Why the Coolest Brands in Beauty Are Coming After Your Armpits

In the land of the shelfie, there are beauty buys that are considered cool, like dreamy-looking serums and liquid eyeshadow, and there are those that are decidedly... not. Deodorant has always fallen into the second camp. Traditionally, B.O.-banishing sticks haven't been something that are raved about for being not only effective, but so covetable that you want all of your friends to know about them. But, that has changed. Now, more top beauty brands are venturing into the category and formulating alpha-hydroxy-acid-spiked deodorant products that work (and are even cool).

Over the past three months, Drunk Elephant, Nécessaire, and now Kosas have launched their very first deodorant products. Though, obviously, they're all different brands renowned for their respective cult-favorite products, their deodorants all share a couple of things in common: Each is aluminum-free, and each uses alpha hydroxy-acids (AHAs) to neutralize odor. And AHAs are increasingly turning up in deodorant formulations because the acids squelch odor-causing bacteria while lowering your skin's pH so that B.O.-causing bacteria can't thrive, and dermatologists back their efficiency.

Though Kosas is primarily a makeup brand, founder Sheena Yaitanes was inspired to create a deodorant after years of testing aluminum-free options to no avail. During a late-night Internet search, she discovered that people were using a skin-care ingredient—AHAs—on their armpits, which she then tested out for herself. It worked. "Our goal was to create a deodorant that didn't just stop the smell, but became a performance-based skin-care product as well," Yaitanes says of the Kosas Chemistry AHA Serum Deodorant ($15). The formula combats odor while also brightening the underarm area and helping with ingrown hairs, since it has peptides, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and an AHA complex that absorb instantly via its cooling rollerball applicator.

aha deodorant
Graphic: Well+Good Creative

As a personal care brand that set out to elevate the attention people give to the skin on their body, Nécessaire wanted to concoct an effective deodorant without aluminum, baking soda, and synthetic fragrance. "The [Nécessaire] Deodorant has been two years in the making," says Randi Christiansen, co-founder and CEO of the brand. "We believe that the use of gentle acids is a new, modern approach to deodorant." The Nécessaire Deodorant ($20) is a cream that uses a blend of mandelic and lactic acids along with silica, zinc, and kaolin clay to keep pits dry.

Drunk Elephant is keen to the AHA deodorant phenomenon, too. In April, the brand launched its first body-care products, one of which is the Sweet Pitti Deodorant Cream ($16). With AHA mandelic acid to quash odor, arrowroot powder to absorb moisture, and shea butter to keep the skin barrier protected, the deodorant is a gentle way to keep body odor at bay.

With dermatologists singing the praises of AHA deodorants and major beauty brands concocting their own, it'd make sense for the category to continue to dominate beauty shelves. "People have been using clean alternatives for antiperspirants for a while now," says Christiansen. "Ingredient trends come and go, but we believe that acids are here to stay." Great news for your pits.

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