Yea, you read that right: DIY deodorant. Come along with me on this journey, folks. I dare you.
What got me on the natural deodorant path was actually my laundry. I was tired of trying to purge my tops and shirts of my industrial-strength deodorant. If you’re curious, I was using a combination of baking soda and white vinegar, forming a paste and then using a toothbrush to rub the mixture into the antiperspirant stain. It’s obviously a pain in the ass and even more so during the summer.
Previously, I had tried a couple of natural deodorants and they didn’t work, even in the slightest. I realize now that I had to go through a sort of antiperspirant detox. It took about a week but the results are:
- better underarm skin. Not that this was a priority but it was a nice surprise.
- less sweating. Maybe my armpit skin was choking on the aluminum compounds in my antiperspirant… who knows.
- no more stains on my clothes!
So the DIY option was just for fun since I had all the ingredients and it seemed like an interesting experiment. Chances are you have the ingredients in your house already, but if not they’re pretty cheap. The recipe was derived from this one but I cut it in half so I can try different scents and play with the ingredients until I get the consistency I like
- 2 TBSP coconut oil: I purchased mine at Trader Joes. It’s great for dry skin and I also oil my baking dishes with it. So even if this experiment doesn’t work out for you, you can use your coconut oil for other stuff. Plus it smells awesome. You can probably use other oils but I like that this one dries as a solid. To make this mix better, heat up the coconut oil in the microwave for a few seconds at a time until it’s a liquid.
- 1 TBSP baking soda: I might use a little less than this if you’re prone to sensitive skin since baking soda can irritate skin, but I didn’t have a problem unless I applied too much. This ingredient is important for both it’s odor-blocking and antibacterial properties.
- 3 TBSP arrowroot powder. When you’re browsing your local grocery store and gasp at how much this stuff can cost, keep in mind you can get it at most bulk food stores and other online retailers. I’ve seen other recipes that use corn starch but I haven’t tried it in this recipe. It’s often a main ingredient in dry shampoo so I suppose it’s relatively safe, but I’m not totally sure if it’d be good for deodorant.
- 5-10 drops essential oil. This can be almost anything: lavender, citrus, vanilla… I used jasmine-infused oil and it smells amazing. Whatever you put in there, it won’t compete with the coconut scent. I’d stay away from tea tree oil: that stuff is STRONG and can be used in household cleaners, although people swear by it for skin problems. You could even put a few sprays of your favorite perfume. If you’d like, divide up your deodorant mixture into a couple of small dishes, add the oil and experiment to find your favorite scent.
Depending on the temperature, your mixture can range from chalky/pasty to runny like conditioner. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature but right now in Los Angeles it’s as runny as olive oil. The arrowroot powder acts as a thickening agent much like corn starch so you’re not dealing with a runny mess. I found a little plastic travel container and put my mixture in there.
I keep it in an airtight container but many of your old skincare jars would work.
One of my main questions I had before trying this was oil stains on my clothing. I haven’t experienced this problem at all. I think the coconut oil really absorbs into your skin and takes the essential oils with it, so you’re good to go. For me, I only use a pea-sized amount under each arm, maybe less. That’s it. If I use too much, it will start to ball up. If that happens, I just brush it away. Before a workout, I’ll apply a little more and I’m good to go. I just hope no one has noticed me covertly sniffing my armpits while I’m stretching.
Overall rating: 9 (out of 10).
Even if you have to buy all of the ingredients, each “batch” costs about the same as a regular stick of deodorant, and a cheap one at that. I think my per-batch cost is about $2.50. And it lasts a very long time. Being able to customize the scent is a benefit I didn’t think of originally but now I think it’s great that I don’t have to smell like a typical deodorant. And if I get bored, all I need is a new essential oil or perfume.
For those of you who are taking on this challenge, the DIY option is pretty good since you’re still using a “solid” and there’s some reassurance in using that over a spray or roll-on product. That being said, here’s the skinny on some of the top/popular natural deodorants.
Dr. Hauschka Deodorant
: This is probably the most expensive natural deodorant out there. If I have to choose between a great brunch and deodorant, guess what I’m going to pick
… I’m a skincare junkie so I had to try this one on principle. You have a choice between a floral scent and a “fresh” scent (kind of a sage/herbal scent) and they’re both pleasant but too weak for me. The scent didn’t last any longer than any of the other deodorants I’ve tried so the high price seems really unjustified. Overall: 5 out of 10.
Weleda Deodorant in Wildrose (also in sage and citrus):
Here you also have a floral and a sage option, but you also have a citrus one. They’re cheaper than Dr. Hauscka but still seem steep in price. I’m not a fan of rose-scented skincare products, but the sage and the citrus were great. If I had to pick one, the sage probably worked with my body chemistry the best. I think it lasted a little longer than Dr. Hauschka as well. The downside is there’s tea tree oil in it: seriously folks, tea tree oil can take paint off a car. Luckily there’s not a ton of it in here and you can reapply as often as you like without it being irritating or smelling like a hippie commune, but it’s something to think about. Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties so I think that makes this one effective in that sense. Overall: 6.5 out of 10.
EO Organic Deodorant Spray in Lavender
: If you want something really pure and adore the smell of lavender, this one is for you. The ingredients are pretty much alcohol (which is in all of the sprays), water and lavender oils. That’s it. It’s USDA certified organic, too. The only downside I can see is the lavender can be strong if you have a sensitive nose. Also, I did have to reapply in the summer heat. That being said, this costs a fraction of the price (about $6 or less) so if it’s a dud then you can use it as a bug repellant (many bugs don’t like the smell of lavender). Overall: 7-10.
Lavanila The Healthy Deodorant – Pure Vanilla
(comes in a ton of vanilla-based scents): This one gets the award for Chicest Scent. Most natural deodorants come with natural scents which can smell a little earthy for my taste. If you want a deodorant that smells more like a perfume, this one is for you. Once again it’s expensive side but it… smells expensive? I don’t think it has any more staying power than the others but you truly are paying for the scent with this one. Overall: 6 out of 10.
Crystal Stick. FAIL. What the hell is this stuff for? It’s like I’m immune to it completely. It’s the cheapest option on this list aside from the DIY option but it gets great reviews. What am I missing? Overall: 1 out of 10
If you’d like to do your own research, I should mention that a lot of reviewers are used to conventional antiperspirants and are expecting miracles. From a performance standpoint, drugstore antiperspirants do a great job and keeping sweat to a minimum and/or covering it with a fragrance, but this whole endeavor was to get away from the strong chemicals that are in those products AND to save my clothes from destruction. There’s a good chance you’ll have to reapply any/all of these products. For me, the benefits of natural deodorant outweigh the convenience of antiperspirants.