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It’s well-established that fragranced products can provoke skin dryness and irritation. But did you know that the thin, delicate skin under our arms is particularly prone to skin irritation? On top of that, regular shaving causes further skin irritation.
Even if you’re not sensitive to fragrance, the skin under your arms easily irritates. Therefore, it’s wise to avoid any kind of fragrance – even if it’s naturally derived. Natural deodorants can be just as irritating for those with sensitive skin and cause itchy armpits.
That’s why we have put together a list of the 4 best fragrance-free and hypoallergenic deodorants for sensitive skin and itchy armpits.
We’ve spent months subjecting our sensitive armpits to all the fragrance-free and hypoallergenic deodorants we could find. Based on extensive testing and analysis, we have found the best fragrance-free and hypoallergenic deodorants.
Are fragrance-free deodorants any good?
Yes! Deodorants without fragrance work just as well as their scented counterparts. The chemical compounds in your deodorant and not the fragrance that fights the odor-producing bacteria. The only difference is that a fragrance-free deodorant doesn’t contain fragrance.
And even better: fragrance-free deodorants are excellent for avoiding itchy armpits. The best fragrance-free deodorants will keep you smelling fresh but without any scents or oils that tick off your allergies.
What’s the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant?
Deodorants cover perspiration odors, while antiperspirants prevent you from sweating. Aluminum is the active element in antiperspirant deodorants, which stops sweating. Both types of deodorants limit armpit smells. Antiperspirants are the preferable option if you need strong coverage. The trade-off is that aluminum can cause irritation for some people.
Do deodorants cause skin irritation?
A deodorant contains many ingredients that may cause an allergic skin reaction, resulting in itchy armpits. Unfortunately, it can be hard to pin down what you’re sensitive to, but generally, ingredients that can irritate your armpits are fragrance, aluminum, preservatives, and baking soda.
Are natural or hypoallergenic deodorants better?
Don’t expect deodorants labeled “natural,” “unscented,” and “hypoallergenic” to be better for your itchy underarms. First, these products can still contain fragrances, a common trigger for skin irritation. Secondly, none of these labels are regulated by the FDA, so manufacturers are not required to submit proof of their natural or hypoallergenic claims.
The false promise of natural deodorants
“Natural” deodorants can be suitable for some people and generally contain fewer potential irritants. However, this is not always true; most still contain allergenic and other potentially harmful substances (just, maybe, fewer.) We don’t like deodorants labeled “natural” because they boast themselves as cleaner and safer than ordinary deodorants, which is often 90% marketing and 10% truth.
The above is a typical example of greenwashing and how marketers and brands would like us to believe a “natural” product is greener, better, and “safer” than it is.
We tested the increasingly popular Tom’s of Maine and the Native unscented deodorants during our search for the best fragrance-free deodorants. We knew they contained some scents, despite their names, but we still had to test them. They both label themselves as specifically formulated for sensitive skin and claim they’re better because they use natural ingredients.
But, we have decided not to feature them in this review as they do contain scents. And, in our experience, they caused itchy underarms for some of us (we tried several of their products in the past six months.)
Ultimately, if you have sensitive skin, it’s more important to look at the specific ingredients on a label rather than solely relying on whether or not it’s branded as being “natural.” Unscented does not always mean fragrance-free and may cause perfume-related allergic reactions.
Deodorant ingredients to look out for if you have sensitive armpits:
The following ingredients are all known allergens or potentially harmful substances to look out for.
- Aluminum: Widely used ingredient in deodorants (to clog sweat ducts.) Unfortunately, aluminum in antiperspirants causes many people skin irritation and itchy armpits.
- Alcohol: can dry out and irritate sensitive skin.
- Unscented: This doesn’t mean that it’s fragrance-free. It just means that it doesn’t contain any added scents. Unfortunately, this means that the deodorant most likely still contains (un-added) scents.
- Natural deodorants: Have become increasingly popular in recent years, but just because they contain “natural” ingredients doesn’t mean that they’re better or healthier for your skin and itchy armpits.
- Baking soda: Also known as sodium bicarbonate, is commonly used in natural deodorants because it absorbs moisture while acting as an odor neutralizer. It’s gotten a bad rap in recent years because it can cause skin irritation in some people.
Our review of fragrance-free and hypoallergenic deodorants
Without further ado, we present the 4 best fragrance-free deodorants on the market in 2023.
Each of the reviewed deodorants has been tested over several weeks in the sweltering summer heat of Southern California. Therefore, you can be confident that they can stand up to both the Summer heat and Zoom meetings with your boss.
Vanicream’s antiperspirant deodorant is not only fragrance-free but also free of any scents, botanical extracts, masking fragrances, dyes, ethanol, or parabens. In addition, we love the strength of this stick deodorant. There’s no need to be concerned about sweaty armpits throughout the day. As a bonus, it doesn’t leave white marks on clothes.
This is our favorite everyday fragrance-free deodorant, and it’s excellent value too. We’ve been genuinely impressed by it and highly recommend the Vanicream Antiperspirant Deodorant. Just make sure you’re applying it onto completely dry skin for the best results.
The fragrance-free antiperspirant deodorant from Clinique is formulated without perfume or any scents. It rolls on easily, keeps the odor at bay, and leaves you with a fresh feeling throughout the day. The rollerball applicator works smoothly, and, equally importantly, it doesn’t stain your clothes. Do let it dry for a few minutes after applying it. It’s a little more premium than the Vanicream deodorant, but it’s reflected in the price.
What sets this one apart from the above Vanicream antiperspirant deodorant above is that this deodorant is aluminum-free, making it perfect for those who want (or need) to stay clear of aluminum. Like the Vanicream antiperspirant deodorant above, this one doesn’t contain masking fragrance, parabens, or formaldehyde. It is also free of alcohol and talc. The applicator is a bit odd, requiring you to dose an appropriate amount – but you quickly get the hang of it.
If you are sensitive to aluminum and antiperspirants, this is the deodorant for you. It’s the only deodorant free of both aluminum and fragrance that we have tested that actually works. Typically, you need one of those potential irritants to deal with odors. But somehow, Vanicream has pulled it off. It may not last 24 hours or the worst Zoom meetings, but it’s the perfect choice for everyday use. And like the Vanicream Antiperspirant, it’s excellent value.
Clinique For Men – but it can certainly also be used by all others. This antiperspirant-deodorant stick from Clinique is fragrance-free, too, and free of any unnecessary oils and scents. As a result, it doesn’t leave residue behind and is surprisingly good at keeping sweat and odor at bay.
It does contain aluminum which can cause irritation for some. However, as it doesn’t contain fragrance, it’s gentler on the skin as opposed to many of its fragranced competitors on the market. Overall, this is a good choice for those who are sensitive to perfume or just prefer a fragrance-free deodorant. Like the other deodorant from Clinique, it has a more premium feel than the Vanicream deodorant, but it comes at a slightly higher cost.
Just be aware that it can cause some irritation for those who are sensitive to aluminum. In that case, stick with the Vanicream Aluminium-free Deodorant.