People stink! Yes, even you, most likely. But did you know it is not your sweat doing the stinking? Sweat is nearly odorless. The smell emitting from your pits actually comes from bacteria that resides on your skin. The bacteria reacts with and breaks down the sweat produced by your body, causing that musky odor. Throughout history, most people lived with the smell or tried to cover it up with fragranced perfumes and oils.
It was not until 1888 that the first deodorant came out on the market. If you have ever used a deodorant only product, you know that it does not stop you from sweating. Instead, the deodorant deals with the direct cause of the stink. It helps keep you stench-free by attacking and killing the bacteria found on your skin. Most deodorants also help cover up any residual smells with a fragrance of their own.
Antiperspirant, while often found in products in conjunction with deodorant, is not the same as deodorant. Antiperspirant actually helps keep you from sweating. This feature is usually accomplished by the inclusion of ingredients that block and plug up your sweat glands. Interestingly, the FDA only requires a product to reduce sweat by 20% to be labeled as an antiperspirant. This means the antiperspirant typically contains ingredients designed to attack those bacteria on the skin or is a combination antiperspirant and deodorant in one.
Antiperspirants have received a bad rep in recent years due to claims that the ingredients found in antiperspirants can cause cancer or Alzheimer's disease such as aluminum and zirconium. There have been numerous studies on the subject and currently there is no hard evidence that antiperspirants are responsible for these or any other diseases. But speaking of antiperspirant chemicals, have you ever had a favorite outfit stained yellow on a hot day? Your body is not sweating yellow! Instead, when your sweat reacts with the aluminum found in antiperspirants, it causes the yellow staining frequently found on fabrics.
You can buy commercial products that are deodorants only. It is natural for our body to sweat, so do not be ashamed to give up the antiperspirant and see how you do. Of course, you can always try making your own using some simple ingredients you likely have in your house already. Simple mixtures of baking soda, cornstarch, and coconut oil is an easy place to start with creating your own deodorant recipes. This blog has featured a few of its own deodorants, so check the archives if you want something a little fancier.