Do you reach for deodorant or antiperspirant in the morning? Most people probably don't know the difference.
Deodorant is commonly used to describe anything you roll, dab or swipe on your pits. But there’s a big difference between deodorant and antiperspirant — crucial to know if you're a heavy sweater. Today we're tackling the debate on deodorant vs. antiperspirant, the differences and how to choose the best option for you.
Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant: Common Misconceptions
First, here's the Cliff Notes version: antiperspirants are designed to stop sweat while deodorants mask body odor.
So why all the confusion?
Because many people are familiar with deodorant, both prescription and over-the-counter brands use the term deodorant interchangeably in their marketing. (And there's such a thing as deodorant-antiperspirant!)
Take Secret’s Clinical Strength Invisible Solid Deodorant. It’s labeled as a deodorant. But if you read the description, you’ll see one of its primary functions is “wetness protection.” It also contains an active antiperspirant ingredient called aluminum zirconium. By the FDA's definition, this product is an antiperspirant.
Comparing Ingredients In Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant
You can tell the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant by looking at the ingredients.
If your product contains any form of aluminum, it’s an antiperspirant.
Aluminum stops sweat by seeping into your pores and creating a plug. Types of aluminum commonly used in antiperspirants are aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex glycine, aluminum hydroxybromid, aluminum sulfate and sodium aluminum chlorohydroxy lactate.
While many natural ingredients like witch hazel, mineral salts, hops, baking soda and talc may reduce sweat, aluminum is the only ingredient recognized by the FDA as an antiperspirant. Anything labeled “aluminum-free antiperspirant” isn't guaranteed to stop sweat. (For a complete list of FDA antiperspirants, click here.)
The bottom line? Aluminum = Antiperspirant.
Deodorants prevent body odor. They contain antibacterials and fragrances to reduce underarm bacteria and mask body odor. A tell-tale sign of deodorant is the absence of any aluminum ingredient.
The most commonly used antibacterial agent in deodorant is alcohol, but substances like activated charcoal, baking soda and coconut oil are used in natural deodorants to fight bacteria. (And you can even make your own.)
Here are a few more ingredients found in most over the counter deodorants:
- Cetyl Alcohol
- Hydrolyzed corn starch
- Propylene glycol
Now that you know the difference between deodorant vs. antiperspirant, you're probably wondering which one is best.
Antiperspirant vs. Deodorant: Which Is Right For You?
When it comes to deciding between deodorant vs. antiperspirant, it’s all about personal preference.
If you’re a light sweater, and just want to prevent body odor, deodorant is a good option. For those who sweat heavily or get substantial underarm sweat stains day in and day out, antiperspirant is the way to go. (Identify with the latter? Check out our blog post, The Best Deodorants That Stop Underarm Sweat Stains or our resource page dedicated to Heavy Underarm Sweating.)
But what if you want to avoid aluminum and other chemicals and still need to reduce sweat? Is this possible? The answer is yes. There is another way to manage sweat.
Natural Alternative to Antiperspirant: The Thompson Tee
The Thompson Tee is an all-natural, chemical-free way to stop underarm sweat from getting out of hand.
This sweat proof undershirt is made with patented Hydro-Shield technology that absorbs sweat and releases it as a vapor. Pair it with deodorant and you’ve got a sweat-blocking, odor-stopping combination that’s hard to beat.
Want more information on deodorant vs. antiperspirant, and all things sweat-related? Check out Thompson Tee’s Sweat 101 resource page!