Deodorants: Does A Clinical Strength Antiperspirant Really Work The Best?

deodorant-on-lockdown-at-walgreens-by-misskoco.jpg I just found something interesting with regard to “maximum strength” ingredients in anti-perspirants.

Yes, much like my recent experiment with dry skin body lotions and body washes, I decided to research deodorants and anti-perspirants. I was eager to explore some of the newer formulations, in hopes of finding one I really liked… finally.

For the most part, I’ve been a loyal Secret Invisible Solid user (or whatever their “best” formulation was before that one came out). However, I’ll try anything new that hits the store shelves, hoping that it will one-up the Secret. It’s very good, but not great, in my opinion. And a great deodorant/anti-perspirant is imperative to enjoying your day to day life. Take it from a girl who oh-so-obviously sweated through the armpits of her brand new business suit during an interview one time. (But I still got the job.)

Upon closer inspection of the labels on anti-perspirants on store shelves, I found that the ones I was most interested in have very high amounts of Aluminum Zirconium (or technically, Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex Gly).

Here’s the most surprising thing… (No, it’s not what you’re probably thinking… aluminum neurotoxicity.)


Clinical Strength?

The “regular” Secret (Invisible Solid) contained 19% of Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex Gly, whereas the “clinical strength” Secret (and other brands like Dove Clinical Strength, for that matter) contain 20% — which is the maximum amount available in an over-the-counter antiperspirant.

Yet the “regular” formulations were half the price (or more!) of the “clinical strength” formulations!

I believe this is partly due to the fact that most of the “regular” antiperspirants and “regular” deodorants were on sale at these particular stores (Target & Walmart). Whereas, the “clinical strength” antiperspirants and “clinical strength” deodorants are still relatively new and less likely to be on sale at this point.


But, if you ask me, that huge price difference for relatively little difference in the active ingredient simply comes down to one thing: pure marketing.

I’m no expert, but I’m guessing there can’t be that much of a difference between the 19% “regular” Secret and the 20% “clinical strength” Secret. Not to warrant that much of a price hike, right?

Here are the amounts of Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex Gly in some popular anti-perspirants on the store shelf yesterday:

  • Secret Clinical Strength – 20% (I tried it as a free trial size recently, and I didn’t notice any difference between this one and “regular” Secret)
  • Dove Ultimate Clear – 14.8% (an older formulation that I just happened to still have in my bathroom cabinet)


Certain Dri Anti-Perspirant

I can’t help it, certain-dri-anti-perspirant.jpg I sweat a lot. So I’ve tried almost every type of deodorant and anti-perspirant that’s ever come out — including Certain Dri.

Certain Dri is a bit different. It contains 12% Aluminum Chloride, which is the same active ingredient in prescription-strength antiperspirants. The only difference is “prescription antiperspirants contain 20-25% aluminum chloride in an alcohol solution, which may cause stinging and drying of the skin.”

I started using Certain Dri many many years ago when it first debuted on QVC (back when QVC used to be the first place to get “new” products). I liked it so much, I stocked up way back then. And, to this day, I still have a couple of never-opened boxes of Certain Dri. Yeah, I know. Time to toss ’em, because anti-perspirant doesn’t have that good of a shelf life.

Interesting side note: Two of the Dove Ultimate Clear bottles I found in my cabinet today have an expiration date of 2151!!! No kidding. The Secret Invisible Solid I purchased yesterday have an expiration date of 2010. I guess the shelf life varies with deodorants and anti-perspirants. (The more Aluminum Zirconium, the shorter the shelf life?)

The fact of the matter is I’ve always liked how the Certain Dri does an amazing job of lessening how much I actually sweat. The only downside: it does nothing to stop any odor. So I stopped using it.

Today, they sell an additional product specifically for odors: Certain Dri Underarm Refresher. Or, you could just use your own deodorant (or a low-dose anti-perspirant) to ward off any perspiration odor.

And, if you commonly have sweaty feet… they even make a similar product for feet! It’s called Certain Dri Feet!


Insider Scoop About Certain Dri

Certain Dri works best when you use it for several nights in a row. It effectively closes off your pores, making sweating less likely.

From the package instructions inside the Certain Dri box:

Q: What is an anti-perspirant?
A: A true anti-perspirant should shrink and close off underarm pores to inhibit the flow of perspiration. The more effective the formulation, the more effective and longer lasting will be the anti-perspirant relief.

Q: Is it safe to close off underarm pores?
A: Yes. Both underarms represent an area of only about 6 to 8 square inches. Nature simply and safely redistributes the perspiration around to the other 2,700+/- square inches of the body’s skin surface.

Here’s a great review of Certain Dri vs Secret Clinical Strength. I agree with her findings, based on my own side-by-side (or would that be underarm-by-underarm?) comparison of the same two anti-perspirants. (And nearly 200 more reviews here.)

secret-invisible-solid-anti-perspirant.jpgCertain Dri on occasion (a couple nights a week, for longterm wetness protection), and Secret Invisible Solid (for daily odor control).

Anyone got any thoughts on this topic?

By the way, I’ve considered the aluminum levels in anti-perspirants, and a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to stay dry and fresh-smelling. So products like Tom’s of Maine deodorant are out, as they’re completely ineffective on someone like me.

Geesh… I cannot believe some of the things I talk about on this website and the deep, dark inner secrets I divulge about myself! Hopefully someone can benefit from this information.


Lynnette Walczak

Lynnette Walczak

I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money -- so I frequently write about "outside the box" ideas that most wouldn't think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed several years until switching gears to pursue things I was more passionate about. I've worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo -- to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun websites).

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  • None

    thank you so much. I sweat alot too and so far nothing has worked. I am defintly going to try Certain Dri

  • Clint

    Clinical strength deodorants aren’t “clinically strengthened” instead they use a different applicator. The same applicator that used to cost the same amount of money as the solid stick applicator that still exists today. It’s the one with the dial at the bottom that pushes a softer form of the product up through a mesh-like plastic top. Degree used to offer both versions for the same price. The softer product I found worked much better and I started using it. I stuck with it for a number of years then suddenly it was taken off the market. The very next month that supplies dried up clinical strength Degree was launched. I too noticed the marginal difference in active ingredient percentages. I opened and $8 box to see where the magic was…again, in the applicator, not the product itself. Apparently someone at Degree realized the same thing I had realized years previously and decided to come up with a scam of a campaign to charge double for what the same product they had been selling for years. Fact is this applicator does work better in comparison to the solid stick.

    • FunTimesGuide

      Good points, Clint!

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