The 9 Best Brightening Deodorants of 2023

With picks from Dove, Drunk Elephant, and more

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Best Brightening Deodorants of 2023

Byrdie / Marcus Millan

Summer is quickly approaching, which means we’re trading in our sweaters and jackets for tank tops and bathing suits. But as we get closer to the skin-baring season, many of us scurry to get our skin in tip-top shape. If you deal with darker underarms, you might be struggling to find the best product that can give you an even skin tone. Whether it be topical treatments or over-the-counter exfoliators, there are truly so many on the market to choose from. But, if you’re looking for a product that can lighten and keep your armpits smell-free, a brightening deodorant is the best choice. 

“Brightening deodorants help to reduce odor and improve discoloration,” says dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick. “Some key ingredients that may be found include niacinamide, kojic acid, lactic acid, or glycolic acid [that are] known to gently exfoliate and brighten the skin.” To put it simply, they’re able to multitask, making them the perfect option for brightening pigmentation under the arms.

We conducted hours of research to find the best brightening deodorants on the market, evaluating each pick on their active ingredients to fade hyperpigmentation and keep the underarms fresh. We also considered any extra factors, like scent and lasting power. After consulting dermatologists and considering dozens of options, we landed on these top-rated picks. 

Best Overall

Kosas Chemistry Deodorant

Kosas Chemistry Deodorant


What We Like
  • Stain-free formula

  • Clinically tested to effectively neutralize body odor

  • Hydrating and soothing

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel sticky when first applied

The Kosas Chemistry Deodorant can do it all—kill bacteria that causes body odor, visibly brighten underarm hyperpigmentation, and nourish and soothe irritated skin. Its star ingredients are a blend of AHA’s—shikimic acid, mandelic acid, and lactic acid—that are able to neutralize odor and tone discoloration. The addition of aloe vera and hyaluronic acid in the formula cause the cooling sensation when applied, for skin that feels fresh and clean. It has a serum consistency, and comes in a unique rollerball container for easy application. 

Byrdie writer Melony Forcier is a big fan, loving that the deodorant felt lightweight but kept her odor-free for hours—even after a hot yoga class. She noted that only one swipe was needed to last throughout the day, with no need for reapplication. We also love that it comes in two refreshing scents—but there’s also a fragrance-free option that protects just as well.  

Price at time of publish: $16

Type: Serum | Active Ingredients: Shikimic acid, mandelic acid, lactic acid | Size: 2.4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes 

Best Budget

Dove Even Tone 48-Hour Antiperspirant & Deodorant Stick

Dove Even Tone 48-Hour Antiperspirant & Deodorant Stick


What We Like
  • Long-lasting protection

  • Moisturizes for smooth skin

  • Great scent

What We Don't Like
  • Can leave a white residue

Many of us are already familiar with Dove deodorants, so why not stick to a tried and true favorite for a brightening pick? “Incorporating vitamin B3 [niacinamide], this antiperspirant works to address uneven skin tone in the underarms,” says Dr. Garshick—who personally recommends this formula for toning excess pigmentation. It contains aluminum to block out sweat and odor, as well as hydrating ingredients to soften and smooth the underarm area. Not only can you find this affordable pick at your local drugstore, but it also keeps you sweat and odor free for up to 48 hours—so you don’t have to worry about staying protected throughout the day. 

Price at time of publish: $7

Type: Solid stick | Active Ingredients: Aluminum, niacinamide, sunflower seed oil | Size: 2.6 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes 

Best Scent

Kaia Naturals Brightening Deodorant + Body Balm

Kaia Naturals Brightening Deodorant + Body Balm


What We Like
  • Lovely, naturally-derived scent

  • Can be used all over the body

  • Soothes irritated skin

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel sticky upon application

This clean formula is a great pick if you want a more luxurious scent for your daily deodorant. It has a naturally-derived fragrance of velvet vanilla and pear, that’ll keep you smelling fresh all day. This multi-use deodorant doesn’t just get rid of B.O. however—it also doubles as a body balm that can be used to fade hyperpigmentation all over and prevent chafing. It’s formulated with brightening hard-hitters, like niacinamide, alpha arbutin, and salicylic acid to tone the complexion. And instead of aluminum, it uses a fermented probiotic to control the bacteria that causes odor. With continued use, you’ll notice the darkness under your arms is reduced, and the skin is smoother overall. We also love that despite how powerful its formula is, it won’t irritate sensitive skin types. 

Price at time of publish: $26

Type: Balm | Active Ingredients: Saccharomyces ferment, salicylic acid, niacinamide, alpha arbutin | Size: 2.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes 

Best for Sensitive Skin

Forgotten Skincare The Original Underarm Brightening Deodorant Cream

Forgotten Skincare The Original Underarm Brightening Deodorant Cream

Forgotten Skincare

What We Like
  • Non-irritating formula

  • Treats razor burn

  • Vegan

What We Don't Like
  • Shouldn't be used daily for sensitive skin types

While this deodorant contains brightening components like vitamins C, E, and salicylic acid, it won’t irritate the skin or cause inflammation. That’s due to the addition of ingredients like squalane, glycerin, and aloe, that can soothe and nourish the skin. A cream formula, it’s able to treat hyperpigmentation, as well as razor burn and ingrown hairs. The result is smooth, even-toned underarms that are soft and odor-free. 

Price at time of publish: $44

Type: Cream | Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E | Size: 3.4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes 

Best Deodorant Concealer

Joban Beauty Deodorant + Concealer

Joban Beauty Deodorant + Concealer

Joban Beauty

What We Like
  • Multiple shades available

  • Easy to apply

  • Doesn't smudge or transfer

What We Don't Like
  • Applicator has to be cleaned after every use

If you’re dealing with extremely dark underarms and want a quicker fix than a brightening formula can give, consider trying a deodorant concealer like this one from Joban Beauty. It’s able to keep sweat and odor at bay, while concealing hyperpigmentation and other dark marks. While you may be worried about it making a mess of your clothes, we’re happy to report that if you let it sit for 1-2 minutes after applying, it should stay smudge and transfer-free.  

Price at time of publish: $28

Type: Stick, concealer | Active Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, tea tree oil | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Unscented

Drunk Elephant Sweet Pitti Deodorant Cream

Drunk Elephant Sweet Pitti™ Deodorant Cream


What We Like
  • Fragrance-free

  • Won't irritate sensitive skin

  • Long-lasting protection

What We Don't Like
  • Applicator can get messy after a couple uses

While the majority of deodorants are fragranced, some may prefer one that just blocks odor without adding any extra. If that sounds like you, try this option from Drunk Elephant. Made with mandelic acid—an AHA that exfoliates dead skin for an even complexion and kills bacteria—it’s able to brighten the area while neutralizing smell. It also contains arrowroot powder, a natural antiperspirant. Non-toxic deodorants can get a bad rap for not lasting well throughout the day, but this one has been praised for its ability to keep you stink-free for up to 24 hours.

Price at time of publish: $16

Type: Cream | Active Ingredients: Mandelic acid, arrowroot, shea butter | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes 

Best Multi-Use

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution


What We Like
  • Great value

  • Can be used on the face

  • Improves tone and texture

What We Don't Like
  • May irritate sensitive skin

This popular toner has been all over TikTok the past year, with users describing how it helped to eliminate their body odor with consistent use. That’s due to the glycolic acid in the formula, which can reduce the bacteria in the skin. The acid is also well-known for its brightening properties, so it solves the problems of smell and hyperpigmentation. It gets bonus points from us because there’s a good chance you already have it in your medicine cabinet. 

Price at time of publish: $13

Type: Toner | Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid, Tasmanian pepperberry | Size: 8 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes 

Best for Dark Skin Tones

Clear Essence Adure Underarm Brightening Deodorant Crème

Clear Essence Adure Underarm Brightening Deodorant Crème

Clear Essence

What We Like
  • Contains natural brightening fruit extracts

  • Specifically formulated for skin of color

  • Can be used on different parts of the body

What We Don't Like
  • Can be sticky if too much is applied

Not all brightening products are made the same, which rings especially true for those with darker skin tones. Some ingredients may not brighten as efficiently as they would on lighter skin, so it’s important to pick products that are catered to your skin tone. Clear Essence creates skincare specifically for people of color, and this deodorant was formulated with deeper skin in mind. Recommended by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Onyeka Obioha, it has vitamin C, tranexamic acid, and niacinamide to fade hyperpigmentation and even tone, as well as arbutin and antioxidant fruit extracts for further brightening. It’s also filled with multiple antibacterial agents to prevent odor and kill multiple types of bacteria. We also love that it can be used on other areas, like the elbows, knees and bikini line.

Price at time of publish: $10

Type: Cream | Active Ingredients: Vitamin C, vitamin E, niacinamide, tranexamic acid | Size: 2.8 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes 

Best Dermatologist-Tested

Dermadoctor Total Nonscents Brightening Antiperspirant

Dermadoctor Total Nonscents Brightening Antiperspirant


What We Like
  • Gentle formula

  • Goes on clear and doesn't stain

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Takes time to see results

This pick from Dermadoctor is a great alternative to a topical choice, as the brand was created by a board-certified dermatologist and each product is derm-tested and approved. Formulated to be irritant-free, this brightening deodorant has a gentle formula that won’t cause stinging or burning. It’s made with kojic acid, a naturally-derived acid that’s known for being more tolerable than other acids—making it a great pick for those with sensitive skin. However, it’s still just as effective at brightening the skin. It has a water-based formula, but it dries quickly and applies completely clear. 

Price at time of publish: $31

Type: Serum | Active Ingredients: Aluminum, kojic acid | Size: 3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes 

Final Verdict

The best brightening deodorant is the Kosas Chemistry Deodorant. It contains a potent blend of alpha hydroxy acids to exfoliate and brighten the skin, all while fighting odor-causing bacteria. We also love the more affordable Dove Even Tone 48-Hour Antiperspirant, which is formulated with niacinamide to treat uneven skin tone. 

Meet the Expert

What to Look for in Brightening Deodorants

Exfoliating acids

Just as you would look for acids in brightening skincare products, you would do the same when trying to find a deodorant that can lighten the underarm area. This is easier to find than you may think–as many natural, non-toxic deodorants contain acids to expel bacteria that cause body odor. Some popular choices are alpha hydroxy acids such as lactic and mandelic (which are both present in the Kosas Chemistry Deodorant), and you can also find salicylic acid in many brightening formulas (like the Forgotten Skincare Brightening Deodorant Cream). They’ll be able to keep you fresh-smelling all day, and over time, work to treat hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. 


Unlike your standard deodorant, brightening formulas come in many different forms. In just the picks included in this list, you can find balms, creams, and more. Think of which works best for your daily life, and also consider the instructions before purchasing. For example, the Drunk Elephant Sweet Pitti Deodorant Cream can only be used once daily on clean, dry skin—and only requires a tiny amount. If you prefer to layer on your deodorant morning and night, a different option might work better for you.


Since many brightening deodorants contain strong exfoliating acids, you’ll want to consider the ingredients and how sensitive your skin is before trying. If your skin is the type to get easily irritated by ingredients in standard deodorants, make sure to patch test before jumping into regular use. For some formulas, sensitive skin types should only apply a couple of times a week instead of every day. 

  • What are the benefits of using a brightening deodorant?

    As the name suggests, brightening deodorants can even the skin tone in the underarm area. Successful formulas will be able to “lift pigment in the skin and achieve a brighter, more uniform complexion,” says Dr. Obioha. They also reduce odor by killing bacteria, as a standard everyday deodorant would do.

  • What can cause dark underarms and how can you prevent it?

    There are many reasons why you could have dark underarms, says Dr. Garshick. It’s usually due to friction, which can lead to skin thickening and increased pigmentation, as well as inflammation from shaving or waxing—which can then cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. She adds that those with darker skin tones or sensitive skin may be more prone to excess pigmentation under the arms. However, if you notice a sudden darkening that seems more extreme than usual, it’s important to visit your dermatologist. It could be acanthosis nigricans, which can often be a sign of diabetes or insulin resistance, according to Garshick. 

Why Trust Byrdie

Shannon Stubbs is a staff commerce updates writer at Byrdie, where she covers beauty. To compile this list, she researched dozens of brightening deodorants and consulted with experts to pick the best on the market. 

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Valle-González ER, Jackman JA, Yoon BK, Mokrzecka N, Cho NJ. pH-Dependent Antibacterial Activity of Glycolic Acid: Implications for Anti-Acne FormulationsSci Rep. 2020;10(1):7491. Published 2020 May 4. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-64545-9

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