Even People With Sensitive Skin Sweat

Simple deodorant may not cut it anymore!

By Georgia Gould
Sep 02, 2021

Schools are starting, offices are reopening, and life is slowly getting back to normal. And with busy lives come stress. This also means that a simple deodorant may not cut it anymore!

When children are going back to school and schedules are seriously hotting up, it’s time to take a look at how best to control sweat without causing irritation. This year is unlike any other because 18 months of Covid-19 have affected daily life more than we could have ever imagined. This means that not only is back-to-school season upon us but so is back to work. And, in fact, back to life. It’s time to get seriously busy again.

Hectic schedules can make us break into a sweat at the worst of times, and antiperspirant/deodorants are all well and good if your skin errs on the side of normal. But what about those of you with skin that becomes irritated and dry if you so much as look at a bottle of antiperspirant? More importantly, what about your children who desperately want to keep their sweat under control without an attack of the itchies and burnies?

Sweating is a natural process and nothing to be ashamed of – whatever your age. In fact, it’s a very important bodily function that helps release heat to keep your internal body temperature at a stable 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Sweat has no odor (more on that in a minute) and is made up of 99 percent water, plus a mix of urea, ammonia, lactic acid, and various other components. 

Humans have two types of sweat glands: apocrine and eccrine. Eccrine glands cover pretty much all your body and create a clear, water-like sweat that helps you cool down and easily evaporates from the surface of your skin. This is the harmless sweat that, sure, might make your bangs soggy or your palms a bit clammy, but it doesn’t smell and it rarely hangs around for very long. If you suffer from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), this is usually eccrine sweat.

Apocrine glands, however, are a whole different kind of beast. Situated mostly under your armpits, in your groin and on your scalp, apocrine glands secrete a thicker, fattier sweat into your hair follicles where it can combine with bacteria. And if you have too much bacteria on your skin and/or your clothes, this is when nasty niffs start to appear.

Thankfully, a huge antiperspirant and deodorant industry exist to help us manage sweaty pits. But still, it’s no fun if you have sensitive skin because the majority of these sweat-battling products contain ingredients that may be of concern to you and worse yet, may cause reactions in those with sensitive skin. In fact, studies have shown that deodorants and antiperspirants are major offenders for causing allergies and irritation.

All this is especially challenging if you’re young. We asked a group of SkinSAFE Trusted Friends who have children with sensitive skin about back-to-school time. Among their top concerns were skin irritation, redness, and itchiness. They also said whether it’s “back to school” or “off to school”, they worried about their kids using products that will cause reactions. 

So, what can these kids and teens do to keep sweat and body odor under control without irritating the skin under their arms – which, by the way, is thin, delicate, and extremely prone to allergic reactions? It’s hard enough to be a kid sometimes, and being a sweaty kid can be even worse!

Well, as you may have heard by now, we worked with scientists and medical experts from the Mayo Clinic to create the SkinSAFE Shoppers’ Choice Award – the first-ever award program specifically designed to help anyone with sensitive skin find the best of the best in products by category. After studying sunscreens at the start of the summer, we figured now was the perfect time to concentrate on skincare products for our children as they head back to school. And, of course, adults get the added benefits of all this intel at the same time. Which is always handy!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be covering products for acne, facial cleansers and those all-important hand sanitizers. But first up it’s the turn of antiperspirant/deodorants. Not regular deodorants – they’re also coming soon – but antiperspirant/deodorants because sometimes you just don’t want to show your sweat. What’s the difference? Well, deodorants help reduce bacteria and mask the odor, while antiperspirant/deodorants have the added benefit of being able to block sweat glands, therefore reducing how much sweat your body produces. Antiperspirant/deodorants are also classified as over-the-counter drugs and therefore regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This latter point is key since the ingredients are well studied and researched and products that have to meet rigorous regulatory requirements to even be on the market.

We looked at 100’s of products in this category and the following are the cream of the crop. Every one has been evaluated for over 130 of the most common allergens and irritants and proven to meet our SkinSAFE 100% criteria. This means you and your children can rest assured you’re doing everything you can to care for that often frustrating underarm area – while still managing to keep dry and fresh at the same time. If your back-to-school candidate suffers from excessive sweating, professionals recommend that you try a roll-on or liquid/cream formula and apply it at night. It might be a little inconvenient at first, but this maximizes the benefits and prevents the antiperspirant/deodorant from rubbing off or sweating off quickly.


Below are the top SkinSAFE Shoppers’ Choice antiperspirant/deodorants awardees. Congratulations winners!


One of the most trusted brands for sensitive skin, Vanicream gets it right yet again with this solid stick antiperspirant deodorant. Neither synthetic fragrances nor essential oils have been added making it a must-try for anyone who experiences underarm flare-ups from anything that smells ‘nice.’ It also helps keeps your skin dry for up to 24 hours without drying out your skin (don’t ask us how, it’s chemistry) and it’s free of talc, ethanol, gluten and baking soda. Gold stars all round.


This roll-on packs a real punch but still manages to stay kind to the skin. It contains 12 percent aluminum chloride which is the number one doctor-recommended active ingredient for sweat. That might sound scary, but for an antiperspirant to be an antiperspirant it often has to contain some kind of aluminum compound. This helps plug your pores and reduce sweat. We really put this product through its paces for sensitive skin…  and we’re pleased to report it passed with flying colors. It’s also one of the most recommended by Dermatologists for those with excessive sweating, even hyperhidrosis.


There’s nothing worse than an underarm product that stings, leaves white marks on your clothes and takes forever to dry. Good news: DERMAdoctor Total Nonscents (extra marks for the clever name!) does none of those things. In fact, this creamy formulation works hard to gently reduce sweat and odor while also brightening and evening out the appearance of the skin under your arms. And all this without a whole bunch of fragrances and irritating chemicals like parabens, soy, propylene glycol and dyes.


Easy on your wallet and even kinder to the skin, Speed Stick Power, yes it’s Speed Stick, is hypoallergenic and offers a good 24 hours of odor and sweat protection. Although it’s marketed as a men’s product, this particular unscented variant has proven to be a favorite among all SkinSAFE shoppers, even teenage girls! It contains an optimal percentage of aluminum compounds (16 percent to be exact) and proved to be one of the hardest-working antiperspirants to receive our exclusive award.


If 24-hour protection isn’t quite hitting the mark for you, try Secret Derma+ which has a good 48 hours’ worth of sweat and odor protection up its sleeve – minus the irritation. The lightweight gel formulation contains none of the common preservatives, fragrances and parabens often associated with antiperspirants, but instead helps condition and moisturize the skin under your arms with nourishing ingredients like aloe and provitamin B5. The gel formula also dries a bit quicker and is great for those with active lifestyles. Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t. It truly works.


Roll-ons often make your eyes water and your armpits sting – especially after shaving – but this Avon classic roll-on is a far cry from those drying, astringent formulations from yesteryear. It’s long-lasting, non-irritating and free of perfumes, fragrances and many other nasties sensitive skin traditionally hates. Of course, as with most roll-ons, you need to give it a minute or so to dry after applying, but that’s a given. And the protection it offers is well worth the (very small) wait. Thanks Avon!

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