When it comes to odor prevention and protection, many of us find ourselves reaching for the strongest scents we can find. I mean, what’s the point of an unscented deodorant, right?
However, even though some odor-eliminating products are unscented, they still work. But how? Let’s remind ourselves why we develop odor in the first place and then about unscented vs scented deodorants.
Reminder: Why Do We Develop Underarm & Body Odor
Underarm odor, or body odor in general, occurs when the bacteria on our skin react with the sweat, dead skin cells, and other debris on the surface of the skin.
As the bacteria feed off of and break down the substances on the surface of our skin, they produce odors that are unique to each person and often unpleasant.
Types of Deodorants
Now the term deodorant tends to be used interchangeably with the term antiperspirants. However, an antiperspirant is a subclass of deodorant.
- Some deodorants work by blocking the sweat glands (these are considered antiperspirant deodorants).
- Others work by killing bacteria but do not block sweat.
- Both types can either contain fragrance or contain no fragrance at all.
Related Article: Why Armpits Smell Even With Deodorant & Bathing: How to fix
How Unscented Deodorants Work
Good unscented deodorants work by eliminating odor-causing bacteria rather than just masking the odor that they produce.
- Some deodorants do this by containing alcohol, which makes the skin more acidic and unsuitable for sustained bacterial growth.
- Others may have other ingredients that change the pH of the skin to prevent bacteria from surviving on the skin.
- Many will also contain ingredients that absorb excess moisture from the skin like baking soda or cornstarch. These will not prevent sweating but they will keep the skin dry for as long as possible by absorbing sweat.
Related Article – 10 Quick & Easy DIY Natural Remedies For Smelly Armpits
How good are unscented deodorants at preventing odor?
Even though unscented deodorants produce no scent when applied, they do a good job of keeping you protected and odor-free. However, this will vary for different people.
How well certain unscented deodorants work for you will depend on:
- The kind of deodorant it is (antiperspirant or just deodorant)
- How much you sweat and how much odor you produce (some people suffer from medical conditions called hyperhidrosis (excess sweating) and bromhidrosis (excess body odor) that requires intense or clinical strength treatment)
- How long you wait to reapply them
- How well they are made (sadly, not all products are created equal and quality is manufacturer-dependent)
Benefits of Unscented Deodorants
Unscented deodorants have many great benefits which include:
- Especially great for sensitive skin – many people are sensitive or allergic to fragrances. So, having a deodorant that is not only free of added fragrances but also prevents odor is a blessing!
I personally use mostly unscented deodorants because I have very sensitive skin that is easily irritated by strong fragrances.
- You can choose how you smell – some people do not like the scent options that some deodorants and antiperspirants come in. If you use unscented deodorant, you can then use a layer of a scented produced or essential oil that you actually like.
- Will not overpower or conflict with your perfume of choice – if you’re like me and love a good perfume or body mist, then using unscented deodorant will be great. You will smell like your perfume rather than a concoction of confusing scents.
- You will know if your deodorant is actually working – while scented deodorants contain fragrances that mask body odor for as long as possible, unscented ones do not. Therefore, you will quickly learn whether your chosen unscented deodorant is working or whether you need a better one.
Drawbacks of Unscented Deodorants
The only drawback of unscented deodorants is that, depending on how bad your body odor is and how well they do their job, they may not be as effective for you.
However, this depends more on how well they prevent odor in the first place rather than on how well or how long they can mask odors.
If you suffer from excessive sweating or extreme body odor, I recommend seeing a doctor to discuss whether they could be caused by underlying medical conditions.
You may also need to try clinical-strength deodorants, many of which are available in unscented options too!
Are you struggling with being extra sweaty consider using: Sweatblock Wipes- Are They Safe, Benefits, & Side Effects
Related Article – Cornstarch For Smelly & Sweaty Armpits- Benefits & Risks
Unscented Vs Scented Deodorants – Which is Better?
Whether unscented or scented deodorants will be better for you will be based on how effective they are and personal preference.
Whether they are scented or not, a good deodorant will be able to effectively keep odor away for at least 8 hours of regular activity.
If a brand or company promises that its deodorant will be able to prevent body odor for a number of hours under different conditions (heat, exercise, etc), then it should be able to deliver on that promise. If it does, then whether you choose to use an unscented version or a scented version of it will really depend on your skin and personal preference.
Both have the ability to last on your skin. But again, this will depend on how much you sweat or your skin’s pH and composition, as well as how effective the product itself is.
However, if you have very sensitive skin, and/or you are allergic to fragrance additives, unscented deodorants will be better for you. They will contain no fragrances that can irritate your skin or cause a negative reaction.
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Fragrance-free vs Unscented – Differences
When you look at deodorant labels, you may come across two terms that seem to mean the same thing. However, there is a subtle difference that you should be aware of:
Fragrance-free: In order for the EPA to certify a product as fragrance-free, it must not include any perfumes or substances that conceal the aroma of the components or other ingredients. The EPA advises using a fragrance-free product for people who have allergies or other sensitivities.
Unscented: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these products may include chemicals that mask the natural scents of their constituent parts (other ingredients). However, the final deodorant formulation quietly reduces body smells without giving off any aroma.
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Best Unscented Deodorants To Try
1- Vanicream Antiperspirant Fragrance-Free Deodorant
Additionally to being fragrance-free, Vanicream deodorant is also free of any scents, botanical extracts, masking fragrances, dyes, ethanol, and parabens.
I love how effective the stick deodorant is it’s the one that I use. For me it efficiently blocks perspiration, so you don’t have to worry about having sweaty armpits all day. The stick also lasts a while, and an added plus is that it doesn’t leave white stains on clothing.
Or you can click here to read my full review of the Vanicream Deodorant – Is It Effective & Safe To Use
2- Vanicream Aluminum-Free & Fragrance-Free Deodorant
The difference between this deodorant and the above-mentioned Vanicream Antiperspirant Fragrance-Free Deodorant is that this one is aluminum-free and is not an antiperspirant. It will not block sweating but it will prevent odor.
However, like the Vanicream antiperspirant deodorant above, this one doesn’t contain masking fragrance, parabens, or formaldehyde.
It might take you a while to get used to the gel consistency and application, but if you are sensitive or allergic to antiperspirants, then this will be great for you. It is very effective.
Video: Dr. Dray talks about the Vanicream Aluminum-Free & Fragrance-Free Deodorant
3- Native Natural Unscented Deodorant
If you prefer to use natural deodorants, then you will love this one by Native. It is made without aluminum, parabens, phthalates, and talc.
Instead, it uses baking soda, probiotics, coconut oil and Shea butter to absorb sweat and minimize body odor.
While this is unscented, they do use both safe, synthetic, sustainable fragrances (free of phthalates) and natural fragrances to neutralize the scents of the other ingredients so that the product does not produce an aroma when applied to the skin.