Over the years I have had many people ask me why their natural deodorant causes odd (and painful) side effects, like rashes and zits in the underarm area. And if you’ve ever had armpit pimples or cysts, you probably know how painful these breakouts can be.

These pesky little bumps are small and clustered, however in some cases they are quite noticeable and painful, and are normally either caused by an infection, or irritation due to shaving and – yes – deodorant or antiperspirant use. 



Aside from underlying medical conditions, breakouts in general are often formed as a result of bacteria build up from your pores, or clogged sweat glands. Armpit pimples are no different. 

So the first thing you want to ask yourself is “what products am I using in that area that are clogging my sweat glands?” If you haven’t guessed already, YES it can be the aluminum that’s found in your antiperspirant.


Aluminum free all natural deodorant, formulated for sensitive skin. 


Aluminum in antiperspirants and non-natural deodorants is used as a shield against sweat. But in doing so, it forms a barrier to block any sweat from breaking through. This clogs your pores, and can irritate the underarm area, which can lead to unwanted zits. 

So if you are using antiperspirants, that is the first thing you want to rule out. 

Photo by Mehra Saberi



Many natural deodorants on the market are formulated with coconut oil, baking soda, and high levels of fragrances. While that all may sound great, the reality is that these ingredients can be quite irritating – especially if you have sensitive skin.  



If you have armpit zits and are using natural deodorant, coconut oil is  something you want to stay away from if you are prone to breakouts, or if you have sensitive skin. According to New York based board-certified dermatologist Melissa Levin, coconut oil has the ability to block the opening of hair follicles. So the same idea applies here. Blocked pores means bacteria build-up, which causes pimples; and if they become infected, possibly even armpit cysts. 

Photo by Diana Kulenyuk



What many people don’t know is that while there are benefits to using baking soda, it is EXTREMELY irritating for your skin. Applying baking soda to your underarms can inflame the hair follicles, which can lead to both armpit cysts and pimples (not to mention painful rashes. Trust me…just ask my husband). 



All deodorants will have fragrance, so don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to go ‘fragrance-free’. BUT, the amount of fragrance is what can make a difference. Deodorants (both natural and non-natural) with high levels of fragrance can irritate your skin, and lead to breakouts. So always read the label, and ensure that your product is “lightly” scented (you usually can tell if the fragrance is listed last on the label). 



The good news is, finding a solution is easy. First, toss out your antiperspirant. Then, look for a natural deodorant that avoids any irritating ingredients. We chose an alternative to baking soda- activated charcoal, as it is a non-irritant that tends to pull toxins from your skin while unclogging your pores.


Uses activated charcoal to pull toxins and prevent odor. 


Finally, practice good shaving protocols to help from adding any irritation to the area. Congested pores is actually a common cause of ingrown hairs, which quite often leads to little armpit bumps (not serious, but definitely not comfortable). Also, if you apply your natural deodorant right after shaving, you are applying product to broken skin, which leads to more irritation and breakouts. So, some tips I have for you are: 

  • Use a gentle exfoliator to decongest pores 
  • Apply a warm wash cloth to your skin after shaving
  • Use a fresh blade not a dull blade
  • Shave at night, and apply your deodorant in the morning


Can Natural Deodorants Darken Underarms

Can Natural Deodorants Darken Underarms

Being in the deodorant business, I have basically heard it all…from underarm rashes, to excess odor and contact dermatitis; you name it! But a few weeks ago I started receiving questions around hyperpigmentation in the underarm area. At first I was a little bit thrown off. I have fair skin, so this is not a problem I have ever personally faced. 

However the more digging I did, the more I started to realize that this problem is considerably more common than one would think, particularly for women with darker skin, or olive skin tones. I also realized that not many people want to talk about the fact that they have dark patches in the underarm area. So here I am today. 


The Number 1 Cause of Dark Underarms

Aside from certain medical conditions, hyperpigmentation in the underarm area is normally a result of post-inflammatory irritation. However, certain ingredients that are typically found in your deodorants or antiperspirants can ALSO act as irritants, and thus cause and aggravate dark patches. So if you are suffering from dark underarms, I want you to get up and check if your deodorant has any of the following ingredients. If it does, get rid of it. 

Baking Soda


Key Offending Ingredients in Antiperspirant:  


The active ingredient aluminum is typically found in antiperspirants to keep you from sweating. It works by forming plugs in your sweat glands, which blocks your pores and leads to congestion. This can cause irritation, and lead to hyperpigmentation – especially If you have sensitive skin.


Alcohol – found in many antiperspirants, deodorants AND natural deodorants – is usually a culprit for irritation. So, even if you’re using natural deodorant, or are thinking of switching to natural deodorant, always check the ingredients to make sure it does not include traces of alcohol. 


Yes, it makes your deodorant smell delightful. However, high-levels of fragrance do not react well with sensitive skin. That being said, it’s okay to have fragrance in your deodorant, BUT it must be in the product at very low levels. 


Key Offending Ingredients in Natural Deodorant: 

Baking Soda:

This is one of the most common ingredients in natural deodorants. Unfortunately it’s an alkaline substance, and if it mixes with an acid it can alter the pH levels of your skin. Depending on your skin’s pH, your reaction to baking soda will differ – some will have mild reactions, while others will have more serious and extreme reactions. However regardless of where you fall in the spectrum, baking soda always leads to hyperpigmentation issues. 

ideal skin pH is 5.5, baking soda pH level is 9Fragrance:

Again, even when it comes to natural deodorants, stay away from deodorants that contain high levels of fragrance. The easiest way you can check is to look at the first 5 ingredients on the label. If you find that fragrance or even essential oils are within the first 5 ingredients, that means they make up the majority of the formulation. 


Other Causes of Hyperpigmentation


Believe it or not, your razor can be one of the biggest sources of irritation, especially if you have dry skin or are using a dull blade. This leads to friction which can cause the skin to darken and thicken over time. 

WHEN you shave also makes a big difference. Shaving often produces micro cuts on your skin. So, if you shave in the morning and then apply your deodorant or antiperspirant, you are applying a product to broken skin. Shaving at night gives your underarms time to heal and calm down, before applying product to the area. 


Exfoliation, particularly with aggressive scrubs, can also lead to hyperpigmentation. If you have sensitive skin or are already prone to hyperpigmentation, throw out your loofah. If you exfoliate with harsh tools or scrubs, then it will only make the condition worse. 

If you’re looking for a way to eliminate dead skin in the underarm area, use a charcoal deodorant or a charcoal mask. This will keep your pores from clogging, and will not cause irritation to the area. 



The key to calming angry armpits is to simply soothe the area that is inflamed. My favorite go-to ingredient to help with irritation is aloe vera. I absolutely LOVE it, and I highly recommend you keep a natural aloe vera gel in your bathroom at all times. Not only does it help reduce inflammation and irritation, but can also be a handy tool for sunburns or minor irritations. Trust me, it’ll make you and your underarms much happier. 




The bottom line is that the key to avoiding dark underarms is to avoid irritating the skin. If your skin is continually irritated, overtime it can lead to thicker and darker patches. Hence you need to pay attention to the ingredients in the products you use. This is often the key to avoiding irritation under there, and it can help you avoid nasty outcomes. 

If you have experienced this or have any other fixes for this problem we would love to hear from you below.



Is Charcoal Deodorant Safe During Pregnancy?

Is Charcoal Deodorant Safe During Pregnancy?

When my friend became pregnant, it certainly changed the course of our conversations! Not only did she mention all the things she has been learning about child rearing, but she also talked a lot about her own bodily changes. In fact, she asked me if charcoal deodorant was safe to use during one of our dinner conversations. You may have heard a lot about certain ingredients being dangerous during pregnancy, but I can assure you that charcoal is not one of them. If anything, you might be more inclined to use it after you read today’s Decoded.


Charcoal Is a Potent Substance in Medicine

Charcoal is often used in medicine for food poisoning and drug toxicity cases. When someone is admitted to the emergency room for a possible overdose, they are often fed charcoal alongside other treatments. Charcoal binds to the poison in their gastrointestinal tract so that it is not absorbed in their bloodstream, which is where it is fatal. It is such a powerful substance that it can bind to the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in your foods. You should only ingest charcoal according to a medical professional’s advice.


Charcoal Used As a Topical Treatment Is a Dream

According to Medical News Today, there are no adverse reactions noted with activated charcoal in terms of topical usage. It is scientifically impossible for activated charcoal to enter the gastrointestinal tract when applied topically, so it is safe to use during pregnancy.

underarm swear and odor

How Does Charcoal Deodorant Compare to Other Deodorants?

Putting charcoal on your face, hair, and underarms doesn’t seem glamorous, but it has been proven to provide the following health and beauty benefits when used properly:


It Draws Out Oil, So What Is There Not To Like?

During pregnancy, you may be sweatier and charcoal will help your armpits become less congested. This is because charcoal’s porous textures bind to all the dirt, oils, and dead skin cells clogging your pores. Similarly, the armpit contains millions of apocrine sweat glands that can be overrun with the same substances. Just like the charcoal face masks you use, a charcoal-based deodorant decongests the pores from impurities throughout the day so that you can wash away the next morning. 

It Is A Natural Substance That Minimizes Odor

Many studies have shown that activated charcoal can bind to the smelly compounds in the body that produce unpleasant odors. It is a much better alternative than baking soda, which is a skin irritant. Your skin is usually more sensitive during pregnancy, so it is best to stay clear of anything that can trigger a reaction.


I Don’t Want It to Stain My Clothes Though

Maybe you are sold on charcoal, but you think it will ruin your clothes due to its dark hue. The deodorant that I have created called the takesumi detox contains low levels of activated charcoal as you don’t need very much for it to be effective. The deodorant has a grey tinge, but applies as a clear substance. Not only does it glide on easily, but it also dries quickly.

It’s always good to question the ingredients that you are using, especially during pregnancy. Your body is changing and you are caring for another human, so taking precautions is necessary. I hope you are at ease about using charcoal deodorants after reading this post. If you have any other questions or tips on using natural deodorant during pregnancy, please leave a comment below.