What Is Antibacterial Deodorant And Is It Right For You?

Applying deodorant every time you exit the shower or leave the house may be so automatic at this point that you don't even think about how exactly the product keeps your underarms smelling fresh until the next application. The truth is that there are different types of deodorants on the market nowadays and they work in different ways.

In order to understand how deodorant works, it's first necessary to understand how underarm body odor comes to be. In a nutshell, we all have bacteria that live on our skin and break down the sweat that is emitted from our sweat glands, states Healthline. While the sweat itself doesn't have an odor, the bacteria does end up releasing that classic armpit odor as it chows down on the sweat.

Nowadays, there are two primary products sold that keep underarm odor at bay: deodorant and antiperspirant, explains Healthline. The former works in two ways. First, it contains perfumes that mask body odor, and second, it's formulated with compounds that are designed to acidify the skin under your arms and prevent bacteria from multiplying, in turn, reducing the amount of odor that is released. Antiperspirants, on the other hand, work by blocking your sweat pores. In other words, when you sweat less, the bacteria doesn't have a chance to break down that sweat and create a stinky odor in the process. You might have also heard of antibacterial deodorant. But what exactly is it and should you be using it?

All deodorant is antibacterial

While some deodorants may claim they're antibacterial, the truth is that most of the time it's best to look at the ingredients with which they are formulated. "Modern deodorants act a bit like a nuclear bomb in our underarms, inhibiting or killing many of the bacteria present in order to prevent BO," Dr. Gavin Thomas, a professor from the University of York, explained to BBC News. They do this with either an alcohol-based component or a specific antimicrobial ingredient (Chem Service). 

In fact, many deodorants contain an ingredient known as triclosan, which is designed to kill bacteria, making it a popular antibacterial agent in cosmetics and personal care products. Some deodorants will also contain an alcohol, such as ethanol, which Healthline explains also works effectively to kill microbes living on the skin's surface.

However, the best way to control armpit odor is by using a combination of deodorant and antiperspirant (per Sweat Block). This will give you the bacteria-killing power of deodorant with the sweat-blocking effect of antiperspirant to drastically reduce the number of bacteria releasing their stench from your armpits. You can either buy each product separately or look for brands that combine them into one. It's also important to ensure your skin is dry when you apply your deodorant for longer-lasting effects, as well as reapply during the middle of the day if need be.