Using anti-perspirant or deodorant for the first time is a big step for children and teenagers.
Whether you’re a parent looking to buy deodorant or anti-perspirant for your child, or if you’re a young person who’s ready to choose for yourself, we give you all the information you need to help choose and safely apply the best products to prevent sweat and/or body odour.
On this page you will find out more about:
- Advice for parents
- What’s the best age to start using deodorant or anti-perspirant?
- Is deodorant or anti-perspirant best for children?
- How often should young people use deodorant or anti-perspirant?
- What should children who are using deodorant or anti-perspirant for the first time look for?
- Advice for young people
Advice for parents
What’s the best age to start using deodorant or anti-perspirant?
Most children don’t need to use deodorant until they reach puberty—this is usually from around 11 years old, but can start as early as nine. One of the signs of puberty is increased sweating, as when children reach puberty their sweat glands become more active.
If the sweat is causing problems such as body odour or wet patches on clothes, or if it’s affecting your child’s confidence, it might be time for them to start wearing an anti-perspirant or deodorant.
Is there an age restriction on deodorant or anti-perspirant?
There is no official age restriction on when young people can wear deodorant.
Deodorant and anti-perspirant—suitability by age group
What to look for
Deodorant or aluminium-free anti-perspirant
Gentle on skin
Lasts up to 24 hours
Any of the deodorants in our 0% aluminium range are ideal for young skin.
Anti-perspirant or deodorant
Lasts up to 48 hours
Our Classic range of anti-perspirants is kind to skin and guards against sweat for up to 48 hours.
Is deodorant or anti-perspirant best for children?
Deodorant works by masking body odour rather than restricting sweat. This is ideal for girls especially, as they tend to be more conscious of odour and perspire less. Data from a Soft & Gentle survey revealed that 55% of girls choose a particular product because they love the smell. So if your child is keen to try deodorant, let them choose one with a great smelling fragrance they’ll love to wear!
Anti-perspirants work by blocking sweat glands, which causes the body to sweat less. They’re a good choice for older teenagers (particularly boys, who naturally sweat more than girls) or very active children.
Anti-perspirants are more effective at helping children feel dryer for longer and have the added benefit of reducing unpleasant body odour too.
How often should young people use deodorant or anti-perspirant?
Deodorant should be applied once a day to clean, dry skin. The best time to use it is after a shower or a bath but the skin must be completely dry. Deodorant can be reapplied throughout the day, as and when needed.
Anti-perspirant should only be used once or twice a day.
What should children who are using deodorant or anti-perspirant for the first time look for?
- Roll-on—this is better for pre-teens and younger teens as it’s easier to apply and can be applied to the exact area.
- Spray—older teens might prefer a spray deodorant or anti-perspirant for convenience, as they’re quick-drying and easy to reapply. In a survey by Soft & Gentle, 58% of young people said they apply a spritz of product before leaving the house to give them a confidence boost. Spray products can make young people feel more grown-up and in control of their morning routine.
- Natural ingredients—choose a product with ingredients that are kinder to skin.
- Suitable for sensitive skin—even if your child doesn’t have sensitive skin, the skin under their arms won’t be used to having products on it, so choose a gentle formula designed to care for sensitive skin.
- A fantastic fragrance—in a survey by Soft & Gentle, the scent of deodorant or anti-perspirant was the main reason young people would choose a particular brand. 70% of boys and 61% of girls surveyed said they would choose an anti-perspirant or deodorant because they like how it smells. Choosing a great-smelling product that’s also formulated for sensitive skin will mean your child can feel confident, without worrying about skin irritation.
- Aluminium-free and alcohol-free—alcohol is a common ingredient in many anti-perspirants and deodorants but it can irritate skin. Many people prefer to choose aluminium-free anti-perspirants and instead use products with plant-based ingredients.
If you feel your child is ready to try deodorant or anti-perspirant, you can see which retailers stock Soft & Gentle products here.
Advice for young people
Are anti-perspirants and deodorants suitable for people my age?
You probably won’t need to use deodorant or anti-perspirant until you start puberty. This is because sweat glands don’t become active until this point in life.
This doesn’t mean you can’t experience body odour before then though. If you have body odour and are aged 14 or under, following these tips on preventing body odour should help keep any unpleasant smells at bay.
If you’re worried about how much you sweat, or about your body odour, it’s always a good idea to speak to your parents and get advice from a doctor.
Is deodorant safe for me to use?
Yes, provided you choose the right product and apply it properly. As you’ll be using deodorant for the first time, you won’t know how it will affect your skin.
The best way to avoid irritating your skin is to:
- choose a deodorant that’s gentle on skin—look for a product that’s 0% aluminium, 0% alcohol and has been specially formulated for sensitive skin
- do a patch test—apply a little of the product to the back of your hand or behind your ear and give it 48 hours to see if you have a reaction. If you’re allergic to any of the ingredients, your skin may go red, bumpy or start to itch. If you have sensitive skin, it’s really important to do this test
- use a roll-on—roll-on deodorants are easy to apply you can put on a small amount of product in a very specific area. Spray products can be more difficult to apply
- get supervision—when you’re applying your deodorant, ask a parent to keep an eye on you to make sure you’re doing it correctly and safely
4 tips for keeping body odour at bay
As well as wearing deodorant or anti-perspirant for the first time, there are other things you can do to prevent body odour and excess sweat:
- Shower or bathe regularly, especially after playing sports…even if you’re not a fan of baths and showers!
- Wear clothes made of natural fibres such as cotton. Lightweight cotton is a breathable fabric—which means it allows air to flow through it—so it can help dry out any damp patches.
- Choose colours that help to hide damp sweat patches—black, navy and white are great choices for this. If you prefer bright colours, you could go for patterns such as checks, plaid or floral, as these are fantastic at disguising sweat patches.
- Pick a new, clean outfit every day, even if it’s just your school uniform. Bacteria and sweat can linger on clothes, so wearing clothes a couple of days in a row can make problems such as body odour and sweat patches worse. A simple way to look, feel and smell great is to wear clean clothes every day.
If you’re worried about how much you’re sweating, you can always talk to your parents or even your doctor for reassurance.
If you feel you’re ready to try deodorant or anti-perspirant, you can see which retailers stock Soft & Gentle products here.