Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Make Your Own Deodorant (It's A Deodorant And A Dessert Topping!)

I stopped using mainstream antiperspirant a long time ago, both because it irritated my skin and because I was concerned about the health implications of the aluminum it contained. I tried a variety of "natural" deodorants, like Tom's of Maine, but wasn't able to find one that was completely satisfactory. Some of them irritated my skin, perhaps because of the base—propylene glycol, alcohol, etc. Some didn't work very well. Some of them ("rock" deodorants) left me with further questions about safety. I was never quite satisfied. I was not willing to sacrifice health, so I sacrificed some functionality. I found a great aloe-based deodorant by Alvera that was not quite heavy-duty enough for me. But I didn't mind if I smelled a little sweaty sometimes, so I used it for a while.

Things must be worse for the ladies. Many women shave their armpits, making them more vulnerable to irritation. Also, many women would rather not smell sweaty, or have big sweat stains under their armpits. Not as big a deal for many guys I think.

I'd been thinking about making my own deodorant for a while. A few weeks ago, inspired by some blog posts (here and here) I took the plunge. I haven't looked back.

Here's the recipe I used:
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 4 tbs baking soda
  • 2 tbs cornstarch (or 3 tbs arrowroot—see Addendum 2, below)
  • 8 drops assorted essential oils (including tea tree)
Melt the coconut oil (a hot water bath should do it). Put it all together in a half-pint mason jar. Shake, shake, shake, stir, stir. Put it in the freezer for a while so that it solidifies.

I had a bottle of mixed tea tree-lavender oil sitting around, so that's what I used. Tea tree is a good place to start, because of its natural antimicrobial properties. I may try adding some ginger. Garlic has some great qualities, too…tempting!

If your house is warm and your deodorant is liquid when you want to use it, give it a shake.

To use it, dip your finger in and spread it around in your armpit. You may want to wash your hands afterwards, but you don't have to.

And if you add some lemon oil and a pinch of stevia, you may be able to say, "It's a deodorant…and a dessert topping!"

ADDENDUM (1/2/2011):

I have recently been using a modified version of the recipe. It is basically the same, but uses only 3 tbs baking soda and 1.5 tbs corn starch. It works just as well, and is slightly milder.

ADDENDUM 2 (6/21/2012):

Folks have raised concern over using corn starch, since non-organic corn starch is almost certainly going to be GMO. One way to address this is to use organic corn starch (which cannot be GMO). Another is to substitute arrowroot. Opinions vary about whether or not arrowroot is a one-to-one substitute for cornstarch. In my experience, you may want to use half again as much arrowroot as cornstarch. I have annotated the above recipe to reflect this.


missmessy said...

I use the above recipe, but replace the cornstarch with arrowroot powder. For ladies cornstarch might be a little to irritating to delicate, freshly shaved skin. I like geranium/lavender/tea tree. about 5 drops of each in a 4 oz jar.

I squish mine into an old deoderant container, and keep it in the fridge so it stays solid. Just roll on like a regular stick. I keep my cod liver oil right next to it in the fridge, so i remember every day.....

Andrea said...

I found that just using coconut oil was good, at least for me. I know everyone is different and has different needs as far as deodorant goes. I find the coconut oil has a great smell just on it's own too. I keep a jar by my bed, doubles as a great message oil too!

Alex Lewin said...

It's funny...I am surprised now when I see mainstream antiperspirants in people's bathrooms. But of course most people in the US still use these...

Annabelle Ho said...

I didn't realize the recipe would be so simple, I'm definitely going to try it and some of the suggestions! Thanks for posting!

Carla said...

I didn't realize you look at the contents of people's bathrooms Alex. I'm one of those hair-farming females and mind neither sweating nor smelling. It seems though, that others mind hairy females who sweat and smell like sweat. I will eat this home-made deodorant on my soba noodles for breakfast tomorrow.

Alex Lewin said...

Carla: I would ask you to marry me, but my girlfriend might take it the wrong way.

An Hour In the Kitchen said...

Love homemade deodorant and it works better than any of the natural stuff I've ever bought. I actually gave it as holiday gifts last year!

I pour mine into an push-up deodorant container while it was still soft/melted. It works fine that way until the summer, then I revert to using finger tips to apply.

Anonymous said...

I love coconut oil-based deodorant. I think my current batch just has the baking soda, no cornstarch, and rosewater oil. I love it. I'll try this recipe next time. Thanks!

schatjeyuka said...

Very nice information. My partner does not appreciate the smell of coconuts oil. Anyone has an replacement for coconuts oil? Maybe fresia oil (if some thing like that exist).

Alex Lewin said...

Shea butter would be a great base, too, for folks who don't like coconut. (But you can hardly smell the coconut anyway, because of the tea tree oil.)