Is There A Difference?


Body odor is a funny thing.  Not 'ha-ha' funny, but odd.  Everybody has his or her own unique scent yet (thankfully) nobody wants to be associated with having bad body odor.  The consequences of having "B.O." are public embarrassment, difficulty in maintaining personal friendships and trouble progressing up the corporate ladder.  During my time in University, I lived in an all-male dorm and one of the older residents had a personal smell that cleared the room.  Meetings were called (when “Albert” was at the library) and we decided that he needed to be told.  We all decided that one of us needed to delicately broaching the subject with him, then discuss the matter in a frank and honest way was our best option.  One of the residents even volunteered to deliver the bad news.  I can remember this like it was yesterday - the person who was to deliver the news got cold feet, and instead of having a meaningful conversation around the issue, he taped a stick of "Old Spice" deodorant to Albert's door with a note that said "Try Using This".  He was mortified and we saw very little of poor old Albert after that.  

To combat this 'scents-ative' issue, society has established a few ground rules that we are all subject to - bathe regularly and wear a something to contain your scent such as cologne, perfume, deodorant or an antiperspirant.  Over the last few years, antiperspirants have been getting a bad rap on account of their aluminum levels and I wanted to do some checking to see a) how deodorants differed from antiperspirants and b) whether one is healthier than the other.


An antiperspirant reduces the flow of the underarm sweat, which controls body odor.  Among the active ingredients in most commercial antiperspirants is aluminum, which clogs the pores of the armpit and prevents the release of sweat.  This interference with the normal sweating process is not healthy over the long term and some speculate that this can result in Alzheimer’s Disease and/or cancer.  At this time, there are NO scientific studies that support this correlation, but it does stand to reason.


Deodorant is less complicated – it just smells nice.  It may reduce bacteria levels in your armpits, but will not stop you from sweating.  Because it is less intrusive, it does not last as long as an antiperspirant.  You will smell nice for a while, but if you are sweating profusely, you will not smell pleasant for long.  There have been health concerns regarding use of deodorant due to the presence of parabensa, which has anecdotally been linked to cancer (again, there is no conclusive scientific evidence of this).


So it seems you are at risk either way.  Bummer.  At least you don’t have the job of the researchers in this photo!  

Now that I know the difference between the two, I am a deodorant advocate from this point forward.  While writing this article, I came across some natural alternatives (including aluminum free options for men and women).  I am going to try these alternatives and will update this article with the results. 

If you have a solution to this dilemma, I would love for you to use the comments box below to share your story.  At this point it would appear that the risks of all commercially available alternatives are not huge, but it would be in everybody’s best interest if we can find a way to stop knowingly subjecting our bodies to potential toxins.