Antiperspirant Causing Acne

This is a reader story from long time Love Vitamin reader and blog commenter Kit! What she writes here I find verrrry interesting, please have a read: 

First of all – I can’t stress this enough – what I’m about to discuss was not my “miracle cure.”

From the ages of twelve through my early twenties, I battled severe acne. Yes, battled. It was an all-out war.

I took two courses of Accutane, different birth control pills, saw naturopaths, healed my gut, reversed food allergies, and am still working to balance my hormones.

All of this has affected my skin dramatically during different phases of my life.

That said, I’ve pinpointed something major. My skin clears up when I quit using antiperspirant.

Stuff People Say #1: It’s All In Your Head


Since addressing my leaky gut and severe hormonal imbalance caused by trauma and chronic stress, my skin improved dramatically – totally clear except for a couple barely visible, non-inflamed bumps before my periods.

Then it happened. For the first time in a year, I used an antiperspirant.

Back story: In pursuit of cleaner and non-toxic living, I’d switched to all-natural deodorant a few years earlier.

I remembered noticing in the past that my skin seemed worse if I used antiperspirant (though I never thought much of it), so I tried forgoing it, didn’t mind it too much, and stuck with it.

I don’t know why I tried antiperspirant again. I just saw some on sale, bought it, and threw it on after a shower.

Within twenty-four hours, my skin was a mess.

At first I pinned it on something I ate.

No – I know myself, and that would have passed in four days, max. When the reaction didn’t stop after a week, on a hunch, I stopped the antiperspirant.

Within two days, I cleared up.

Curious, I tried again.

I got the same results – swollen spots all over my face, coming faster than I could dry them up with hydrogen peroxide, toothpaste or tea tree oil.

Shame, self-loathing and panic struck – what if I lost control and couldn’t stop it?

But thank goodness, I hadn’t – and I could. I stopped the product, and my skin cleared up. Again.

Stuff People Say #2: You Treat Yourself Like a Guinea Pig

I guess I do. I like knowing things for sure, so I didn’t stop there.

I tried a couple other brands – ones friends didn’t want, an unused one I had in some cabinet, a sample one that came with a purchase.

And here’s what I noticed:

Every time a product kept me dry under the arms, my face broke out – badly. If the deodorant felt ineffective and I could sweat through it, my skin was fine.

It didn’t boil down to any particular ingredient – not aluminum or anything else. In fact, one of my most violent reactions was to a popular brand of “natural,” aluminum-free product (it was Tom’s of Maine, here’s a picture of that bastard).

I tried it and thought, wow. Perfection. It’s natural, and it’s keeping me dry and fresh all day. Maybe I can have clear skin AND dry underarms! I LOVE BEING ALIVE!

The next morning, I woke up to the most painful breakout I’ve had in years.

Again, I tried to blame it on food. The product was aluminum-free! It couldn’t be causing this!

But the reaction raged on until I stopped the product, and now my skin is clear and spotless like a china plate. I’m ecstatic.

The conclusion: If my underarms can’t sweat, my face is a mess. Yes, it’s a sucky tradeoff, but I guess that’s just how it is for me. After half a lifetime of wrestling with acne, I’d rather have the clear skin.

Stuff People Say #3: I Can’t Do That. I Don’t Want to Stink

There are definitely ways to sweat without smelling. I’m back to using a few select, TRULY natural products that don’t glom up my underarm pores.

Yeah, a lot of those products are terrible, but I’m lucky to have found a couple that do quite a decent job on me (one is Primal Pit Paste, the other is Crystal Essence).

I don’t think I smell – and trust me, I’m constantly checking. I’ve even made friends check. (The test of a true friend?) I keep moist towelettes in my bag, my car, at work, etc, so I can wipe down if need be.

I usually only have to do that if I’m trying a new natural product that just isn’t cutting it. I have a couple go-to brands that don’t require that, and I feel lucky to have found them.

Seriously, if this site allowed it, I’d let you sniff-test me right now. I’m on my feet all day and work out often, but I’d pass your test. Promise.

Stuff People Say #4: This is Totally Unscientific

Fair enough. I’m not a scientist.

I remember reading somewhere that if the body can’t sweat OUT, it sweats IN, and toxins go back into your system, but I don’t remember where I read it and really, it doesn’t matter that much to me.

I’ve proved it on myself, for myself, and my skin currently looks great. That’s good enough for me.

I’m sending my story out into the Internet because while trying to research this issue, I discovered how little there is out there about it. There’s speculation, but I couldn’t find anything solid.

I did wonder briefly if I were crazy (which is why I kept experimenting, I think), but now I know I’m not. It worked – and if it’s true for me, there must be someone else out there whose skin could benefit from leaving these products behind.

It definitely won’t be the solution for everyone, and so maybe that’s not you, but hey. Maybe it is.

Rock on,

Kit is a teacher and a writer. She enjoys concerts, dancing, yoga, and reading as much as possible, preferably while traveling to new and interesting places.