I learned of the importance of natural or homemade deodorant when I was in college in the late 90’s. My roommate and best friend was a modern day hippy.
We first met freshman year of college. I remember her walking down the dorm hallway wearing a long flowing dark amber skirt, a black tank, and Birkenstocks. She had long naturally styled hair, wore a hemp necklace and carried a worn leather satchel. She made me nervous and self conscious, but at the same time comfortable and intrigued.
In her satchel, she carried jewelry beads and rolls of hemp. Later, I learned she also had her own natural sweetener drops, tea and a beautiful coin purse from some foreign country. She was so different from anyone I’d known. Thankfully, we clicked and became close friends.
She was vegetarian, loved curry and wore only natural deodorant. I loved meat, never heard of curry and enjoyed the perfumed scent of my Teen Spirit.
She told me that you can get Alzheimer’s from deodorant. I thought that was interesting but seemed too far fetched to really care about it.
17 years later, I have a vegetarian daughter, I love curry and I make my own deodorant. I thank my dear friend for her example of wholistic living and for steering me on this path.
Is it Safe to Use Traditional Store Bought Deodorant?
My science brain may have taken me over a decade to really consider the impact my deodorant could have on my future but it also helped me research the link to Alzheimer’s (as well as breast cancer). I tore apart the internet and discovered that, of course, there are two sides to this story.
Apparently, in the 1960’s, a study suggested that aluminum has been found in the brains of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s. This led to a conclusion that the aluminum in deodorant could be linked to the debilitating disease. Then, in 1999, a mass email chain spread regarding the possible link of the aluminum in deodorant to breast cancer launching the explosion of natural deodorant and even a trend to go completely bare and simply stinky (6 celebrities who don’t wear deodorant). (Funny, how that was the same time my friend informed me. I don’t remember the email, I wonder now if she does…)
Multiple studies have been done over the course of the last 20 years. Scientists, bloggers, cosmetic industries, holistic naturalists, MD’s and many more have made several conclusions based on the studies results. Well known trusted resources such as Web MD and Prevention to lessor known individuals like Dr. Edward Group at Global Healing Center and independent blogger Megan Winkler at HoneyColony all have opinions with varying interpretations of the existing research. Bottom line, nobody knows for sure and both sides are quite convincing.
My own personal take is that if it is possible to be harmful but not yet proven, why not try something that is agreeably safe and natural? I’ve been eating “clean” for several years and have removed or replaced the majority of our body care and house cleaning chemicals from our home. I feel a healthy difference in my body and simply prefer the non-chemical smell in my house. It was natural for me to try making my own deodorant.
Homemade Deodorant Recipes
I am not a chef, mostly rely on recipes and have become a victim of Pinterest for creativity. Therefore, I naturally went to the internet in search of how to make my own deodorant. I started with my daughter’s favorite you tuber, Sarah Nagel from Holistic Habits. She has a short video for a very basic recipe that works amazingly well (check it out below the recipe). This is my husband’s favorite.
Hubby’s Favorite 3 Ingredient Deodorant Recipe
All you need is coconut oil, baking soda and arrowroot powder. It is cheap and simple to make. It also works incredibly well. In fact, the first week my sweaty contractor husband used it, he felt the need to prove to me how well it works. He came home from a hard day at work and asked my to smell his armpit. I immediately said no way! Now, my husband can be quite relentless. He chased me with his arm in the air and I became so darn curious that I took a whiff. Absolutely no smell! Now, he is not typically a smelly man, however, he looked like he put in a tough day and typically would have some BO. He had absolutely none.
Print RecipeClassic Homemade Deodorant
Simple and effective deodorant. Easily customizable to your favorite scent.
Prep Time 15 Minutes
1. Select a container that you would like to use for your deodorant. (Small jelly jars work great.)
2. Using a fork, Mix together the baking soda and the arrowroot powder.
3. Add in the coconut oil and mix until smooth.
4. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil if you would like to customize the scent or add additional benefits (ex. Lavender oil smells great and provides further anti-bacterial properties).
5. Let the mixture set for a few minutes until it becomes slightly firm.
Keep in mind that this deodorant will melt in hot weather. It still works but I prefer to mix it well if it melts and place it in the refrigerator until firm.
Feel free to play around with the amount of each ingredient. Additional arrowroot powder will make it thicker. Some people are sensitive to baking soda so you can lesson the amount if you discover some skin irritation. Have fun with the essential oil. My husband prefers it plain, I like peppermint or lavender, one of my daughters likes tangerine and the other is good with whatever I make for her.
Here’s the video from Holistic Habits. It has a lot more information and Sarah is not only naturally beautiful but informative and inspirational.
I used this deodorant and discovered that it worked fantastic for smell control. It did take a little to get used to, however. First of all, you put it on with your fingers vs using a standard tube. It allows you to sweat as it isn’t an anti-perspirant and you don’t have that perfumey scent. The “allows you to sweat” thing is probably the most challenging thing to get used to. I’m not a huge sweater so this didn’t bother me that much. It also seems like a good thing to not plug my sweat ducts and let my body release it’s toxins naturally. (This is one of primary debated topics in research land about whether or not anti-perspirant is safe for you or not).
Unfortunately, after about one month, I started to notice some itchiness and a minor red rash in my arm pits. Upon further internet searching, I discovered that this can be a rather common reaction to the baking soda in this recipe. I tried to reduce the amount of baking soda and added tea tree essential oil, however, I then noticed it didn’t work as well for smell control. (My husband and children have absolutely no problem with this recipe. They love it and have no issues with a rash.)
My darn sensitive skin led me in search of another recipe. I found my next favorite deodorant at a Mennonite store in Lena, WI. It contained 9 recognizable natural ingredients and I loved it. It kept me fresh and smelling good and didn’t irritate my armpits. Unfortunately, this lovely store is over an hour away from my home and there is no way I’m going to justify that trip for deodorant. Thankfully, they listed the ingredients on the outside of the container allowing me to experiment. I searched online for recipes that contained these ingredients and found several options.
I played around with the proportions until I got a concoction that not only contained the ingredients of my favorite Mennonite brand, but was also easy to make. It contains a few more ingredients than my 1st recipe and takes a bit longer to make but it works just as well and does not cause any adverse reaction to my skin. I love it! This recipe also enables you to use a traditional deodorant stick container if you prefer. I simply poured it in a cute jelly jar and use my fingers (with the help of a cute little spatula) to apply it. I found this easier and cheaper.
My favorite deodorant
Homemade Deodorant for Sensitive Skin
Fantastic option for those of us with sensitive underarms! It also works great in a classic deodorant container so you don't have to apply it with your fingers.
Prep Time 20 Minutes
1/3 cup Coconut Oil
3 Tbls Beeswax Grated or Pellets
2 Tbls Shea Butter
1/3 cup Arrowroot Powder
2 Tbls Baking Soda
10-15 Drops Essential Oil Optional. Lavender & Tea Tree are wonderful options.
1. Melt coconut oil, beeswax, and shea butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir continuously until melted.
2. Once completely melted remove off heat and whisk in arrowroot powder and baking soda. Then add essential oils. Mix thoroughly, but quickly as mixture will start to thicken.
3. Pour into two empty deodorant containers and let your homemade deodorant sit until completely set.
If using jelly jars, it works best to use a small spatula to get it out as it is much thicker and waxier than the classic recipe. If using more traditional deodorant containers, place the lid on and use as you would any other deodorant.
I hope you enjoy these new recipes and share them with your friends and family. It may be easier to simply throw a store bought brand in your cart, however, homemade has so many more benefits. No more switching brands when your deodorant stops working for whatever reason, your pits will be softer, you won’t stink and no more worrying if you may be causing cancer or Alzheimers. Besides, home made just always feels better:)
By the way, THANK YOU Alle for your early inspiration!