There’s nothing more embarrassing than showing up to an appointment with a wet shirt in the underarms, a date with sweat marks on your favorite dress, or putting on a white t-shirt to find the armpits are stained yellow. The moment we hit puberty, our parents complained of the wreaking body odor, handed us a stick of deodorant, and demanded we begin applying. Well, maybe that wasn't the case for us all. Perhaps we noticed ourselves, as we so often do now, the aroma or moisture and reached for the first thing that would help solve our stinking and sweating dilemma. In any case, now that underarm sweat is a thing in our lives, what do we need to know about the different products available, and what things should we watch out for to protect our health?
First thing to know is that there are a few different options when it comes to underarm stink and sweat solutions. There is deodorant, which is a substance applied to the body to prevent body odor caused by the bacterial breakdown of perspiration in the armpits, feet, and other areas of the body. This can be in the form of a spray, roll-on, or rub-on stick. Deodorant is not necessarily a disinfectant, or even an antiseptic. Antiperspirant works a little bit differently. It doesn’t actually prevent odor, but instead it blocks your sweat ducts with aluminum salts, thus reducing the amount of perspiration that is able to reach your skin. Many companies make a combination of both deodorant and antiperspirant to maximize the odor-reducing benefits.
To achieve fantastic results, manufacturers put a widespread amount of ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants. The biggest concern when looking at ingredients is to identify which of them impact the body negatively. Most antiperspirants contain aluminum to clog the pores, but aluminum has been linked to seizures, kidney problems, breast cancers, and contributions of Alzheimer’s. Parabens are another common ingredient used as a preservative. They mimic estrogen and therefore can cause hormone imbalances, cause puberty early, and are linked to risks of hormonal cancers. Propylene Glycol, which was originally formulated to be antifreeze, helps a product increase absorption into the skin and keeps the skin from drying out, but it can be quite harmful, too. It is a known neurotoxin and can cause skin irritation. The final notable harmful ingredient to watch for is triclosan. This antimicrobial kills bacteria, fungus, and other microbes, and is classified as a pesticide by the FDA. It has been found to disrupt the endocrine system (particularly, the thyroid), and increase allergy symptoms.
Choosing a deodorant or antiperspirant that is right for your body doesn’t have to be difficult. Sure, there is a lot more to it than just standing in the aisle smelling fragrance after fragrance, but knowing what to avoid can really help you pick the right one. There are many alternatives in the form of minerals, plant-based, or baking soda-derived alternatives that can keep you feeling refreshed without the need for harmful ingredients. These options can even help you avoid a date blunder or a stained white shirt!