It’s Official: Say NO to BO - The Best Deodorants For Sensitive Skin

Did you know, deodorants can cause just as much irritation to your skin as antiperspirants?

By Georgia Gould
Sep 03, 2021

Did you know, deodorants can cause just as much irritation to your skin as antiperspirants? Maybe even more so. This is why we’ve rounded up the most effective, gentle deodorants for sensitive skin. Because having itchy skin under your arms is officially the pits. 

If you hadn’t already heard, our SkinSAFE Shopper’s Choice Awards are back by popular demand. After a summer of strict sunscreen testing for your face, body and your kids, we kicked off a whole new campaign this month, concentrating on some of the most important skincare product categories recommended by our SkinSAFE Trusted Friends for back to school season.

Created along with the incredible skin and health experts at the Mayo Clinic, our SkinSAFE Shoppers’ Choice Award is the first-ever award program designed specifically for everyone with sensitive skin. Sure, there are other bells and whistles awards out there, but the harsh reality is these beauty editors, influencers, and celebrities are often paid by big brands to tell you what you should be buying. Now, where’s the truth in that? 

In contrast, our awards are completely unbiased. The only thing we show favoritism towards is your sensitive skin. Because that’s what’s important. We evaluate every product for over 130 of the common allergens and irritants and if they don’t pass our 100 percent Top Allergen Free test, they don’t get awarded our Seal Of Approval. It’s as simple as that. No hidden fees. No hidden requirements. The products are either good for sensitive skin, or they are not.

We recently brought you six of the best antiperspirants for sensitive skin, all of which passed our strict testing with flying colors. And this week, we’re pleased to report, six deodorants have also received our Seal of Approval. Deodorants and antiperspirants are often spoken about in the same breath, but they’re actually very different products. Close relatives? Yes. But identical twins? Not even close. 

So, what’s the difference? Antiperspirants work hard to inhibit sweat production from the eccrine glands under your arms, thus providing you with protection from both wetness and odor. Because they affect a specific bodily function, antiperspirants are classified as a drug, regulated by the FDA and commonly contain aluminum compounds to get the job done. And if aluminum gives you cause for concern, know this: aluminum is widely considered to be perfectly safe in antiperspirants. In fact, countless studies have failed to prove the link between aluminum compounds found in antiperspirants and other health concerns.

Deodorants, on the other hand, usually do not contain aluminum compounds and are considered a cosmetic rather than a drug. They’re unable to reduce the flow of sweat to the surface of your skin, instead, working to lower your skin’s pH level which prevents bacteria and helps mask odor. Most antiperspirants combine both sweat and odor control, but pure deodorants deodorize only. The proof is in the name, after all.

With all that intel at your disposal, let’s have a look at six deodorants that, hands on hearts, won’t cause grief to your underarm area. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin on your face, the skin under your arms is notoriously sensitive as it’s thin and vulnerable making it susceptible to irritation. It’s also exposed to friction from clothing, irritation from shaving and is a warm, moist environment which bacteria just loves. It really stands no chance if you bombard it with harsh chemicals and irritants on a daily basis, right?

Then don’t. Here are six products to help with that…

1/10

Formulated with just five ingredients, this gel deodorant is very effective while remaining super kind to the skin under your arms. Our main bugbear with classic deodorants is fragrance because it’s the number one cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis in the US and a devil for anyone with sensitive skin. Vanicream Deodorant says no to all fragrances (whether synthetic OR natural), instead concentrating on gentle ingredients that inhibit bacteria growth, deodorize, and condition the skin.

$9.99
2/10

It doesn’t get simpler than this natural, roll-on deodorant which contains just two ingredients: purified water and mineral salts called potassium alum. Potassium alum is a colorless, crystalline salt which cannot be absorbed by the body but works hard to lower your skin’s surface pH level, reducing bacteria and any odors that come along for the ride. Buh-bye BO. It’s also vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and made right here in the US.

$9
3/10

This roll-on comes in five variants, but if you’re looking for a pure and simple deodorant that contains no natural essential oils, this unscented formulation is the one for you. It’s 100 percent natural, which, granted, doesn’t always guarantee a product is safe and friendly for sensitive skin. But in this case, that’s exactly what it means. Natural mineral salts kill bacteria while a natural cotton cellulose helps smooth and condition your skin. Non-staining and with a good 24-hour protection, this truly is a smart choice.

$5.66
4/10

With no water and no fragrance, this stone-like deodorant is packed with pure unadulterated mineral salts. And that’s it. Granted, it may feel weird when you use it for the first time as it’s as solid as they come, but wet it with a little water or use it just post a shower, and you can rest assured the skin under your arms will be completely free of parabens, alcohol, preservatives and every other nasty you can think of. Sidenote: it can also be used on the soles of your feet if you have a certain aroma in that area. Win win.

$33.53
5/10

Crystal created the first mineral salt deodorant over 35 years ago, and it’s still going strong today. It contains pure potassium alum only which creates a thin, protective layer over the surface of your skin to stop odors from forming for up to 24 hours. More good news: it’s not sticky, won’t ruin your favorite LBD with annoying white marks, is completely safe on your skin and keeps you covered, all day long. What’s more, just one stick will last for up to a year. Yes, one whole year.

$27.69
6/10

Natural and DIY deodorants can use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to absorb moisture and kill bacteria. And, don’t get us wrong, it works. However, baking soda has a very high pH and be irritating. The good news is Humble Vegan & Sensitive uses the gentler magnesium hydroxide to do the exact same job. It’s also formulated with fractionated coconut oil, corn starch, and wild-harvested candelilla wax for an effective deodorant that’s extra kind to your skin.

$11.99
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