Skin-Care Tips

The 10 Safest, Most Effective Deodorants for Teens, All Approved by Dermatologists

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Deodorant is (hopefully) something you use on a regular basis if you’re an adult, but if you’re a teen or the parent of a teen, you might be trying to figure out when is the right time to start using this odor-reducing product. As its name suggests, deodorant helps minimize the body odor that our body naturally creates as a result of sweat and bacteria buildup. By making the skin’s surface slightly more acidic, deodorant helps prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria, explains Dendy Engelman, MD, cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at the Shafer Clinic in New York City.

While traditional deodorant is alcohol-based and uses the active ingredient triclosan to target bacteria, it often also contains aluminum, as well as added fragrances. Some research suggests that some of these ingredients are potentially harmful to the consumer, which has spawned an increase in “natural” deodorants with alternative formulations. “These deodorants rely on ingredients that naturally fight bacteria, absorb moisture and provide scent, like tea tree oil, coconut oil, baking soda and essential oils,” says Dr. Engelman.

Best deodorants for teens, at a glance:

When should I start using deodorant?

While there’s no official age when someone should start using deodorant, the pre-teenage years, when puberty occurs for most, often results in bodily changes that spark the need. “During puberty apocrine glands, a type of sweat gland, start excreting a form of sweat that contains lipids and proteins that differs from the sweat that comes from eccrine glands, which is primarily water,” explains Brendan Camp, MD, a Manhattan-based dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. “Bacteria on the skin surface breakdown the components of apocrine sweat and release odiferous compounds that are responsible for body odor.”

What To Look for in a Deodorants for Teens

When shopping for a deodorant for a teenager, here are a few features dermatologists recommend looking for.

Easy To Use

“For many teenagers, a deodorant may be one of the first additions to a daily routine, so in order to commit to doing it, it is important that it is easy to use so that the teenager will be consistent,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, a dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery (MDCS) in New York. “Depending on personal preference, this may mean using a spray, a roll-on, a stick formulation, but it is important that the individual feels comfortable using it, otherwise they are unlikely to be consistent with it.”

Fast Absorption

No one likes white, sticky residue left behind on their clothing—especially teenagers, who tend to be more self-conscious than the rest of us. For this reason, it’s a good idea to seek out deodorants that absorb quickly and don’t leave a residue behind.

Effective

While both deodorants and antiperspirants are effective, Dr. Garshick recommends making sure your teen is using the correct product to address your specific concern. “For example, if the concern is body odor, then an antiperspirant or a deodorant may help, while if the concern is sweating, it is best to stick with an antiperspirant to actually reduce the amount of sweat,” she adds.

Free of Harmful Chemicals

As already mentioned, some of the ingredients in deodorant (like chemicals and added fragrances) can be irritating, especially to young skin. To prevent sensitivity and rashes, Dr. Engelman recommends choosing a deodorant that does not contain aluminum, parabens, added fragrance or other potentially harmful ingredients. “Terms like ‘natural,’ ‘fragrance-free’ or ‘aluminum-free,’ can help guide you in the right direction,” she adds.

10 Best Deodorants for Teens

Best overall:

Dove 0% Aluminum Deodorant Stick — $8.00

For a first deodorant for a teen, this is a great pick, according to Dr. Garshick. “It is free of aluminum and alcohol, so it won’t cause irritation, and uses green tea and cucumber to provide a fresh scent as well as moisturizers to soothe the skin, she says.

Best natural:

Tom’s of Maine Natural Deodorant — $10.00

A lot of “natural” deodorants don’t hold their odor-reducing powers for a full 24 hours, but this one does, according to Dr. Engelman. “ The natural formulas are made with sustainable and responsible ingredients, and are free of aluminum, parabens and artificial fragrances,” she says. “Plus, with a range of nature-inspired scents and mostly neutral branding, boys and girls alike can find a deodorant that suits them.”

Best drug store buy:

Degree Advanced Protection Antiperspirant — $6.00

Most drugstores carry this deodorant that’s both affordable and effective, touting 72-hour, odor-free protection. “This deodorant features Motionsense and proprietary Microtechnology for long-lasting sweat protection also helping to reduce odor for up to three days,” says Dr. Garshick. “Available in a stick formulation, both men and womens variants are available making it easy for a teen to find an option that works well.”

Best splurge:

Ursa Major Hoppin' Fresh Deodorant — $18.00

Although on the pricier side for a deodorant, you’re getting your money’s worth with this award-winning, natural deodorant that’s formulated with 25 ingredients including kaolin clay, aloe vera and hops. It’s aluminum-, paraben- and fragrance-free and actually keeps body odor at bay for a full 24-hour period.

Best aluminum-free:

Vanicream Aluminum-Free Gel Deodorant — $10.00

Though not formulated for teens, specifically, this is a deodorant Dr. Camp likes to recommend to his teenage patients, mainly because it is aluminum free but still fights odor well. “The product contains no baking soda, is talc-free, and alcohol-free, and comes from a product line popular with people with sensitive skin,” he adds. Another plus is that this deodorant goes on clear, since it’s in gel form, so you don’t have to worry about white streaks all over your clothing.

Best fragrance-free:

Hello Oral Care Hello Shea Butter Fragrance Free Deodorant — $13.00

Although this deodorant won’t leave your teen smelling like farm-fresh flowers, you can feel rest assured that it’s formulated without potentially irritating or harmful substances, and still delivers 24-hour protection that’s backed by clinical trials. “The addition of shea butter provides soothing, softening benefits for the skin,” says Dr. Engelman. “Plus, the formula is vegan, cruelty-free and housed in post-consumer recycled packaging.”

Best spray:

Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant Dry Spray — $9.00

Dr. Garshick recommends this deodorant as a great spray option for teens. It provides effective wetness protection without being irritating as it contains moisturizers infused with natural oil to nourish the skin. “It also provides 48-hour odor and wetness protection, which are both huge pluses,” she says.

Best clear gel:

Kosas Chemistry AHA Serum Deodorant — $16.00

It’s hard not to become obsessed with this gel deodorant that keeps odor at bay long after a sweaty workout. It contains a powerful blend of alpha-hydroxy-acids that changes the pH of your under-armpit area so that bacteria can’t flourish. It’s also super moisturizing, which makes it comfortable for long-term wear.

Best wipes:

Pacifica Beauty, Coconut Milk & Essential Oils Underarm Deodorant Wipes — $9.00

If your teen would be more keen on wiping their under-arm area than slathering on an actual deodorant, these are a great buy. Just like a makeup wipe, these cleans your teen’s under-arm area fast and provide long-term odor relief. They’re also so easy to throw in a backpack, so they’re great for bringing to school in case odor crops up mid-day.

Best for sensitive skin:

Native Tie Dye Vanilla Cupcake — $13.00

Both aluminum and baking soda-free, Dr. Garshick recommends this deodorant for her teen patients with sensitive skin. It’s free of sulfate, phthalate, parabens and dyes and is also cruelty free. “As part of a collaboration with Baked by Melissa, any teenager may appreciate the associated subtle sweet scent,” she says.

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