Armpits Antiperspirant

Natural Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant: The Big Difference

April 2021 | 5 Minute Read 

Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly content series, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss.

Deodorant and antiperspirant are often confused to be the same product, as they both help control odor, however they are formulated to preform differently. Let me clarify the difference between the two products and explain why I’m not only on team deodorant, I’m on team natural deodorant.  

How Antiperspirants Work


Antiperspirants reduce sweat. Aluminum chloride compounds, such as aluminum chloralhydrate and aluminiumzirconium tetrachlorohydrex are the most effective antiperspirant agents you’ll find in conventional antiperspirants today.  

Aluminum is a heavy metal that most of us are exposed to daily. It is a naturally occurring element from the earth and is used in the manufacturing of paints, cars, propellant, fuel additives, over the counter medications (like antacids), soda cans, aluminum foil and even your antiperspirants 

Aluminum compounds in antiperspirants combine with sweat, changing the pH of the aluminum salts and form a gel-like plug on the top of the sweat gland. This is what prevents the sweat from escaping to the underarm, keeping it dry. 

While this may sound like a good thing, preventing your underarms from sweating traps sweat in the sweat gland causing it to be absorbed into the dermis layer of the skin. Although this amount of sweat in the dermis layer of the skin is probably not harmful it is not the way your body is designed to work. 

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How Natural Deodorants Work


Deodorants are topical products that are designed to work on the surface of the skin to eliminate bacteria that causes odor. They do not prevent you from sweating.  

This is sometimes a problem for extra sweaty people, as rashes and irritations are sometimes caused by a natural deodorant. The natural deodorants that are irritating to the skin are often loaded with fragrance and made with ingredients such as baking soda, which is not designed for the skin, and coconut oil, which tends to clog pores. I always suggest a natural deodorant that is formulated with a light level of fragrance and charcoal as they are safe for sensitive skin and help control odor and moisture.  

Keep in mind, should you decide to make the switch to natural deodorants, they do not block your pores, but instead control odor. There is a temporary period during the switch that I refer to as The Stages of “Detox” . This is not an internal detox, like a liver or kidney detox, but a “withdrawal” from the active chemicals in antiperspirants.  

During this period, depending on your body chemistry, you may experience increased bacteria throughout your armpit area. This causes a breakthrough of odor in the beginning weeks of transition to natural deodorant. It may be tough but, don’t stop using your natural deodorant. Wash more thoroughly with a natural antibacterial soap and use my underarm double cleanse method during this phase. Your body odor should return to normal after your “Stages of Detox” is complete. 

more body odor than usual - here is why

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Why is Aluminum in Antiperspirant So Controversial? 

The topic of aluminum in cosmetic products is a controversial one. While there is little scientific evidence that links antiperspirants to breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, these chemicals are still being applied directly on the skin every day. The long-term health effects from aluminum are essentially unknown.  

Clinical strength antiperspirants have also been introduced and consumers should really understand the difference. A regular antiperspirant produces a 20% sweat duct plug formation with aluminum, while clinical strength produces a 30% sweat duct plug formation also with aluminum. Therefore, these products are highly effective at keeping sweat at bay. 

In my opinion, with an ingredient with so little in way of studies for topical application of aluminum, I would take precautionary measures given the suspicious nature of the ingredient. 


Is Natural Deodorant or Antiperspirant the product for you?

Determining what product is right for you really boils down to your individual needs. Finding which product delivers the performance you are looking for can be a bit of trial and error. Ultimately, it is up to you to do the research and decide on the risk and reward on something you use every day.  

I always suggest taking the natural route and to go with a natural deodorant that will allow your body to sweat (as it is intended to), but controls odor without irritating the delicate skin we call our armpits!  

Join the community

Subscribe to our blog, The Little Book Of Human Discomforts, to stay in the know on taboo human body topics that some may find too embarrassing to discuss. 

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