How Does Antiperspirant Work?

By Sher Warkentin in Natural Products

Sweat is your body's natural way of cooling itself, but sometimes that wetness and the odor that often accompanies it can be unpleasant. That's when an underarm product can come to the rescue.

I recently made some changes to my own care routine, but with the variety of products available, deciding what was best for my needs wasn't immediately clear. The first step in deciding what product to choose was learning the answer to some important questions, like how does antiperspirant work?

What Is Antiperspirant?

Sweating and body odor are not the same thing, and you don't use the same products to treat them. As the Mayo Clinic explains, in addition to fighting odor, antiperspirants reduce the amount of perspiration on your skin by temporarily blocking your sweat pores. Deodorant, on the other hand, does not impact perspiration. Instead, it minimizes odor by making your skin less attractive to odor-causing bacteria.

Woman sitting on ground with bike

How Does Antiperspirant Work?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, dermatologists typically recommend antiperspirants to treat excessive sweat. After you apply an antiperspirant, it sits on top of your skin. Once your body begins to sweat, the antiperspirant is absorbed into your sweat glands and plugs them up. Your plugged glands signal to your body to stop producing more sweat.

All antiperspirants provide this wetness protection by using aluminum-based salts. However, the source of the ingredient and how it is derived can vary. There are eighteen aluminum-based salts recognized by the US Food and Drug Administration to reduce underarm wetness, including aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum chloride, and aluminum zirconium salts.

In addition to minimizing sweat, aluminum can alter the skin's environment, making it harder for odor-causing bacteria to thrive. Other naturally derived ingredients in an antiperspirant can add to its odor-fighting power. Olive leaf extract, for example, has antibacterial benefits and helps to prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Antiperspirants can also contain naturally derived fragrance from plant oils and other natural fragrance ingredients to add a pleasant smell.

What to Look for in an Antiperspirant

If you're looking for personal care products made with naturally derived and naturally sourced ingredients, check the label on the antiperspirant product to see if the aluminum-based ingredients are recycled.

While aluminum is the third most abundant element in Earth's crust, it is not a naturally renewable resource. Aluminum, like all metals, is mined from a naturally occurring mineral and then purified. This mining and purification process uses a tremendous amount of energy and creates greenhouse gases. The good news is that aluminum is recyclable, which means that it can be processed more sustainably, minimizing its environmental impact.

Aluminum chlorohydrate, one of the eighteen aluminum-based active ingredients approved by the FDA, for example, can be prepared from recycled aluminum, which has already undergone this energy-intensive process. Combined with hydrochloric acid and water, the recycled aluminum is then reacted to form aluminum chlorohydrate. This process uses just eight percent of the energy that was expended to procure the aluminum originally.

When you see that an antiperspirant is made with recycled aluminum, you can feel confident that the energy consumption and greenhouse gas production were significantly minimized in the manufacturing process.

Look for antiperspirants made with recycled aluminum.

How to Choose the Best Product for You

As I looked to green my personal care routine several months ago, I decided to switch from my conventional antiperspirant to a deodorant made with naturally derived ingredients. I was impressed by how well it worked to fight odor. However, with the recent change of seasons and an increase in my workout routine, perspiration has become a bigger issue. I knew that I didn't want to sacrifice my greener care routine, so I opted for an antiperspirant made with recycled aluminum to gain wetness protection. I met my own personal care needs without significantly increasing my carbon footprint.

Choosing the right product for your needs will really depend on whether perspiration is something you're looking to curb or if you only need odor-fighting protection. These needs can shift over time, especially with changes to your routine, your body, and even the weather. If you're unsure, try different products until you find the best fit for you. One thing I learned in my own quest for the best underarm product was that it can take a while for your body to adjust to a new product. Give it some time to see results after you make a switch.

Everyone's body is different, and ultimately, deciding between deodorant or antiperspirant is a matter of personal preference and need. Regardless of your choice, you can feel good when you select underarm products made with naturally derived and sustainably sourced ingredients that will meet your body's needs without sacrificing your eco-friendly lifestyle.

Trying to decide on the best underarm product for you? Check out the @tomsofmaine Naturally Good Products board on Pinterest.

Image Sources: Unsplash | Pexels | Sher Warkentin

The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.

Why It's Good

You don't have to sacrifice your eco-friendly lifestyle just to fight uncomfortable odor and wetness. Antiperspirants made with sustainably sourced ingredients, such as recycled aluminum, can give you the protection you want while minimizing your carbon footprint.