Man applying deodorant to armpit

It’s no secret that everybody sweats. No matter if you’re working out, doing yard work, or sitting in the office all day, chances are you perspire.

And while sweat is super important (which we’ll talk about more soon), it doesn’t mean you want to feel sticky and stinky after any physical activity. Luckily, that’s why deodorant and antiperspirant exist!

Deodorant and antiperspirant are often used interchangeably, but they ARE NOT THE SAME THING! Read on to learn more about the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant so you can find the best hygiene products for your needs.

The Science Behind Sweat

Sweating serves an important purpose in keeping your body cool and can even help your body eliminate chemicals and other toxins. So even if you don’t like feeling sweaty, remember that it’s your body working to keep you regulated.

While sweat and odor seem to go hand in hand, it’s not actually your sweat that smells. Healthline explains that the smell is actually from when your sweat mixes with other bacteria that live on your skin. That’s why places like your armpits and balls smell more when you sweat than your back or forehead.

This is important to know when choosing between deodorant and antiperspirant.

Man applying spray antiperspirant to armpit

Antiperspirant vs Deodorant

We won’t make you wait any longer for the hygiene showdown of the century. Here’s the breakdown of the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant.


To put it simply, antiperspirant is all about reducing sweating. Speaking to Good Housekeeping, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, Associate Professor of Dermatology and Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital explains that antiperspirants contain aluminum base salts that form a plug within the sweat ducts, physically blocking sweat from reaching the surface of the skin.

The aluminum salts that make antiperspirants work are a bit controversial. The same ingredients in antiperspirants that prevent sweat may also damage the skin and there is ongoing research into the side effects of aluminum and its potential connection to breast cancer. Though, as of today, the American Cancer Society reports that most case-control studies looking at antiperspirant use and breast cancer risk have not found a link between them.

Because antiperspirants reduce the amount of sweat your body produces, they’re considered a drug by the FDA. Companies need to seek FDA approval before releasing a new antiperspirant for purchase according to Medical News Today.

If you want to control sweat there are even prescription-strength antiperspirants that can contain higher concentrations of aluminum chloride to help with excessive perspiration.


While antiperspirant prevents sweat, deodorant is best for controlling odor. Deodorant works by targeting the bacteria on your skin to stop body odor in its tracks. According to Science ABC, many deodorants contain compounds like sodium stearate, stearyl alcohol, and sodium chloride to stop bacteria from fermenting. Other antimicrobial ingredients like alcohol and baking soda can also be included to stop bacteria growth where you need it.

Many deodorants also use fragrances or natural scents to help mask any odor throughout the day.

Deodorant vs Antiperspirant Which is Better for You?

Your hygiene routine is personal, so whether you choose to use deodorant or antiperspirant is up to you! Just remember that deodorant helps mitigate odor while antiperspirants stop sweat. This can ultimately help you decide which is best for you.

Many guys choose to wear deodorant every day and apply it first thing in the morning, after they shower and dry off, or after a workout. Just remember to let it dry completely before getting changes to avoid staining your clothes. It’s great for masking odor and helping you smell good throughout the day.

However, when you want to stop sweat (and the smells it causes) you should reach for the antiperspirant. For instance, you may use antiperspirant before your workout, do any physical activity, or on a hot day. If you experience excessive sweating, known as hyperhidrosis, an antiperspirant could be a part of your daily hygiene routine.

The experts at Insider explain that for those who struggle with both body odor and sweating, there are products on the market that have both deodorant and antiperspirant functions. This can offer the best of both worlds in preventing sweat and making sure your underarms smell fresh all day long. To find out if a product offers dual functionality, check the ingredients for aluminum and antibacterials.

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