Make this homemade non-toxic deodorant with just a few simple ingredients. No cooking involved – just mix the ingredients together and use right away!
You know what stinks?
Body odour is not cool. No matter who you are. Smelly armpits and the resulting assault on the noses of those around you is definitely not cool.
But you know what’s even worse?
The dozens of harmful ingredients hiding in your conventional deodorant and anti-perspirant.
Because that stuff? Can be pretty offensive as well.
But before we go any further, we need to understand the difference between ‘deodorant’ and ‘anti-perspirant’. Most conventional deodorants are actually a combination of these two compounds. Deodorant means to “remove odours,” and anti-perspiran just means to “prevent perspiration or sweating.”
However, have you ever stopped to think about why we’re all ok with the idea of preventing our bodies from sweating?
Our bodies need to sweat!
That’s right! Sweat is a natural bodily function. It regulates your body temperature, cleans your pores, and even helps to release toxins from your body.
Sweat is also odorless and only takes on a smell when it mixes with the natural bacterial flora that’s on your skin. (Hint: A health diet with lots of probiotics and fermented foods can help balance that flora.)
Did you know the average person has something like 2 MILLION sweat glands?
When anti-perspirants are applied to the skin, they dissolve in your sweat and form a gel which sits on your skin and temporarily “plugs” your pores, blocking your sweat glands and preventing them from sweating.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable with the idea of preventing my body from doing something that helps it to naturally regulate itself.
So what’s up with those harmful ingredients?
Depending on the brand of your deodorant, you may or may not even find a complete ingredients list on the back of the container. (The Household Products Database, from the National Library of Medicine, can help you track down a complete list of ingredients for most deodorants.)
So these are the main ones that I’m extra cautious around:
This is the main anti-perspirant ingredient, so it’s sole function is to stop sweat from reaching the surface of your skin.
Aluminum accumulates in breast tissue, and researchers have found significantly higher aluminum content, particularly in the underarm region, in breast tissue of women with breast cancer (as compared to a control group of women without breast cancer). Because sweating helps remove aluminum from the body, the use of anti-perspirants prevents aluminum from being properly excreted from the body, leading to further accumulation. (source)
Aluminum can also interfere with estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells, which is pretty concerning given estrogen’s well-known role in breast cancer. (source)
At the same time, however, a review of all studies that explored the connection between breast cancer risk and anti-perspirant use has come up short. The research seems to be inconclusive at best; it’s not a definite ‘yes,’ but it’s not a definite ‘no’ either. (source)
Propylene glycol is a liquid that absorbs water (i.e.: your sweat) and maintains moisture. It’s also a penetration enhancer, which means it helps other chemicals enter the body more easily. Frequent exposure to propylene glycol can lead to skin irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin. (source)
This one is always fun to discuss because this term is so perfectly ambiguous that manufacturers can list on a label to describe any number of the more than 3,000 different chemicals that are known to be used in fragrance compounds!
Most cosmetic and personal care products have this “ingredient” listed on their label; it might also be called parfum, perfume, or aroma.
Artificial fragrances are well known now for being linked to a long list of health problems like allergies, cancer, and reproductive and developmental issues. (source)
We’ve only discussed three ingredients here, but these alone should have you at least thinking about considering a safer alternative to your current deodorant.
What’s the solution?
The good news is you’ve got options!
Personally, I make my own at home with just a few simple, easy-to-find ingredients.
But it wasn’t always so simple…
You see, I never intended on making deodorant. Who the heck has the time (or money) to buy a million odd ingredients, mix them up in their kitchen lab, and hope and pray they actually turn into a useful product? Not me, that’s for sure.
So my search for a non-toxic deodorant actually started at the store. One by one, I tried nearly every single brand of natural deodorant I could find at the natural/organic stores (think Whole Foods et al).
And as much as I tried to convince myself they were getting the job done, I knew I was lying to myself. One by one, they all left me feeling sticky, uncomfortable, and just plain frustrated.
It took a while, but I finally decided to give up on my “buy a natural deodorant” mission, and instead started thinking about making my own.
I knew I didn’t want to use a recipe that involved cooking the ingredients on the stove. Call me lazy, but I just wanted something that I could mix up quickly and use right away.
Non-Toxic Deodorant Recipe
Surprisingly, it’s very easy to make yourself a non-toxic deodorant that actually works. So easy, in fact, that you can make it and use it in just about 5 minutes.
This recipe requires no cooking, no waiting, and no cooling. Just mix it up, and you’re done.
You need just four, simple ingredients:
- coconut oil (skin-soothing)
- baking soda (odor fighting)
- arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) (wetness protection)
- essential oils (optional, but highly recommended for best results)
For the essential oils, I like to use lavender and rosemary (for the nice scent), and also tea tree oil (because it’s anti-bacterial), but use whatever scents you like.
PRO TIP: Tea tree oil is a must for me. I’ve made the deodorant without it before when I’d run out, and it just did not control odors very well for me. So regardless of what other oils you use for scent, add a few drops of tea tree oil for odor protection.
Ready for the super simple recipe?
First, you’ll mix the baking soda and arrowroot powder.
Then, add the coconut oil and mash it into the mixture until you have a creamy paste.
Finally, add in your essential oils and stir very well to distribute.
That’s it, you’re done!
Now you have 2 options for storage.
Option 1: In the Fridge
The first, which is what I do, is to spoon the mixture into an old, cleaned out deodorant stick. Just keep twisting it down, then spooning the mixture in, then twisting it down again, until it’s all in. Then just smooth out the top.
If you use this option, you’ll have to put it in the fridge to harden. And that’s also where you’ll store it. Because coconut oil melts at room temperature, your deodorant will start to melt and create a greasy mess if you decide to keep it in your bathroom.
Ask me how I know… 😉
Option 2: In the Bathroom
Your other option is to just keep it in a small glass jar in your bathroom and apply it with your fingertips.
And that’s how you make non-toxic deodorant!
I know keeping deodorant in the fridge sounds ridiculous, but once you try this non-toxic deodorant, you won’t care what anyone thinks of your weird deodorant in the fridge.
…and you’ll get the last laugh because you’re beating BO in the butt and protecting yourself from harmful chemicals. 🙂
A note for shaved underarms:
Because shaving causes your hair follicles to temporarily become inflamed, applying any deodorant right after shaving is usually not a good idea. Even this homemade version can cause some irritation.
So for the first day after shaving, if I’m staying home, I usually don’t put any deodorant. But if I’m going out, I just rub some coconut oil under my arms to help soothe the area and provide at least some minimal deodorant protection. 🙂
EDIT: A reader has altered the recipe to make a firm deodorant stick (thanks, Lynn!)
3/8 cup of corn strach + 1/8 cup baking soda + 2 tablespoons of melted shea butter + 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. After the oils set, this made for very firm deodorant which should be safe at room temperature for most summer days. If you or any of your readers wish to try this variation please bear in mind shea butter has a “nutty” scent to it so you may wish to add some essential oil if you’re not a big nut fan.
Where can you buy essential oils?
You can find them at any health food store that sells natural and organic products. My favorite brand, especially for products I’m using on the skin is Plant Therapy.
- In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda and arrowroot powder.
- Add the coconut oil and mash with a fork into the baking soda/arrowroot mixture until you have a creamy paste.
- If adding essential oils, do so at this time and stir well to distribute.
- Spoon the mixture into the deodorant stick. After each spoonful or 2, twist the stick down to make room for more deodorant. When it’s full, smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
- Store in fridge to prevent melting, or keep in a glass jar on counter and apply with fingertips.
- Depending on your skin sensitivity, you may use between 4-6 tablespoons of coconut oil for this recipe. For more sensitive skin, you'll use more coconut oil, for less sensitive skin, you'll use less coconut oil.
Not ready for the DIY?
That’s cool. I feel you. Sometimes the whole keep your deodorant in the fridge thing can get kinda old. But when it really got annoying? Whenever I needed to travel! The softer consistency of this deodorant when at room temperature definitely makes it non-travel friendly.
So what’s a girl to do? For travel, I used to make a small batch and keep it in a small glass jar with a tight lid, and just take that with me.
But I finally – FINALLY! – found a store-bought deodorant with ingredients I can trust. And it’s totally travel friendly! Schmidt’s deodorant is now my go-to deodorant for when my homemade version is just not a practical option.
Ready to ditch the harmful chemicals and make your own non-toxic deodorant?
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