The Different Types of Deodorant And Which Ones Are Best For Your Body
It happens to the best of us.
We’ve all been out and about and suddenly wondered, “what’s that smell?” only to realize with dread that our deodorant isn’t doing its job.
This is always a telltale sign sign that it’s time to pick up a new one. But, between deodorants and antiperspirants, crystals and roll-ons, solids and invisible solids, how do you pick something that’s actually going to work?
Let’s break down what the different types of deodorant to help you find the perfect one for you.
What are the different types of deodorant?
Before we dig into the different types of deodorant, let’s first clarify the distinction between deodorants and antipersperants—since you’ll come across both of these types of products as you search for solutions to underarm care.
Deodorants are designed to eliminate odors by increasing your skin’s acidity, typically by using alcohol, making it a hostile environment for stink-causing bacteria. Most deodorants are also scented.
An antiperspirant, on the other hand, stops sweat by blocking your pores with active ingredients, typically aluminum. The majority of them are over-the-counter, but prescription antiperspirants are available for those struggling to control armpit sweat.
And just to make things a little more confusing, a lot of deodorants can also be antipersperants.
With that out of the way, let’s check out some common types of deodorants.
These deodorants usually come in an aerosol can but can also come in spritz bottles. Unlike most other types of deodorant, the applicators never come into contact with your skin, so it’s sanitary to share with others.
Sprays and aerosols won’t leave white residue on your pits that’ll stain your clothes—so that’s a big bonus! They also tend to dry quickly, and you can also use it on other areas that need scent-control, such as those sometimes-stinky feet.
Roll-on deodorants are packaged in bottles containing a scented liquid with a plastic rollerball applicator. Because they are liquid, they don’t leave white scuff marks like a stick deodorant would, but they take longer to dry and might feel wet and sticky.
Not the kind of crystal that you’ll find in jewelry (sorry), this natural form of deodorant is good for people with sensitive skin.
Crystal deodorants are made from a mineral salt called potassium alum, which has been used to control body odor for centuries throughout Thailand and in the Philippines. This natural salt comes in stone, roll-on, and spray forms.
Crystal deodorant has been shown to have antimicrobial properties, and some swear by it, while in others’ experience, it doesn’t work at all.
The ingredients for most conventional gel and stick deodorants are very similar—aluminum and alcohol—but the difference is how it feels on your skin. Gel deodorants usually contain a silicone-based polymer, like dimethicone, which is what gives it its thick, jelly-like texture. It usually doesn’t leave behind residue on your skin and clothes, but it does go on wetter, so it needs more time to dry.
Solid deodorants are the iconic banishers of BO.
Solid deodorants are usually dry, and while they’re typically one of the stronger options when it comes to effectiveness, there’s always the risk of them leaving residue on your clothes—especially if you wear a lot of dark colors. To avoid this, there’s invisible solid deodorant, which has a similar powdery texture that goes on clear.
Many solid deodorant brands are also antipersperants.
Deodorant wipes are single-use and disposable, so they are definitely not the best choice for the planet. They tend to last for only a few hours, so they are not good for all-day use compared to other types of deodorant. Wipes are available solely as deodorants but can also include antiperperant effects.
Are there toxic ingredients in deodorant?
Beneath the porous skin of our armpits lie lymph nodes, an important part of our immune system. So you would think companies would take care to craft products that don’t contain any toxic ingredients.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
“Aluminum-free” used to be the siren song of the better-for-you deodorant, but these days you’re just as likely to see products advertised as paraben-free, phthalate-free, and more—because all of these toxic chemicals can be found lurking in many brands’ formulations.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, toxic ingredients are safe to use in cosmetic and personal care products in small doses. But this doesn’t mean that the concerns surrounding them are completely unfounded. Studies have linked some common ingredients used in conventional deodorants with health issues.
At Kinder Beauty, we only sell clean, vegan products that do not have any toxic ingredients whatsoever, so you can rest assured that any deodorants we feature will be safe for your pits and the planet!
As a consumer, you should always be aware of what you’re putting on your body. Here are some ingredients you may want to avoid:
Aluminum: In the form of salts, aluminum helps to block your pores, making it an effective antiperspirant. Research shows that there’s a possible association between antiperspirants that contain aluminum and breast cancer, but there is no conclusive evidence.
Parabens: A common man-made chemical preservative in personal care products, parabens have been found to linked to breast cancer. There is also an environmental concern: traces of parabens have been found in many water sources.
Triclosan: This chemical has antimicrobial properties and is commonly used in many water-based personal care products. There are concerns over triclosan being an endocrine disruptor, an irritant, and an environmental pollutor. The FDA banned it from antibacterial soap products in 2016.
Phthalates: These colorless, odorless chemicals are used in plastics and personal care items and have been banned from cosmetic products in the EU. There is evidence that they may negatively affect male and female reproductive health.
Propylene glycol: This petroleum-derived viscous liquid helps preserve moisture in products—and it’s also used to make fake fog in theater productions (not the best thing to be breathing in, in our opinion!). It’s generally recognized as safe, but it may trigger irritation in those with sensitive skin or eczema.
In recent years a plant-based version of propylene glycol has been developed that is not toxic—so if you see these on products labeled “clean,” then you should be in the clear!
Added fragrance: The added fragrance in many conventional deodorants is a common trigger for allergic contact dermatitis. If you’ve ever experienced dryness, itchiness, redness, or hives where you applied a new product, then you’re familiar with allergic contact dermatitis. Because of this, a lot of clean brands—including online clean beauty markets like Kinder Beauty—don’t permit the use of added fragrance. Instead, most clean deodorants use natural perfumes like essential oils.
Are there advantages of clean deodorant?
Although there are no federal guidelines to regulate what can be considered a “clean” personal care product, most brands that use the label don’t include any of the questionable ingredients listed above. Even if more conclusive evidence is needed with regard to the negative potential effects of some ingredients, many people feel safer just avoiding them altogether.
What deodorant should I use?
You know your body best. Our bodies are each so different, so a crystal deodorant may work for one person, but leave somebody else reeking of BO.
Based on the list above, pick up a deodorant that you think will work best for you. It’s okay if you end up having to try a different one. We’ve all picked out a deodorant that ended up not masking anything at all or used one that ended up staining our clothes. Try, try again until you get it right!
The best vegan deodorant to try
This natural vegan brand makes sticks, sprays, and jarred deodorants. The sticks and sprays are formulated with cocoa and shea butter to help the product glide onto your skin while arrowroot powder and baking soda help absorb oil. The spray deodorant, meanwhile, relies on alcohol to make your ’pits a smelly bacteria-free zone.
A staple of natural supermarkets everywhere, this mineral salt-based deodorant doesn’t leave marks on your clothes and is made to last for up to 24 hours. It’s available in solid sticks, invisible solid sticks, sprays, roll-ons, and stones.
This Vermont-based brand makes both stick and spray deodorants. The former uses baking soda and saccharomyces ferment, a smell-absorbing probiotic enzyme, to banish odors. The latter relies a combination of alcohol and citric acid to eliminate that “bad” armpit bacteria.
Packaged in recyclable paper and made from coconut oil, arrowroot powder, and rosemary extract (a common ingredient in natural deodorants), this affordable stick goes on smooth and is suitable for sensitive skin.
Conventional deodorants contain some ingredients that may pose a threat to human health, but further research is needed to understand exactly how dangerous they are.
Using a natural deodorant, or shopping from a natural beauty marketplace, can give you peace of mind about undesirable BO and what’s going onto your skin.
Kat Smith is a New York City-based writer and editor who loves digging deep into sustainable fashion, beauty, food, and other lifestyle-related topics.
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