• Roll on or spray?

Product advice for your deodorant: roll on or spray?

What is best for the skin under your arms? A roll on deodorant or a spray on deodorant? Research has shown that this may matter more than I previously thought…


Antiperspirant or deodorant?

What type of deodorants are there? There are deodorants to conceal odour and deodorants, known as antiperspirants, to control sweating. The one you choose depends on what you want your deodorant to do: reduce sweating or reduce odour. There are also deodorants available that do both.


How to recognise them

In the Netherlands almost everything is called a deodorant, so you need to check the ingredients list, or the labels, carefully in order to see exactly what you are buying. If there is something in the ingredients list with aluminium or zirconium then you have probably got an antiperspirant. These chemicals block the sweat glands, which means you sweat less. A deodorant doesn’t stop you from sweating, but it does tackle the bacteria on the skin and, in so doing, controls perspiration odour.


Fragrance free

Many deodorants contain perfume to conceal odour. Having said that it is better to go for a fragrance free option, because these are less likely to cause skin irritation. The armpit skin is already extra sensitive to irritation because many people shave there. This makes your skin more vulnerable.


Try and avoid denatured alcohol

Another ingredient you will come across in deodorants, certainly in the past, is denatured alcohol. This chemical counteracts the bacteria, which cause perspiration odour, under your armpits. Sadly, this chemical is not so gentle for your skin. If you shave your armpit skin then such a deodorant can sting a lot. </p


Is a roll on milder than a spray?

Generally speaking: the more aluminium salts in your product, the more the deodorant will irritate skin. These salts are in antiperspirants (deodorants that reduce sweating). They are what makes the product effective, so aluminium salts are necessary if you want to counteract sweating. Both a roll on and spray can be an antiperspirant and consequently contain aluminium salts. Although many people think that a roll on is kinder to skin than a spray because it is creamier, the form of the deodorant doesn’t matter. It is about the ingredients used in the product. So a spray and a roll on can both be mild, or not.


Spray is less effective

As far as mildness goes it doesn’t matter if you use a roll on deodorant or a spray on deodorant. However, I would recommend you use a good roll on or tube rather than a spray. One reason is effectiveness. Research has found that only 11.4% of a spray reaches the skin. The remaining 89% goes straight into the atmosphere.


How does that affect inhalation?

That is also the main reason why I would recommend a roll on or tube. You can inhale deodorant spray. If you spray a substantial amount (and in an unventilated room as well) it can be harmful to your health. But, even if you don’t spray very much, a deodorant spray will cause more air pollution in the home. And it’s not only deodorants that you use in the home. Hairspray, cleaning products or regularly lighting a real fire in the home also contribute to air pollution. And unfortunately, that isn’t good for your airways.

The concentrations of the chemicals used in sprays are, of course, judged to be safe by the E.U. And in the safety calculations the E.U also investigates extensively how much can be inhaled. But this isn’t just about your deodorant, it’s also about other pollution in your home. By using a roll on you are removing at least one pollutant. That always seems worthwhile to me.



I know that, for many people, hygiene is the reason to use a spray. Using a roll on will indeed roll bacteria from your skin back into your product. But you don’t have to worry about that bacteria too much. Such roll ons contain substances which ensure these bacteria are short lived.


Don’t keep a roll on for too long

Even though it states on the bottle that roll ons last for 12 months after opening, I would buy a new one every 3 months just to be sure. And it’s best not to share it with anyone else. This can cause skin irritation. Do you still think a roll on is not very hygienic? Then perhaps a tube of deodorant cream is something for you. It works a little more hygienically.


Still prefer a spray?

If you really prefer a spray then you should ventilate your house during and after spraying. Open your window and close the door, use your deodorant and leave the window open for more than an hour afterwards. And don’t inhale the spray, or cover your mouth and nose with a towel.


Product advice



✓ Comes in a hygienic tube. You apply the deodorant as you would a cream.

✓ Fragrance free

Salt of The Earth Classic Natural Deodorant

✓ Deodorant

✓ Is a roll on

Fragrance free

Deoleen Sensitive Crème

✓ Antiperspirant

✓ Comes in a hygienic tube. You apply the deodorant as you would a cream

✓ Fragrance free

Dermolin anti-transpirant roll-on

✓ Antiperspirant

✓ A roll on

✓ Fragrance free


Neutral Deodorant Stick

✓ Deodorant

✓ Is a stick

✓ Fragrance free


Drunk Elephant Sweet Pitti Deodorant Cream

✓ Deodorant

✓ Comes in a hygienic tube. You apply the deodorant as you would a cream.

✓ Fragrance free


It is just a matter of trying out for yourself which deodorant or antiperspirant is most suitable for you. Even these products can irritate very sensitive skin. Do you have any good tips? Let me know!

Best wishes,
Jetske, Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology


Related articles

Deodorant or antiperspirant

Product advice facial care

Does deodorant cause breast cancer?