WHAT'S THE Difference?

Have you ever gone to the store, picked out a product and thrown it into your basket without truly looking at what you’re purchasing (especially the ingredient list)? This happens a lot when it comes to purchasing what many simply refer to as ‘deodorant’ but you might be applying products to your underarms that don’t match up with your actual needs.

Many use the terms deodorant and antiperspirant interchangeably, but there’s actually a significant difference between the two – you’re not alone if you think they’re one and the same! Here’s what you need to know:

Deodorant – Formulated to cover odor that emanates from the underarm region. Areas of the body –usually where there are folds or creases – are more susceptible to a buildup of sweat and, as a result, bacteria that feeds on fats, sweat and other secretions from the body. The output from bacteria is what causes the familiar odor we’re used to covering up.

Antiperspirant – Exactly how it sounds, the job of antiperspirant is to prevent or control sweating. In theory, preventing sweat reduces the risk of odor – but eliminating the body’s ability to sweat causes a buildup in sweat glands and takes away the natural detoxing process. 

Another significant difference when it comes comparing deodorant versus antiperspirant are the ingredients used within the formula. Antiperspirants use ingredients like aluminum and zirconium to plug the sweat glands under the arm, locking in sweat and, with it, product-based toxins as well. On the other hand, traditional deodorants use antibacterial chemicals or preservatives like triclosan, artificial fragrance, parabens and phthalates to mask odor-causing bacteria.

An important note to make is that many of these ingredients are referred to as endocrine disruptors. The endocrine system is comprised of glands (such as adrenal, pituitary, and thyroid) that send crucial hormone signals around the body. Disrupting these signals can cause reproductive issues, delay or trigger puberty, or lead to obesity. 

Here’s the thing: what you put on your body goes into your body. While there isn’t conclusive evidence tying the aluminum in antiperspirants to cancer, using a daily leave-on product with potentially dangerous compounds so close to lymph nodes and breast tissue doesn’t seem worth the risk. 

Dichlorobenzene, prominent in air fresheners, toilet cleanser and even mothballs, is another chemical found in many households. Classified as a potential carcinogen, this chemical has been under scrutiny as causing prenatal complications and affecting puberty in children.

Because of the questionable ingredients used in many traditional products, natural deodorant options are especially appealing. In addition to using a natural deodorant to manage body odor, there are a few things you can do in a daily routine to minimize conditions that exacerbate odor:

Some foods have the potential to alter body odor because it seeps through pores and mixes in with sweat – garlic, fatty foods and onions can cause body odor to be more noticeable.

Because bacteria thrives in damp areas, the underarms are a prime location for bacterial cells. They feed on sweat and dead skin cells and that output is what causes typical body odors. To keep this area fresh, exfoliate with a sugar or salt-based scrub or shave the underarms two to three times a week and keep buildup to a minimum. You can also use a washcloth and soap, as the fibers gently exfoliate and cleanse away odor-causing buildup.

We live in an increasingly toxic environment. Some toxins are an unavoidable consequence of modern life - exposure to smog, for instance. Take control of what you can. Eat healthy, clean food, and switch to natural body products.


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