The $4 DIY Natural Deodorant That WORKS
A few years ago I started looking more carefully at labels. I wanted to increase my awareness of the ingredients I was putting on and in my body. Your body is the most important tool of your life and you only get one. You gotta take good care of it!
So when I started looking more critically at labels, I realized there were a lot of chemicals going onto my skin and into my bloodstream that I didn’t know much about. The jury – and by that I mean irrefutable scientific fact – is still out on the degree to which some chemicals can affect our bodies.
If you’ve followed my blog (thank you!) you’ll know by now that I’m not a very risky gal. Until I can see some evidence that these rather scary household chemicals are not negatively affecting my health, I’d rather play it safe and reduce my exposure to them if it’s not necessary. Some chemicals are necessary, of course! But if there are viable, effective options available, I like to take that route.
In adopting this new ‘au natural’ lifestyle, I was primarily targeting my personal care products and home cleaning products, since those are the chemicals I was a bit iffy on, have the most frequent exposure to, and there are effective natural alternatives that are likely safer for my body, certainly safer for the environment, and easier on my budget.
There are some conflicting studies and opinions on whether mainstream chemical antiperspirants and deodorants have links to breast cancer, so again, it all might be bunk but I like to err on the side of caution and not pump my lymph nodes full of aluminum and parabens, just in case!
I set out to find a natural deodorant that actually worked. You can’t be going around all stinky, yo, and some natural deodorants just do NOT do the job! I finally found one that was about 80% effective, and it costs $7 a stick. That’s the downside of being both frugal AND trying to eliminate chemical exposure. Some natural beauty and body products are effing expensive. You can’t just pick them up at the dollar store.
So I took matters into my own hands (or rather, into my own armpits – ha!) After a few false starts and experiments, I finally perfected my DIY natural deodorant cream. It took me a while to get the formulation right, because I needed to find the best balance of bacteria-killing/absorbing compounds like kaolin clay, baking soda, corn starch, and tea tree oil; a smooth easy-to-rub-in texture; and an essential oil blend that smelled great but also contained effective odour-busters. FYI: In too high a concentration, baking soda can irritate many people’s skin, but it’s also super effective at absorbing odour. The essential oils also need to be diluted appropriately to prevent irritation while still smelling strong enough.
My final product has the consistency of putty at room temperature (though the nature of coconut oil means there is some variation in consistency with temperature fluctuations). It goes on silky-smooth while absorbing quickly into the skin, is non-sticky and has a fresh and clean tea tree/lemon/peppermint/fir scent. This recipe literally takes 10 minutes to whip up, and it makes about 1 cup of deodorant. My fiance and I both use it every day and it lasts for 4 months! You only need an amount the size of a chickpea or a marble for each arm (guys may need a little more).
This is another recipe where you may need to source some items you wouldn’t normally have in your cupboard, but if you start making your own personal care products, these items will become staples in your DIY beauty toolkit. You might think “Gah, $15 for clay!” but trust me, it lasts SO long, so it’s super cheap on a per-use basis. When I consider I was paying $7 for a natural deodorant that sorta-kinda worked and lasted a month, the clay seems like a great deal!
What you’ll need:
10 tbsp white clay – I found mine at a local health food store ($2)
5 tbsp baking soda (not baking powder) (.15)
5 tbsp corn starch (.05)
7 tbsp coconut oil – refined is better for personal care products, since the coconut smell has been removed (.15)
1 tsp of a light body oil like almond, apricot kernel or avocado (I use almond) (.05)
Essential oils: (approx. $1.50 total)
1/2 tsp tea tree oil
1/2 tsp + 5 drops lavender oil
40 drops lemon oil
25 drops balsam fir oil (or pine, if you prefer)
50 drops peppermint oil
30 drops lemongrass oil
2 small bowls
Container with a tight lid. This recipe actually fits perfectly into a cleaned out body butter container, so you can also be a reduce/reuse/recycle Queen!
What you do:
1) Spoon out the coconut oil into a bowl and melt in the microwave until it’s just become totally liquid. Don’t over-cook it. About 1 minute should do it.
2) In another small bowl, whisk together the white clay, baking soda, and corn starch (just like cake batter, right? Just joking, do NOT eat it. I mean, it won’t kill you or anything, but it’ll taste disgusting)
3) Add the light body oil and essential oils to the melted coconut oil and whisk gently to blend.
3) Slowly add the powder mixture to the oil mixture, a bit at a time, whisking constantly.
4) Funny enough, the mixture should resemble cake batter at this point, LOL!
5) Pour it into your little jar or tub and put the lid on. Pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours to expedite the cooling/hardening process, then you can move it to your bathroom cupboard.
This natural deodorant recipe will keep shelf-stable in the cupboard until you finish it. There is no water content so no risk of mold growth. Some oil separation is normal with temperature fluctuations. If this happens, just give it a stir with your finger before applying.
I’ll be posting additional updates with variations on the essential oil blend as I test out new ones.
Pennywisely yours, (and fresh as a daisy!),