Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: Homemade Deodorant

What is it?

Cream deodorant.

How does it work?

Making it is simple. I made up a very basic recipe based on several I found online:
  1. one tablespoon baking soda
  2. one tablespoon corn starch (or arrowroot powder) Edit July 2012: corn starch seemed to cause a rash--no issues with arrowroot. Details here.
  3. one tablespoon coconut oil
  4. 3-4 drops of tea tree oil (or other essential oil like lavender, peppermint, etc)
All you do is throw these four ingredients together in a small container (I used an empty moisturizer pot) & stir them up until they're well mixed into a paste-like consistency.

Using it is even easier: just take a pea-sized amount for each side & rub it in with your fingers. I find it goes on smoothest right out of the shower with damp skin.

Why is it good?

First & most important: it works. After a week of 'field testing', I found I still didn't have smelly pits more than 24 hours after applying the cream. I've never found a commercially available product without aluminum or other junk in it that works this well. The baking soda seems to be the key ingredient in many deodorants I found online, as well as natural ones I've bought. I'm too lazy to do the research on exactly how the baking soda does this, but take my word for it--it keeps me from getting stinky. Tea tree oil is also a natural antibacterial/antifungal, which is why I used it rather than another essential oil. The corn starch provides body for the cream, as I understand it & the coconut oil is just the spreadable base for it all.

Another reason it's good: there are no chemicals that you can't pronounce in this deodorant. No antifreeze (seriously--propylene glycol is in so many personal care products), no parabens, no phthalates, no aluminum & several other nasties that I can't even keep track of. In fact, I think you could eat it, though the tea tree oil might taste a bit weird.

Thirdly, it's dead easy. Whether or not avoiding the above-mentioned stuff is a priority for you, this is honestly not hard to make. If you already have these ingredients in your cupboards like I did, it's actually easier to make this stuff than go out & buy deodorant from the store.

One thing to note if you're considering switching from antiperspirant to this deodorant: this stuff does not prevent you from sweating like the chemicals in antiperspirant do. Wearing this deodorant, I  still sweat, but I don't stink.

Where can I get it?

Essential oils you can get at health food stores & natural health pharmacies like Finlandia, or aromatherapy chains like Escents. Coconut oil is available at most big grocery stores--I got ours at the pretty mainstream Superstore. Corn starch & baking soda, I don't need to tell you, are available practically everywhere.

How much does it cost?

This is the best part: I estimate the amount I made cost me 50 cents*. I think you could probably make a year's supply for one person for a dollar or two.

*This cost is obviously not based on buying a container of each ingredient for this sole purpose. That'd probably cost you around $30 & you'd have WAY more coconut oil that you could use on your armpits before its shelf life ended. So pick an essential oil that you'll use for other purposes as well & then start cooking with coconut oil, if you haven't already!


  1. I've been trying out different natural deodorants and haven't had much luck. A lot of them don't work in terms of keeping me some being smelly, and the ones that do end up giving me a rash. I've heard that the rash could be from the baking soda used in them, so I wonder if this recipe would just lead to the same outcome.

    I DO however have all the ingredients needed, so....

    1. I used to get some redness from the Lush creme deodorant (aromarant or something?) when I used it every day. I haven't had that issue with the one I made so far though.

      I wonder *why* the baking soda causes a rash? Is it the grittiness? Maybe the pH?

      Another possibility is that it could be another of the ingredients like corn starch, which I've heard can encourage yeast. That's another reason I used tea tree oil, because it would counteract any yeast issues. Apparently arrowroot powder doesn't have the yeast connection--I just didn't have any on hand, so I used corn starch.

      Did you use tea tree oil in your previous versions?

    2. I think it might help to put in a bit of almond oil, or some other natural oil. I wonder if the grittiness if the baking soda rubbing on skin is the cause of irritation? It certainly is the active smell-reducing ingredient, so I would be loathe to leave it out of any formulation...

    3. Ah! I also have almond oil ;)

      I've never tried making it, only store bought ones (Tom's & some other brand from Shoppers) and I don't think any of them had tea tree oil.
      May as well give this a go.

    4. If you don't have tea tree oil, I can bring mine over. We need to return your DVDs anyway!


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