Update: since it’s original publication in 2012, this is THE most popular recipe on my site, and I’ve heard from women (and men!) around the world saying that this is the natural deodorant that works for them. Give it a try!
I’ve been so curious about this project. Who is going to be brave enough to try it … and who will just think I’m crazy?
Well dear readers, I am only crazy in an effort to bring YOU natural, healthy solutions to common problems.
And clearly underarm stinkiness is a common problem!
But first, why isn’t my store-bought deodorant, or *gasp* anti-perspirant, good enough?
Have you looked at the ingredients list on your stick of deodorant?
Active Ingredients:Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY (17.8% W/W).Inactive Ingredients:Cyclopentasiloxane; PPG-14 Butyl Ether; Stearyl Alcohol; Hydrogenated Castor Oil; PEG-8 Distearate; Fragrance (Parfum); Talc; Corn (Zea Mays) Starch; Vegetable Oil (Olus); Glyceryl Oleate; Propylene Glycol; BHT; t-Butyl Hydroquinone; Citric Acid .
Them’s chemicals, ’nuff said.
OK let’s look a little more closely. Here’s the full analysis of this deodorant on the EWG site.
Aluminum is found in most anti-perspirants to physically block sweat from leaving your pores. It absorbs into your skin cells, causing them to take on more water and swell, thereby blocking the sweat glands – read how it works here. But isn’t sweating how our body releases toxins? Yes. This is why aluminum in anti-perspirants is so controversial. Speculation is everywhere across the internet about whether it causes breast cancer or Alzheimers or a variety of other conditions … but the truth is, we just don’t know yet.
Fragrance the big mystery ingredient which could contain anything from safe essential oils (which it probably doesn’t, because they’re expensive) to toxic, carcinogenic chemicals. Companies are allowed to hide all of these ingredients in their proprietary fragrance. It’s just a big question mark what you’re getting with this!
Stearyl Alcohol is drying and a potential skin irritant.
Talc is questionable because of risk of contamination with asbestos.
BHT is classified by EWG as causing cancer, endocrine disruption and potential reproductive toxicity. Awesome!
Plus a slew of other questionable ingredients you can find in the full analysis link above. And this deodorant only ranks a 5 on the EWG scale of toxicity!
Fortunately, there is a better and more natural alternative.
Anti-perspirant stops you from sweating. We can’t make this at home, and we might not even want to (if you believe it’s good to sweat out toxins!)
What we can do is make a natural deodorant which inhibits bacterial growth so you smell sweet all day long. Hooray!
This deodorant is simple and it works for me. Variations of this recipe are all over the internet, but after a lot of experimentation, this is the blend that I love and use regularly.
This lovely, tropical-smelling homemade deodorant contains 4 ingredients:
- Coconut oil. Coconut oil is moisturizing and has a natural antibacterial effect.
- Arrow Root Powder. Silky smooth for a nice texture. I prefer Arrowroot powder to cornstarch, because cornstarch may encourage yeast growth? Not good. Stick with Arrowroot.
- Baking Soda. Absorbs odors (you know how Grandma kept a box in the fridge to make it smell nice … same idea in your underarms!)
- Essential Oils. Antibacterial again, and odor-busting. I use lime essential oil for a tropical fragrance!
Coconut Lime Deodorant
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp baking soda ((aka sodium bicarbonate))
- 3 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 5 drops lime essential oil (or your preferred essential oil)
Just mix it all together and put into a container. If you want easier mixing, melt the coconut oil first and then let harden before using.
Always always always label the container!
To use, scoop out a little bit (maybe 1/4 tsp) on your finger, press against your underarm for a few seconds to soften, then rub in. Repeat on the other side.
My little secret: the top of my deodorant did not look this good at first. So, I melted it down with a hairdryer for a few seconds, then smoothed it with a knife. Yes, I admit it. Pretty beauty products are more fun though!
Coconut oil melts at very low temps, so if you live in a hot climate, you might want to store this in the fridge. Or add a bit of beeswax to hold it together.
Baking soda can irritate some people’s skin. If you want more odor-fighting, increase the amount of baking soda. For a gentler deodorant, decrease the baking soda, or leave it out altogether.
Don’t like coconut lime? Use a different essential oil like tea tree or lavender.
Lime essential oil makes your skin extra sensitive to sunlight. Since you use deodorant under your arms, it shouldn’t be a problem!
Effective deodorant seems to be a very personal thing, so change the ratio of baking soda and arrowroot powder until you find what works for you!