Anti-Perspirant or Deodorant?

What’s the difference? Which is better? I’ve been experimenting with both recently and this is what I found.

First of all, why do we need to use either? It’s all to do with sweaty armYoung girl holding nosepits. But surely we sweat all over our bodies so what’s the big deal with armpits? It’s because the sweat glands are more highly concentrated in the armpits (as well as in the groin) and because they excrete fats and proteins from the food we eat, bacteria feed off this and create a stinky odour. Sweat on its own actually has no smell!


The difference between Anti-Perspirant and Deodorant is that Anti-Perspirants stop you from sweating in the first place using ingredients like aluminium and zirconium to plug sweat glands. Deodorants don’t stop the sweating but neutralise the bacteria that cause the odour.

Put simply – Anti-Perspirant stops the sweat and Deodorant stops the smell.

So what does that mean from a health point of view? There are some theories that suggest Anti-Perspirants prevent the body from releasing toxins and when trapped, said toxins find their way into the lymph nodes where they build up and contribute to cellular changes that lead to cancer. Part of me thinks that if these products were so potentially harmful, they wouldn’t be allowed to sell them – but then I’ve met quite a few women who have had breast cancer and without exception they have been advised to avoid aluminium based Anti-Perspirants. There are also many articles written about links between aluminium and Alzheimers. We come across aluminium in many guises from cooking pots to food containers to Anti-Perspirants.

Scientists tell us that there is no evidence to suggest aluminium in Anti-Perspirants causes cancer. But that’s a bit like statistics – you can make them say what you like. quote-there-are-three-kinds-of-lies-lies-damned-lies-and-statistics-mark-twain-321226Maybe the issues isn’t the aluminium. Maybe it’s the toxins being trapped in the body because the aluminium has clogged up the pores as opposed to any toxicity in the aluminium itself? I’m no scientist but I haven’t met a breast cancer survivor yet that will use an aluminium based Anti-Perspirant.

Are Deodorants the answer? Maybe neutralising the bacteria that cause the smell is the way forward. But that isn’t the end of the story because deodorants can also contain other chemicals that may be considered harmful such as Triclosan, an anti-bacterial agent that is known to be a hormone disruptor and might prompt cancer cells to grow as well as encouraging antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA. They can also contain parabens, a preservative and another know hormone disrupter, and although not proven definitively to be harmful, there has been evidence of parabens being found in breast tumours.

Armed with all this information, I decided to switch from Anti-Perspirant to Deodorant and looked for some that contained only natural ingredients and definitely no aluminium, triclosan or parabens. Believe me – there aren’t many on the market that fit the description! Having found a couple of suitable products I started to use them and within the first couple of days nearly gave up because I was sure the products just weren’t going to work. Although my nearest and dearest assured me I didn’t smell bad, all I could smell was the worst sweaty armpits imaginable – like strong onions following me round – and I found myself washing and reapplying 2 or 3 times a day! Luckily a friend who had already made the change some time ago (Thank you Mary!) assured me that this was basically my body getting rid of all the toxins that had built up over all the years of using pore-clogging Anti-Perspirant. And she was right! Within a couple of weeks the smell had gone and I guess my body had got used to not having clogged pores and detoxified itself, and the Deodorant was doing its work neutralising the bacteria that cause the odours.


That was about 6 months ago and I know it was the right choice to switch after researching all those Deodorants and checking the ingredients. Now everything’s smelling of roses – or maybe that’s sage oil, tea tree and lemongrass!  Just another step towards reducing the amount of chemicals we use in everyday life.

Till next time


Vicky Farmer
Feelgood Factor – The Holistic Approach to a Healthier Lifestyle

Vicky is a Nutrition Adviser and Elite Health Coach with a mission to help the nation achieve optimal health. We are all living longer so it’s really important to ensure we live as long and healthy a life as we can. Healthy eating, a natural approach to skincare and a reduction in the amount of harmful chemicals in the home all play a part in ensuring we are as healthy as we can be rather than simply not ill. For more information visit

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