What Is The Difference Between Deodorant and Antiperspirant? Explaining 2 Types of Hyperhidrosis

Have you ever wondered: What is the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant?  I’ve been countless times into Walmart to buy a new deodorant and found many different labels.

Some were labeled as deodorant, others as an antiperspirant, and yet others labeled with both words.  I could not figure out the difference between all these. I always thought that it was the same.  How wrong was I.  After doing some research to figure out the difference, I finally understood that there is a huge difference.

Antiperspirants and deodorants have marked differences.
Get the best of both worlds by knowing the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants.
Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

You’re not alone in dealing with sweat-related problems. I have been managing and dealing with hyperhidrosis for over 2 decades now so I do know how hard it is. Read my story here.

Why Do We Need These Products?

In order to understand the difference between antiperspirants and deodorants, we need to understand the sweating process a bit better.  Let me explain.

Most of us do sweat!  Either we relax in a sauna, we exercise, work in the hot sun, temperatures are warm, we are nervous, and many more.  And we think sweating is disgusting because our clothes get all wet, we have to carry a towel around to dry our head, face, and arms, but most of all, we think it is yukky because we stink when we sweat.

But did you know that sweating serves a purpose?  It does.  We sweat because that is the only way our body can control its temperature.  With every drop of sweat, heat is taken along, which reduces our body temperature.

Also, when we get nervous or when we panic, our body “calms” our nervous system through sweating.  Isn’t that wonderful?

But yes, sweating can be yukky and disgusting, which is why we use deodorants and antiperspirants.

Another thing we need to understand is that we have 2 types of sweat glands in our body: The eccrine and apocrine sweat glands, which both have a specific function.

The first ones, the eccrine glands act as a cooling system to maintain body temperature.  They are located all over your body.  When your brain thinks it is getting hot and your body needs a regulation, these glands kick in by producing a watery solution to help the body to cool down.

The second ones are located in your armpits, palms, feet, perineum, and forehead.  They are located deeper underneath the skin than the eccrine glands and they transpire through hair follicles.  These glands produce a thicker liquid that carries all kinds of proteins and fats, on which bacteria feasts.  The apocrine glands, together with bacteria are responsible for the terrible odor of sweating.

And because of the latter ones we use deodorants.  Let me explain that a bit further in the next section.

What Are Deodorants?

Deodorants contain perfumes and antibacterial substances that fight sweat odor that your armpits make.  They do not fight any sweating; if you put on deodorant and go play soccer, you will perspire in your armpits.  Fats and proteins are being secreted through your skin by the apocrine sweat glands.  While these mix with the bacteria living in your armpits, the bad odors come along.

Deodorants kill the bacteria before you start to perspire, so when fats and proteins travel out to your skin, no bacteria are found that can feast on it and no stinky smell is produced.  After your soccer game, you should not be smelling bad because of heavy sweating.  

Triclosan is a well-known active ingredient in deodorants due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties, although now it is a banned substance as it apparently causes resistance to antibiotics. Therefore, deodorant is solely there to fight sweat odors, but not to reduce sweating.

What Are Antiperspirants?

Antiperspirants do not fight off odor, but they reduce or stop sweating through active ingredients such as aluminum (the most common and effective ingredient).

The active ingredients block the sweat ducts temporarily.  Sweat is being produced, but it cannot be secreted to the skin since the ducts are blocked.  Until the epidermis renews, sweat glands function normally again.

Antiperspirants are most effective when put on just before bedtime when underarms are completely dry and clean.  It does not help to put on an antiperspirant just before the soccer game.  That needs to be done the night before.

There are many forms of aluminum and other salts (like zirconium) that are effective in treating sweating.  Antiperspirants come in different strengths.

Around 5% of Americans suffer from a condition called primary hyperhidrosis in which the sweat glands are not only triggered by higher body temperature, but due to foods, nervousness, and other unknown triggers.

In some cases, patients will need a clinical strength antiperspirant that has a higher amount of aluminum in order to stop sweating heavily completely.

People that do not have this condition will do with regular antiperspirants to reduce sweating since their sweat glands are commonly triggered by higher body temperatures.

Are Deodorants and Antiperspirants Safe?

There has been debate over the safety of deodorants and antiperspirants.  Research that was done in the 1950s claimed that certain doses of aluminum and zirconium and other salts used in both deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer and Alzheimer’s.

However, other studies have refuted these claims by saying that our intake of aluminum through food is higher and that is of no concern to FDA, wherefore small amounts of these minerals and salts should not be of worry to anybody.

Newer research also claims that previously made claims about animals tested to the effects did not provide conclusive evidence that they are harmful.

Whatever is right or wrong from these claims, you need to know that our skin was designed to fight off toxins and our skin can do that very well.

High levels of sodium and other salts come out of your pores when sweating, which is why we know that our body works toxins off.  How could it not manage small amounts of other salts and minerals?

Take your precaution and make sure you know what is best for you.  In my case, I overdo neither deodorants nor antiperspirants because I prefer to shower more frequently than putting on too many chemicals on my skin.

However, I need both because I am a sufferer from primary hyperhidrosis and that can be very uncomfortable as you may have read in my story above.


What is the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant? Very simply said: One stops sweating and the other keeps bad odors out.

If you found this article helpful, don’t forget to leave me a comment below. Ask me a question you had regarding the topic discussed here, or experiences you have had or just thoughts that are going through your mind while reading.

Also, if you think others could benefit from reading this, feel free to share via social media.


Ready to Make a Change Now?

My name is Oscar and I am the founder and director of Stop-Sweating-Now.com and have been researching and writing about hyperhidrosis for many yearOscars.

I have been sweating excessively for the better part of my life.  I looked for solutions for well over a decade, but I never found anything that lasted.

It all started when I was around 14 years of age, when I suddenly found out that I was sweating more in my armpits than I should.  At first I thought it was something that would go away soon, but I was wrong.

I had given up hope and accepted to live the rest of my life being embarrassed with ugly sweat stains in my armpits.

However, after a few years of not searching for any solutions anymore, I gave it another shot.  And I found what finally gave me the freedom I had longed for so many years. 

After finding a solution to my problem, I decided it was important to shout out my message to those that are suffering from what I had lived with so many years.

My goal is to help people find their freedom from sweating by sharing my expertise because hyperhidrosis is an underdiagnosed condition.

People don’t know that it is a medical term and can be treated effectively.

That is why I am here: Sharing with you what I know, what works and what does not work.

Want to learn more about what I did? Click below!

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  1. Kourtney April 7, 2018
    • Oscar Peters April 7, 2018
  2. Rika October 26, 2018
    • Oscar Peters October 27, 2018
  3. justin October 26, 2018
    • Oscar Peters October 27, 2018

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