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Deodorant vs Antiperspirant

It was a really hot and muggy day at the office. There were about two dozen people working in close quarters and even with the fan at full throttle, everyone was sweating profusely. All of a sudden, everyone became aware of an unpleasant odor distilling on the room. It increased until no one could really ignore it anymore.

Finally one man said, “Uh oh, someone’s deodorant has stopped working.”

A sweaty man in the corner replied, “It can’t be me. I’m not wearing any.”

It kind of reminds me of the old statement, “Common sense is like deodorant. The people who need it most never use it.”

woman_towel_arms_sweat_picSweating is a natural and healthy process. It’s interesting to note that women have more sweat glands than men, but men’s produce more sweat. Sweating is a result of the body attempting to cool itself off when there is either an internal or external increase in temperature. The unpleasant odor that usually accompanies perspiration is a by-product of bacteria that feed on the sweat gland secretions.

The ancient Egyptians seem to be the first society that employed scented bathing to cleanse and cover up the aroma of daily life. For centuries the perfume cover-up approach was all that was available to be socially acceptable. The first commercially marketed deodorant came in cream form in the late 1880s. I don’t know what was in it, but it was so strong that it actually ate through the users clothing. Though there are really no accompanying health benefits to deodorants like there are with hygiene products such as toothpaste and mouth wash, because of modern society’s obsession with smelling good, this underarm industry has become a multi-billion dollar business. Just stroll down the personal product aisle at your local supermarket or pharmacy and you will see dozens and dozens of every scent: sprays, roll-ons, sticks, and pastes.

There are two major categories of products that deal with under arm issues, deodorants and antiperspirants. They deal with the problem in completely different ways.

Deodorants contain ingredients activated by warmth and moisture that kill the bacteria responsible for generating the unpleasant odor, as well as adding some form of pleasant smelling perfume to help in masking. They do not interfere with or stop the sweating process.

man_towel_sweat_picAntiperspirants deal with the underarm issue based on a totally different principle. Their main ingredient is usually a form of aluminum, which keeps you from perspiring by plugging up the offending sweat glands. Most antiperspirants include some deodorant ingredients to kill bacteria just in case. Those who do not like the wet under arm spots on their shirt or blouse are drawn to antiperspirants. However, there are a number of studies that indicate that the aluminum is absorbed by the body and can cause mutation of the DNA, and has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, breast cancer, and lymphatic and kidney disorders.

The point is there is a difference in these two products and even though a number of the studies are inconclusive, out of an abundance of caution, I personally only use deodorants and recommend that others do the same. But please use something.

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