When sweating reaches epic proportions, you need something more than pedestrian store-shelf antiperspirants. You need a heavy weight contender – a prescription, or prescription “strength” antiperspirant. Here’s your guide to prescription-only and clinical strength antiperspirants.

prescription antiperspirant

What is prescription antiperspirant?

As the name implies, prescription antiperspirants require a prescription and a doctor’s supervision. They cannot be purchased anywhere but a pharmacy. The concentration of active aluminum ingredient in these products is generally around 20%. Prescription options are not to be taken lightly. Misuse of prescription antiperspirants can lead to serious unwanted side effects. (we’ll talk about this later)

How does prescription antiperspirant work?

All antiperspirants, regardless of brand name or strength level, use aluminum salt as the active ingredient. The most common aluminum salt compounds found in today’s antiperspirants are aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum chloride hexaydrate and aluminum zirconium tricholorhydrex glycine.

While the effectiveness of these varies, each of these aluminum compounds works to reduce sweating in the same basic way. When they get close to water, in this case perspiration, they soak up the moisture and thicken into a gel-like substance. By spreading aluminum chloride, or one of its cousins, on areas that sweat, the resulting reaction forms a gel-like plug that blocks the sweat glands and prevents sweat from reaching the skin’s surface. Once this happens the body’s feedback mechanism stops the flow of perspiration.

The plugs dissipate over time and the sweat glands begin to function as before. That’s when the antiperspirant must be reapplied. Depending on the strength of the antiperspirant, the reapplication time may range from several hours to several days.

Prescription Antiperspirant vs. Prescription “Strength” Antiperspirant. Is there a difference?

It’s not uncommon for people to confuse the two. But they are different.

Prescription strength simply means really strong. A prescription strength antiperspirant will have more Aluminum salts or use a more potent form of Aluminum. For example, Aluminum Chloride is a lot stronger than Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex (Used in antiperspirants like Dove, Old Spice and Degree.)

Most clinical and prescription strength products will use Aluminum Chloride (usually around 12%-15%)

Prescription Strength and Clinical Strength are often used interchangeably, but they’re pretty much the same thing.

Prescription-only antiperspirants are even stronger, require a prescription, and can only be purchased at a pharmacy. They usually contain a higher concentration of Aluminum Chloride (20% or more) and can be more effective in extreme sweating cases. Last of all, a prescription option will most likely carry with it additional health risks and side effects. (more on this below…)

Prescription Antiperspirant Options:

Some of the more common prescription antiperspirant brands include:

  • Drysol is a popular prescription antiperspirant designed to treat hyperhidrosis and excessive sweating. Can be used on the underarms, scalp, hands, and feet. Active Ingredient: Aluminum chloride hexahydrate (20%)
  • Xerac AC is a topical, prescription-only treatment designed for use on the underarms, palms and feet.
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum Chloride Hexahydrate (6.25%)
  • Formalaz is a sweating treatment specifically designed to combat foot odor and sweat. A prescription-only option for plantar hyperhidrosis or foot sweating. Active ingredient: Formaldehyde (10%)

Prescription antiperspirant is strong stuff and should only be considered after exhausting all other over-the-counter hyperhidrosis and excessive sweating treatments.

Best Prescription Strength Antiperspirant Products:

Try some of these popular prescription strength and clinical strength antiperspirants before resorting to prescription-only. Many of these products can be purchased online via Amazon or at your local drug store.

  • SweatBlock Clinical Antiperspirant
    “When nothing else works!” The original 7-day antiperspirant. Formulated to reduce excessive sweating and axillary hyperhidrosis. According to users, SweatBlock keeps you dry for an average of 6.4 days and seems to work when nothing else will.
    Effective for: Armpit sweating and hyperhidrosis
    Application: Towelette (wipe)
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum Chloride (14%)
  • Driclor
    This another over-the-counter prescription strength option. It’s made in Australia and can be used for treating excessive sweating of the hands, feet and armpits. If you’re worried about sweat stains in your shirt, you’ll want to avoid this one.
    Effective for: Hands, Feet, and Armpit Sweatin
    Application: Roll-on
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum hexahydrate (20%)
  • Certain Dri Prescription Strength
    The strongest antiperspirant in the Certain Dri family. Designed for underarm use and can last up to 72 hours per application.
    Effective for: Underarm Sweating / Axillary Hyperhidrosis
    Application: Roll-on
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum Chloride (12%)
  • Odaban Antiperspirant Spray
    Offers 24-hour protection and may be the strongest non prescription antiperspirant available. It contains high concentrations of aluminum chloride which can increase effectiveness. But with increased effectiveness comes increased chance for skin irritation and burning.
    Effective for: Armpits, Hands, Feet
    Application: Spray
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum chloride (20%)
  • Maxim Prescription Strength Antiperspirant
    Over the counter hyperhidrosis treatment designed for underarm use.
    Effective for: Underarm Sweating / Axillary Hyperhidrosis
    Application: Roll-on
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum Chloride (15%)
  • ZeroSweat Antiperspirant AKA “Z Sweat” or “0 Sweat”
    For excessive sweating. This Certain Dri knock-off claims to “Keep You Dry – Guaranteed”.
    Application: Roll-on
    Active Ingredient: Aluminum Chloride (15%)

If none of the above options work for you, it’s time to look at a prescription only product.

Should I Use a Prescription Strength Antiperspirant?

Choosing a prescription antiperspirant isn’t the same as picking out a pair of shoes or doing price comparisons on vacuum cleaners.

This is a personal question and you and your doctor are the only ones qualified to tackle it. But here’s a few things to consider as you venture down the path of prescription hyperhidrosis treatments.

How severe is your sweating? You wouldn’t be here reading this fascinating article if sweat wasn’t somewhat excessive. But how bad is it? If it’s an occasional inconvenience, you probably don’t need prescription strength. If profuse sweating has transformed you into a cave-dwelling hermit who avoids all social interaction, you’re barking up the right tree.

Which sweating treatments have you already tried? Again, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably tried A LOT. But if you’ve only experimented with Old Spice and Degree, you still have a lot of non prescription options on the table. It’s best to exhaust all over-the-counter antiperspirant options before reaching for a prescription solution.

Have you talked to your doctor? Your doctor will be able to help you more than any blog post or article. If you’ve tried everything and nothing seems relieve your excessive sweating, talk to your doctor about available prescription anti-perspirants.

Ultimately, your doctor will know which antiperspirant options are safe and can guide you through the process of finding one that works best for your body chemistry and severity of sweating.

Prescription Antiperspirant Risks & Side Effects:

The best part about prescription anti-perspirants is that they’re super strong. The worst part… they come with side effects and potential health risks like:

  • Allergic reactions like hives, rash, itching, chest tightness, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat.
  • Severe burning, itching, redness or swelling of treated areas.

These precautions should be observed when using Prescription antiperspirants:

  • Always consult a doctor before using any Prescription antiperspirant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are using Antabuse (disulfiram) before using.
  • Do not use any other deodorant or antiperspirant (unless your doctor says otherwise)
  • Avoid getting Prescription antiperspirant in your eyes, nose, mouth or on your lips.
  • Do not use any antiperspirant on irritated or broken skin.
  • Wait at least 24 to 48 hours when applying to shaved areas.
  • Prescription antiperspirants may stain clothing and metal surfaces.
  • It is not known if the use of Drysol and other Prescription antiperspirants may harm an unborn baby.

Alternative Treatments to Prescription Antiperspirant:

It might be worth exploring outside the realm of prescription antiperspirant. Hyperhidrosis has been around for a long time and many treatments have been developed over the years. Their effectiveness varies, but some have proven very efficient at stopping embarrassing sweat. Here’s a few of them…

  • Clinical Strength Antiperspirants. Over-the-counter clinical antiperspirants are stronger than your average Dove or Speedstick, but don’t require a doctor and don’t come with as many side effects or potential health risks. We like this one (wink… wink)
  • Qbrexza Cloth. A prescription-only treatment for axillary hyperhdirosis. This medicated cloth is designed for underarm topical use. It contains a nerve blocking solution that stops underarm sweat in its tracks. It can be extremely effective, but comes with a long list of unwanted side effects.
  • Iontophoresis is a treatment that uses electric currents in water to drive medications into the skin. Can be very effective, yet very expensive.
  • Botox injections in affected areas can curtail sweating for months before they must be repeated. Effective, but painful and not permanent.
  • Miradry is a procedure that uses microwaves to nuke your sweat glands. No more sweat glands leads to no more sweat.

With all the women’s antiperspirant brands out there, it can be difficult find the one that works best for you.

If you sweat more than the average woman, then you already know that some of these so-called “best antiperspirants for women” hardly work at all!

You’ve probably tried different deodorants, antiperspirants and other sweat remedies. And while some of them may smell nicer than others, nothing seems to provide the sweat relief you are looking for. Right?

This is why you need to be a little more prudent when trying to find the best antiperspirant. Here’s a few things to consider when choosing the best antiperspirant for you.

What’s the Best Women’s Antiperspirant? 6 Things to Consider

1) Do You Want to Stop Sweat or Stop Body Odor?

What do you actually want to do? Stop sweaty underarms or get rid of stinky armpits? Or both? It’s important to get clear on your goal. Many women would say “both”. Others might just want to cover up body odor or stop embarrassing sweat stains. Here’s the thing, antiperspirant will control sweat, deodorant will mask foul body odor. Understanding the differences between antiperspirant and deodorant will help you figure out the best solution for you.

Do you want to stop excessive sweating? Choose a strong antiperspirant. If you’re just trying get through the day without smelling like a jungle woman, go with your favorite women’s deodorant. But honestly, using deodorant and antiperspirant will get you the best results (staying dry, smelling fresh).

Here’s a little tip: Apply antiperspirant at night to clean, dry armpits. Then apply your deodorant the following morning. This trick will keep your underarms dry and odor free throughout the day. Antiperspirant deodorant combos aren’t nearly as effective as applying the two separately.

2) What is the active ingredient?

The first important step to finding the best antiperspirant for women is to eliminate all the options that are NOT true antiperspirants. This includes all the deodorants that are designed to merely mask the scent of body odor.

A true antiperspirant uses active ingredients like aluminum chloride that can block sweat. When considering antiperspirant options, look for something that has at least 12% Aluminum chloride. This will give you the best chance at stopping unwanted sweat.

Whats the most effective antiperspirant for women? Honestly, the best antiperspirants will work for both men and women. Men and women both have sweat glands that operate on the same set of biological rules. Stress, high temperatures, physical activity, or hyperhidrosis will make anyone sweat… regardless of gender.

3) Does it work? Is it highly rated/recommended?

Thanks to Amazon, Facebook, and other social platforms – we can learn quickly what products work and which ones don’t. Do a quick search on Amazon or Google and you’ll find thousands of reviews for antiperspirants.

Choose an antiperspirant that has a high number of customer reviews and no lower than a 4 out 5 star rating. This means that the antiperspirant has been tested on a large scale and the results are reliable. A 5-star antiperspirant with 3 customer reviews should probably be avoided.

When comparing antiperspirants, take the time to look for feedback from customers who have tried the product first-hand. Read some of the good reviews and read some of the bad. Not every product works for everyone. But reading reviews can help you get an idea of who is using the product and how they get the best results.

4) Is it safe?

You want to be sure that the antiperspirant you’re applying to your skin is safe to use – regardless of what the manufacturer claims. Do your homework to find out if the product has been independently evaluated and recommended by prominent medical professionals. Look for antiperspirants that have been FDA approved or use FDA approved formulas.

5) Does it have a money-back guarantee?

There’s no reason why you should be wasting money endlessly on antiperspirants. Stick to products that offer a money-back guarantee.

This not only ensures that you’ll get a refund if you’re not satisfied by the results, but also, it’s a sign that the manufacturer stands by the quality of its product and cares about its customers.

6) Is it strong enough for extreme sweating?

If you suffer from excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), traditional drug store antiperspirant just won’t cut it.

Nobody understands the embarrassment of sweating more than hyperhidrosis sufferers. Women (and men) with this condition sweat profusely regardless of physical activity or emotional state. The sweat just comes… and most of the time it comes without warning or explanation.

If you suffer from hyperhidrosis, you need a strong antiperspirant. SweatBlock clinical strength antiperspirant was tested on the Rachael Ray show. It had no problem stopping sweat for firefighters, yet it continues to be a popular antiperspirant choice for women.

Here’s just a few of the reviews from women who use SweatBlock:

The best antiperspirant I’ve ever ordered from Amazon – Cristina

“I just got SweatBlock the other day and it has already been life-changing. I always sweat through my clothes, can’t tell you how many shirts I’ve ruined. The biggest problem I have is work clothes – those silk type button up shirts from express, nice blouses, dresses, etc…always ruined or just embarrassing walking around with sweat stains. I keep a fan on at work, and always wear a sweater to hide my sweat, or I’m running into the bathroom to try to dry up with paper towels. I tried a “life hack” I read and tried sticking panty liners in my shirts for awhile…but once they got wet they’d just fall off (even more embarrassing than sweat stains are random wet panty linters falling out of your shirt).”

“I actually stumbled across SweatBlock because I was looking for the sweat guards you can sew into your clothes for a more permanent solution. I read the glowing reviews on this product and since I have prime I was able to get it the next day so I figured I’d try this first. I followed the directions and dabbed one of the pads in my armpits. I made sure to dab the whole area and get the sides, a little on my back – just everywhere in that area where I sweat. I let it dry while I brushed my teeth, and put on a sweatshirt and laid down in bed to read a book. I woke up the next morning thinking I had screwed it up because usually when I accidentally fall asleep in a sweatshirt I sweat all night. I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed my sweatshirt wasn’t wet! I went to work that morning in a sweater I usually sweat through and didn’t have any issues all day! I was SHOCKED. The armpit areas of this sweater always get soaked but I’m able to hide it by keeping my arms down. I couldn’t believe I didn’t have to do that this time.”

Sweat, I Banish You! – Shannon

“I have been using SweatBlock for about a month now. The results of this product have exceeded my expectations. I have been living my life as an excessive sweater since middle school. I would always wear sweatshirts to cover up my sweat stains and learned to accept this uncomfortable feeling physically and emotionally. Entering my career in an office setting gave me anxiety because I knew dressing professionally would mean that I would not be able to wear what I want, or suffer the consequences of embarrassing sweat stains. All the money I spent on clothes that were quickly ruined by yellow deodorant stains were costing me a fortune. All the time I spent in the bathroom trying to dry my shirts was affecting my productivity at work. I couldn’t even go to a meeting or have a conversation with my boss, a coworker, or a client with out sweat running down my arms. I had enough! I was researching getting Botox injections to help with my excessive sweating when I came across SweatBlock. I figured I would give it a try as my last resort option.”

“The first week I used the product I was applying it every night after the first 3 or 4 days. I used the same wipe for 3 applications. I was still sweating but not as much. I ordered a Thompson Tee thinking I would still need some extra protection. I started applying Certain DRI as my normal deodorant in the morning. THE SWEAT STOPPED! I returned that Thompson Tee without having to wear it once! I have regained my confidence in the workplace even in the most stressful of situations. I am not constantly thinking about how I move my arms and trying to hide my sweat stains. I can buy clothes and not worry about having to throw them out within in a month because of yellow deodorant stains.”

This Product is Amazing! – Lorena

“This product is amazing! I was diagnosed with hyperhidrosis when i was 16 and nothing worked i thought i would give this a shot. To my surprise i applied it as directed with much doubt but it works! I did not have to reapply (i thought as much as i sweat i would surely have to reapply more than the directed once a week) but its working. Im in shock that finally at 37 years old i can wear what i want raise my arms, its so freeing.”

SweatBlock literally changed my life – Kim

“I had tried everything- prescription antiperspirant, prescription medications, natural products, bulky stick on sweat pads, and clinical strength products. Nothing really worked and I had just resigned myself to picking clothes based on whether they would hide my sweat stains. A friend recommended SweatBlock, and I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. It is amazing! I immediately had a significant reduction in perspiration and was even able to wear a light color shirt for the first time in years! I have been a loyal user ever since and recommend it to everyone.”

SweatBlock has worked wonders! – Emi

“I was never a big sweater, but once I got laser hair removal on my armpits , I was like a POOL under there. Sweaty, smelly, all things I never experienced before! So of course, I googled for a remedy that wasn’t Botox and I came across Sweat Block! My order came VERY quickly and I’ve been using it for two weeks now and, I have to say, they work! I work out a few times a week and do hip hop and Zumba and, even though I may still sweat, there’s really NO SMELL! Nothing is going to stop you from sweating fully unless you do something invasive, but Sweat Block really has worked wonders for me and I’m grateful. I’m on my 3rd box !! Highly recommend.”

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 Interesting Facts about Antiperspirant and Deodorant

  • 1. Deodorant controls odor – not sweat.
  • 2. Antiperspirant blocks sweat – but isn’t designed to stop odor.
  • 3. Using deodorant and antiperspirant together is the best way to beat sweaty armpits and foul body odor.
  • 4. Antiperspirants and deodorants do NOT cause cancer.
  • 5. Both Antiperspirant and deodorant can lead to “sweat stains”

Fight Body Odor with Deodorant

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.

Here’s a few things to consider when deodorant shopping…

Natural vs. Non-Natural If you swing for the natural stuff, your deodorant options are limited. The natural experience does have a downside. Deodorizing is often less effective. The application experience can be like rubbing peanut butter in your pits. The baking soda in natural deodorants is notorious for burning armpits. If that doesn’t bother you, check out Native, Schmidts or a Crystal Deodorant.

Glide (Application) Most people apply deodorant at least once a day if not twice daily. A deodorant stick with a smooth glide can be the difference between fresh comfort and great pits of fire. Consider glide when buying antiperspirant to avoid unnecessary skin irritation.

How long does it control odor? Even if a deodorant smells great. Consider testing it odor fighting longevity. If it doesn’t get you past lunchtime, you need something stronger in the odor defense category. Sometimes you may have to sacrifice a sweet smelling deodorant for one that keeps odor away longer. Hopefully, you can find a deodorant smells great and lasts all day.

Combination Antiperspirant Deodorants Most options you’ll 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 Sweat with Antiperspirant

If you’re worried about sweaty armpits or sweat stains on your favorite shirts, you need antiperspirant, NOT deodorant. Antiperspirant helps you stop sweating, deodorant does not.

Your body is covered with hundreds of thousands of sweat glands. Not surprisingly, there are high concentrations of sweat glands on the soles of your feet, palms of your hands, forehead, cheeks, and in your armpits. These are known as the eccrine glands.

Sweating helps regulate body temperature by releasing extra heat via the skin. Sweating can be triggered by a variety of things including exercise, hot weather, anxiety or emotional stress. For some, sweating is excessive and uncontrollable. This kind of sweating is classified as Hyperhidrosis.

No matter who you are or how much you perspire, sweat can seriously cramp your style. Antiperspirant can block the sweat, eliminate embarrassment and give a real boost to your confidence.

How does antiperspirant work?

Antiperspirants use aluminum salts to block sweat. When the aluminum comes in contact with sweat, it turns into a gel that forms a plug over your sweat glands. This plug will reduce the amount of sweat released to the skin surface. Sweat is still produced by your sweat glands, but it won’t be released in areas where antiperspirants have been applied.

When and where should you use antiperspirant?

If sweating is bothersome or embarrassing, you should use antiperspirant. If you experience excessive sweating, you should use a clinical strength antiperspirant.

Unlike deodorant, antiperspirant can be used on most areas of the body including underarms, hands, feet, face, back and chest. We don’t recommend using antiperspirants in more sensitive areas (groin) without first talking to your doctor.

If you want to get the most out of your antiperspirant, you need to apply at the right time.

Applying antiperspirant in the morning, fresh out of the shower, followed by a swipe of deodorant is NOT going to keep you dry.

You should apply antiperspirant at night — before you go to bed. This gives the antiperspirant ample time to “activate”. When you’re sleeping, sweat glands are less active and your body is at rest. This creates the optimal environment for antiperspirant to work its magic.

This is extremely important when using clinical strength antiperspirants. Clean, dry skin + sufficient time to work will make all the difference.

Which antiperspirant is best?

Good question. Trusting a list of random antiperspirants from a popular blog may not be the best way to find the right sweat stopper for you. Instead, here’s a few things to consider when choosing an antiperspirant that will work best for you.

How much do you sweat? How severe is your perspiration? Mild, moderate, heavy and extreme sweating will require different types/strengths of antiperspirant. A drugstore antiperspirant like Degree or Old Spice might be sufficient for light to mild sweating. But for more severe sweating cases, you’ll need something stronger like an extra strength, clinical strength or even prescription strength antiperspirant.

How strong is it? Antiperspirants come in all shapes, sizes and strengths. As mentioned above, you’ll need an antiperspirant strong enough for your lifestyle and sweat levels. There are two quick ways to determine the strength of an antiperspirant:

First, the label will indicate a general antiperspirant strength level (i.e. 12hr, extra strength, clinical strength). Clinical and prescription strength are the strongest you’ll find over-the-counter. For the most severe sweating cases, a prescription antiperspirant might be the best option.

Second, the active ingredient (and percentage) will indicate how strong an antiperspirant is. Aluminum Chloride is typically the strongest active found in over-the-counter antiperspirants. An antiperspirant with 10% aluminum chloride will be less effective than a product with 14% aluminum chloride. Common active ingredients include: Aluminum Zirconium, Aluminum sesquichlorohydrate, aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, and aluminum hydroxybromid.

It’s important to note that certain antiperspirant actives may work better for you than others.

Does it work, does it have social proof? This one is easy. Check the reviews. Google, Amazon, and Walmart have thousands of customer reviews. Look for anti-perspirant brands that have lots of reviews with more positive than negative. Avoid unknown brands with little feedback. Look for FDA approved formulas and avoid products from China.

Does Antiperspirant do anything for body odor?

While antiperspirant products aren’t meant to mask body odor, they can help. The bacteria that makes your stink is responsible for breaking down the sweat on your skin and turning it into acid. It’s that combination of the acids and bacteria that make you stink. So if your sweat glands don’t release any sweat for the bacteria to break down, you’re less likely to have body odor in the first place (or at least it won’t be nearly as pungent).

Is Antiperspirant Bad?

In this modern age it’s nearly impossible to use or consume products that haven’t been labeled as “bad”, “dangerous”, “toxic”, or “cancer causing”. Is Antiperspirant bad? If you’ve wandered the echo-chambers of mommy bloggers and bored celebrities, you might think so. But the truth is… antiperspirant doesn’t cause cancer or alzheimers. In fact, beyond skin irritation and itching, antiperspirant is relatively harmless.

Deodorant vs Antiperspirant: Which one is better?

Honestly, this is like asking if food or water is better? You need them both. But when you’re thirsty, you drink water. When you’re hungry, you eat food.

It’s not too different with antiperspirant and deodorant…

If stopping sweat is your goal, antiperspirant is the better.

If fighting odor is your goal, deodorant is better.

Most people… need both.

How do I tell the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant while I’m shopping?

Usually products are labeled as either an antiperspirant, deodorant or both.

Antiperspirants typically use some sort of aluminum to temporarily block the sweat glands from releasing moisture.

Deodorants don’t usually contain aluminum. Instead, they contain fragrances and antibacterials to reduce odor. Common antibacterials include alcohol, baking soda, coconut oil and cornstarch.

If you’re just looking for deodorant, find something that has a nice fragrance with a bacteria-reducing base. If you’re looking for an antiperspirant, look for aluminum in the active ingredients list.

Can I Use Both?

You don’t have to choose between having stinky armpits or soggy armpits. As long as you use antiperspirant and deodorant correctly, you can certainly use them together to control sweat and eliminate foul body odor.

It’s important to clarify what “together” means. If you apply your antiperspirant and deodorant at the same time, the results will likely be… disappointing. Antiperspirant needs time to activate on the skin without the interference of moisture, sweat, soap or deodorant residue.

To get the best results when using a combination of antiperspirant and deodorants, follow these tips:

  1. Apply antiperspirant BEFORE deodorant.
  2. When applying antiperspirant, make sure your skin is completely clean and dry. Even leftover soap or deodorant residue can hamper the effectiveness of your antiperspirant.
  3. Let anti-perspirant dry and activate for a 2-3 hours before applying your deodorant.
  4. For stronger antiperspirant, apply at night and don’t apply deodorant until morning.
  5. Here’s a bonus tip. To avoid sweat stains, make sure deodorant (and antiperspirant) is completely dry before putting on your shirt.

Deodorant vs Antiperspirant Difference

There are several differentiating factors when comparing deodorant to antiperspirant.

We’ve listed the most common differences here…

  • Antiperspirant reduces and blocks unwanted sweat.
  • Deodorant masks unpleasant body odor.
  • Antiperspirants use aluminum compounds to block sweat.
  • Deodorants don’t typically use aluminum (combination products are the exception).
  • Antiperspirants can cause minor skin irritation due to the aluminum compounds and alcohol used.
  • Deodorants can also cause irritation due to some fragrances and sodium bicarbonate used.
  • Antiperspirant does NOT cause cancer.
  • Deodorant doesn’t cause cancer either.
  • Antiperspirants can prevent sweat AND odor
  • Deodorants cannot stop sweat… not even a little bit.

If body odor is the problem, start comparing deodorant brands. Choosing the best deodorant is easy. For most people, it just comes down to what smells better.

If you’re trying to control sweat, stick with antiperspirant products. If you’re trying to treat excessive sweating, go with a clinical strength or prescription strength antiperspirant.

A brief history of Antiperspirant & Deodorant

Believe it or not, antiperspirants and deodorants are a fairly modern invention. Before the late 1800s, people mostly drenched themselves with perfumes in an attempt to hide their horrible body stench.

And when we say they drenched themselves in it, we aren’t kidding. The ancient Romans and Greeks literally bathed in perfume and soaked their clothes in it. Some even doused it on their horses and pets.

Those who suffered from excessive sweating usually tried to hide it with strategic clothing and sweat pads.

The first deodorant hit the market in 1888. It was called Mums and it was more of a paste rather than the sticks, gels and sprays were used to today.

Shortly thereafter, the first underarm antiperspirant, Everdry, came out in 1903. However, it would be another 20 to 30 years before deodorants and antiperspirants became an everyday part of American life. Sweat and body odor were still considered a taboo topic, so people just didn’t talk about it.

Believe it or not, we have an iconic Ladies Home Journal Odorono advertisement to thank for introducing deodorant and antiperspirant into the homes of millions of Americans.

While most Americans were aware that antiperspirant and deodorant existed, many felt that they had no need for it. The Odorono advertisement in Ladies Home Journal changed this by telling readers that sweat and body odor were a major social faux pas, and if you had it, you could almost guarantee that people were gossiping about it behind your back.

Soon, women were rushing to the store to purchase antiperspirant and deodorant. Eventually, they started buying it for their husbands too.

Today, the antiperspirant and deodorant industry is worth $18 billion.

But while we’ve come a long way from soaking ourselves in perfume (or just being OK with our stench), many of us are still confused about the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant is.

The answer is simple: deodorant masks body odor, while antiperspirants prevent sweat.

Are Unicorns real? Maybe.

Do aliens exist? Probably.

Is there an antiperspirant that can keep you dry for an entire week? I thought we were having a serious conversation here. Of course there isn’t … or is there? (cue creepy music)

Lucky for us, Cheryl Wischhover at FASHIONISTA decided to put this crazy antiperspirant theory to the test.

The Test: Pit SweatBlock (a clinical strength antiperspirant) against daily workouts, showers, sweltering subways and sunny soccer games for an entire week.

The results are shocking. We’ve provided some highlights below…

“Here’s what happened when I used SweatBlock for a week, through multiple hot subway rides, workouts and showers”

DAY 1: “I worked on my computer most of the morning, then I went for a three-mile run in the hot sun. While I could feel myself sweating elsewhere, my pits stayed dry. I took a shower then walked to and from my kids’ school to pick them up. Dry the whole day.”

DAY 2: “I did an hourlong high intensity interval training class. My pits were sweat and stink-free during and after the class. I showered and ran errands on foot around NYC for the rest of the day. Dry!

DAY 3: “I went for a 2.5 mile run in the sun, then sat in the sun for an hour watching a soccer game. I felt mildly sticky but not swampy. Bottom line? Pits still dry.”

3 days of dry. It’s a good start. But still a long way from 7 days! Let’s see how this antiperspirant performed the other 4 days…

DAY 4: “I did a morning workout at Tone House after a sticky commute on the subway there and back. I was afraid that it was starting to fail, because there was a bit of stickiness intermittently throughout the day. After a shower, though, I was dry the rest of the day.

DAY 5: “I cleaned out my closet in my stuffy apartment and was definitely getting a bit sticky and ripe, though nowhere near my usual level of disgustingness. To prevent any sort of odor, I used a swipe of Soapwalla’s lovely natural deodorant cream for some freshness (it doesn’t contain any aluminum — I wanted to see this through for the whole seven days, but this was a small cheat).”

How about day 6 and 7?

DAY 6: “I ran around to appointments, went to the office and took multiple trips on the subway. I showered twice this day (morning and evening), but was still mostly weirdly dry.

DAY 7: “I went to SoulCycle and after that decided it was time to reapply my Secret. But I think I could have stretched it out one more day.”

The Results:

So, is there an antiperspirant that can last a week? Is that antiperspirant SweatBlock?

The results are in…

After 7 days, SweatBlock kept Cheryl dry. She finishes by saying she’s not ready to ditch her daily-use deodorant/antiperspirant for SweatBlock, but that she’ll definitely use it when she is on stage on an expert panel discussion for her upcoming conference.

Some people sweat enough that they need SweatBlock to keep them confident through the normal daily routine. Some people use SweatBlock on stage, on camera, or when they are in the spotlight.

Some people use it because it is literally the only thing that will help them eliminate embarrassing sweaty armpits.