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a woman applies deodorant

We often turn to deodorants and antiperspirants to smell fresh. There’s a difference between the two:

  • Deodorants mask scent.
  • Antiperspirants obstruct the sweat glands, stopping odor before it starts.

Although these products can be effective, there’s a chance they will make you stinkier. “Deodorants and antiperspirants have a big effect on the composition and diversity of our armpit microbiome,” says Ghent University researcher Chris Callewaert, PhD.

When deodorants or antiperspirants are used consistently, the armpit microbiome is stable, but when use is stopped or resumed, the axillary microbiome can change, leading to more odor-causing Corynebacteria.

Antiperspirants may also be detrimental to your health. Though the research is inconclusive, they have been linked to breast cancer and Parkinson’s disease, and both antiperspirants and deodorants can contain nasty chemicals like parabens and hormone-disrupting fragrances.

Antiperspirants may also be to blame for yellow underarm stains, which are thought to be caused by the interaction of sweat with the aluminum used in antiperspirants.

Instead of commercial antiperspirants or deodorants, choose clothing made from cotton and other natural textiles, and try out a homemade deodorant (like this one) made from cornstarch, baking soda, and coconut oil, a natural antimicrobial.

This was excerpted from “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sweat” which was published in the July/August 2022 issue of Experience Life.

Margret Aldrich

Margret Aldrich is a frequent Experience Life contributor.

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