The mom’s guide to tween stink: 5 kid-friendly deodorants they’ll want to use


One day, it just happens. You pick your kid up from soccer practice and wonder how they managed to smuggle a hamburger into the mini van with them. Upon interrogation, you realize it’s not a hamburger at all. That’s just how they smell now. (Ok, that story is a little specific. It’s me. It’s my kid. But I’ve consulted other parents and similar stories abound.) As your kid becomes a tween, new body changes like increased sweat and odor can make deodorant a daily necessity. But not just any deodorant will do for their delicate–albeit pungent–developing bodies. Picking the right formula is key to keeping them feeling fresh and confident through those awkward puberty years. (And, let’s be honest. You don’t want them stinking up your house either.)

We’ve tapped the experts and scoured the latest research to find the top kids’ deodorant picks that’ll keep stink at bay without disrupting hormones or irritating sensitive skin. From all-natural nurturers to heavy-duty sweat fighters, these mom-approved odor busters have you covered.

Kids’ deodorant: The gentle early years

“Kids’ skin is usually more sensitive than grown-ups’, so it’s smart to start with a deodorant made just for sensitive skin,” advises Mary Berry, skincare formulator and owner of Cosmos Labs. “We’re starting with the gentle deodorants, and if it turns out the sensitive options aren’t cutting it, we can always level up and try something a bit stronger.”

Berry recommends going the natural deodorant route first rather than an antiperspirant. “For the initial trial, I’d suggest opting for a baking soda-free version, as baking soda can potentially cause irritation in some individuals,” she notes. Ones with plant-based powders like arrowroot can safely neutralize odor.

When do kids’ start wearing deodorant?

While there’s no definitive age to start using deodorant, Berry says it typically coincides with puberty’s onset. “Generally, kids start thinking about it when puberty hits, usually around 9 to 13. But everyone’s different – some might need it earlier or later. The key is to keep an eye (or nose) out for signs. If your kid’s starting to smell a bit ripe or sweating like they just ran a marathon, it might be time!”

Deodorant versus antiperspirants

Understanding the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants is important when choosing for kids, Berry explains: “Deodorant stops body odor by killing bacteria. It usually has a nice scent and doesn’t help with sweat, just the smell. Antiperspirant reduces sweat by blocking sweat ducts and occluding them with aluminum compounds. They usually also have a fragrance to help cover odor.”

For tweens, she advises starting with a deodorant to allow natural sweat release. “So deodorants fight the stink and antiperspirants fight the sweat! I’d recommend deodorants in the beginning since antiperspirant ingredients may be too harsh for delicate adolescent bodies.” That said, if the embarrassment of wet pits is getting them down, opt for an aluminum-free antiperspirant to keep moisture to a minimum.

Kid-friendly formats

No matter the formula, Berry emphasizes considering ease of application too. “For most kids starting out, I’d recommend a solid stick deodorant since it’s easy to swipe on. But spray, roll-on, and cream deodorants can work well for some too – it’s about finding what they’ll realistically use.”

Get them involved in picking their favorite scent, which can help make making deodorant an exciting new routine. “Just avoid pungent ‘grown-up’ fragrances which can be overpowering,” Berry notes. “Fruity or fun scents tend to appeal more to the tween crowd.”

Mom-to-mom pro tips:

  • Don’t force it if they resist at first–give it time and keep encouraging the new routine. Remember how long it took to get them to willingly brush their teeth?
  • Keep a few options at home for them to pick from–trying new scents/formulas can help them find their fave.
  • Consider portable/travel sizes to keep in their backpack, sports bag, or locker for refreshing on-the-go.
  • Celebrate this exciting milestone–it’s a sign they’re growing up! (Also, if it makes you tear up a little, join our club.)

As every body is different, you may need to do some trial-and-error to find the ideal deodorant match for your budding tween. But with a little guidance and patience, you can help make this whole new aspect of personal hygiene an empowering, positive experience as they navigate the road through puberty. We’ve rounded up some expert-recommended picks along with some that have worked for our own formerly stinky kids below!

The best deodorants for kids

Tubby Todd Deo Stick

Tubby Todd


$15

While Tubby Todd Deo is obviously designed for the younger set, it performs as well as any adult formulas we’ve ever tested. The silky, almost powdery formula goes on clear without being sticky and even does a great job absorbing wetness. (I’ve personally worn it for workouts and can attest!) It’s got a fruity creamsicle scent that my daughter loves and since it’s free from aluminum, baking soda, parabens, and synthetic fragrance, it never irritates sensitive skin either.

Native DeodorantNative Deodorant

Native


$12.99

As a Native user myself, it was the first brand I bought for my daughter as well. It’s super effective yes, but it was their wide selection of scents that piqued her interest. In addition to a range of signature options like Coconut & Vanilla and Cucumber & Mint, they also release fun seasonal collections like Girl Scout Cookies that kids (and adults) can’t resist. Native’s whole line of deodorants are aluminum and paraben free. But their sensitive skin options are also free of baking soda, which makes a great option for kids who be irritated by it.

Miles Teen DeodorantMiles Teen Deodorant

Miles


$9.99

There’s a lot we love about the mom-founded brand Miles. For one thing, the clean, aluminum-free formulas are available as a deodorant to block odor and an antiperspirant to keep sweat at bay. (Middle school gives you enough to be embarrassed about. Wet pits doesn’t have to be one of them.) It goes on clear, so no white marks to contend with either. We also love the inclusive approach to the product in general. Their three signature scents (Clean, Rugged and Fresh) as well as their newly released Spring Break aren’t hyper masculine or particularly feminine and approved by each of our household genders–adults included!

Curie Spray DeodorantCurie Spray Deodorant

Curie


$16

While Curie’s classic deodorant sticks work better than any drugstore stick I’ve ever used, my teen’s favorite is their spray version. The reason? It’s not just for armpits. The non-aerosol spritz, which is formulated with witch hazel and probiotics (and without baking soda, aluminum and parabens) can also be used to freshen feet, as a body spray, and under the arms to stay stink-free all day. It helps that the scents, which stick with you (in a good way!) are all delightfully sophisticated and so swoon-worthy they also use them for candles and moisturizers.

TBH Kids DeodorantTBH Kids Deodorant

TBH


$8.95

Fragrance-sensitive kids may want to opt for the hardworking, fragrance-free TBH. It’s not an antiperspirant, but since its formulated with charcoal and arrowroot powder (along with coconut oil and witch hazel), it manages to do a great job absorbing moisture while also blocking odor. The only drawback is that the charcoal seems to make it a little crumblier than the others on our list, but warming it up against the skin before applying helps!

Toms of Maine Wicked Cool DeodorantToms of Maine Wicked Cool Deodorant

Toms of Maine


$12.99

Tom’s of Maine is a go-to brand for stocking our bathrooms with natural alternatives. Not surprisingly, their kid-friendly deodorant is one of them. The Freestyle scent is a popular favorite that’s not too strong, but oh-so-fresh. Of course it’s free from all the nasties like parabens, aluminum and artificial fragrance and 10% of profits go to human and environmental causes as well.





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