Deodorants vs. Antiperspirants: What is the Difference?

Deodorants vs. Antiperspirants: What is the Difference?

Are you confused about the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant? If you are, you are not alone. 

Since both of these products categories work very differently to address the same exact problem: odor control – in today’s DECODED I thought I would clarify some major differences between the two once and for all. 


How antiperspirants work

Antiperspirants reduce sweat, while deodorants reduce odor. Antiperspirants contain aluminum salts that plug your pores by binding to a protein in the sweat duct. Clinical strength antiperspirants have also been introduced and consumers should really understand the difference:

A regular antiperspirant produces a 20% sweat duct plug formation with aluminum, while clinical strength produces a 30% sweat duct plug formation also with aluminum. This is why it is highly effective at keeping sweat at bay, but the increase in aluminum is very troublesome.


The Science

You wouldn’t knowingly ingest a spoonful of toxic cosmetic ingredients, yet so many people would not think twice with applying them to their skin every single day. In some ways, smearing toxins under your arms in the form of deodorant or antiperspirant may be worse than if you were to eat it. 

“When you eat something, it’s broken down by your liver and digestive system,” says Heather Patisaul, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at North Carolina State University. “But when you put something on your skin, there are times when it can enter your bloodstream without being metabolized.

Patisaul studies endocrine disruptors — both suspected, as well as known chemicals — that may disrupt your body’s reproductive and developmental hormones. She says rubbing something on your skin doesn’t mean all—or even any—of it will make its way into your bloodstream; it depends on the chemical. Blood tests have the ability to show that many of the substances commonly included in deodorant products can, in fact, worm their way past the epidermis and into the body.

 Keep in mind, the underarm area houses fatty tissue that can be susceptible to storing substances — especially if you shave and apply antiperspirant chemicals on the broken skin. The scientific community still does not support the possibility that antiperspirants are a possible danger to your health (that is why they are still on the shelves). It is up to you as a consumer to make the decision if you think this is a risk to your health.


 Deodorants vs. Antiperspirants: What is the Difference?


How deodorants work

In our discussion of deodorants, we will be referring to deodorants made of natural ingredients  or that qualify as “natural”:

Deodorants are topical products that are designed to work on the surface of the skin to eliminate bacteria that causes odor. They do not prevent you from sweating, but this is also what is part of the healthy appeal for consumers; as deodorant allows your body to function the way it was designed to in order to expel toxins. 

However, this is sometimes problematic for “extra” sweaty individuals, but keep in mind most deodorants are actually formulated with powder to help absorb the sweat and primarily work on eliminating the bacteria that causes odor. 

I always suggest that consumers should look for deodorants that are formulated with low levels of fragrance. If the deodorant scent is strong, you may be asking for trouble in terms of rashes and irritations as this is a common problem with natural deodorants. Plus, your underarms are a delicate area and house fatty tissue. When you shave and apply a product loaded with chemicals on broken skin you may provide a gateway into your bloodstream.


So which product is right for you?

Determining what product is right for you really boils down to your individual needs. Finding which product delivers the performance you are looking for can be a bit of trial and error. But ultimately, it is up to you to do the research and decide on the risk and reward on something you use everyday of the year, sometimes twice a day, and possibly for most of your life.

We would love to hear your thoughts and insights on this issue! Let us know in the comments below.

Why Your Armpits Still Smell After a Shower

Why Your Armpits Still Smell After a Shower

There are many reasons why body odor occurs and it varies among different people. In fact, you may notice a faint odor emitting from your underarms even after you shower. To help you get an understanding of this issue, I am going to tell you why this happens and what you can do about it.  


How Body Odor Occurs

Sweat is the main culprit, which is caused by two types of glands in your body:


Eccrine Glands

They open directly onto your skin and can be found all over your body. When your body temperature rises, they release fluids that evaporate and help your body cool down. These fluids are often odorless.


Apocrine Glands

They are found in areas where you have hair, such as your armpit and groin area. These glands release a milky fluid when you are stressed and are odorless until they come into contact with a bacteria then they create odor.

Hair is particularly prone to trapping bacteria, which is why men are more likely to smell even after showering. In other words, lingering underarm odor is caused by enduring bacteria.


How Apple Cider Vinegar Can Eliminate Odors 

A study conducted by Middlesex University tested different bacteria strains in petri dishes with apple cider vinegar and cultured them together at 37 degrees celsius for a 24 hour period. They proved that apple cider vinegar reduced bacterial growth and eliminated bacteria such as E. coli, C. albicans (which includes corynebacteria), and S. aureus. This means that apple cider vinegar creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria to grow and eliminates odors as a result.



Photo by Abdullah Qasim


You may also notice that apple cider vinegar has a unique scent, which comes from acetic acid. Acetic acid and other organic acids are found to be responsible for killing bacteria by passing through the bacteria’s cell membranes and neutralizing it.


How to Incorporate Apple Cider Vinegar Into Your Routine

Eliminate that lingering underarm odor using these two methods:

  1. Directly onto a cotton ball

You can apply the solution directly onto a cotton ball and rub it into each underarm area after you shower.

  1. An antibacterial soap

If you prefer to use it in a more compact form, try using an antibacterial soap. The takesumi detox® underarm bar that I created actually has this ingredient. The key is to massage this into your underarm for 30 seconds as you must ensure that your underarms are “squeaky” clean as this really ensures it leaves a barrier so bacteria cannot survive.

Regardless of which method you prefer, you must apply the solution to each of your armpits for 30 seconds to truly eliminate odor causing bacteria. If you are a guy ensure you rub into the skin because of body hair.

For other great tips on this topic, check out the reviews on our underarm bar. 

If you have a great tip on this subject please leave a comment on our blog as we love to learn from our readers. Or if you have a question please feel free to ask as I am happy to answer.

*THIS* Happens After Long Term Use of Antiperspirants

*THIS* Happens After Long Term Use of Antiperspirants

Armpits have been described by scientists as a “rainforest” of bacteria. Most of us grew up being told to use antiperspirant to combat the odor associated with this issue, but in the long run it may actually make you smell worse. Read on to learn the side effects of antiperspirants.


Antiperspirant Causes MORE Odor-Causing Bacteria

Antiperspirant is classified as an over-the-counter drug in both Canada and the U.S. because it uses aluminum chloride that blocks your sweat glands to prevent you from perspiring. Read more about aluminum here. Your body becomes reliant on antiperspirant. If you stop using it, you can experience major changes in the bacteria that grows under your arms, causing you to smell. There is a reason it is classified as an over-the-counter drug, your body becomes dependent on it.


antiperspirants makes me smell - underarm photo by alexa mazzarello

Photo by Alexa Mazzarello.


The “Rainforest” of Bacteria Under the Arms

In a study conducted at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ Genomics & Microbiology Lab, 18 subjects were recruited to compare what happens to bacteria under your armpits when you switch the type of underarm products you use. The subjects were divided into three groups: (1) people who used antiperspirant daily, (2) people who used deodorant daily and (3) those that did not use any underarm products. Every day of the study, both armpits were swabbed and the bacteria was analyzed.

After two days, the antiperspirant-users started to develop diverse bacteria under their arms. By the fifth day, there was significant growth of bacteria – in some cases, it was a pungent type of bacteria called Corynebacteria, the smelliest of all bacterial flora.


There are two main types of bacteria in your armpits:

Corynebacteria – The type that makes you smell

Staphlococcaceae –  The least smelly bacteria


What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Using Antiperspirant?

Ultimately, antiperspirant users experienced the most drastic change in bacterial communities when they stopped using any products. At the end of the study it was found that there was an initial increase of smelly bacteria in the underarms of antiperspirant users. Using antiperspirant reduces the amount of staphlococcaceae bacteria (the least smelly) that grows under the arms. This creates more opportunities for odor-causing species to develop.

Deodorant users did not experience the same increase in odor-causing bacteria when they stopped using underarm products. They even had fewer species of bacteria in their armpits compared to armpits of participants who use no product at all.


antperspirants on shelf - image by

Photo by


It Won’t Last Forever

The study unveils that long term use of antiperspirant actually creates more bacteria on your armpits once you stop using them.

If you are an antiperspirant user making the switch to natural deodorant, it is important to know that this odor-causing bacteria won’t last forever, it is just a part of the detox that happens when you discontinue use.

I believe that our consumers should understand what is happening to their body during The Stages of Detox. It can be discouraging when it feels like natural deodorant isn’t working. Basically, your body becomes addicted to antiperspirant and it is harder for it to go without it. Thankfully, after several weeks, the culture of bacteria is able to rebalance and stop overproducing odor-causing bacteria.