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.
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.
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.
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.