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Antiperspirant Vs. Deodorant

Smita Pandit

Both antiperspirants and deodorants are personal hygiene products that are applied for eliminating or masking unpleasant body odor. However, they are not the same. This story explains the difference between them.
Perspiration, which is commonly referred to as sweating, is a natural process that the body employs to regulate its temperature. It is characterized by the release of salty liquid by the sweat glands. The body cools off when the sweat evaporates from the surface of the skin.
One is likely to sweat more during hot weather or when one performs exercises that cause the muscles to heat up. Perspiration can also occur in response to stress, anger, or fear.
Sweating can become a cause of concern, if profuse sweating gives rise to unpleasant body odor. However, this embarrassing problem can be tackled by using antiperspirants and deodorants. Most people think that there is no difference between these two products, which is incorrect. Let's find out how these two personal hygiene products are different from each other.

Sweating and Unpleasant Body Odor

Sweat glands are of two types: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands secrete water and salt and help in regulating body temperature. The apocrine glands, which are mainly found in the armpits, groin, hands, and feet, produce and secrete sweat that contains proteins and fatty acids on the surface of the skin.
These glands develop fully after the onset of puberty, and are responsible for the unpleasant body odor. The sweat produced by apocrine glands is thicker and yellow in color, which explains the yellowish armpit sweat stains on light-colored shirts. Though the sweat itself is odorless, it begins to smell when bacteria act on the fat-infused sweat.

How is an Antiperspirant Different From a Deodorant

The major difference between these products is that they have a different mechanism or chemical process to counter the problem of perspiration. The antiperspirants use chemicals or powerful astringents that clog or block the pores, thereby preventing the release of sweat.
Most of them contain chemicals such as aluminum or zirconium to block the pores. The active ingredient aluminum chloride forms a gel-like plug that clogs the pores and keeps you sweat-free.
The deodorant, on the other hand, doesn't prevent you from sweating. However, it prevents bacteria from thriving on body parts where you sweat. A chemical called triclosan makes the underarm skin too acidic, which prevents your armpit from becoming a home to the bacteria, thereby reducing chances of bad odor.
Though being sweat free might make you feel more comfortable, a deodorant would be a better option for those who don't wish to interfere in the natural process of sweating by clogging the pores.

Safety Concerns

So, is it safe to use these products? Studies are being conducted to determine the health risks involved in using these personal hygiene products. Some studies state the connection between the regular use of these products to certain health problems.
Research has indicated that aluminum compounds used in the antiperspirants can get assimilated in the bloodstream and cause serious health issues. Researchers are trying to establish a link between their use and the Alzheimer's disease.
In case of deodorants, the ones that contain parabens should be avoided. It is believed that the ones that contain parabens might affect estrogen levels. Some studies suggest that the regular use could make one susceptible to breast cancer.
Check the label before buying any of these products. In case you are not too keen on using them, you could even try out the natural alternatives to counter the problem of bad odor.
On a concluding note, consumers need to be careful while buying these products. If you don't sweat too much, use them sparingly or switch to a natural products, if you experience an adverse reaction.