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Which Deodorant?

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Beauty & Fitness > Which Deodorant?


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Allergic to deodorants - what to do?

Sept 2005

I seem to have developed an allergy to a few different deodorants/antiperspirants. I get really itchy, red rashes on my underarms. The latest I can't tolerate is Tom's all natural unscented. I've also tried the ''naturally fresh deodorant crystal'' and Secret, as well as a JASON product. I'm just kind of lost as to what to do next. I know some will say I should just go without deodorant, at least until my rash clears up, but then I'll STINK -- I've tried it. I should say that I'm 11 mos postpartum and this started a few months ago, so my guess is that it's something hormonal.

Has anyone else dealt with this, and did you finally find something that worked? What about herbs or something else I could take to counteract the hormonal issues? Acupuncture? I'm open to all suggestions!

don't want to stink


I had the exact same problem -red, itchy underarms that I hever had experienced before. I tried a bunch of different ''natural deodorants'' and the only one that hasn't given me an adverse reaction is the one of those solid deodorant stones. It looks like a big chunk of salt. I got it at Trader Joes. finally rash-free
My mom refused to buy me deoderant when I was in hs because she said deoderant was bad (it would make me smell worse when I didn't use it) and left stains on shirts (ewww). Her remedy was a paste made from baking soda (Arm and Hammer) and lemon juice. It actually worked. It was a little embarrassing but later that year I was participating in the senior fashion show and the cool Mexican girls that were in the show were applying this same mixture. I have not doubted my mom on homeopathic remedies ever again.

Just pour a little bit of baking soda on the palm of your hand and squeeze a little bit of lemon juice, mix it together into a light paste, smear it under your arm and you should be good to go.

I would personally recommend that you wait till your rash clears up. You might be a little stinky for a little while, but if you give it enough time, you won't be so stinky anymore. Mariana


One that has worked for both my dad and husband is Almay (hypoallergenic, fragerence free, clear gel). Places we've found that carry it are Longs Drug Store and Walmart. anon
In my attempt to find natural deodorants, I had the most success (ie I didn't smell) with deodorants from Lush located on Powell Street in San Francisco. Check out www.lush.com. I love all their products. Good luck. anon
Hi. I had a similar problem with deodorant, but then I found LUSH, they make everything from lotions, to shampoos, conditioners etc, all amazing. The deodorants are great, they have a web site where you can order but I would recommend visiting their store in SF on Powell. Stay away from the Krystals (powder based) go for the aromarant or aromaco, they look like blocks of soap. And for irritated skin they also have a facial soap called Fresh Pharmacy with calamine in it that works wonders... loving lush
I get a rash when I use deodorant and always have. Here is what I do and it works for me--I just wash with soap every day and then sniff afterwards. If I smell anything I splash a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol under each arm. It is usually about a week or two until I smell anything offensive again and need to repeat. For super important things (e.g presentation in front of an audience, job interview) I use anti- perspirant just on that one day. KL
Try corn starch. It'll keep you dry. Or you can mix corn starch with baking soda.

There is a brand of baby powder at the health food stores (cylinder shape pink/blue container) that has both ingredients. Also there is a JOhnson and Johnson Baby Powder that has CS and BS. NO talc.

I use this all the time as i''ve always hated the stickey feeling of deodorants. I've never had a problem with odor. Try it. Good luck anon


It may be that you are allergic to the antiperspirant part and not the deoderant per se. You might try old spice deoderant WITHOUT antiperspirant and see if it makes a difference. Susanna
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. You'll need to pour it through some sort of sieve or tight strainer (because this vinegar has all- natural chunks) and into a spray bottle.

Works very well as a deodorant though it takes many minutes to dry and the vinegar smell to dissipate. Spare yourself and don't use it immediately after shaving - ouch! Ali


Try a mix of baking soda and corn starch and apply it with a poofy thing of some sort. michael
I found I became allergic to deoderants early this year. The likely stimulus was using scented laundry detergent when I had been using ''Free and Clear'' kind of detergent before. That said, deoderants were causing a rash which didn't just disappear with the change of detergent. I have found that almost all the time I can use Crystal Stick Body Deoderant which is natural mineral salts and has been available in the past at Trader Joes and at health food stores. The stick itself lasts a long time (at least a year).

Additionally, the first thing if you haven't already done so is to get the rash to clear up. It took a prescription for Clotrimazole and Betamethasone Dipropionate Cream 1%/.05% for my rash to go away. I also changed bath soap to unscented Dove and tend to only wear cotton or cotton blend shirts. I have had a couple minor re- occurrences but overall seem to be okay.

Good luck. Jim


Hi, I get a rash from Tom's too, and so does a friend of mine, but I have not had a problem with Avalon Lavender roll-on deodorant or alba botanica clear enzyme deodorant stick. My son uses straight Tea Tree oil, or garlic oil mixed with tea tree. After appying the garlic mixture, he smells like garlic bread (not like the breath of someone who has eaten garlic) but the smell wears off after about an hour. The recipe for garlic oil is: about 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil, crush 3 or 4 cloves of garlic into it, add 1 rounded tsp. mullein (an herb available in bulk at Whole Foods - optional) let soak 12 to 24 hrs, then strain. You may be right about it being hormonally related, or maybe even systemic yeast; changing hormones can make that flare up, and it can cause a terrible underarm rash. anon
I had the same problem, probably also related to hormones. In my case, it started during pregnancy, but has not gone away even 12 months postpartum (I am still nursing). Tom's and Jason products made me itch *violently*. It was embarrassing. The product I found that worked is called __Queen Helene Tea Tree Oil Deodorant__. They have it at Elephant (Cedar x Shattuck). no more itchy pits
does it make you feel ANY better that you're not the only one? it's soooooo frustrating!!! my kiddo is over 2 and the ''allergy'' is still with me, unfortunately. i found that Almay Hypo-Allergenic antiperspirant/deodorant (clear gel) is the only thing i won't break out to. at first i used the natural ''crystal'' roll-on, right out of the shower, let that layer dry, then applied the almay over that. i've since cut out the ''crystal'' step. the natural stuff isn't anti- perspirant and i wasn't comfortable using it alone (not effective). And for some reason I can't find Almay everywhere. I think Longs and Walgreens regularly carries it, but Target doesn't (so it isn't too hard to find). And I've found for me that *only* the clear gel works, roll on and solid are useless. Good luck! itchy armpits too!

Armpit odor - a safe way to deal with it?

Nov 2004

I am looking for advice about this problem: A few weeks ago a friend told me I should definitely stop using the deodorant/anti-perspirant I was using (Secret - it contains Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex Gly.) because it will give me breast cancer. Granted she is not a doctor, I believe she could be right - so I stopped using it, and started using a natural ingredient deodorant. This has not worked for me at all - Even if I carry the natural deodorant in my purse and reapply every few hours, I end up with pretty bad armpit odor. With the Secret deodorant there was absolutely no odor problem at all. So what I want to know is - 1. Does anyone else out there have more info on whether this stuff causes breast cancer? and 2. Does anyone know of safe alternatives that actually work? --Don't like to stink


Here is the page about this at snopes.com (urban legend website) http://www.snopes.com/toxins/breast.htm
To be blunt, your friend's attitude smacks of ignorant and fearmongering. Your deodorant won't _give_ you cancer! If you are concerned about the relative safety of ingredients used in deodorants, you'd be better off going to a source of reputable scientific research, such as the Environmental Working Group's searchable list of cosmetic products: http://www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep/bestworst.php?ewg_cat=Antiperspirant/Deodorant. You'll see that one of the Secret anti-perspirant/deodorants is actually one of the products out there with the least number of potentially problematic ingredients. anon
There's a product called Lavilin has worked well. It's mostly herbs but does have a base of petrolatum and zinc oxide. You spread a small amount on your armpit and it kills the odor causing bacteria for a few days to a few weeks. You reapply it again at night when you notice any odor returning. It can be hard to find but Berkeley Natural Grocery on Gilman usually has some. It costs about $12 but lasts me 6 months or more. Sorry I don't know about any studies re: aluminum and breast cancer but I had heard the same thing and figured that Lavilin was so easy that it wasn't worth the worry. chiliconmom
Alcohol swabs used on the armpit after a shower work very well. Probably they kill the germs that make the odor. In any case, the effect lasts throughout the day. If you are feeling slightly more aggressive about the situation, I have heard from friends who have had their armpit hair removed (some procedure involving lasers, I think? Haven't looked into it, myself) that they no longer need any kind of deodorant once the hair is gone. The prospect somehow disturbs me, but, hey, it might work well. Ann
I remember when I first heard that antiperspirant would give me breast cancer. And that cooking with teflon would give me cancer. And eating movie popcorn would give me cancer. And that breathing non-filtered outdoor air would give me cancer (not really...but who knows?). My point is...sure, there certainly is a risk that your Secret could kill you. And your cell phone can give you a brain tumor. And your computer screen will make you blind. And on and on and on, but what you have to ask yourself is at what point do you say ''enough!'' I bet if you eat too many carrots, you'd probably get cancer from that too. But how many people use antiperspirant and DON'T get breast cancer? I believe that ALL antiperspirants have aluminum in them, in fact I think that's the active ingredient. To avoid that you would need to use a deodorant only...which as you've found isn't really very effective. Personally, as I get older I find that I become more and more sensitive to things, my antiperspirant was one of them. I can now only use Almay because it's hypo-allergenic. All other antiperspirants/deodorants make my armpits break out in a rash. I've been happy with the Almay, but it still contains aluminum. good luck!
Whole Foods has a great selection of deodorants, I've had good success with one called LIKEN. anon
I've never used deodorant cause I hate that sticky feeling. I've always used either natural baby poweder or a mix of corn starch and baking soda. It's dry and absorbs odors. I should say too that I don't often shave my armpits (I do in the summer) but don't have a lot of underarm hair and also don't sweat profusely under my arms. I've never noticed that I have underarm odor and no one seems to be offended being around me.... Give powder a try and see if that helps you...good luck. dry and non-smelly
Go to this link to see what the American Cancer Society has to say about this ''email rumor'': http://www.cancer.org/docroot/NWS/content/NWS_1_1x_Email_Rumors.asp There is an awful lot of fear-based misinformation floating around about health and body issues. I'm not in the least saying that Western Medicine has all the answers- I rely on help from several alternative therapies as well as Western practitioners. But, while we are all rightly concerned about the effects of the careless use of chemicals on ourselves and on our planet, I see what I myself would call hysteria in some people about any and all chemicals. I say, never take one person's opinion about this sort of thing (or anything important), always do your own research! I found the link above by doing a pretty quick Google search of ''breast cancer'' ''anti-perspirant''. Cecelia
This is an answer to the second question on the post. I stopped using anti- perspirants about 5 yrs. ago due to skin reaction I was having. I've tried many deodorant-only products - Tom's, the rock, Mennen's, Origins, etc. The one I've been using for the past year has worked the best for me. It's a product by Clarins called Doux Deodorant in a red bottle that has a pump spray. It is expensive, around $20, but it lasts a long time and you can get it at the Clarins counter at Nordstroms. Also, I found it took my body a while to get used to no anti-perspirant. I felt sweatier and smellier than ever but after several weeks, it seemed to be less of an issue. In the meantime, plan on reapplications and changing your shirts if needed. Good luck. mjplc
I am a toxicologist and I use deodorant. That said, I'd really like to know where your friend got her information that deodorant causes breast cancer. I'd actually like it if everybody asked their friends who tell them ''oh, (whatever common product) causes (some kind of horrible illness) so don't use it'' before they go and tell a whole bunch of other people the same story. I mean, really, if you're going to be skeptical of what a trained scientist has to say about something, you might as well put your nonspecialist friends and acquaintances claims under the same kind of scrutiny. anon
I use mineral salts deordorant, and it has solved my odor problem. It works by inhibiting bacteria, which is the source of the odor. And it's completely safe. Good luck. Anon
my husband can't use deodoarant due to some sensitive skin issues. he is a big hairy man that sweats A LOT- so giving up deodorant was a biggie! instead, he uses Hibiclens antibacterial cleanser in the shower- apparently it kills the bacteria that makes sweat stink in the first place. drs use it to scrub in. you can find it at Walgreen, Longs, etc. they ususally only stock small bottles, which is expensive & also wasteful, but you can ask them to special order a gallon or 1/2 gallon. good luck, wife of a good smelling non-deodorant user
I am unaware of any link between deodorants/antiperspirants and breast cancer, however, the phthalates commonly found in these products are toxic. http://www.nottoopretty.org/index.htm Some people have recommended using baking soda. That makes me smell worse. I use cornstarch. That seems to work just fine if I shower every day. Some people like Kiss My Face deodorant. Experiment until you find something that works for you. sunsolsal

Effective anti-perspirant needed

Oct 2004

OK - so when I was pregnant with my second child I developed a significan persperation problem. Sorry if this is too much info but my armpits litterally dripped sweat when I was not even doing anything more exerting than sitting on the sofa! Yuck. Now that my little one is almost 1.5 years the problem has abated some but I still feel my sweat glands are very overactive. Can anyone recommend a non-prescription strength heavy duty antipersperant that works? I have tried Secret and Mitchum but before I go buying more of these things I thought I would ask you all. Thanks!
Pit-stained Mama


I have had armpit issues as well. Not perspiration so much but smell. My left armpit only, weird, isn't it? Anyway, I have gone through so many: Lady Mitchum, Secret, Dove, my boyfriend's Old Spice Red Zone, etc. I found one that really works. Almay, hypo-allergenic, fragrance-free roll-on. I don't know if it is as effective for excessive perspiration as it is for smell, but it's worth a shot. Good luck. stinkylady
Hi. My ex-husband had a big sweating problem (not the reason we divorced!) and our doctor recommended a product called Dri-Sol (I hope I've spelled that correctly). It was available at drug stores but I remember having to ask the pharmacist for it. It was in a white package with black writing and was a roll-on. The product really worked for him and for two other women friends I have recommended it to since. Both said it is important to follow the directions carefully (especially the one about not using the product immediately after shaving ones underarms - OUCH!) Good luck! Andrea
Try Arrid antiperspirant crem. It's the only one that really works for me... anon
I have found much sucess in staying dry with Avon's 24 hour duty antipersperant. I got is as a freebie at an Avon event and I am really impressed by it. I also noticed that it doesn't make my white shirts yellow in the armpit area like others had done before. I also suffered from the wet pit look but not anymore. I beleive this product is only 99 cents from Avon. If you would like to buy some and don't know an Avon consultant, email me and I put you into contact with someone who sells it. Kerri
SweatSolutions.org is a great website w/tons of links to products for people w/ overactive sweat glands. The site is run by medical professionals who were frustrated by the lack of information on hyperhidrosis for themselves and their patients. A specific product that I've used is called ODABAN. It's not sold in stores and is made in the U.K. Go to Odaban.com. anon.
I would recommend Dry Idea. While I don't perspire as heavily as you're speaking of here, Dry Idea has consistently been the ONLY anti-perspirant that works effectively for me - it keeps my underarms totally dry. Happy with my Dry Idea
Hi, try Body Series deoderant. Worked great for me when nothing else did. I get mine through a friend who sells Artistry products (I don't, so you can be sure this isn't a sales plug!). If you can't find this product, contact me and I'll put you in touch with her. (spambailey@yahoo.com) Bailey

Aluminum-free deodorant

April 2004

We're looking for recommendations of aluminum-free deodorants that really work. We've tried Tom's of Maine, Kiss My Face and the ''crystal'', but none of them really work for us. I guess we just need something more potent. Any suggestions?


Speed Stick deodorant by Mennen works fine. No aluminum or any other obviously antimicrobial chemical. It just works. Milt
I believe that ALL deoderants are aluminum free, it's the anti-PERSPIRANTS that have the aluminum in them. If none of the ''natural'' deoderants work, you can still use regular, commercial brands, as long as you make sure they are DEODERANT *only.*

That being said, I tried most of the ones you listed and also found them to be ineffective. Finally, I discovered ''Desert Essence'' Tea Tree oil deoderant, and I really like it. The only thing I still can't wear is nylon clothing. Even with Dessert Essence, I start to smell bad when I wear nylon, so I just stay away from nylon clothes (unless they're sleeveless)

However, I've recommended Desert Essence to other people, who have found it to be ineffective for them, so you may not have luck with it. In that case, check out the commercial brands - just read the labels! Best of luck, Alesia


Burt's Bees' is fantastic - as is the Weleda one (they are both pump bottles). I haven't been able to figure out which one is my favorite because they are both so great. So we alternate. no alzheimers for me either
After trying a few I came to like one by Pure & Basic called natural green tea deodorant, green clay. Works pretty well. Liz
This isn't a recommendation for a specific product. A couple of months ago someone suggested to me that I use the deodorant not just right in the armpit, but also all around on the surrounding skin - the side of the arm and the part of the breast right below the armpit. Turns out that odor comes from there too. Ever since it was suggested to me, it has worked like a charm. I use Toms, and occasionally Desert something Tea Tree deodorant for a change. No Longer Stinky
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