Deodorants FAQ

Questions About Deodorants?

Find the answers to your frequently asked questions here.

1. What is the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant? 

Deodorants fight bacteria which are responsible for the generation of body odour. They contain deodorizing actives which prevent bacterial growth or even reduce the number of bacteria in the axilla. 
Antiperspirants contain antiperspirant actives – usually aluminum salts, which reduce the release of sweat from the sweat glands as they form temporary gel plugs in the most upper parts of the sweat pores. These plugs are removed over time by mechanical action and the natural skin renewal process. Antiperspirants also have a deodorizing effect as they inhibit bacterial growth due to a lower pH and the reduction of moisture in the axilla. 


2. Why do the NIVEA antiperspirants contain aluminum salts (e.g. ACH)? 

Many people wish to have a sweat reduction in addition to the odour fighting effect of a deodorant in order to prevent sweat stains on clothes. All effective antiperspirants contain aluminum salts (e.g. aluminum chlorohydrate). These salts form temporary gel plugs at the most upper part of the sweat pores. Thus, less sweat is released.  Through friction and the natural skin renewing process these plugs are removed over time. 
Aluminum salts have been safely used in antiperspirants for more than a century. In general, ingredients used in cosmetics are strictly regulated by the European Cosmetics Directive and are subject to rigid safety controls and scientific analyses at both European and national level. 


3. Why do we perspire? 

There are several factors which cause us to sweat. An increased body temperature due to physical activity and/or a high temperature can cause your whole body to sweat. This kind of sweating takes place in order to regulate the body temperature by evaporative heat loss. The sweat is released by the so called eccrine sweat glands and contains mainly water and salts. 
You can also sweat due to emotional or psychological stress. In this case you mainly sweat in your armpit , on soles, palms and forehead. This type of sweat is not only produced by the eccrine sweat glands but also by apocrine sweat glands. Apocrine sweat consists of lipids and proteins, which are  metabolized by skin bacteria and thus cause the characteristic body odour.  Stress-induced sweating  is part of an ancient evolutionary response to threatening situations (the “fight-or-flight” reaction) and plays an important  role in our non-verbal communication. To counteract this particular stress-induced sweating, we have developed the NIVEA Stress Protect Sprays and Roll-ons for women and men. 


4. Is it harmful to inhibit perspiration by the use of antiperspirants? 

The thermoregulation of the body is not affected by the use of antiperspirants. The underarm areas add up to 200 cm2, which is only about 1% of the whole body surface. Therefore this area is much too small to interfere with thermoregulation. The safety of antiperspirants has been proven in many surveys and their use in cosmetic products is approved.


5. Why do we smell? 

Fresh sweat is an odourless fluid. Only when skin bacteria present in the axilla metabolise (e.g. break down) certain components of the sweat, such as lipids and proteins, the malodour evolves. Your armpit has the ideal conditions for skin bacteria to grow due to the moist conditions, the higher pH and the optimal nutrient supply by sweat and sebum glands in this area. 


6. Why do I have to shake my NIVEA antiperspirant or deodorant spray? 

Antiperspirant sprays (e.g. NIVEA DRY Spray) need to be shaken well to ensure that the antiperspirant active powder (aluminum salt) is evenly distributed in the can. Otherwise the product could be sprayed out in a concentrated form and could clog the valve or cause white residues on skin or clothes. Alcohol based NIVEA deodorant sprays (e.g. the NIVEA Fresh range products - Fresh Pure, Fresh Natural, Fresh Flower and Fresh Comfort) do not need to be shaken. 


7. Can the use of deodorants cause yellow stains in textiles?

Yellow staining bases on a complex interaction of skin lipids, sebum, laundry detergent and antiperspirant active. To our experience several factors are involved, e.g. frequency of application, amount of antiperspirant product used, frequency of changing clothes, intensity of washing clothes, individual composition of sweat, content of minerals or trace elements in the tap water and the constitution of the fabric itself. The best way to reduce yellow stains in your clothes is to let the deodorant product dry completely before putting on clothes. 
However, it is important to note that yellow stains may occur also without presence of any antiperspirant ingredients, similar to a yellow stained collar, where  skin lipids together with dirt particles of the air cause persistent stains which cannot be removed easily anymore. In some cases, staining is associated with bleeding of fabric dyes. For anyone who would like to reduce the appearance of yellow marks on clothes the NIVEA Invisible for Black & White products might be interesting. 


8. What can I do to remove yellowish stains? 

Existing yellow stains cannot be removed or reduced by frequent / repeated washing of clothes; sometimes the washing can even solidify  the stains.
In case of stains, rinse your clothes in cold water before washing them with laundry detergent. In many cases we were successful to remove the stains by soaking the clothes in 5 % citric acid  for approximately 24 hours. Very important: Rinse the clothes with clear water before washing them in a normal wash cycle with liquid detergent at 30°C. Still, we can’t guarantee that for all stains and clothes the given procedure will be successful. Be careful with delicate and colorful fabrics and with clothes with buttons of “mother-of-pearl” as the acid solution can damage them. Please test the product prior to the actual use on an unobtrusive spot. 

Warning: Be aware that citric acid is slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant, sensitizer), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion and of inhalation (irritant). Skin contact can produce inflammation and blistering. Tissue damage is dependent on length of contact. For this reason, we highly recommend to wear protective gloves when handling citric acid and to not breathe in citric acid dust 


9. Can the use of deodorants cause white residues on textiles? 

Some deodorants, more precisely antiperspirants, which contain aluminum salts, e.g. aluminum chlorohydrate (ACH), are able to leave white residues on clothes under specific conditions if not applied correctly. When using antiperspirant sprays (e.g. Nivea Deodorant Dry) it is important to shake the product well to ensure that the aluminum chlorohydrate powder is evenly distributed in the can and accordingly on the skin. In order to avoid white residues, all antiperspirant products must be fully absorbed or dried sufficiently on the skin before putting on clothes. Usually white residues on clothes can be removed by brushing.  For anyone who would like to avoid white marks on clothes the NIVEA Invisible for Black & White products might be interesting.


10.  Is my product free of alcohol? 

In fact, chemically the term "alcohol" refers to a broad variety of compounds. They all have in common, that they contain a certain group of atoms in the molecule. Generally or colloquially, however, the term "alcohol" is limited to the substance ethanol (chemical name: ethyl alcohol), which is the drinkable version of alcohol. Any product with the claim “alcohol-free” is free of ethanol , thus free of "alcohol" or "alcohol, denat", though the word alcohol may occur in the ingredient (INCI) list (eg. such as stearyl alcohol). 


11.  How long should I wait to use an aluminium-containing antiperspirant? 

When you shave, a small portion of the outermost layer of skin is removed, but the skin and its barriers are not necessarily damaged. However, small injuries can nevertheless occur. In this case, no aluminum-containing deodorants should be used as long as the skin is irritated or injured. Even if the underarm skin is irritated or injured for other reasons, an antiperspirant should not be used. 


12.  Can the use of deodorants cause coloured stains (e.g. green, brown, red, blue) in textiles? 

The development of colored stains in textiles is similar to yellow staining. The concrete color of stains might be influenced by trace metals in the tap water (e.g. copper, manganese, iron). In some cases the color impressions might also be influenced by fluorescent whitening agents (optical brighteners). Coloured stains on light-coloured clothes might also appear when a coloured piece of clothes worn beneath or above loses dye due to bleeding. This process often occurs if the dyed material is not sweat-proof.

Further Questions?

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The right answer to every deodorant question