How Does Deodorant Work? Why You Should Want to Know?

You’re going about your day, but then a bad realization hits you: you forgot to put on deodorant this morning. We’ve all been in situations where we’re reminded of just how important this single product can be. But how do deodorants work in the first place? And with thousands of competing products available, how can you choose the right one? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Deodorant, Exactly?

A deodorant is any product designed to eliminate odors and help you smell good throughout your day. Unlike perfumes and colognes, though, deodorant contains ingredients that make your skin less attractive to bacteria.

Most deodorants come in a stick formula meant to be rolled onto the skin, but others come in spray and powder forms. There’s no shortage of options on the market, so understanding the differences between products is helpful.

How Deodorant Works

We know deodorant helps keep our more fragrant body parts fresh, but what does deodorant do to make this a reality? Most formulas contain some kind of alcohol to make the surface of your skin more acidic. 

Bacteria don’t thrive in these conditions, so they won’t be drawn to sweaty spots like your underarms. It’s bacteria that actually cause the stink we associate with sweat, so keeping them at bay helps your body smell and feel fresh. 

How does antiperspirant work?

While the two are often combined, antiperspirants and deodorants are different products with a key difference. Antiperspirants aim to lessen sweat by blocking the pores that release it. These products use aluminum to create a plug that keeps sweat from escaping, thus helping areas of skin stay dry. They also can pull sweat back into your sweat glands, which signals to your body that your glands are full. 

Both of these mechanisms work to essentially stop your body from sweating. But antiperspirants often still need to be combined with a deodorant to freshen things up and discourage bacterial growth.

What About Aluminum-Free Deodorant?

Not everyone can use aluminum-containing products, and not everyone wants to. That’s where aluminum-free deodorant steps in. Most deodorants are, by definition, aluminum-free; they don’t aim to clog pores like antiperspirants do. But because many deodorant formulas are also antiperspirants, it can be difficult to find options without aluminum. 

Why is aluminum in deodorant?

Why is it that aluminum salts are used in deodorants and antiperspirants and not some other compound? Put simply: aluminum salts are tiny particles that block sweat better than larger particles can. One study demonstrated that aluminum particles actually make sweat proteins clump together, effectively forming a block that keeps the pore from releasing more. 

Pros and Cons of Aluminum-Free Deodorant

There’s been a lot of concern and buzz around aluminum in deodorant – many critics argue that it increases the risk of breast cancer, lingers in breast tissue, or causes hormonal changes. But experts say no clear evidence shows that aluminum-containing products increase cancer risk.

However, one recent study found that too much aluminum in the body can impact how estrogen, a female sex hormone, is produced. Right now, it seems like most healthy people can use antiperspirants and aluminum-containing products safely. Still, more research is needed to explore the long-term effects of aluminum on the body.

So, whether or not aluminum-free deodorant is right for you ultimately comes down to your preferences. It’s possible to stay odor-free without using aluminum, but you won’t get the same level of sweat blockage you would from an antiperspirant. 

Aluminum-Free Deodorant
  • Kills odors without clogging pores
  • No potential health risks
  • Friendlier to the environment
  • Allows your body to sweat as intended
  • Doesn’t prevent sweating
  • May not work for excessive sweating
  • May need to be reapplied more often due to sweat

Antiperspirants may take the cake when it comes to eliminating sweat, but who’s to say that sweating is bad? Clogged pores may cause irritation, and antiperspirants are known to cause cysts under the arms by creating deep blockages. 

Sweat can, of course, be unpleasant to deal with, but most of its downsides are related to its smell. When you cut the odors out of the equation, allowing your body to sweat how it’s meant to can be great for your skin.

That’s why OffCourt’s Performance Body Spray is formulated with skin-friendly ingredients that allow your pores to breathe. Our 2-in-1 deodorant fragrance shows that aluminum-free deodorant can truly be just as powerful as other options. 

Performance Body Spray - Trio Pack


As odor-controlling ingredients cleanse your skin and trap bad smells at their source, prebiotic ingredients work to support the growth of good bacteria. This helps keep odor-causing bacteria in check (sorry, no vacancy here!). 

With all-day-lasting power, our Performance Body Spray is the best aluminum-free deodorant for athletes and people on the go. Instead of asking, “Why aluminum-free deodorant?” we challenge you to ask, “Why not?” 

How to Select the Best Deodorant for Your Lifestyle

If you’re healthy, you can safely use just about any deodorant or antiperspirant you want. But people with kidney conditions should steer clear of aluminum-containing products, as they may heighten the risk of some health complications. 

Beyond this and other health concerns, you can choose the best deodorant by considering your lifestyle. Are you active? Sedentary? Do you have any skin allergies or sensitivities? Do you want a product you can pair with a cologne or perfume?

If you’re on the hunt for products without aluminum and aren’t sure what deodorant is aluminum-free, check for ingredients like:

  • Aluminum chlorohydrate
  • Aluminum salts
  • Aluminum compounds

If you see any of these or similar names on your product label, it’s not aluminum-free. The word “antiperspirant” is also a good sign that it’s not the product for you.

For those who live active lifestyles, sweat is part of life. But bad smells don’t have to be. At OffCourt, we make it easy to select the personal care products that work for you. Try our Performance Body Spray Trio to test out multiple fragrances and find the scent that speaks to you. Because feeling and smelling amazing shouldn’t have to be a luxury – it should be something you can do every day. 

Final Thoughts

Not all deodorants and antiperspirants are made equally; they have different purposes and ingredients. Being an informed consumer will help you shop smart and find the products that fit your lifestyle with ease. 

At OffCourt, we create unisex and carefully-designed formulas that work with sweat, not against it. We believe in smelling great without combatting our body’s natural processes. Shop our full inventory to find more options that will help you stay fresh as you move.

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