Deodorant vs Antiperspirant

With so many people back to school this time of year, good deodorant is a must-have lest you become that guy.  Shopping for one is a pragmatic affair.  It all comes down to one thing:  Does it work?  Like all things natural, the answer is complicated.

Let’s discuss the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants, and end with some natural options that will keep you healthy and not funky.

A rose by any other name

Deodorants and antiperspirants are often confused but they do two completely different things.

Deodorants are all about odour.  Some trivia:  your sweat doesn’t actually have a smell.  Your unique blend of stank comes from bacteria living on your skin.  Deodorants eliminate the bacteria through ingredients.

Antiperspirants focus on sweat.  Ingredients like aluminum block it from coming out in the first place.  Of the two, antiperspirants are more concerning because they alter the physiology of your skin.

Either product achieves its goal through the use of chemicals.  Not all chemicals are bad though so what makes the ones used here worth avoiding?

Pick your poison

Stopping a physical process is a tricky proposition.  What works for some, may not work for others and each ingredient causes primary and secondary effects on your body.  Some ingredients can also be allergens to certain individuals.  This is why companies turn to chemicals.

Synthetic ingredients get the job done and they’re predictable.  Our body wasn’t built for them though and they invite unforeseen consequences.  Case in point:  Antiperspirant.

Antiperspirants plug up your eccrine sweat glands with aluminum.  You have about 50 lymph nodes per armpit.  Lymph nodes are an important part of our immune system and help store and excrete toxins from the body. Messing around here isn’t a bright idea.

The coup de grace is what your body does when its way of releasing toxins is blocked.  Toxins like fat cells and your breasts are the closest thing to your armpits making them a perfect place to accumulate all the nasty stuff that should have been sweat out.

This is why stores like The Big Carrot don’t carry antiperspirants and instead opt for natural deodorants.  A working deodorant is hard to let go of though, so what kind of natural options are there?

Smells like victory

Chemical deodorants eliminate bacteria harshly and often throw off your PH balance.  Natural products try to do the same but by using things that are naturally antibacterial.

You may not know it but there’s a delicate bacterial balancing act underneath your arms.  When deodorant starts killing some bacteria the others fill in the free space and if the ingredients aren’t great at killing the new guys your smell comes back and the deodorant ‘stops working’. The key is finding one that gets enough of the bacteria and can be consistent.  Here are a few natural options on the market that get great customer reviews:

Herban Cowboy:

Available in masculine and feminine scents, these sticks go on moist but dry quickly. They don’t irritate sensitive underarms and use silver to kill bacteria.  Unlike aluminum, this doesn’t clog your pores or penetrate the skin and keeps you fresh nearly all day.

Crawford Street Lemon Cream:

This locally made pot deodorant cream uses essential oils to keep your pits bacteria free.

Zion Health Adama Minerals Clay Dry:

Another stick, clay can function as a mild antiperspirant, absorbing moisture.  Using a combination of minerals and oils they work as well as they smell.

Dr. Mist Sprays:

These colourless, odourless mists use a combination of salts and de-ionized water to kill odour.  The award winning formula is even used by some for foot odour!

Passing the smell test

Hopefully the above has demystified the smelly business of deodorants. No matter how you decide to control your odour it’s best to do so in the healthiest way you can.  Our Body Care staff are trained to help you find the best product for your needs. Stop by for a consultation anytime.


Matt Restrepo is the assistant manager in our Body Care Department