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Deodorant vs Antiperspirant: Which Should You Choose?

Man applying speedstick

By Tyler Narducci

Guess what? You smell. But don't freak out, everyone does. If you are like most people, this means you commonly shop for a deodorant or antiperspirant, but do you know the difference? How do you choose between deodorant vs antiperspirant? Let's dive into what makes these two products similar and what separates them in the battle against sweat and body odor.


The primary focus of deodorant is to mask the smell of excessive bacteria that may arise during times of moderate to heavy exertion. The purpose of deodorant isn't to stop the problem of excess sweating, but to mask the result, which is an increase in underarm bacteria and the body odor that follows. Combining propylene glycol and fragrances, deodorants provide long-lasting odor protection by masking odor with fragrance ingredients, creating an environment where bacteria can't grow and reducing odor by neutralizing some of the smelly components in sweat like fatty acids.


The National Health Service advises that if you sweat more than most, you should consider antiperspirants. Antiperspirants work to help stop the root cause of body odor by reducing sweating in the underarm area, and, in turn, preventing a bacteria buildup and the body odor that follows. You'll find most antiperspirants have similar fragrances as deodorant. The key driver for sweat protection is the incorporation in the antiperspirant formulas of an active ingredient like aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zicronium tetrachlorohyrex gly to add sweat-stopping power.

Sweat-reducing technology has made leaps over the years, giving you long-term solutions. There are also gel antiperspirants that go on clear and help you avoid the white film of more traditional products.

When to Use - Deodorants vs Antiperspirants

So in the battle between deodorant vs antiperspirant, which should you choose? This comes down to personal preference.

  • Most antiperspirants have fragrance ingredients in them, and if you want to get to the core of undearm odor you will definitely want to go with an antiperspirant.
  • If you don't sweat much and you are concerned with underarm odor, a deodorant may be enough. There is nothing wrong with using different products on different days; knowing the function of each will help you to decide which is best for you.

This article was brought to you by Colgate-Palmolive Company, the makers of Speed Stick products. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of the Colgate-Palmolive Company.