How Does Deodorant Work

Deodorants are classified as cosmetics. It might be due to where they are shelved in stores, or more appropriately for what they do. Conventional deodorants cosmetically mask the underarm odor. If there is an antiperspirant added, it does it by stopping sweat.

In lieu of an antiperspirant, deodorant primarily functions to remove the cause of the odor, bacteria. Here are a series of steps, including ingredients and their purpose, explaining how does deodorant work.

Step 1 – The Ingredients

Most deodorants have a series of chemical ingredients responsible for explaining how does deodorant work. Some are focused on killing the cause of underarm odor, bacteria. While sweat is what is commonly deemed responsible for underarm odor, it’s actually the bacteria. Most commercial deodorants contain certain ingredients that work collectively to reduce or eliminate underarm odor. They are purified water, Guar gum, vegetable glycerin and glycerol stearate. These ingredients work to fight the cause of odor.

To help mask the odor itself and keep you smelling fresh, there are other components. These smell-good ingredients include patchouli, sandalwood oil, lavender oil and other types of essential oils that have a pleasant aroma. There is another strong ingredient in many commercial products that’s responsible for explaining how does deodorant work. Alcohol is added to basically destroy the bacteria. This combination of ingredients works as a collective unit to help reduce and eliminate the smell that comes from your underarms.

Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant: Difference, Benefits & Tips to Apply

1. Purified Water

Purified water actively works to absorb everything that it comes into contact with. Primarily, it absorbs carbon dioxide, changing it to an acidic compound. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies purified water as virtually free of all minerals. Its function as an ingredient attributed to does how deodorant work is to dissolve substances, especially dead skin.

2. Guar Gum

Guaran, or guar gum, is polysaccharide taken from guar beans. As an ingredient in clarifying how does deodorant work, it really doesn’t have a job in masking or preventing odor. What guar gum does is thicken all the other chemicals together into a solid gel or stick form. Consequently, without guar gum, deodorant would be a liquid.

3. Vegetable Glycerin

Most of the ingredients in deodorant would harden up and be nearly impossible to apply. Even the purified water would lose its efficiency. To keep things moist, deodorant contains vegetable glycerin, a healthy source of moisture. The ingredient is so important to the moisturizing aspect of deodorant; it is an ingredient in homemade deodorant recipes.

4. Glyceryl Stearate

When determining how does deodorant work, another ingredient that focuses on the moisturizing aspects is glyceryl stearate. Glyceryl stearate is found in a variety of cosmetic supplies. Moreover, its wax-like quality helps the deodorant stay in place as it moisturizes the skin at the same time.

5. Patchouli

Patchouli is the first of the essential oil ingredients in deodorant. The way patchouli helps your deodorant do its job is twofold. One, it prevents your skin from drying out. This helps to reduce the number of dead skin flakes under your arms. Remember, body odor doesn’t really come from sweat.

The odor comes from what sweat does to dead skin cells and the4 bacteria they contain. By helping to improve the elasticity of your underarms, patchouli is an important part of how deodorant works. It also has a very mild fragrance that helps it mask the odor. Finally, these two combinations make patchouli an important ingredient in deodorant.

6. Sandalwood Essential Oil

The next ingredient that works a vital role in how deodorant works is Sandalwood oil. While it is used extensively as spiritual ritual oil, its importance to deodorant is as a mild perfume to help eliminate body odor. Sandalwood oil is an ingredient in skin creams as well.

As part of deodorant, sandalwood oil has a fragrant quality that blends with sweat molecules. The reason you don’t smell a heavy sandalwood aroma is the limited amount in deodorant almost instantly absorbs the bacteria from sweat and neutralizes the smell.

7. Lavender

The final ingredient that works in deodorant is lavender. Some deodorants will use various essential oils to help deodorize your underarms, but lavender is the most common. It is also the most efficient.

Unlike some oils, lavender also has medicinal properties as well as a mild fragrance. Combined with patchouli, it helps prevent dry, flaky skin under your arms. Lavender is also one of the more common ingredients in homemade deodorant recipes.

Step 2 – How Does it Work?

There are literally millions of tiny bacteria in your underarms. Your body secretes proteins and fatty substances when you sweat. This mixture of salty moisture, fats, and proteins create a chemical reaction. Consequently, the byproduct smells a little like rotten onions.

You deodorant uses these ingredients, plus alcohol in some brands to essentially kill the bacteria. Since bacteria are the root cause of the odor, that is the chief objective of wearing deodorant.

If you produce copious amounts of perspiration, you may need to add a deodorant-antiperspirant combination to reduce the amount of the chemical secretion. In fact, antiperspirants use aluminum salts to actually plug up the sweat glands.

This is not a recommended way to deodorize your underarms, especially if you are very active. Consequently, the problem is that your underarms trap heat. When you stop them from producing their natural cooling mechanism, sweat, you can do more harm than good.

So, each of the ingredients in a stick of deodorant has a job. Some are to wash away bacteria, while others help keep you underarm moisturized and free of dead skin. The collective objective of each ingredient is to reduce or alter the smell of bacteria and keep you smelling fresh all day.


Finally, to combat the cause of underarm odor, the deodorant must contain the right ingredients. The human underarm has a high concentration of sweat glands and bacteria. These ingredients work as a unit to both prevent the buildup of bacteria and also neutralize the bad odor that it does have. If you’ve used products with different ingredients, or make your own homemade deodorants, let us hear about these.

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