Perspiration is the body’s natural way of cooling down when temperatures and humidity rise. Sweat glands throughout different parts of the body secrete sweat that evaporates and lowers body temperature. Perspiration is a natural, vital process, but it is accompanied by an unpleasant odor.
Sweat itself does not smell bad. In hot, humid environments that have little exposure to oxygen (like the underarm and groin areas), bacteria and fungi multiply quickly. It is the byproducts of the breakdown of sweat and secretions of bacteria and fungi that have an unpleasant odor.
What is deodorant?
Deodorant eliminates or neutralizes unpleasant body odor by destroying bacteria on the skin that break down sweat.
What are the different types of deodorant?
There are two types of deodorant:
- Deodorant – Deodorants neutralize odors. Any substance that eliminates bacteria and fungi can be characterized as a deodorant (baking soda, antibiotic substances and detergents, oils and plants like tea tree). Some deodorants do not contain ingredients that neutralize odor, but rather contain ingredients that eliminate bacteria and fungi.
- Antiperspirant – Antiperspirants neutralize odors and prevent perspiration. They reduce sweating by shrinking sweat glands. Antiperspirants work by blocking sweat that creates an environment where bacteria can develop, thus preventing the odor of sweat.
What ingredients does deodorant usually contain?
- Aluminum Chloride – The most well-known substance used for regulating sweat. Aluminum chloride is a relatively small molecule that is absorbed through the skin. As a result, it is now used less frequently and is being replaced by substances that are less easily absorbed.
- Aluminum Sulfate – Natural crystal stones.
- Aluminum Zirconium – Due to its polarity, it is barely absorbed into the skin, so a small amount is enough in contrast with aluminum chloride.
- Formaldehyde Compounds – These compounds are effective for 3-7 days, but they can irritate the skin.
- Aluminum-Free – Aluminum-free products are a growing trend these days (both deodorants and antiperspirants), but at this stage, they are only effective for 5-6 hours.
Sensitive skin and deodorant – How to prevent irritation and how to make the best choice
Many people are sensitive to deodorant, so they need products that have been tested and determined suitable for sensitive skin. Skin sensitivity to deodorant is caused by:
- The type of antiperspirant substance.
- Added fragrance.
Deodorant is used on sensitive areas of the skin, so be sure to choose deodorant that has been tested for sensitive skin. Many people confuse hypoallergenic deodorant with deodorant that has been tested for sensitive skin. While both test for skin irritation following use of the product, sensitivity testing is more stringent and is conducted on people with known skin sensitivities (hypoallergenic testing is conducted on a randomly selected group).
When is the best time of day to apply deodorant?
It is best to apply deodorant after showering. While it can be applied throughout the day without showering, it will be less effective. When applying deodorant without showering beforehand, first wipe the area clean with a wet wipe. Do not apply deodorant before bed; this can impair cells’ ability to breathe naturally.