient that
blocks the pores to stop sweat. Some of the most common active ingredients
you'll find when browsing for antiperspirants in the supermarket include:
- Aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex glycine
- Aluminum zirconium octachlorohydrex glycine
- Aluminum chloride
- Aluminum chlorohydrate
- Aluminum hydroxybromide
antiperspirants contain between 10 and 20 percent of their active ingredient;
FDA restrictions cap that level to between 15 and 25 percent, depending on the
specific type of active ingredient. Clinical strength formulas stay within
over-the-counter guidelines but aim to provide comparable wetness protection to
prescription products. Certain Dri Clinical Strength Roll-on, for example,
contains 12 percent aluminum chloride.
Most of the
deodorant/antiperspirant lines we reviewed come in a wide range of scents;
there is usually more variety among women's deodorants than men's. It's
important to note the distinction between "unscented" and
"fragrance-free": unscented products do contain fragrance additives
(to mask the chemical smell of other ingredients), while fragrance-free
products do not.
Finding The Best Deodorant
"The Best Deodorant for Women"
"The Best Natural Deodorant"
"9 Natural Deodorants That Will Stand Up to Even Your Sweatiest Workout"
Deodorant is a widely-used product available in multiple forms and myriad
scents (including none at all) with varying ingredients. We found expert
reviews comparing the performance of traditional deodorants, antiperspirants,
and natural deodorants at Reviews.com, Well+Good and Real Simple. We also found
roundups of the best deodorants and antiperspirants at TotalBeauty and InStyle,
although beyond reader feedback or editor opinions, it's not clear whether
hands-on testing is conducted to compare product performance.
preference is often a personal one based on scent and feel, and certain
products may cause reactions in some users but not in others, we turned to thousands
of user reviews across sites like Amazon, SheSpeaks, Walgreens and Walmart.
These reviews offer feedback on performance in real-world scenarios as well as
insights such as whether users experienced reactions to certain ingredients or
whether a deodorant brand is likely to stain clothing. We combine expert and
user feedback to come up with our recommendations for the best deodorant and
antiperspirant for men and women and the best natural deodorant.