• If Your Deodorant Isn't Effective

If Your Deodorant Isn’t Effective

Deodorant or anti-perspirant? We all use it but, for some, it is more necessary than for others. Excessive perspiring can become a significant problem. If you are afraid of leaving the house without your “deo” then read on as it may be that you are using the wrong product or not actually using it correctly. Sweat is, in fact, odourless, but when the sweat comes into contact with skin bacteria it produces that characteristic sweaty odour. Although sweating is very beneficial (perspiring helps maintain our even body temperature), it is accompanied by damp armpits and a sweaty aroma. They even thought about this in the days of Asterix and Obelix; the Romans applied a mixture of charcoal and goat fat under their arms to combat the smell of sweat. After much testing the first anti-perspirant was released on the market at the beginning of 1900. There were, however, a couple of drawbacks with this product; it could cause significant irritation and regularly make holes in clothing! Incidentally, I deliberately use the term anti-perspirant because an anti-perspirant is considerably different from a deodorant. An anti-perspirant will, over a period of time, block the sweat glands and, with that, the production of sweat. Slightly technical, the metal salt which is added to the anti-perspirant reacts with keratin in the skin and forms a plug which brings the sweat to a halt. In contrast a deodorant doesn’t stop the sweating but scoops up the bacteria on the skin and conceals the smell. A standard deodorant often contains triclosan or alcohol and a good deal of perfume.

How should you use a “deo”?
If you really want to stop the sweating then it is better to use an anti-perspirant than a deodorant. In Holland everything is called a deodorant so you need to look at the ingredients list to know which one you are buying. If aluminium or zirconium is displayed on the ingredients list then it is highly likely to be an anti-perspirant. If you have found a true anti-perspirant, you still need to know how to apply it. This is not completely straight forward! I found a few tips in some medical literature and in the book “Physiology of the skin” by Dr. Zoe Draelos. I’ve set them out for you below:

– Apply an adequate even amount, so that the product comes into contact with all of the sweat glands. This is more difficult to achieve with a spray so, if you sweat a lot, it is better to use a stick or a roller. In general, the less concentrated a products is the less effective it will be. Water does, however, need to be added to the product, otherwise it still won’t work as well.
– The skin under the armpits needs to be completely dry. You could, if you need to, dry it with a hairdryer.
– Use an anti-perspirant daily and preferably twice a day. An anti-perspirant starts to work after a couple of days, because it will cause the sweat glands to become plugged up. If you stop applying the anti-perspirant the effect will also gradually ware off.
– Research has shown that anti-perspirants should also, and in particular, be applied at night. This will increase the chances of the sweat glands plugging up.
– To increase the effectiveness you could also try massaging the anti-perspirant into the skin.
– Don’t shave the armpits too closely, otherwise the chances are that you will dislodge the plugs from the sweat glands.
– Aluminium Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex-gly complex or Aluminium Zirconium Chlorohydrate are more effective (a deeper plug is formed) than Aluminium Chlorohydrate. In cases of severe perspiration, a Doctor may prescribe a more powerful Aluminium Chloride, but be aware that this can be highly irritating to the skin.
– Check to see if there are substances such as Dimethicone and soothing ingredients, such as Allantoine, in the product. As I said, Aluminium can really irritate the skin.
– A good effective deodorant will usually be more expensive, and one costing a couple of euros won’t, in general, have the most powerful formula.

And how safe is it?
Talking about Aluminium in deodorants will trigger alarm bells in some people. Although authorities such as the KWF, The American Cancer Society, The Breast Cancer Society and the Mayo Clinic state that no relationship has been found between Aluminium in deodorant and breast cancer, there is much disturbing information to be seen on the internet. Shortly, I will let you know why I don’t concern myself with this. Be aware that, according to research, a negligible amount of Aluminium is absorbed by the body through the skin. The probability of taking Aluminium in via food and drinking water is somewhat higher. Also, according to a recent study, healthy breast tissue contains as much Aluminium as infected breast tissue.

If these tips don’t help at all, then make an appointment with your Doctor. There are various medical treatments which can help with excessive perspiration of the armpits! Such as botox, medication and in some cases even an operation.

Regards and have a good weekend,


(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)