What to know about deodorants

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We’ve come a long way from the skin-drying, clothes-staining deodorant days. With the clean beauty movement, deodorants are getting a makeover too. Here are four things you need to know about deodorants now.

Antiperspirants vs. Deodorants: What’s the difference?

While your sweat is odourless, you will start smelling bad when sweat and bacteria mingle. Antiperspirants and deodorants help to mitigate this effect. While the two terms are generally used interchangeably because both products are applied to the underarm area and help mask odour, they work in different ways.

Antiperspirants work by “plugging” the sweat glands with an aluminium compound so you sweat less, while deodorants help kill the bacteria on skin. Whether you choose to stop the sweat or kill the bacteria is your choice, either one does the job. However, these days, there are products in the market that have combined the two, so you might want to try those, as they stop body odour in a more effective manner.


They don’t cause breast cancer, and have never been scientifically proven to do so

Fake news isn’t just a recent problem. Back in the 1990s, there were rumours circulating on the Internet that the use of antiperspirants or deodorants increases the risk of breast cancer. The reasons given sounded convincing – from how parabens interfered with hormones to how lymph nodes are affected when sweat glands are plugged (note: lymph nodes are not connected to sweat glands).

But a 2002 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute debunked the myth. A 2014 review study reiterated that stand. The American Cancer Society and the UK National Cancer Institute both have pages dedicated to debunking this myth.


So, what are the ingredients used in deodorants now?

Many people are adopting a “play safe” attitude to deodorants, so the ones on the shelves nowadays do emphasise that they are free of paraben or aluminium. Instead, essential oils are used to give a natural, pleasant scent.

Tea tree oil, lemongrass and eucalyptus essential oils are some of the most common ones which have antibacterial properties. The other ingredient? Mineral salts. These are also used to form a film on skin to prevent microbes and bacteria from thriving.


They come in many forms

Sprays, roll-ons, sticks and even cream formats are available. Here are six to try: