The terms “deodorant” and “antiperspirant” sometimes get used interchangeably, but they’re two different products that do two different things (albeit with the same end goal of stopping body odor). Let’s take a look at both product types and see which might be best for your son or daughter. But first, a quick science lesson on armpit funk!
What causes body odor?
B.O. occurs when sweat and bacteria meet. Basically, the bacteria that end up on our skin like to feast on components of our sweat, then they lay around feeling all full and fart out smelly gases that become what we know as unpleasant body odor. Thanks a lot, bacteria.
To stop this process, you have to either get rid of the sweat or the bacteria. Antiperspirant prevents sweat. Deodorant prevents bacteria formation. It’s like if to get to the mall from your house you had the option of taking the highway or the side streets. Both will get you there, just via a different path. And one path may work better for you than the other.
Antiperspirants, as the name suggests, work by stopping you from perspiring. They do this by plugging up the pores under your arms so that sweat can’t come out (or at least not nearly as much of it). These “plugs” typically remain in place for most of the day, and are then washed out when you next bathe.
So, which substances work effectively as antiperspirants to plug up your sweat ducts? Interestingly, still to this day the only substance that’s been found to perform this task successfully is aluminum, or more specifically, aluminum salts. The problem is, as you’ve likely heard, aluminum is now thought to be a potential cancer-causing agent. The evidence isn’t 100% conclusive, but there appears to be enough of a risk there that many consumers are now steering away from antiperspirants in favor of deodorants.
At Kobi, we don’t make an antiperspirant because of the above-mentioned risk factor with aluminum. But, considering their unique ability to limit excessive underarm sweating, they nonetheless could be a preferred choice for some members of your family.
Deodorants, with their slightly more vague name, are simply products designed to deodorize armpits. In that sense, an antiperspirant could be considered a form of deodorant, but a product labeled just as a “deodorant” is not likely to be an antiperspirant.
Most deodorants work by preventing or killing bacteria rather than by stopping sweat. They do this in a wide variety of ways, using a wide variety of ingredients, such as:
- By altering the acidity (pH) of your armpits (making them an unpleasant place for bacteria to grow), using ingredients such as baking soda, magnesium hydroxide, and zinc oxide.
- By killing the bacteria altogether, using ingredients such as alcohol, silver, and essential oils.
- By introducing “good” bacteria that neutralize the bad stinky ones, using various prebiotics and probiotics such as lactobacillus ferment.
As you can see, while antiperspirants rely almost exclusively on aluminum, deodorant formulations can vary greatly.
Which is right for your child?
While both options can work to stop your child’s B.O., we believe natural deodorants are the safest option for kids and teens. Antiperspirants come with a bit of a question mark regarding their safety, and especially when the user is a child, we think the risk isn’t worth it. Plus, sweating is the body’s natural cooling process, and stopping that just doesn’t seem…well…natural.
As far as which deodorant to choose for your little stinker, there are plenty of articles out there highlighting which deodorant ingredients are good and bad for a child’s skin. But if you’re looking to save some time, we’ve done all the research for you and developed the safest natural deodorant for kids.