Can Deodorant or Antiperspirant Cause Acne?

Acne is a skincare issue that we all deal with at some point in our lives. It has numerous causes, including hormonal changes, medication, certain foods, and stress, leading to breakouts on your face and back. Though not quite as common, some people have noticed acne showing up under their arms as well, creating the belief that the acne in this area is caused by the deodorant or antiperspirant they are using. So, is it possible for these products to cause acne?

Causes for Underarm Pimples

There are a few different causes for pimples beneath your arms. The skin in this area is more delicate than you may realize and needs to be cared for as carefully as the rest of your body, including using the proper deodorant or antiperspirant.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions happen when we touch something we are allergic to. Deodorants and antiperspirants won’t necessarily cause these types of reactions in everyone but they do contain some ingredients that could cause a red bumpy rash that looks similar to acne. These bumps will also be quite itchy and uncomfortable, especially in such a sensitive area. Those who notice this type of reaction should check out what the ingredients are in the deodorant or antiperspirant they are using.


Fragrance is one of the worst offenders. Though these lovely scents keep your armpits smelling fresh and clean, they can cause unsightly and uncomfortable breakouts. Fragrance-free options are available for anyone who is allergic to chemical fragrances.


Another ingredient you may want to avoid is aluminum. This heavy metal is added to deodorants and antiperspirants because it swells, creating a barrier that blocks the sweat, preventing it from leaving your body, resulting in dry armpits. The downside to this is that aluminum also destroys glutathione, which is one of the antioxidants in your body that helps defend against acne. The less glutathione there is inside of you, the more acne you’re going to have. To avoid the loss of this antioxidant, try switching to aluminum-free deodorants and antiperspirants.

Coconut Oil

Even natural deodorants can cause allergic reactions beneath your arms. Coconut oil is great for nourishing your skin, keeping it soft and supple, but it is also comedogenic. This means that it blocks the hair follicle openings, trapping bacteria, oil, and dirt beneath the skin. This leads to pimples beneath your arms, so try to avoid this ingredient in the underarm products you choose.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural deodorizer, which is why so many of us keep a box in our fridge to keep those stinky foods from contaminating everything else in there. This is also why it is added to deodorants, to prevent odors in this otherwise smelly area of our bodies. The problem is that baking soda is also an irritant, which can cause inflammation to the hair follicles beneath your arms. The result is acne, painful rashes, or even armpit cysts, so avoid baking soda in your deodorants and antiperspirants as much as possible.


The ingredients in your skincare products aren’t the only things that can cause unwanted acne beneath your arms. Every time you move your arms, the skin of your armpits rubs together. It also rubs on your clothing, your purse or backpack straps, or even your bra bands. This creates friction and the more you move, the worse the results. Irritation and inflammation occur, which leads to clogged pores and eventually pimples.

When you sweat, this makes the issue even worse, so most of us would add more deodorant to dry the area, though this can lead to irritation, discomfort, and possibly infection if not treated carefully.

Razor Burn

Shaving the underarms keeps the area clean and smooth but this simple task can cause friction and irritation to this sensitive area, especially if you aren’t using a sharp blade and some lubricant for this process. The results could be a red, bumpy rash that looks similar to acne, though it will likely be more uncomfortable than a normal pimple.

How to Avoid Underarm Pimples from Deodorant and Antiperspirant

Though acne in your armpits can be unsightly and painful in some cases, it doesn’t need to be a huge issue, especially if you know how to avoid it. Reducing friction and using the proper tools for shaving is a good place to start but you also need to use the right deodorant to keep the irritation to a minimum.

The first thing to avoid in deodorants and antiperspirants is aluminum. Though clogging your sweat glands to avoid sweating completely may seem like a good idea, the body needs to sweat to release toxins from your body, so leave aluminum out of the mix. Fragrance is also not necessary, though if you want a lovely scent with these products, make sure it is a natural one to avoid irritation.

Natural deodorants and antiperspirants are a healthy option but not all those safe ingredients are right for everyone, so stay away from coconut oil, baking soda, and anything else that you may be allergic to.

Another way to keep that sensitive skin happy and pimple-free is to use deodorant sticks instead of sprays, gels, and roll-ons. These types go on cool and damp but contain alcohol to dry quickly, which can irritate your skin and cause acne. The deodorant sticks go on dry, removing the need for alcohol in the ingredients list.

Exfoliating your armpits is as important as exfoliating the rest of your body to get rid of the dead skin cells and bacteria that could be clogging your pores. Do this right before shaving for the best results and avoid adding deodorant directly after shaving to reduce irritation.


Acne is a common problem with a variety of causes, one of which can be the deodorant or antiperspirant you’re using but as long as you choose the right one with healthy ingredients and use it properly, this issue can be kept to a minimum for clean, fresh, happy armpits.