And it sucks.
I wasn’t always allergic to my antiperspirant. As recently as 2007 I could wear any antiperspirant I felt like, generally I switched back and forth between an unscented invisible Degree for Women formula, and an unscented invisible Secret formula. Liked them both, had no issues, just generally bought which ever was on sale at the time.
Then, spring of 2008, my underarms started itching. It started out as really minor, hardly noticeable itchiness. Then slowly got worse. About April or so I realized that I had to be having a reaction to SOMETHING, and started working my way through all sorts of things, soap, body wash, detergent, etc, etc, trying to figure out what was the issue. I was already using as many free and clear products as I could, cause I can’t stand scents, but maybe a formula had changed? Nothing worked. Then, beginning of May, just as a heat wave (80f + mostly, which I realize for your southern folks isn’t that hot, but it is up here), I was walking into work one day when I realized I didn’t remember putting on antiperspirant. Since I was working a commissioned sales job at the time antiperspirant was a must, so I dumped my purse in my locker, grabbed the stick of antiperspirant I kept there and headed for the bathroom. It BURNED when I put it on. Oh god, I’m allergic to my antiperspirant.
By the time I got home that night my underarms were noticeably swollen and broken out in a rash. I had the next couple days off, so I headed down to the local “natural foods” store to see if I could find something I’d not react to. Of course, antiperspirant is a no-no there, it contains aluminum “of COURSE you reacted to it, it’ll give you CANCER, here try these all natural deodorants instead”. Arg. Well I didn’t have much choice at first. It was 3 days before I could put ANYTHING on my underarms, it took another week for me to decide that deodorant alone wasn’t going to work for me. Course, the first time I tried my old antiperspirant I broke out again. That wasn’t going to work.
Research online wasn’t very helpful. Lots of sites talking about people reacting to aluminum and not much else (recently, though only barely, someone did a study and realized there were alot of other things in antiperspirant that could cause reactions. To late to help me though). I didn’t see how I could be allergic to the aluminum itself, I’ve been using antiperspirant for years, including some ultra-high test stuff. I was leaning towards a formula change in one or both of my usual products (something I was never able to confirm btw). Finally ran across a reference to some people who otherwise had issues but had been able to wear Mitchems Women’s sensitive skin gel antiperspirant. I hate gels, but I needed something. I could wear it without problem, oh god that felt good. Then while shopping I ran across Almay’s line of antiperspirants, and sure enough, I could wear those too.
Since then I’ve narrowed down my actual problem to something in the “invisible” antiperspirants rather than an actual issue with the aluminum itself. I don’t know WHAT the problem chemical is, but regular (non-invisible or clear) antiperspirants almost never cause me issues, but every invisible one does, if not right away then always after a few weeks of use. I keep a couple sticks in my cupboard, of the ones I can tolerate better than others, for the occasional fancy need to go sleeveless and not show antiperspirant marks. I keep hoping though, every time one of the major brands comes out with a new sensitive skin invisible product I end up trying it. So far no luck. But non-invisible antiperspirants are hard to find, so I keep trying…..had to give up on another invisible one this week, been wearing it successfully for a couple months now, then all the sudden, itchy underarms. Aaahhh!