How deodorants differ from antiperspirants and 14 more questions

What is better to buy? Do aluminum salts affect human health? Can an antiperspirant provide 72-hour sweat protection as many manufacturers promise? Together with dermatocosmetologist Gulnara Amanbaeva understands controversial issues.

Gulnara Amanbaeva

Dermatocosmetologist at the Maria Shirshakova clinic

Myth 1: Deodorants and antiperspirants work the same

The main function and task of a deodorant is to suppress the vital activity of bacteria living in the sweat glands. It is a cosmetic product that kills bacteria that create unpleasant odors, but does not stop sweat. It contains deodorant components with antimicrobial action: substituted phenols, quaternary ammonium compounds, undecylenic acid and its derivatives, as well as essential oils: lavender, mint, eucalyptus, cloves, geraniums, parsley, lemon, orange. A permanent ingredient in deodorant products is ethyl alcohol.

An antiperspirant is a medicine that can block the production of sweat, thereby preventing the appearance of a specific odor.

It changes the natural processes in the body: prevents the secretion of sweat and odor by blocking the excretory ducts of the sweat glands. It is important that the antiperspirant does not stop the production of sweat itself, but only its release to the outside.

Antiperspirants act more radically – in addition to antimicrobial components, they contain organic salts of aluminum and zinc, which narrow the ducts of the sweat glands, and accordingly, for some time, to a greater or lesser extent, block their activity. Antiperspirants work specifically on the endocrine glands. None of the currently known antiperspirant compounds are able to reduce the secretion of apocrine sweat glands (they are responsible for the individual smell of a person). Therefore, most of these products contain, as a rule, and deodorant components.

Myth 2: Parabens in deodorants are dangerous to the body

Parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetics and perfumery. They are found in deodorants, shampoos, liquid soaps, and creams. It is easy to determine their content, look for “butylparaben”, “propylparaben”, “methylparaben” in the list of components. Usually these substances are companions of products with a long shelf life.

The debate about the dangers of parabens is still widespread. In 2006, a special European scientific commission was unable to give an unambiguous answer to the question: “Are parabens safe?”

The fact is that some of them have weak estrogenic activity, like aluminum salts. In 2004, during a study of tumor material from individuals with breast cancer, a high concentration of parabens was found in some samples. But no reliable data on the path of their penetration into the body or the effect on the disease could be obtained.

Unambiguously answer the question “Can cancer appear from the use of an antiperspirant?” with 100% certainty it is impossible.

Myth number 3: aluminum salts in antiperspirants affect the development of breast cancer

There is no irrefutable evidence that aluminum salts directly affect the development of breast cancer. The difficulty lies in the fact that such research is not so easy. This requires long-term observations, large study and control groups.

However, there is evidence that aluminum salts are similar in action to the hormone estrogen. And the relationship between the level of hormones, in particular estrogen, and the development of breast cancer has already been established. Estrogen promotes the growth of tumor cells. For example, it has been proven that the same hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives are sources of estrogen and, as a result, additional risk factors.

In this regard, some scientists talk about the effect of antiperspirants on the development of breast cancer, as well as on the genetic material of cells and their malignant transformation. This conclusion was made on the basis of a study in which 20 patients with breast cancer in the removed mammary gland found an increased amount of the main active ingredient of most antiperspirants – aluminum salts. However, the relationship between the presence of increased amounts of aluminum and its direct role in the development of breast cancer has not been proven.

There have also been studies that have shown that the amount of aluminum salts in the mammary glands in healthy women and women with breast cancer is the same.

According to the conclusions of the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and according to research conducted at the world famous Mayo Clinic, both deodorants and antiperspirants are recognized as safe for health, since the opposite has not been reliably proven.

But, as they say, there is no “smoke without fire”, so the choice of deodorant and antiperspirant must be approached carefully.

Myth 4: Aluminum salts in antiperspirants contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease

In the 60s of the 20th century, data appeared on the relationship of aluminum salts and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. But later, numerous studies have refuted these assumptions.

Still, these funds should not be used by people with kidney disease. Especially for those who undergo hemodialysis (blood purification). Their kidneys are unable to quickly excrete aluminum salts from the body, which leads to their accumulation.

Myth 5: Antiperspirants don’t clog pores.

Antiperspirants do clog pores. This can lead to inflammatory processes, which can sometimes only be eliminated by surgery (for example, such a blockage can lead to hydradenitis and, as a result, to suppuration)! There is only one way out: do not use the product too often (how exactly, read on) and apply it to clean, dry skin.

Myth 6: Botulinum therapy for hyperhidrosis is unsafe

Botulinum therapy can be done to anyone who is worried about sweating, it is an absolutely safe procedure for a healthy person! Botulinum toxin blocks the transmission of nerve impulses from nerve fibers to the sweat glands and thereby eliminates the activating signal for sweating. The effect after botulinum therapy lasts for 6-8 months (during this time, the injected drug disintegrates). One procedure takes about 40 minutes. But, of course, before doing botulinum therapy, consult your doctor.

Myth 7: deodorants and antiperspirants 100% eliminate odors and excessive sweating

In rare cases, deodorants and antiperspirants can cope with all tasks flawlessly.

On average, a deodorant eliminates an unpleasant odor by 80-100%, it does not help at all from excessive sweating. An antiperspirant helps to get rid of increased perspiration by 80-100%, it eliminates the smell indirectly (by reducing sweat production) – by 60-80%.

Myth 8: Alcohol in deodorant is definitely harmful

On the one hand, alcohol provides a bactericidal effect, which is very important in the fight against unpleasant odors. Therefore, a standard deodorant (especially if it is in a solid form) almost always contains alcohol (it destroys bacteria, and therefore the smell of sweat).

On the other hand, alcohol degreases the skin. Therefore, any deodorant containing alcohol will cause dryness over time, and possibly irritation or allergic reactions.

Myth 9: Deodorants and antiperspirants last 48 or even 72 hours

Deodorant lasts for several hours, while antiperspirant protects for 24 hours. That is, you can use the deodorant 2-3 times a day, and apply the antiperspirant only once a day. I advise you not to overdo it with the second – edema may appear on the skin, since it blocks the ducts of the sweat glands and blocks their activity.

Myth 10: there are antiperspirants that do not leave white stains on clothes.

White spots are caused by salts, which are found in most antiperspirants. To avoid their occurrence, you just need to let the product dry after application. If you dress immediately after using it, then the stains will probably be clearly visible. Yellow marks appear as a result of the vital activity of bacteria that come into contact with sweat.

Myth 11: organic deodorants are ineffective

Organic deodorants are able to suppress the growth of microorganisms for a certain period of time. By drying out bacteria located on human skin and provoking the smell of sweat, they cause their inevitable death. As long as the layer of deodorant is on the protected area of ​​the skin, bacteria cannot regrow.

Unlike conventional antiperspirants, organic deodorants do not affect the function of sweating, namely, they do not close the pores or alter the work of the sweat glands.

All processes take place naturally. A deodorant only dries up excess moisture and prevents unpleasant odors. But in the case of their use, there is a likelihood of allergic reactions, since organic deodorants contain a large amount of plant components and essential oils.

Myth 12: deodorants and antiperspirants are safe during pregnancy and lactation.

In fact, the only form of deodorant allowed during pregnancy and lactation is natural salt stick. It is completely harmless, does not contain chemicals, essential oils and fragrances and is not able to penetrate the body. Since this product does not have its own odor, it is completely hypoallergenic and suitable even for asthma patients. There is no alcohol in the deodorant, so it does not irritate the skin and relieves inflammation.

Myth 13: Men’s deodorants work better than women’s

Another marketing move from manufacturers. According to the Discovery Health report, male and female products do not differ in composition in any way, only in packaging and scent. One brand will not make products with different ingredients in different amounts separately for male and female deodorants and antiperspirants.

Myth 14: Deodorants should be applied immediately after showering

If using the product in the morning after showering, wait until the underarm area is completely dry. On the moist dermis, the components react only on the surface, without reaching the pores of the sweat glands.

Plus, it’s easier to apply an even coat evenly – friction increases.

But ideally, antiperspirants should be applied at night. During sleep, the body temperature decreases, the activity of the sweat glands decreases. The absorption of active components occurs in the maximum volume. The question arises: are they not washed out with water during the morning shower? No, since the active ingredients are well absorbed, they will act for at least 24 hours.

Myth 15: Antiperspirants for sensitive skin can be applied even after depilation

After depilation, 48 hours should pass. Do not treat damaged, inflamed skin and do not overdo it with the amount – a thin even layer is enough. The composition may not contain alcohol or parabens, but aluminum salts are present, which can also cause irritation.

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