Natural deodorants have become a popular safe alternative to traditional antiperspirants. I recently made the switch myself, but was surprised when the products I tried left me with red, itchy rashes in my pits. On top of being painful, it was not a good look while walking around in sleeveless tops all summer.
I was so confused — shouldn’t natural, non-chemical options be less irritating? I even tested out different types with different ingredients, but was left with the same painful (and unsightly) result. After all the frustration, I finally decided to reach out to a dermatologist for some answers on how to avoid the problem without going back to regular antiperspirants.
According to Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, it all comes down to our moisture levels. “The way many natural deodorants work is to use ingredients that help absorb excess moisture, some of which can be drying on the surface of the skin, which can lead to redness, itching, or dryness,” she explained.
She recommends that we be on the lookout for potential rash-triggering ingredients like magnesium, which balances our skin’s pH level and masks the smell of body odor, but doesn’t prevent sweat from pooling up and creating friction.
Baking soda is another culprit to keep an eye out for, even though it can seem like the best answer. “Baking soda can help to absorb excess moisture, balance pH, and reduce odor, but sometimes in absorbing excess moisture," says Dr. Garshick. "It can lead to dryness that can be irritating on the skin.” Lastly, the fragrances added to natural deodorants can be the cause of rashes, especially for anyone with sensitive skin.
Don’t worry, Garshick isn’t saying we should all give up and stick to traditional antiperspirants. Here are three of her recommendations for natural products that are less likely to cause your skin to freak out:
Dove 0% Aluminum: As the name suggests, this product is totally free of aluminum and is also alcohol-free, both of which minimize the likelihood of irritation. “It also contains Dove's 1/4 moisturizer, which leaves the skin feeling smooth,” Garshick added.
Where to buy: $5.99, Target
Bulldog Deodorant: The product is geared toward men because of its musky fragrance, so it can be a great option for your husband or sons. Of course, you can also use it yourself if you want! The formula works as well for women as it does for men. Garshick explained that it has natural ingredients that are good for sensitive skin, like essential oils, without any alcohol, sulfate, and or parabens.
Where to buy: $6.89, Target
Vanicream Deodorant: “This is great for those with sensitive skin as it is free of aluminum, alcohol, talc, baking soda and botanical extracts,” Garshick told us. It’s also fragrance-free, so you don’t have to worry about that causing any problems either.
Where to buy: $9.76, Walmart
Whichever one you try, just be sure to test it out on a small patch before swiping it all over. All skin reacts to things differently, so it’s better to be safe than sorry — even if that means you’re a little smelly while you figure it out. If all else fails, you should definitely get in touch with your own dermatologist to work out what’s best for you.
Here’s to us all ridding ourselves of BO without painful, itchy rashes ruining our day.
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