I have been using my homemade deodorant for awhile now, and I am blown away by how well it works. Not only is it better for me, but I get to tailor it to my specific preferences.
I first got the idea that commercial deodorants were bad when I read this article about how the aluminum in commercial antiperspirant deodorants prevents your body from sweating (which is one of the ways that the body releases toxins), and it was reason enough to make me search for an aluminum free deodorant! (Not to mention that aluminum is toxic to the body.) My husband was easily able to find a deodorant without an antiperspirant (Dove was his original choice, but we have switched to Every Man Jack), but I was only left with a few natural options at the grocery store. I tried every one, and none of them worked. In fact, Tom’s Natural Deodorant actually made me smell worse!
Then my cousin said she tried Primal Pit, and it was the first natural deodorant she had ever used that actually worked. I was going to buy some myself, but when I saw the price tag and the list of ingredients, I thought, “I can make this!”
Homemade Deodorant Recipe
This recipe will make four 4 oz. jars of deodorant, and each jar typically lasts me about 4-6 months. Coconut oil has a shelf life of about 18 months (if in a covered jar), so that’s a pretty good expectation for how long it should keep. *Although 2022 update, I just used my last jar that I made about 5 years ago, and it still worked just fine!
*Note: The pictures below actually show me making a double recipe. When I make things, I like to have enough to last for a long time, and I like to have extra to give away!
- ½ c. Coconut Oil (Provides an antimicrobial effect by disrupting bacterial, fungal, and viral cell membranes, leading to cell death. This is great for eliminating odor.)
- ¼ c. Cocoa Butter (I like using it for its smell and for how hard it is at room temperature (which gives it a longer shelf life. It also contains cocoa mass polyphenol (CMP), which helps ease rashes and may also inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and tumors.)
- ¼ c. Shea Butter (Not only is this a great moisturizer, but it has amazing healing properties which are great for any shaving nicks you might have.)
- *2 T. Beeswax (Add this to firm up the deodorant if making deodorant sticks; it has antibacterial and healing properties, but it can clog pores and prevent sweating.)
- ¾ c. Arrowroot Powder (This is one of the key ingredients because it helps to absorb moisture. You could also use non GMO cornstarch.)
- ¾ c. Baking Soda (This neutralizes the bacteria that causes odor. I get big generic boxes of sodium bicarbonate of soda at the grocery store. FYI: All baking soda is aluminum free.)
- 15 Drops of Tea Tree Oil (An essential ingredient that helps kill the bacteria and fungus that makes you stink.)
- 10 Drops of Lavender Oil (Not only does this smell amazing, but it kills the bacteria and fungus that causes odor.)
- 10 Drops of Honeysuckle Oil (The pleasant aroma helps to eliminate mental and physical stress, and it has some great healing properties too. I just love the smell! But if it’s not your cup of tea, you could skip it or use something else.)
- Four 4 oz. Canning Jars (I usually prefer storing things in glass jars because of the toxins in plastic.)
- Measure the Ingredients: Measure the coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and beeswax (for deodorant sticks) and place in a glass bowl. It’s helpful to break apart and mash them up a bit before melting.
- Double Broiler: You can use a double broiler like this, or you can just put a glass bowl on top of a pan of boiling water (that’s what I did). Make sure everything is completely melted before moving on. This should take about 15-20 minutes. If you want to speed things up, put a towel over the top. Just make sure it doesn’t touch the burner!
- Add Powders: Using hot pads, place the bowl on the table. Then add the arrowroot powder and baking soda. Mix with a fork until it’s nice and creamy.
- Add the Essential Oils: I like using a dropper like this for measuring my oils. Don’t add the essential oils before you heat everything up because they will evaporate and not be as strong.
- Storage Containers: I like keeping my deodorant in small glass jars because that is what fits best in my bathroom. I like using a glass measuring cup like this to transfer the recipe into small jars. (*Once the deodorant hardens, I find it useful to stir it up with a spoon or fork so that it’s easier to use.)
If you want to be able to keep your deodorant in a plastic deodorant container, you can use the above recipe, and keep in the refrigerator, or you can modify the recipe by adding more beeswax. Fyi: I tried both recipes on either armpit, and the recipe with more beeswax did not work as well.
How Should I Use This? First of all, natural deodorants really work best on thoroughly cleaned armpits. So when you’re in the shower, don’t just graze your pits with a loofa; really get in there with a bar of soap and make sure they are clean! I find it’s best to apply this deodorant right after I get out of the shower (I have never had it sting after shaving my pits) and before I put any clothes on, but you could apply it once you’re dressed too. (It won’t leave any white marks on your clothes like traditional deodorant sticks, and it’s not so oily so that it will leave grease stains on your clothes either.) Scoop a pea sized amount onto your fingertips and rub into your pits. With the leftover residue on my fingertips, I usually smooth out any flyaway hairs on the top of my head and rub the rest into my hands to soften them up. I typically don’t reapply throughout the day, but if you’re worried about stinking, it might be a good idea.
Can I Play Around with the Recipe? I have played around with many different combinations and types of oils, butters and wax, and even though this exact recipe is my favorite, there is a lot of room to play around with different combinations of things. For example, you could substitute cocoa butter for shea butter or eliminate the beeswax altogether. The coconut oil is antimicrobial and pretty easy to come by, so that’s always a staple for me. As a rule of thumb, you basically want the dry ingredients to be about one and a half times more than the liquid ingredients. I have used many different essential oil combinations, and this one turned out simply divine! I really think that the tea tree oil and lavender oil are essential, but the honeysuckle was just for my personal preference. Feel free to add whatever essential oils you like until you find the right combination that works for you.
Where Can I Get the Ingredients? I originally bought all of my ingredients on Amazon, and I have linked to them above. I used my favorite organic brands, and I really loved the quality. But since then, I have discovered Bulk Apothecary. They are an amazing company that consistently delivers a quality product at a reasonable price. I buy coconut oil (not organic) in bulk from Country Life to use for cooking. Also, once you buy the shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, beeswax, and essential oils, you’ve got a lot of the ingredients to make whipped body butter, toothpaste, and lip balm (recipe coming soon).
How Can I Make This Recipe More Manly? I have not yet made this deodorant for my husband, but I’d like to someday, and I will update this post when I do. In the meantime, to make this recipe into a version fit for a manly man who likes manly smelling things, I would use all of the same ingredients except for the lavender and honeysuckle oil. If you take those out, the tea tree oil might be a little overpowering, so you could add sandalwood oil, cedarwood oil, vanilla oil, patchouli oil, or any other scent combination that works for you.
Is There an Adjustment Period? If you’ve been using an aluminum based deodorant for awhile, you’ll need to “detox” for a bit before your body fully adjusts. With your antiperspirant deodorant, your pits weren’t allowed to sweat freely. Now they are, and they will have a lot of toxins to eliminate. So you may initially see a large amount of perspiration as your body adjusts. After awhile, however, things will taper off and you’ll settle in to a new normal. I’ve also heard that your pits might be a little sensitive at first, but I haven’t personally experienced that myself. If this happens to you, you might want to make a batch with about half of the recommended baking soda and go really easy on the tea tree oil, which is probably what’s irritating you.
Why Do Underarms Stink Anyways? Sweating is how the body cools itself down when we get too hot. Sweat has no odor. The odor is caused by the bacteria that live on our skin. Basically, the bacteria metabolize the proteins and fatty acids from our sweat, and this is what causes body odor. We don’t need to stop the sweat to stop the odor, we just need to stop the bacteria. This is why so many of the ingredients in this deodorant recipe are anti-bacterial. If you’re really concerned about having stinky pits, you should make sure to shave often so that the bacteria have less places to get trapped. Other things can effect the smell of your pits as well. Being overweight, being diabetic, taking antidepressants, and eating garlic, certain spices, and alcohol can also effect the smell of your pits.
Reasons to Avoid Commercial Deodorant
When I researched these harmful ingredients found in commercial ingredients, I was very glad that I had stopped using it and found a better alternative.
- Aluminum – A metal used to help block the sweat from escaping from the pores. It has been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. (Here’s a study showing aluminum found in breast biopsies. This is a great article if you want to learn more about the dangers of aluminum.)
- Parabens – A synthetic preservative that disrupts the hormonal balance leading to early puberty, a higher risk of hormonal cancers, birth defects, and organ toxicity. (Check out this study about how parabens are found in breast tumors, and read this article that explains how when mothers are pregnant, parabens cross the placenta and are even found in higher concentrations in the baby.)
- Propylene Glycol – A petroleum based material used to soften cosmetic products that in large quantities can damage the central nervous system, liver, and heart. It is also found in many processed foods. (This is a great article to learn more about the dangers of propylene glycol.)
- Phthalates – A class of chemical used to dissolve other ingredients and to create a better consistency that has been linked to birth defects, cell mutation, and a disruption of hormone receptors. Used in cosmetics, synthetic fragrances, plastics, body care products, and medical goods. (This is a great article to learn more about how phthalates can affect you when you’re pregnant and what to do about it.)