Homemade deodorant was one of those hurdles I balked at when taking on making my own non-toxic personal care products. I guess I was convinced there was no way it would work. Or it would feel funny. Or stain my clothes. Or be too hard.
Luckily, I was wrong on all counts! I started experimenting with natural deodorants after seeing the film Chemerical and seeing continued suggestions that the aluminum found in most store-bought deodorants may be linked to Alzheimer’s Disease. (Not to mention other potentially dangerous chemicals like parabens, pthalates, and SLS.)
It was a bit of a journey to find the recipe I’d recommend most highly. I’ll take you through the pros and cons of all three methods I tried, and leave you with a recipe that you will hopefully love as much as my husband and I do.
- The method: Several natural/diy bloggers recommend simply applying rubbing alcohol to your armpits with a cotton ball to help with odor.
- Pros: It works. You don’t stop sweating, but you do stop stinking.
- Cons: In high-heat weather, you’re likely to require application more than once a day… and if you’ve just shaved, it hurts like CRAZY. So for me, that ruled this method out entirely. (Also, DIY Natural updated their recipe based on concerns that using rubbing alcohol can be toxic over time!)
- The method: I had read you can apply baking soda directly to your armpits to help not only with odor but also with perspiration. You can use fingers, a powder puff, or cotton ball to apply – sort of like talc.
- Pros: Definitely helps with odor – at least initially. Ingredients is cheap and easy to find.
- Cons: It works great at first; however, after only a bit of sweating, you’ve really got to reapply. Also, depending on your level of perspiration, you may end up with a bit of a sludge problem under your arms. So you’ve got to either remove any leftover baking soda… or apply less each time, but do it more often. Since I really need something that tackles odor, this option was not adequate for me – particularly in the summer.
Homemade Deodorant with Coconut Oil + Shea Butter
- The method: If you google around a bit, you’ll find lots of recipes out there that use coconut oil as a base for a natural, homemade deodorant.
- Pros: Works like a dream! One application and no odor – even with very intense activity. It also works MUCH better than any natural store-bought option I’ve found (which not only often stung after I shaved, but also left with with a very strange odor by the end of the day). This one can be used directly after shaving with no pain… and it does not stain clothing.
- Cons: You still sweat. Which makes sense, because it’s really the antiperspirant part of most traditional deodorants that are causing alarm. Also… the recipe I tried initially uses cornstarch, which some people suggest can create yeast. So… the recipe below includes arrowroot powder instead. (Not as easy to find, but then no concern of harboring/creating yeast under your arms!)
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Having tried several methods and gathered multiple recipes thus far, this is the formula I intend to use going forward. It eliminates the cornstarch in favor of arrowroot and uses shea butter instead of beeswax (which you will find in some recipes) in order to help avoid staining. Important to note, however, that this means it has to be stored somewhere cool so that it doesn’t get too soft!
I’ve also decided to add a bit of essential oil to our next batches (tea tree for my husband and lavender for me) for their antibacterial properties. The oil is by no means necessary – the coconut oil on its own smells really nice. I just figure a bit more antibacterial oomph is a good thing. 😉
3/8 cup arrowroot powder
1/8 cup baking soda
2 Tbsp. shea butter
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
5 drops essential oil (optional)
- Place the shea butter and coconut oil in a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave in 10-second increments until melted. You want it to be soft but not completely liquified. (Think runny pudding as a consistency.)
- Add in the arrowroot powder and baking soda ; mix until well combined.
- If using oil, add 5 drops and stir again.
- You can store the deodorant in a glass jar and apply using your fingerstips (which is what I do), or use an empty deodorant container (which is what the hubby prefers). To do this, make sure the platform is all the way down (i.e., unroll it before you start). and then fill using a spoon – you can even make a little mound at the top and then cover with the cap.
- Place the deodorant in the fridge for 24 hours to let it harden. Remember to store it somewhere cool in between uses!