Deodorant and Antiperspirant : The Ultimate Buying Guide

Body odor and sweat are a natural part of human function – but that doesn’t mean you have to like it. I mean, you are what you eat, right? But, no one really wants to smell like a 5-day-old version of it. Then there’s the sweating… When it comes to your body’s natural cooling system, do you know anyone who truly enjoys having massive pools of sweat emerging from their pits and spreading across their chest?

No one does!

That’s why the deodorant aisle is stocked with every kind of scent and formula you can imagine – and why it’s so confusing trying to find out which one is the right one to buy. So, in order to combat the toughest bouts of sweat and body odor, let’s take a look at what a deodorant is, what an antiperspirant is, and how to figure out which of the vast displays of products in the grocery aisle are the best for your gender. Here’s how to find the best deodorant for men and the best deodorant for women.

Deodorant

Deodorant has become an important part of our society because cleanliness is considered a positive thing. As a result, we form opinions about people based on how they smell, and people prefer to be around pleasant-smelling people. In fact, that’s why women and men wear perfume and cologne, and why there is such a big market for body washes as well. Deodorant, however, has a special place in society, because without it, all those pleasant smells you like to spritz, dash and splash on your skin will just disappear into the stench coming from your own armpits.

Deodorant works by using ingredients such as antimicrobials and alcohol to kill bacteria, and contain scents to mask any leftover smells. But, the real reason bacteria are so prone to grow in the underarm areas is because of the incredible number of sweat glands located in that region of the body. As a result, the armpits become a prime environment for bacteria to thrive: moist, warm, and full of lipids from the body’s natural oils. It is this bacteria that causes the body odor, and that’s why a deodorant’s primary purpose is to eliminate the bacteria.

Guide To Choosing A Deodorant

Learning how to choose the best deodorant for men and the best deodorant for women entails understanding the deodorant labels, your lifestyle, and the image you want to project with the accompanying scent. As a man, you may not want to smell “pretty” like a woman, and as a woman, you may not want the earthiness that a men’s scent provides. However, when determining which scent you want, an unscented or powder-scent product can go both ways.

Other things to consider when choosing a deodorant are the different forms of applications – like whether or not you want a spray, stick, roll-on or gel. In general, the closer you can get the formula to the skin the better because that is where the bacteria lie and where the smell originates. Women can usually use any form, but men who have a decent amount of underarm hair may want to opt for a spray instead. Men with a lot of body hair should also avoid roll-ons, as the hair can get stuck in the rollers.

If you lead an active lifestyle or live in very hot or humid climates, you may want to consider a time-release formula, as well as one that includes an antiperspirant.

Antiperspirants

Many people assume that deodorants and antiperspirants are one in the same and that all deodorants contain some form of antiperspirant, and vice-versa, but that’s simply not true. Antiperspirants are a chemical agent that causes a reaction designed to control moisture, while a deodorant’s main purpose to kill bacteria and control scent. So, when it comes to antiperspirants, they are a whole different animal.

How antiperspirants work is by their use an “active ingredient” which plugs up the sweat glands and stops it from coming out. In every antiperspirant, this ingredient is some form of aluminum compound, and may be comprised of any combination of the following: Aluminum Chloride, Aluminum zirconium Tricholorohydrex Glycine, Aluminum Chloralhydrate or Aluminum hydroxybromide, Aluminum Sesquichlorohydrate, and possibly some others. Over the past decades, aluminum has been thought to possibly be linked to an increase in the incidences of Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. Recent studies have determined, however, that there is no evidence that the aluminum is the trigger for such increases in these diseases.

Guide To Choosing An Antiperspirant

When it comes to choosing an antiperspirant to control your perspiration, you have to be careful about which one you choose. This is due to the fact that although aluminum compounds work very well for controlling the emission of perspiration, they are also irritants. People who suffer from eczema or psoriasis may have a hard time with antiperspirants containing aluminum compounds, and others with more sensitive skin may see a reaction as well. For this reason, if you see any kind of reaction on your skin after using one, you should stop using it as soon as possible and try a different brand. If you fit into this category, there has been evidence that those antiperspirants containing Aluminum Sesquichlorohydrate may be a better choice.

If using an antiperspirant that contains aluminum is not possible, there are others that claim to work just as well. These are marketed as “natural” or “organic” antiperspirants, and they use alum and/or mineral salts as a replacement. Unfortunately, these alternatives don’t always work as well.

Other things to look for when choosing an antiperspirant – especially when looking for an aluminum alternative – is to watch out for the zinc substitution. Zinc can be just as irritating as aluminum and if you’re already reacting, it’s not a great choice.

How To Choose The Right Formula

Choosing the right formula isn’t just about what’s in it and what your lifestyle happens to be. There are so many options available now that it may take some time to find the perfect formulation for you. When it comes to the basics, though, it really all comes down to this:

  • How much do you sweat? If it’s an all-day event, you’ll need a time release formula.
  • Do you have sensitive skin or any skin conditions? If so, you will probably have to seek out an aluminum-free antiperspirant and deodorant.
  • Do you need one heavy on antimicrobial agents? Sometimes the alcohol just isn’t enough, as it can evaporate quickly when exposed.
  • Scented or Unscented? Some “unscented” brands still react with body chemistry to produce a faint smell that may not be appealing. Additionally, scented brands may clash with fragrances, or they just may not suit your body chemistry to your (and others) satisfaction. Even the powder scented versions don’t smell right on everyone. Most people have a general knowledge about what scents they prefer, so choosing something similar will probably work for your deodorant, too.
  • Which application type works best for you? There are gels, sticks, creams, roll-on liquids and sprays. All work well, though the whole premise behind deodorants and antiperspirants is to apply it directly to the skin, not the hair covering it. So for men, you’re going to have to decide which method will be better for getting it right to the pores. Usually, misting with a spray is the best, but sticks and gels work great too. Don’t forget, if you’re thinking about a liquid roll-on, that roller ball can grab your hair pretty good. So you may want to opt out of that one. Since most women have bare underarms, it will come down to personal preference. This means whether you mind it going on wet or dry, and whether or not you have to get dressed right away (after all, you don’t want it rubbing off on your clothes). Other than that, there are no real restrictions, and whether they work will primarily depend on the manufacturer’s formula, rather than the application.

On a final note, whether you’re looking for the best deodorant for men or the best deodorant for women, the above guide should help point you in the right direction. It’s not an exact science, but I think everyone can agree that smelling great and keeping the sweat to a minimum is something that everyone enjoys.