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How do I Choose the Best Women's Deodorant?

B. Miller
B. Miller

In actuality, there is not much difference between men's and women's deodorant aside from fragrance and packaging differences. The active ingredients in each are the same, and both can be equally effective. To choose the best women's deodorant, then, consider the type of fragrance you want, as well as if you want an all natural deodorant, or prefer a standard deodorant and antiperspirant.

Though the terms are often used interchangeably, deodorant and antiperspirant are two different things. Deodorant helps to keep bacteria from forming on the skin, which can lead to odor, but does not prevent perspiration. Antiperspirant, on the other hand, actually plugs the sweat glands to prevent odor and perspiration. Generally, deodorant and antiperspirant are sold as a combination; this is the most common type of deodorant product that is found in stores.

Aerosol deodorant is stored in cans.
Aerosol deodorant is stored in cans.

The most common active ingredients in standard women's deodorant and antiperspirant are aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium chlorohydrate. These ingredients plug the sweat glands and prevent perspiration and odor. When choosing women's deodorant, the deodorant with the highest concentration of this active ingredient will be most effective at preventing sweating. Some clinical strength deodorants are now available without a prescription; these have high concentrations of these ingredients. Some experts recommend that this type of deodorant should be applied at night, giving it ample time to soak in; it may then be reapplied after a morning shower if necessary.

Roll-on deodorant.
Roll-on deodorant.

All natural or crystal women's deodorant does not contain either of these ingredients, and does not function as an antiperspirant. Instead, it uses natural ingredients to form a barrier on the skin, which then prevents bacteria from growing; the bacteria is what causes body odor. Some of the common ingredients used in natural deodorants include zinc ricinoleate and ammonium alum. Some people prefer to use natural or crystal deodorant because of concerns about the safety of the antiperspirant ingredients; further study on this subject is needed.

Some women's deodorants plug the sweat glands in order to prevent perspiration and odor.
Some women's deodorants plug the sweat glands in order to prevent perspiration and odor.

The type of deodorant you choose depends on your personal preferences, and whether or not you want an antiperspirant ingredient as part of your deodorant as well. People with sensitive skin should choose a deodorant that is fragrance-free. In addition, it is not absolutely necessary to stick with women's deodorant, if you prefer the scent of men's deodorant or find it to be more effective. Deodorant for teens will generally not be effective enough for adults, because it contains lower concentrations of active ingredients.

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Discussion Comments


I use Tori's Deodorant. It's only for women, I think, but it actually is awesome. It doesn't have aluminum or parabens and so far it's the only "natural" deodorant that has worked for me. I used to use Tom's, but not anymore. Hope this helps someone of my fellow geeks!


@Robbie21: I only use deodorant because antiperspirant clogs my sweat glands (as it is "supposed" to), and they then get infected (not supposed to).

I had not put two and two together until a business trip where I had to buy a replacement, got antiperspirant, and my pits had two or three infected glands by day three. Nothing like teaching with three golf balls in your armpits! I've been lucky. The infections clear up in a week or so, but I had a friend who had an infected gland for so long, she had to have it surgically removed. I'll stick with the stuff that doesn't trap waste in my body that it is trying to expel. --Geordi


I have to use a prescription deodorant/antiperspirant. I sweat excessively, and this product is the only one that can help me hide that fact.

I went through several of the strongest deodorants available over the counter before heading to my doctor for help. Some of the scents masked the odor better than others, but none of them could hide the dark, wet areas appearing on my shirts after a few hours of working.

My doctor did tell me to put in on after I showered. Since I shower at night, I needed to reapply it in the morning. I would clean my underarms when I got up with a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol. After patting them dry, I could reapply without making the deodorant clump.


I think that human sweat glands must change over time, because deodorants that worked great for me a few years ago now don’t work at all. I have found a kind that works for right now, but in a few years, who knows if it will still be effective?

After years of using a powerful deodorant/antiperspirant, I began breaking out on my underarms. If I shaved and then applied the deodorant, my skin would burn, and little red bumps would surface. They caused discomfort when I put my arms down, and they often itched.

I decided to try switching to a deodorant formulated for sensitive skin. It actually is supposed to help improve your skin’s appearance after shaving. It worked for me, and now, it is the only kind that will not make me break out. It controls sweating and odor, plus it has a great scent. I will continue using it until my skin decides to change its mind.


I had a lot of trouble finding an effective deodorant and antiperspirant as a teenager. After reading this article, I see that my problem probably was due to the lack of effective ingredients. I used a product made especially for teens. While the island scent was great, I could still smell the sweat coming through.

I got so desperate that I tried my dad’s deodorant before going to a skating party. Unfortunately, it was cologne deodorant. I had to skate past all my friends smelling like a man the whole time. The powerful scent would not leave my nostrils, and I know everyone noticed it.


I once tried using a crystal deodorant. It prevented odor wonderfully. However, it did nothing to prevent sweat from showing up on my clothing. This embarrassing situation led me to buy a combination antiperspirant and deodorant.

I’m glad the sweat spots did not smell bad. They were very apparent on my silky blouse at work.

I had to give a presentation on the day I first tried the crystal deodorant, and I was very self-conscious. I kept my arms as close to my sides as possible, but I know the others probably could tell what was going on. I will use the combo every day for the rest of my life.


@poppyseed – Hey, don’t feel bad! I’ve got the same problem. I think at some point your body just becomes resistant to a certain kind is all.

So, when I notice that my underarms are getting a little smelly a little too quickly, I just go ahead and change kinds. No big thing, right.

But I do have a solution for you in terms of throwing out your old deodorant. I have found that just because Dove isn’t working for me right now, doesn't mean it won't three months down the road.

So, if my Dove quits working, I go to my cabinet and pull our Suave and use it for a while instead. When it quits working I try the Dove again. So basically I end up swapping back and forth between like three different brands.

I know some folks are totally partial to one brand or another, but this is the best solution I’ve been able to come up with for our particular problem.


I have the oddest problem with my deodorant, and I’m kind of wondering if I am the only one out there who has this issue.

To me, deodorant is just second nature. It is incredibly important for the simple fact that I hate to feel like I could possibly stink even if I don’t.

The thing is, though, that I have to keep switching deodorants around. Every few months, it seems like my antiperspirant just stops working, and by midday I can smell myself a plenty.

Now, I work from home so it’s not like I’m out in the sun picking the fields or some such. There is no reason in the world my deodorant ought to fail halfway through the day.

So, I go and choose a different kind and it solves the problem for a little while. I’m tired of all of the stacked up deodorant in my cabinet, but don’t really want to throw it away either!

That just seems so wasteful!


There are a lot of people that still believe that the aluminum-based compounds used in women's deodorant can cause things like breast cancer. Apparently the idea is that the chemicals enter the tissue through small cuts made while shaving, which is quite dangerous.

It is speculated that the aluminum-based compounds also get absorbed by the skin and cause adverse hormonal effects which cause cancer cells to grow more quickly. To be fair, this idea hasn't been proven conclusively, but there is enough evidence out there that makes me feel safer using a more natural deodorant. I'd hate to get cancer just because I didn't want to switch brands.


When you are choosing a deodorant I think it is a good idea to get a few of those mini travel ones in different brands and try them out. For myself I found I had different reactions to the various deodorants I tried. Some deodorants have dried out my skin, while others just didn't work very well.

It actually took me a few weeks of trial and error before I found a deodorant I really liked. Once I did find one, I pretty much decided to stick with it and not switch again unless the company decided to go change the formula or something.

Also, as a note, if you can't find a travel size of a deodorant you would like to try, write to the company and ask for a trial size. I did that and got free loot.


@robbie21 - I switched from antiperspirant to natural deodorant because of antiperspirant stains. It's not really sweat that stains your underarms, it's the antiperspirant. Once I switched, my clothes, especially knit tops, started to last much longer.

I do notice, though, that natural deodorant doesn't have the same staying power. It's totally adequate for a day at the office, but if I'm going to be outside much, I wear antiperspirant because otherwise I find that by the mid to late afternoon, I'm getting a bit sour.


I thought the concern about antiperspirant was that the aluminum could cause Alzheimer's, but I think that's been debunked. (My mom has a nice set of aluminum pans that someone gave her in the 1970s, presumably because they were concerned about the aluminum in the pants.) Is there any other reason why someone would choose deodorant vs. antiperspirant?

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    • Aerosol deodorant is stored in cans.
      By: difught
      Aerosol deodorant is stored in cans.
    • Roll-on deodorant.
      By: Dmitry Vereshchagin
      Roll-on deodorant.
    • Some women's deodorants plug the sweat glands in order to prevent perspiration and odor.
      By: Jason Stitt
      Some women's deodorants plug the sweat glands in order to prevent perspiration and odor.
    • Deodorant is not designed to prevent perspiration.
      By: vladimirfloyd
      Deodorant is not designed to prevent perspiration.
    • Deodorant keeps bacteria from forming on the skin.
      By: studiovespa
      Deodorant keeps bacteria from forming on the skin.
    • Baking soda may be used as a natural deodorant.
      By: florinoprea
      Baking soda may be used as a natural deodorant.
    • Women's deodorant is rarely strong enough to prevent body odors in men.
      By: HamsterMan
      Women's deodorant is rarely strong enough to prevent body odors in men.