Did you know that deodorant and antiperspirant aren’t the same? It’s okay if you didn’t; most people think they’re interchangeable — but they aren’t.

5 Key Facts About Antiperspirant and Deodorant

  1. Deodorant controls odor but isn’t very effective at controlling sweat.
  2. Antiperspirant blocks sweat glands, reducing the amount of perspiration your body produces.
  3. Using a combination of deodorant and antiperspirant gives you the best solutions of both worlds.
  4. Neither deodorant or antiperspirant cause cancer.
  5. Deodorant and antiperspirant together contribute more to sweat stains than sweat.

Beat the Stink with Deodorant

Here’s the thing: sweat doesn’t stink.

Yeah, you read that right. Most people associate body odor with excessive sweating, but your sweat doesn’t actually stink.

Body odor occurs when the proteins and fat in your sweat mingle with the bacteria on your skin. The parts of your body that do produce an odor when sweating, have two things in common: more bacteria growth and apocrine glands.

See, not all sweat glands are created equally. The apocrine glands, located primarily around your underarms and groin, tend to be the most stinky because they sweat they produce is laced with fat and proteins. When this mixes with the bacteria on your skin, it creates a funky odor.

Also, because some parts of your body are more prone to bacteria growth, they are also more prone to unwanted odors. Areas that aren’t prime breeding grounds for bacteria can still sweat, but they won’t stink.

For example, you might sweat a lot on your face or have a problem with clammy hands, but your face and hands don’t have an odor when you’re sweating. On the flip side, areas of your body that are prone to high levels of bacteria, such as your armpits and groin area, do get a funky odor when you sweat.

Basically, body odor is produced by that specific combination of fat and protein in your sweat mixing with bacteria on your skin.

How Does Deodorant Work?

Deodorant works by killing the bacteria on your skin. This way when you sweat, there isn’t enough bacteria sitting on your skin to create an odor. Your armpits and pubic area have thousands of hairs. These hairs hold on to bacteria and sweat, which is why, when it comes to body odor, these are the most problematic areas of your body.

When and Where Should You Use Deodorant?

Deodorant is meant to be used on your armpits. However, some women also use it underneath their breasts. It’s also common for people to swipe deodorant along their upper inner thigh — the bikini area — to help mask odors and prevent chafing. But it’s important to remember that these aren’t places that deodorant is meant to be used. For these body parts, baby powder is a much better — and safer — option.

You should apply deodorant to your underarm area when you get out of the shower. But you need to wait until your skin is fully dry.

You can also apply deodorant mid-day if you feel like you’re starting to get a bit funky. After all, you don’t want to be the person in the office that’s stinking up the room. It’s embarrassing. Fortunately, you can purchase travel-size deodorants to keep at work, in your gym bag, or even in your purse to make mid-day applications easy and convenient. In addition to layering on the deodorant and baby powder, you can also use body spray, perfume, or cologne to help mask any unwanted odors throughout the day.

Which Deodorant Is Best?

If you’re on a mission to find the best deodorants on the market, you might be a bit disappointed to know that there’s not really a one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone’s body is different. So the deodorant that your bestie swears by may not be the right option for you. That’s okay though because there are plenty of products available. You could even opt for an all-natural or homemade deodorant over a more traditional brand.

Most of the options you find at the store are a combination of deodorant and antiperspirant. So if you pick up a product from a popular company, such as Secret, Speedstick, or Dove, and read the label, there’s a good chance you’ll notice that the product is actually both a deodorant and antiperspirant. This is a good option for you if you want to mask body odor and prevent sweating. But if you sweat excessively, the antiperspirant that’s in your deodorant may not be enough. You should consider using a stronger antiperspirant, such as SweatBlock, in addition to your deodorant.

Natural and homemade deodorants don’t have an antiperspirant in them. This means that unless you rarely sweat, you would need to use an antiperspirant too. Most natural options are made using plant-based ingredients and scented with essential oils. If you have sensitive skin, consider purchasing or making unscented natural deodorant.

If razor burn is a problem for you, consider using a spray-on deodorant that includes a moisturizer. Just make sure it’s alcohol-free so it won’t burn when you apply it. If you have sensitive skin, consider using a deodorant made using coconut oil. This should help avoid any skin irritation problems you might be experiencing. If you experience excessive sweating, pick up a deodorant with a clinical-strength antiperspirant.

Stop the Sweat with Antiperspirant

If you’re worried about sweat stains on your clothing, your sweaty feet stinking up your shoes, or you’re embarrassed by your clammy hands, you need antiperspirant, not deodorant. Antiperspirant helps you stop sweating, deodorant doesn’t.

Your body is covered with sweat glands, and there are two different types: eccrine glands and apocrine glands. This means your body can produce sweat in any area, even though some areas are more problematic than others.

Sweating helps regulate your body temperature. So even though it can be embarrassing, it’s perfectly normal. But people don’t just sweat while doing strenuous activities. You might sweat excessively when you’re nervous or stressed too.

How Does Antiperspirant Work?

Antiperspirants use aluminum salts to dissolve the moisture on the surface of your skin. As it dissolves, it forms a gel that temporarily sits on tops of your sweat glands to help prevent additional sweating. This reduces that amount of sweat your body produces.

When and Where Should You Use Antiperspirant?

Unlike deodorant, antiperspirant can be used anywhere on your body. That’s why people prone to excessive sweating should use a clinical strength antiperspirant in addition to their deodorant. Products, such as SweatBlock, can be used to reduce the amount of sweat produced on your underarm area, face, groin area, and hands — and the results last between four and seven days, making it a great option for anyone who’s prone to excessive sweating.

But unlike deodorant, you should actually apply antiperspirant at night — before you go to bed. See, it takes awhile for antiperspirant to start working. Also, your sweat glands are less active when you’re sleeping because your body temperature naturally cools when you rest. This means the antiperspirant you choose doesn’t need to work as hard to give you the results you desire.

So if you plan to use a clinical strength antiperspirant, you should take your shower at night. Then, when your skin is completely dry, apply your antiperspirant and wait for it to dry completely — about five minutes or so. Once it’s dry, all you need to do is go to bed and let the antiperspirant do its thing.

Which Antiperspirant Is Best?

Because antiperspirant is a product that you use on your body, what someone deems the best antiperspirant may not work for you. Basically, you need to try different ones on your own to determine whether or not it’s right for you. Of course, we’re partial to SweatBlock towelettes. (Insert smiling winky face here.)

If you don’t sweat excessively or you hardly sweat, an antiperspirant and deodorant combination might work really well for you. However, if you’re prone to excessive sweating, you should opt for a product with a clinical-strength antiperspirant such as SweatBlock antiperspirant towelettes. (Heck, even if you do use a deodorant with a clinical-strength antiperspirant, you should keep SweatBlock towelettes on hand to use in a pinch.)

Deodorant vs Antiperspirant: Which One Is Better?

If you’re trying to compare deodorant and antiperspirant to determine which one is better, you won’t really find a good answer. They are two different things that serve two entirely different purposes. Instead of comparing the two, you need to think about the problem you’re trying to solve, choose the option that will help you solve it, and compare different brands until you find the one that works best for your body.

Deodorant vs Antiperspirant Difference

The difference between deodorant and antiperspirant comes down to what they do. Deodorant masks your body odor and antiperspirant helps reduce the amount of sweat your body produces. It’s that simple.

If it’s body odor you’re battling, you should be comparing different deodorants to find one that works well for you. If you’re trying to combat excessive sweating, you need to compare antiperspirants. You can also use a combination of products to get the results you desire. For example, if you experience slight body odor and excessive sweating, you could use a deodorant with a clinical-strength antiperspirant every day and use SweatBlock towelettes in your most problematic areas every four to seven days. This way you eliminate your body odor and greatly reduce the excessive sweating.

Remember, everyone has their own unique body odor and everyone sweats. So while it can be embarrassing, it’s completely normal. You aren’t the only one fighting these problems. And the best part is, sweating and body odor are conditions that are treatable. With the right products, you don’t have to worry about having clammy hands on a first date, sweating through your shirt during a business meeting, or having funky-smelling armpits halfway through that job interview.