Deo – Tips on deodorant and antiperspirant

Sweat  is a natural reaction of the body – nevertheless, sweating is often uncomfortable or even embarrassing. The safest way to protect yourself from unpleasant odors and unsavory sweat stains under your arms is to use a suitable deodorant or antiperspirant. But what should you pay attention to? Which ingredients in deodorant have what effect and which are even harmful? How can you make deodorant yourself? Here you will find tips and information about deodorants and antiperspirants.

Sweating: The human sweat glands

Sweat serves as a temperature equalizer to protect the body from overheating. Depending on the disposition and size, a person has two to four million sweat glands. Most are on the feet, hands and forehead.

Two different sweat glands play a role in sweat production – also known as transpiration:

  • The so-called  eccrine sweat gland  produces a liquid that consists of around 99 percent water and is relatively odorless.
  • The  apocrine sweat gland  or scent gland is only found in hairy areas of the body such as under the armpits or in the pubic area. It mainly separates out fragrances and metabolic products.

Why sweat sometimes smells – and sometimes doesn’t

While fresh sweat is initially odorless, the typical  smell of sweat  only develops over time. The secreted fatty acids are broken down by bacteria that live on the surface of the skin. And this creates the unpleasant smell of sweat.

How the sweat smells and how severe the sweating is varies from person to person. Some excrete little liquid, but more metabolites. The sweat smells correspondingly strong. Others sweat a lot  but hardly smell  it because the apocrine glands are less active.

The trigger for the flow of sweat is also decisive. When exercising, the eccrine glands in particular excrete fluid, while when there is  fear , shame or sexual arousal, the apocrine glands work.

All of this explains why a deodorant does not always work the same for everyone. If you notice the smell of sweat despite deodorant, you should do the test yourself and try out different products.

deodorant and antiperspirant

Only about one percent of sweat is produced under the armpits. However, the feeling of wetness is felt more strongly here, since the sweat cannot evaporate so easily – damp stains on clothing and unpleasant odors are the result. Most people use a deodorant to curb sweat production and/or the breakdown of sweat and thus the odor.

The products can be divided into two categories: deodorant and antiperspirant. But what’s the difference?

What is deodorant?

Deodorants, or deodorants for short, contain antibacterial  agents that inhibit the growth of microorganisms that break down sweat. Substances are added to this that absorb odors and absorb moisture. Perfume oils spread a pleasant scent and cover up the smell of sweat, alcohol disinfects and also cools. Some deodorants contain enzyme blockers (such as triethyl citrate) that inhibit bacterial enzymes needed to break down sweat.

What is antiperspirant?

Antiperspirants, which are also incorrectly referred to as deodorants, limit sweat production. The active ingredients constrict the gland exits, thereby reducing the amount of sweat by up to 20 to 50 percent and thus depriving the bacteria of their “livelihood”.

The main component is usually aluminum chloride. In a concentrated, pure form, it is found in the so-called deocrystal, a cultured alum made from an aluminum salt mixture. When wet, the  salt  dissolves in the water and is applied to the skin as a saturated solution. Since the crystal does not contain any irritating  emulsifiers  or alcohol, it is recommended by many dermatologists.

Ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants

Many agents are a combination of deodorant and antiperspirant. The following ingredients are used in deodorants and antiperspirants:

  • Alcohol:  dissolves ingredients, has a cooling effect, but can trigger unwanted skin reactions
  • Antioxidants improve the shelf life of the ingredients
  • Farnesol:  substance that inhibits bacterial growth; Like other germ-inhibiting substances, it can disrupt the natural germ flora on the skin
  • Glycerin and vegetable oils:  soothe the skin and make it supple
  • Silica:  a natural mineral that absorbs fatty residues from sweat
  • Perfumes and fragrances:  mask body odor and give a fresh feeling; However, they can   cause allergies
  • herbal additives:  extracts from beard lichen,  clove blossoms  or sage leaves relieve skin irritation, have an antibacterial and calming effect; Sage is also known to regulate sweat
  • Triclosan:  Rarely used antibacterial preservative that has been criticized because it promotes resistance in bacteria, can trigger allergies and can form toxic dioxins

Be careful with additives

It is often worth taking a second look when it comes to the additives: Various fragrances in deodorants are intended to cover up body odor, but some of them are considered problematic: the fragrance Lilial, for example, is suspected of impairing fertility. Cashmeran and artificial musk compounds are considered harmful to the environment because they can endanger water bodies.

Many people also react sensitively to the additives contained – their skin shows redness and  itching  up to allergic reactions. Deodorants or antiperspirants from the pharmacy are often suitable for particularly sensitive skin – with as few additives as possible.

Aluminum in deodorant – harmful ingredient?

Aluminum or aluminum chloride in deodorant has long been considered harmful to health. It was often recommended to use a  deodorant without aluminum  . The reason for this was the fear that the aluminum in the deodorant could be absorbed into the body through the skin and   cause Alzheimer’s  or  breast cancer there.

Aluminum chloride in deodorant has now been cleared of this suspicion. Since more recent scientific findings showed that significantly less aluminum is absorbed through the skin than initially assumed, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment gave the all-clear in 2020.

But even if aluminum salts are harmless from a health point of view according to the current state of knowledge, many people still prefer a deodorant without aluminum. Because aluminum salts can leave the typical white or yellow deodorant stains on clothing as a result of chemical reactions.

Tips for deodorant spray & Co.

Deodorants are most commonly used in the form of sprays or lotions (often in the form of deodorant rolls or deodorant sticks). Sprays also have a cooling effect, lotions care for the skin with fats. They adhere better to the skin than conventional deodorants with alcohol do and thus build up a depot that binds moisture for longer and only gradually releases the sweat-regulating effect of aluminum chloride.

Note the following tips for the correct use of deodorant:

  1. Always apply deodorants and antiperspirants to freshly washed skin before perspiration begins.
  2. The odor-causing germs find little shelter in shaved armpits and the sweat does not adhere as well. However, wait before applying immediately after  shaving  or  epilation  , as the skin is then very irritated.
  3. Let the deodorant – especially if it is a deodorant with aluminum salts – first dry on the skin before you put on your clothes. This reduces the risk of unsightly deodorant stains.
  4. In summer, wear air-permeable clothing made from natural materials and change them more often.
  5. Be wary of clothing manufacturers who advertise their fabrics as having “built-in deodorant.” Such textiles can contain antibacterial chemicals such as triclosan, which attack the skin’s natural protective barrier.

Make your own deodorant: how it works!

Many people prefer to make their own deodorant to have control over the ingredients used. Baking soda is considered an effective home remedy for sweating and is therefore the most important ingredient in a homemade deodorant. We present two different recipes.

Make your own deodorant spray

For a homemade spray deodorant you need a spray bottle:

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 100 milliliters of water
  • 3-12 drops of essential oils (e.g. lavender oil, sage oil or lime oil)

Boil the water and let it cool down. Add the baking soda and let it dissolve well by shaking it several times. Then mix in the essential oil. Pour the mixture into a pump bottle and shake well before each use.

Homemade deodorant stick

You can also make your own deodorant stick or deodorant cream. The recipe is also based on baking soda, but uses fat instead of water. You need the following ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons starch, for example cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons  coconut oil
  • 3-12 drops of essential oils

The fat is slightly heated in a water bath and mixed with the starch. Once cool, stir in the remaining ingredients. You can then pour the homemade deodorant into a cream jar or a container for a deodorant stick and let it harden.

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