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We talk a lot about sensitive skin on the face, but what about the sensitive skin under your arms? The skin in this area is already innately fragile, and when you add factors such as shaving or waxing, daily deodorant application (more on that in a minute), and even irritation from itchy clothes, you have a recipe for ending up with some seriously red and itchy armpits. And that, quite frankly, is the pits.
As far as the deodorant part of things goes, it’s important to pick a product that isn’t going to make matters worse and/or be the prime irritation culprit. Common ingredients found in many formulas—both natural deodorants and traditional antiperspirants—can be problematic for many, think things such as aluminum, fragrance, baking soda, and alcohol. So how do you find a deodorant that won’t irritate your skin, but will still work?
Answer: Keep reading, because we found the best deodorants for sensitive skin.
Best Overall: Dove Advanced Care Sensitive Antiperspirant Deodorant
Made with ¼ moisturizers, this formula glides on seamlessly and will leave your armpits silky smooth. It is a true antiperspirant, so it does contain aluminum, but lasts up to 48 hours, a choice pick for those who simply don’t want to deal with sweat. Plus, because it’s alcohol-free, it won’t sting going on if you’re already dealing with underarm irritation.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant in Geranium Flower
Here’s a top option for those who prefer to steer clear of aluminum-based antiperspirants. A long list of Byrdie editors are fans of the brand, which offers an impressive line-up of scents and formulas. But this one is choice if you have sensitive skin since it’s baking-soda free, instead relying on charcoal and essential oils for all-day odor-protection. (Speaking of, those essential oils also give it a lovely floral scent.)
Hold it against your skin for a second to allow the natural oil and wax base to warm up and soften slightly so that it glides on smoother.
Best Natural: Nécessaire The Deodorant
The ingredients this formula doesn’t contain are for sure noteworthy: aluminum, parabens, baking soda, synthetic fragrance, and phthalates, just to name a few. But what it does contain is equally as exciting. Namely, a blend of mandelic and lactic alpha-hydroxy acids to combat odor (don’t worry, even though they’re acids, they won’t cause irritation). There are also wetness-absorbing silica, zinc, and clay in the mix, and while the eucalyptus scent is a fave among Byrdie team members, there’s a fragrance-free version for those whose skin is super sensitive.
Best Scent: Megababe Rosy Pits Daily Deodorant
Senior Social Media Editor Kelly Gallagher loves this deo, which, not surprisingly, has a lovely and fresh rosy scent. (Like, the kind of scent that will make you want to keep sniffing your armpits. Don’t worry, we won’t tell.) Despite the cutesy name and packaging, the formula is still totally hardcore when it comes to keeping odor-causing bacteria at bay, thanks to ingredients such as green tea and sage.
Best Fragrance-Free: Native Women’s Deodorant Unscented Sensitive
We totally get wanting a deodorant that smells good, but if your armpits are really beaten up, avoiding any kind of fragrance (even if it’s naturally-derived) can be a good move, at least for a little while. In the meantime, reach for this formula, a Byrdie fan favorite. Paraben-, aluminum-, and baking soda-free, it boasts a simple and straightforward ingredient list that both wards off odor and moisture, while simultaneously soothing skin.
Best Splurge: Corpus Naturals Deodorant
Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue raves about this luxe pick, as much for the sophisticated scent combinations as the buttery smooth application (not always the case with natural deos). It’s on the pricier side, for sure, but the efficacy, chic, display-worthy packaging, gentle-on-skin formula, and again, those scents, make it well worth the price tag.
Best Drugstore: Vichy 24-Hour Dry-Touch Deodorant
Zinc is an essential mineral that is needed for numerous healthy bodily functions, including boosting the immune system, healing wounds, and assisting in DNA/protein synthesis and growth. Applied topically, it's shown to aid in wound healing and regeneration, as well as protect the skin by deflecting UV rays.
The active ingredient in this formula, zinc ricinoleate, combats odor-causing bacteria to keep you fresh for, you guessed it, 24 hours. It’s aluminum-, alcohol-, paraben-, and fragrance-free, so gentle that it can even go right onto freshly-shaved underarms, and has a clear formula that won’t leave behind any tell-tale residue. Just make sure you’re applying it onto totally dry skin for the best results.
Best Spray: Aesop Deodorant Spray
There’s no aluminum to be found in this spritz; instead, it relies on refreshing essential oils such as sage, rosemary, and eucalyptus (just to name a few) that help neutralize odor. The naturally-derived, unisex vetiver scent also helps.
Best Wipes: Whish Deodorant Swipe
These perfectly portable, single-use wipes are not only totally convenient, but they’re also major multi-taskers. Super gentle on skin thanks to a formula free of aluminum, sulfates, and more, they go above and beyond the standard deodorant job description; with continued use, they actually work to reduce hair growth. That can be a major skin-saver for those who shave their underarms on the reg, given that shaving is one major cause of skin irritation.
Best Paste: Drunk Elephant Sweet Pitti Deodorant Cream
Cream deodorants have somewhat of a cult-following but can be admittedly messy to apply, which is why we especially like that this has a twist-up applicator. (But if you want, you can still apply it with your fingertips.) It’s especially pH balanced to keep skin healthy and has protective and soothing shea butter, too. Meanwhile, mandelic acid kills odor-causing bacteria and arrowroot powder sops up moisture. Also noteworthy: This is one of the few natural formulas that doesn’t contain essential oils, which can be problematic and irritating for those with especially sensitive skin.
Best for Workouts: Myro+ Deodorant
Despite the fact that this isn’t an antiperspirant, it’s still a great choice to reach for if you tend to get super sweaty; the newbie is infused with an Active Fresh Complex, which offers an impressive 24-hours of odor-fighting technology. Still, that doesn’t mean it will do a number on your skin; on the contrary, the formula is packed with skin-soothers such as aloe, probiotics, and sage. Bonus points for the sustainable, refillable packaging.
Best Vegan: Briogeo B. Well Tea Tree + Eucalyptus Clean Natural Deodorant
For those who want a natural deo that’s also vegan (and cruelty-free and comes in recyclable packaging), this fits the bill. The plant-based pick boasts a coconut oil base, a choice ingredient for both hydrating and soothing skin, along with tea tree and eucalyptus oil to keep things smelling fresh.