A deodorant for sensitive skin
If your deodorant is causing itchiness or a rash, you may be experiencing what’s called contact dermatitis or a skin reaction to ingredients in your deodorant or antiperspirant. Fortunately, more and more brands are now formulating deodorants without common allergens and irritants.
Most deodorants for sensitive skin are aluminum-free and scented with essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances. If you’re particularly sensitive, you can also find unscented deodorants, such as Vanicream Clinical-Strength Antiperspirant and Deodorant.
What to know before you buy deodorant for sensitive skin
When looking for a deodorant that won’t irritate your sensitive skin, choose one that’s free of one or more of the following ingredients.
Antiperspirants contain aluminum salts, which block odor-causing sweat. Though no studies have shown adverse effects from aluminum deodorants, natural deodorants sold to health-conscious consumers are generally aluminum-free. Some drugstore brands have also caught on to the trend and offer aluminum-free formulas for sensitive skin.
Scent or fragrance is added to most deodorants as a way to mask body odor. However, when “fragrance” is mentioned in a deodorant ingredient list, it can actually be a whole host of chemicals. Most skin allergies caused by antiperspirant and deodorant are a result of synthetic fragrances. Even nontoxic scents, derived from essential oils, can cause skin reactions in very sensitive users, so opt for a fragrance-free deodorant if that applies to you.
To reduce the growth of odor-causing bacteria in the underarm area, alcohol is added to many deodorants and antiperspirants. Alcohol can be stinging and drying to the skin. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, deodorants containing alcohol can cause irritation if applied after hair removal.
Parabens are chemical preservatives that help prolong the shelf life of deodorants and other skincare products by preventing mold and bacteria growth. Parabens, and other preservatives, can trigger skin reactions for some sensitive consumers. Most natural deodorants are paraben-free, but you can also find conventional paraben-free deodorants.
Artificial dyes, added to deodorant to change or enhance its color, may also be a culprit if you experience contact dermatitis from your deodorant or antiperspirant. Choose a deodorant without artificial dyes if you’re still having a reaction to your deodorant that’s free of the above common allergens.
What to look for in a quality deodorant for sensitive skin
Starch or powder
In lieu of aluminum, many natural deodorants for sensitive skin use either starch or powder to absorb underarm wetness and reduce odor. If you’re a heavy sweater, starches like cornstarch or arrowroot powder work best. These plant-based ingredients are also unlikely to cause skin irritation.
Baking soda is also a common ingredient in natural deodorants because it absorbs wetness, neutralizes odor and is nontoxic. However, baking soda can also cause irritation, dryness, redness and rashes because it can raise the pH of your skin to an abnormal level. Switch to a baking soda-free formula if this occurs.
As an alternative to chemical fragrance, many natural deodorants add essential oils such as lavender or tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has the added benefit of being antimicrobial and antibacterial. While essential oils usually don’t irritate sensitive skin, extra-sensitive folks should avoid them altogether.
Another natural ingredient added to some natural deodorants is activated charcoal, which reduces odor. Activated charcoal, which can be derived from coconut shells, is porous and binds to odorous compounds, like bacteria and toxins. Don’t be alarmed if your activated charcoal deodorant is black or gray in color; it shouldn’t stain your clothes.
How much you can expect to spend on deodorant for sensitive skin
Expect to pay between $3-$17 for a deodorant for sensitive skin. For an aluminum-free formula made of natural ingredients, expect to pay between $9-$12.
Deodorant for sensitive skin FAQ
Are there antiperspirants for sensitive skin?
A. Yes. You can find drugstore antiperspirants that contain aluminum salts that “plug” pores so that you sweat less but that don’t contain irritants like fragrance and parabens. These are typically cheaper than natural deodorants for sensitive skin – and are much more effective at absorbing wetness.
I’ve heard there’s a “detox period” when switching to a natural deodorant. Is this true?
A. Yes, when switching to an aluminum-free formula from one containing aluminum, expect to experience an increase in sweat and even odor. Your body needs to release some of the bacteria previously blocked by the aluminum salts. You may also experience itchy armpits or a minor rash. This detox period can last up to four weeks.
What’s the best deodorant for sensitive skin to buy?
Top deodorant for sensitive skin
Vanicream Clinical Strength Antiperspirant and Deodorant
Our take: From a dermatologist-recommended drugstore brand, this nontoxic antiperspirant is free of a whole host of ingredients that could irritate skin.
What we like: Offers strong 24-hour protection while being gentle on the skin. Not only is this deodorant stick free of fragrance, it’s also free of dyes, preservatives, alcohol and formaldehyde.
What we dislike: Has a crumbly consistency. Pricey.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top deodorant for sensitive skin for the money
Almay Clear Gel Antiperspirant and Deodorant
Our take: For just a few bucks, you can save your skin from common irritants found in most antiperspirants.
What we like: Fragrance-free and alcohol-free. Dermatologist-tested. Gel goes on clear and offers antiperspirant protection.
What we dislike: Gel formula can feel sticky.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Schmidt’s Aluminum-Free Natural Deodorant for Men and Women
Our take: A top contender in the natural deodorant field, this Schmidt’s stick is formulated with sensitive skin in mind.
What we like: Baking soda-free and aluminum-free formula. Activated charcoal and geranium oil effectively mask body odor. Very effective, unlike other natural deodorants.
What we dislike: Though the scent is natural, it may be too powerful for some users.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Ana Sanchez writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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