Difference between Deodorant and Antiperspirant

Updated on February 24, 2018

Although not everyone may know the difference between them, most people are still aware that they have to hit the “no sweat” shelf of the supermarket to restock with their favorite body spray or stick. Is there a difference between the two? Yes. One that might make people check the label before buying their favorite product from now on? We’ll just have to read and see.



Deodorant is a substance that is aimed at fighting the unpleasant smells associated to body odor. These smells are caused by body sweat, which is only water and salt, released by the eccrine glands in an attempt to help your body cool, which is accompanied by secretions of fat and protein from the apocrine glands. It is this fat that feeds the bacteria on the skin, and which releases the specific “BO”. While deodorants do not keep you from sweating, meaning that there will still be wet stains at your armpits even if you use them, they will still clean the area under your armpits. The substance called triclosan found in all deodorants has the role of making the skin too salty for bacteria to be able to feed on the fats released.

People have been making deodorants at home for a long time now, be they based on baking soda and essential oils, or made with more rudimentary resources in older times. Most often, a deodorant is sold in the form of a canned spray, a roll-on or a stick.

Antiperspirant is the type of product designed to keep you from sweating. Most often it will contain aluminum particles which block the sweat glands. Although this seems like the “go-to” option, antiperspirants work because of the aluminum and zirconium which come with some medical warnings attached. Although it has not been officially and medically proven, there may be some connection between the aluminum blocking the sweat glands and the development of breast cancer. Also, people with kidney deficiencies should avoid them. Medical recommendations mainly refer to a more restrictive usage instead of a more extended one. Most often, an antiperspirant is sold in the form of a canned spray, a roll-on or a stick.

Deodorant vs Antiperspirant

So what is the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant?

They both tackle a specific problem. This means that people who want to prevent body odor before anything else will go for a deodorant and people who hate wet sweat stains will choose an antiperspirant. The issue may seem either –or, but there are also the magical products which are both deodorants and antiperspirants and which promise to take care of both problems, making the issue of a choice a no-brainer.

Deodorants are light and come with no medical warnings, whereas antiperspirants may be more efficient but their effectiveness is due to substances which could, in the end, prove to be harmful. Even so, lack of personal hygiene is still something not looked kindly upon and the choice of the individual turns more into a social, rather than a medical one.

Comparison Chart

Takes care of the smellTakes care of the wet stains
Contains triclosan, which makes the skin saltier so that the bacteria does not feedContains aluminum, which blocks the sweat glands
Has no health warnings and can be made at home in some versionsHas health warnings like breast cancer and kidney deficiencies
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