Antiperspirants. Saving the general public from sweaty teenagers for generations.

Known as shower-in-a-can to some, antiperspirant is often a necessity after PE at school, riding your bike home, or after footy training.

From ‘sexy bouquets’ to ‘Africa’, antiperspirants come in many fragrances. But they’re not solely made for masking your body odour with another scent, that’s deodorant’s job (that’s right, they’re different). They actually do what their name says: they work to reduce perspiration, a.k.a. sweating. This is the key difference between deodorants and antiperspirants.

Besides the discomfort from sweat dripping off your body, sweating can cause embarrassing stains and wet patches on your favourite silk blouse or only “going-out” shirt. Plus of course, the stench.

BO isn’t something your body makes, it’s actually the bacteria on your skin that enjoys the dark, sweaty-ness of the underarm areas. The antiperspirants are meant to reduce the sweat available to the bacteria.

So how do they make me stop sweating?

Aluminium salts found in antiperspirants are the key to the magic. Usually in the form of aluminium chlorohydrate, the salt dissolves into a gel on the surface of the skin from the moisture naturally found there. Yeah, I mean sweat. This gel then blocks the sweat glands from producing sweat, leaving you dry and fruity smelling.

Aluminium salts also have antimicrobial properties, which means they also help to kill the bacteria on the skin. The same bacteria that would’ve made your mum fear you forgot what showering was.  That’s right, the B.O. forming bacteria.

Deodorants and antiperspirants, what’s the difference? Photo by E. Greenwood

Aluminium has often been speculated as dangerous, potentially causing breast cancer or Alzheimer’s Disease. It has become a whole new marketing area to produce “aluminium free” deodorants. However, deodorant is normally aluminium free anyway, now it’ll be advertised. Antiperspirants use the aluminium to stop the sweating so really, you just end up buying deodorant.

The links to Alzheimer’s disease have not been reliably studied and there is no hard evidence to suggest that using aluminium products will cause cancer of any type. Basically, it’s still deemed completely safe for your health. Not only that, but aluminium is also the only salt that has been approved for the use in antiperspirants (by the FDA).

Just remember a little sweat is good for you. It is, after all, your body trying to cool you down to prevent overheating and exhaustion (thermoregulation for all you big-word enthusiasts). It also lets you release toxins and clear you pores to keep your skin all beautiful. Heck, people go to a sauna for the sole purpose of sweating. So, feel free to sweat it out so long as you shower soon after. Please.


One Response to “Antiperspirants. Saving the general public from sweaty teenagers for generations.”

  1. Tate says:

    Truly one of the more unappreciated inventions.